The (Not-so) Big Time

Cyber-Witch’s medal made the local paper. I’ll take my kudos when and where I can get them (although it’s a poor substitute for massive sales:-)

 

On another note, I just received the cover art for the sequel to Cyber-Witch. (See below.) Now I have to make a painful decision: What am I going to title this next book?

I’ve thought of Cyber-Magic, Nano-Magic, Cyber- followed by conjurer, shaman, thaumaturge, sorceress, enchanter, magician, witch, warlock, whatever, and nothing seems to work.

This new story has many of the same characters as Cyber-Witch and it takes place some time later after the world has completely changed as a result of what might be termed an AI apocalypse. A new character kind of forced himself into the plot: Snake – a composition of nanobots and biological cells gleaned from his prey. He’s reached a sentient level and is struggling to develop a sense of ethics or a code of behavior for himself.

He is allowing me to play around with what is going to become a very serious real-world question: at what point do we view AIs/robots as deserving of human rights. What are human rights, anyway? How do we interact ethically with other creatures in general? With other humans-especially those that are not in our personal group?

It’s all fun and games until someone gets hurt. Snake is a bit of a baby and mostly wants surcease from his personal suffering. He wants someone to be nice to him – in short, he has decided that he – an artificial construct – wants a mother. (Notice the little element of pathos there?) I’ve had a bit of a problem with his speech. He can’t speak terribly clearly and his syntax is lacking, not from ability, but from opportunity to learn, and that poses a challenge to write.

I am enjoying the journey of discovery with him. Will he get what he wants? Will he find a mother? Will he turn out to be one of the artificial constructs we humans use: good or evil?

Still, that doesn’t help me with the dratted name.

I’m probably going to go with Cyber-Magic for lack of anything better. Suggestions welcome.

Here’s the new artwork:

You can see how it echoes the colors in the cover for the first story.

 

Namaste.

Eric

Latest Review

Despite my late night blackest imaginings, apparently I can actually write a good story.

“I loved these two books. A wild and crazy ride, with great characters and a very imaginative story. I need more….please!”

Heart of Fire Time of Ice
All the Moments in Forever

The introductory speculation (first sentence, above) probably makes more sense to other authors. I’ll elaborate.

The problem is: writing a reasonably good book is only half the equation. The book still has to find readers and that requires marketing–aggressive marketing. At the current rate of change in the book marketplace, doing a reasonably good job of marketing requires all of your time, so how does one find the time to write?

I’d rather be writing. It’s fun to develop a book and watch the characters you’ve imagined develop. It’s enjoyable to tell an entertaining story. Getting positive feedback is wonderful.

On the other hand, marketing is expensive, a lot of drudgery, boring (at least to me), and frustrating. The learning curve is very steep and to make matters worse, the topography of the available venues and tools changes continuously.

Then there is the competition — millions upon millions of books, who knows? Thousands, maybe even tens of competitors are searching for your perfect reader. (Trying to be funny here.) In point of fact, the better you narrow down your optimal market, the fewer the competing books, but then the fewer the buyers also.

Heart of Fire Time of Ice seems to enrage some readers, while others find it so enjoyable they immediately start on the sequel: All the Moments in Forever. I can live with that, if I have to, that is.

Then there’s Cyber-Witch: The Origin of Magic <sigh>. It won the silver President’s medal from the Florida Authors and Publishers Association this year (2018). People who read it like it, but readers aren’t finding it or are bypassing it for some reason. Few sales to date and I’m deep in the end stages of writing a sequel.

Why am I doing this? I mean writing a sequel for a book that doesn’t sell. Why??? <insert mental picture of a man choking himself with his own hands>

Two reasons really. One is that Cyber-Witch is really close to potential reality. It is a possible version of our world at the very beginning of the AI apocalypse. The sequel extends that world into an interesting future.

The other reason is I think the basic idea is a good one and the characters deserve their story to be told.

The two books are entertaining and hopefully thought-provoking. The reader is led to contemplate questions about sentience and whether an AI can be considered to be equivalent to a human. I’m not positive yet, but I’m pretty sure that the character “Snake” in the second book will tug at the reader’s heartstrings with his (its-although he has decided that he has masculine characteristics) struggles.

As I write, I’m continually amazed at the plot twists that develop seemingly without my active intervention. Things just suggest themselves as part of the story. I’m left wondering how I can blend the various elements into a seamless whole, but they are resolving nicely at this point. Still, I want to be done–just to see how it all turns out.

The one thing I’m sure of is I’m not making much money out of all this effort. However, I still love to write.

If

I

could

somehow

be

a

better

marketer.

Then, maybe…

 

Namaste!

Eric

 

Recognition

Cyber Witch thumbnai newlI was pleasantly surprised on July the 3rd by an email that informed me that my last book: Cyber-Witch: The Origin of Magic has been selected as one of the finalists for the Florida Authors and Publishers Association President’s Award. It seems that Cyber-Witch is going to receive a medal in the Adult Fiction-Genre: Sci-Fi and Fantasy. There has been, to date, no mention of whether it will be awarded Gold, Silver, or Bronze, but I still feel like it’s a significant accomplishment.

I’m working on the sequel to that book. Cyber-Witch spins today’s science (AI, speech-recognition, CRISPR/genetic modification, hacking, encryption) together with a little imagination into a new world where science-based magic is commonplace. The results are nothing short of catastrophic, resulting in an almost complete destruction of the old power structure while forming a new magic-based and almost feudal structure that replaces the old.

