It’s time to start unpacking the box.
Let’s have a look at a first excerpt from my new novel, Biotime.
What motivates terrorists? In another of my novels, Blood Summit, I point to the importance of the Herostratus Syndrome, as explained in the excellent book by Antony Borowitz (long title: “Terrorism for Self-Glorification: The Herostratus Syndrome”). In the foreword I quote Mark Twain: “One of the commonest forms of madness is the desire to be noticed”. I also quote Mark Chapman, the murderer of John Lennon: “I was an acute nobody… I was ‘Mr Nobody’ until I killed the biggest Somebody on earth.”
Vienna features in Biotime – Photo Robert Pimm
In the dystopic world of Biotime, terrorists are motivated by only one thing: money. Here, in an exclusive first excerpt from the book, our heroes Jake and Sandy meets a member of terrorist group The One Life Army.
Biotime: an excerpt. The One Life Army
‘We are not terrorists, or freedom fighters. Actually, we see ourselves more as a pressure group which is not afraid to apply real pressure.’
The woman in the white blouse and grey suit sat opposite Jake and Sandy, watching them across a wooden table from which the scent of polish rose in the sunshine. The man named Khan had introduced her to Jake and Sandy as Jean Stays. She wore black-framed spectacles. Jake thought she looked like a banker. Only the camouflage-effect rubber bands securing her black pigtails gave any hint of a more action-oriented persona.
‘If you’re not terrorists,’ Jake said, ‘why do you kill people?’
‘The One Life Army does not kill many people,’ Jean said. ‘Hughes – not us. Central Authority Buildings – not us. But the Biotime Oppression is killing and enslaving whole nations. In the face of such evil, sometimes, we must kill too.’
‘Extreme suffering justifies extreme measures. I know the slogan.’ Sandy said. ‘Better be sure you’re right.’
‘We act only when we are sure. And even in these cases, we do not do any killing ourselves. We call in the professionals, like Mr Khan.’ Jean nodded at the bald man sitting next to her.
‘You contract out the killing?’ Jake said. ‘Can you do that?’
‘Actually, there is less correlation than you might imagine between expertise in seeking political change and expertise in killing people. An activist who has become good at killing is no longer an activist. Same with politicians.’
‘Killing people my job,’ Khan said. ‘I am expert. And before anyone say it, no-one call me Genghis. That OK with you?’
‘It’s OK,’ Jake said. He moved a little closer to Sandy on the couch.
‘Everyone know how European Company abolished armies of Company zones and put work out to tender.’ Khan fingered a furrow which ran down the centre of his bald skull. ‘Ancient history now. Less well known is how quickly new structures sprang up to fill vacuum. Everyone crave security. Lot of former soldiers need jobs. New system much better. Old-fashioned national armies kill only when war is happening. Sometimes so-called soldiers never kill anyone for years. Get sloppy. Get killed. New private companies support any cause, fight any time, always killing. Result is top quality.’
‘Have you killed many people?’ Jake looked at the bald man’s hands.
‘Oh, yes. Have top-notch endorsements. Look.’ Khan placed a holo unit on the table and made to activate it.
‘Just tell me. I believe you.’
Khan began to count on his fingers. ‘Ulster Reintegrationist Militia. West Australian Vietnamese Resistance. Southern Africa White Tribes Co-operative. Orissan Barefoot Army. British Government in Exile.’ Khan made to change hands.
‘How do you motivate yourselves to fight for so many different causes?’ Sandy said.
‘Profit motive strongest. Money. Fact is, only real motive anyone ever have.’
‘How do your customers know if you’re loyal?’
‘Good question.’ Khan nodded. ‘Loyalty cost extra fifty thousand bonus per fighter. We use money to buy additional insurance. It make dying for your cause more worthwhile.’
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