Robert Pimm

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Like Science Fiction? Try Biotime

What if a technological innovation came along so all-transforming that it reversed the advance of civilisation?

It has happened before.

In recent centuries we’ve got used to the idea that constant technical innovations – the steam engine, electricity, air travel, antibiotics, contraception, the Internet – mean that, to quote the song, “Things can only get better”.

Tell that to the collapsing dregs of the Roman Empire.  Or the Aztecs. (more…)

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Biotime excerpt 21: a severed hand, transfixed by a knife

Here is the twenty-first droplet of my novel Biotime.  An unknown informant from the Home Security Bureau of the Central Authority of the United States assigns to Martha O’Leary, Deputy Head of Mission at the US Embassy in Tashkent, Uzbekistan, a top secret task.

As Martha sits in shock, we return to the man in the boat and Sue Phu’s child.  What will be the fate of her first ever baby boy?

Don’t forget the “story so far” page, bringing together the excerpts published up to now.

Scan 4

Kalyan Minaret, Bukhara, Uzbekistan, 1992 – Photo Robert Pimm

Biotime.  The future, today.  Excerpt 21
[Chapter 4 continues]

 

‘I’m in the Holo Hutch.’ Martha glanced again at the control panel. She could feel her heart beating. ‘Are you really calling from the Home Security Bureau? Is something wrong?’

‘I am a senior official of the Home Security Bureau of the Central Authority of the United States, yes.’ The disembodied voice spoke the words slowly, as if relishing the length of the title. ‘Something is indeed gravely wrong. A catastrophe in the making. An impending doom scenario. But I don’t know what it is. That is why I am calling you.’

‘I never dealt with the Bureau before. The Ambassador will be back in a few days.’

‘I know. It is important that he learns nothing of what I am about to tell you.’

‘You don’t trust the Ambassador?’ Martha took a deep breath. ‘How do I know if I can I trust you?’

‘An astute question.’ (more…)

DNA Tabs – almost coming true

I’ve written before about my fears that if I don’t publish my novels soon, they’ll come true.

IMG_2591

This is one of the reasons I want to publish Biotime sooner rather than later.

When I first wrote Biotime, some years ago, I imagined that before long, every human would be chipped at birth; that such chips would be linked to your DNA (to prevent transplants); and that they would communicate with a central database (the Federal Unitary Control Computer) a thousand times a second to confirm your location and what you were up to.

Now I find that similar chips – minus the DNA, so far – are being used to allow staff in Sweden to use the photocopier: http://www.bbc.com/news/technology-31042477.  No more painful than an injection, reports the BBC’s Rory Cellan-Jones.

Better get ready, guys.  They started with cats and dogs.  Soon they’ll be coming for you.

Biotime excerpt 20: a late-model Tokyo Firestorm

Here is the twentieth droplet of my novel Biotime.  Martha O’Leary, Deputy Head of Mission at the US Embassy in Tashkent, Uzbekistan, receives an ominous message.

This is our first introduction to Martha, a single, idealistic, red-head worried about her fading good looks.  She can’t afford Biotime.  She is paid by the US Government.

‘The secure zone of the embassy was off-limits to everyone except US-based diplomatic staff, of whom Martha was at present the only example in the Republic of Uzbekistan.’

Don’t forget the “story so far” page, bringing together the excerpts published up to now.

Biotime Cover

Biotime.  The future, today.  Excerpt 20
 

[Chapter 4 continues]

*

At the US embassy in Tashkent, Uzbekistan, Martha O’Leary blinked at her computer screen and wondered what to do.

‘Is something wrong?’ Across the room the locally-engaged Biotime Attaché, Toxirov Ergash Gulomovich, had stopped typing.

‘You know I’m acting Chief of Mission in the Ambassador’s absence.’ Saying the words made Martha anxious. ‘I got a service message. There’s a DECOM holo coming in.’

‘DECOM? What is that?’