The results give free rein to an almost infinite expansion of the author’s imagination and I’m letting mine roam and explore as I write the sequel. At this point, I’m just completing the first half of the book and the threads of numerous conflicts are tracing out their convoluted paths and (hopefully) leading to an amazing conclusion. I planning for the sequel to leave its readers with a feeling of satisfaction as intense as the one experienced in reading Cyber-Witch.

I’d be pleased if some other authors based stories in this new world. There’s plenty of room for fantasy there.

A brief note: Cyber-Witch is adult reading with drugs, violence, and sex.

Thanks to all my readers!

Namaste,

Eric

 

Cyber-Witch: The Origin of Magic – Review Quotes

Cyber-Witch is now available on Amazon and IngramSpark.

A gritty and dark novel about the real-world AI threat highlighted in a cyberpunk theme, drug addiction, genetic hybrids, killer-drones, nanobots, and the transformation of the world. Warning: adult themes including sex, drug addiction, and violence.

First Review: 5 out of 5 stars Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
“Excellent story that contains a realistic look at where our technology could be headed. The writing is strong and articulate while fully immersing the reader in the story. Grab this book.”

Second Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars A masterful vision well-realized. Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
“Sometimes we get ideas, simple ones, that in actualization are difficult. I think this story is of one such overarching idea, but executed well.  I don’t want to give away the big idea, but the bulk of the story builds a long sort of mythology to it, culminating in the battle with the BBEG. The last bit of the story ties it all in together, using the story as a springboard for the grand idea. There were some slowish bits, especially the first three chapters or so before the actual plot really reared it’s head. Once that happened, the story runs full tilt toward the climax. Then the magic happens.”

Cyber-Witch: The Origin of Magic is now LIVE in the Kindle Store!!!

I just released my latest book today. Here’s the link:

poodle & drone

Cisco & Killer Drone

bit.ly/Cyber-Witch  A story about the real-world AI threat highlighted in a cyberpunk theme, with drug addiction, genetic hybrids, and the transformation of the world, grab a copy. Warning: adult themes including sex, violence, and talking animals:-)

The Future is Here (only you don’t know it yet.)

EEG Subject

There have been movies and books that depict a future where nothing can be hidden; where the authorities know everything about everyone. The 2002 movie Minority Report, based (as was BladeRunner) on a short story by Phillip K. Dick, featured a bureau of Precrime which allowed the police to arrest people prior to their actually committing a crime. The plot is complex and leaves the viewer with questions about the existence of free-will and a healthy fear of a government that can see everything.

At this point, you’re wondering if I’m going to be writing about the increasing surveillance in many countries. The answer is yes, but there are some things that you may not know.

The government of the United States is working hard at imposing a de-facto universal id based on federal requirements for state issued drivers licenses. Americans from non-complying states will not be able to board airplanes for even domestic flights without a federal passport within a few months. Their drivers licenses will be considered inadequate id for travel.

There is a huge and rapidly growing database of pictures of people’s faces that is instantly available to the authorities in many countries. This database will ultimately allow quick identification (and location) of anyone. We unwittingly contribute to the data by posting our pictures online and by exposing our faces to surveillance cameras (both stationary and drone-based) when we go out. Meanwhile data storage has increased to the point where storing and retrieving images of everyone in the world is possible.

While bio-metric markers such as fingerprints are not considered personal property in the US — the police can force you to unlock your smartphone with your fingerprint — other data, such as blood tests, require a judicial warrant. Such warrants are trivially easy to get.

As if all of this isn’t enough, research begun in 2010 allows brain wave reading via electroencephalography (EEG) to be effectively used to determine if a person knows a particular piece of information. The EEG pinpoints an involuntary brain spike called the P300 response. The spike occurs a few milliseconds after a person is shown a familiar image.

How might this work? Let’s imagine that a suspected kidnapper is shown images of various children. The child that creates the largest P300 spike might be the kidnap victim. This would lead the investigators to assume that the individual was involved in the crime.

The technology could help prevent crimes also. For example, if a bomb plot was uncovered and one of the plotters captured, the authorities could show the prisoner pictures of various public venues. The one that created the largest P300 response is likely to be the target.

This sounds like a great idea. We can prevent attacks with weapons of mass destruction with this technology. But, what about misuse of the technology?

What if an authoritarian police state wants to arrest everyone who holds a specific belief system? There might be an image that is common to the belief system that could be used to screen the population. All those who respond with a large P300 could then be arrested, interrogated, and disposed of in some way.

This possibility is not so far fetched, especially when one blends in Artificial Intelligence as an automatic screening system. As a science fiction author, I spend a lot of time thinking about future possibilities and, if I can imagine a society where everyone wears a portable EEG device and is subject to constant electronic interrogation of their thoughts (a great plot idea), it probably has already occurred to scientists and authorities somewhere.

To conclude, let me ask some critical questions:

  • Will society benefit if everyone is forced to monitor their thoughts and dare not think anything out of the ordinary?
  • Will innovation be stifled by this?
  • Will we become less than human if good behavior (as defined by those in power) is forced on everyone?
  • Would such a society cease to develop and become stultified?
  • Will we then redefine undesirable thoughts to include smaller and smaller deviations from the norm? Will the concept of moral and ethical guidance of behavior degenerate, since it is no longer defined by society and individuals, but by those in power?
  • What do you think?

    If you like my blog posts, please give my books a chance. Thanks!!