Martha glanced at her assistant. Working in Biotime enforcement made you paranoid, it was a fact. But Gulomovich always seemed to focus on the most sensitive aspects of her work. He also drove a late-model Tokyo Firestorm on a pittance of a salary. She decided to play it straight. (more…)

Biotime. Excerpt 19: Sue Phu sells her baby boy

Here is the nineteenth droplet of my novel Biotime.  Sue Phu, on the Mekong, waits to see whether the man in the boat will pass her baby fit for dollars.

‘Say goodbye?’ the man in the boat said.

Sue Phu shook her head.  She had no baby now.

Don’t forget the “story so far” page, bringing together the excerpts published up to now.

Scan 27_2

Santa Monica, California, 1979 – Photo Robert Pimm

Biotime.  The future, today.  Excerpt 19
 

[Chapter 4 continues]

Now the man had taken an envelope from one of his grim-faced crew and was tearing it open to extract a damp, filmy-thin white plastic sheet. He spread this on the cane matting in front of Sue Phu and knelt down next to her. The ritual was beginning.

‘May I see the baby, Sue Phu?’ the man in the boat asked.

The tiny boy began to cry. The man laid the infant gently on the white sheet. Sue Phu saw a fat tear well up on the baby’s cheek and trickle down onto the plastic. She longed to wipe it away. But instead she watched, expressionless, her hands folded in her lap, as the man tickled the baby’s toes, examined its eyes, and, using a disposable syringe, extracted a sample of blood, which he passed down to the boat. Sue Phu bit her lip as the crewman took the blood inside, slamming the door behind him.

(more…)

Biotime. Excerpt 18: The man in the boat arrives – with a “Peace” tattoo

Here is the eighteenth droplet of my novel Biotime.  Sue Phu, on the Mekong, gives birth to her first ever baby boy – at the ninth attempt – and the man in the boat arrives.  He has long fair hair and a “Peace” tattoo.

Will the man in the boat buy the baby?

Don’t forget the “story so far” page, bringing together the excerpts published up to now.

Scan 27_2

Santa Monica, California, 1979 – Photo Robert Pimm

Biotime.  The future, today.  Excerpt 18
 

[Chapter 4 continues]

Two days later the rain stopped and Sue Phu delivered with the help of Last Chance a yelling, healthy baby boy. Last Chance said the new baby was crying so loud the man in the boat would hear. Sue Phu was delighted. She had never given birth to a boy. The first four babies she had sold had all been girls. Holding on to Last Chance, her fifth, had been an act of superstitious folly, as though such a demonstration might persuade the gods of her indifference to the gender of her progeny. Penury had been averted only by the fascination which the child exerted on the rest of the village as women crowded in to take turns holding the infant, bringing small gifts of food. But the gods had paid scant attention: Sue Phu had gone on to produce three more baby girls, one after another.

A few days after each birth the man in the boat would call, examine the child, and shake Sue Phu’s hand. That meant the baby was OK. He would give Sue Phu a small case wrapped in a pink ribbon – for a girl – containing a number of dollar tokens. Then he would leave with the baby. There were fewer tokens for a girl than for a boy. This time it would be different.

(more…)

Biotime. Excerpt 17: California? Meet Vietnam

Here is the seventeenth droplet of my novel Biotime.  We complete Chapter 3 of the novel, introducing Jake Moonrath and his sister Life Sample in California, and begin Chapter 4, featuring Sue Phu and her daughter Last Chance, on the Mekong.

The ride speeds up.

Don’t forget the “story so far” page, bringing together the excerpts published up to now.

Scan 27_2

Santa Monica, California, 1979 – Photo Robert Pimm

Biotime.  The future, today.  Excerpt 17
 

[Chapter 3 continues]

Jake said nothing. She could feel him scanning her face. ‘Maybe.’ His fingers closed around the note. ‘But ‘Time’s still over three million dollars a gram. I don’t call that a crisis.’

‘Depends how you define a crisis.’ Life Sample could feel her heart racing. ‘Are you through? I hate it in here.’

‘I’m good.’ Jake turned to the guard opposite. ‘I’m going to stand, and kiss my parents.’

‘Please keep your hands behind your back at all times,’ the guard said.

(more…)

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