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What if technological innovation was 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 technical innovations – the steam engine, electricity, air travel, antibiotics, contraception, the Internet – mean that “Things can only get better”.
Tell that to the collapsing dregs of the Roman Empire. Or the Aztecs. (more…)
I’ve been serialising this story for several months now. I’m grateful to everyone who has logged on regularly to read the weekly droplets. I’m particularly grateful to those who have commented on how the novel might be improved. I’m still 100% open to comments, so please let me know if you like or hate the book. You can use the comment form at the foot of the page, or the “contact me” tab at the top.
I had been hoping to serialise as far as the introduction of the exceptionally wonderful Sandy Banks, but Sandy is obstinately refusing to appear in the novel and won’t make an entrance for a while yet. So the pleasures of Sandy; the Black Hole; Little England Airways; Kim 17 and Cody 22; El Gordo and the case of The Man Without a Past; The Long-Dead Masters of the Disharmonic Wave; more inappropriate cocktails (following up on the Mai Lai), including the Vodkatyn; the cigarette health warning that reads IGNITE THIS (more…)
Biotime enforcement agent Jake Moonrath sets out to take a tour of the Central Authority Buildings in Harlem, New York to view the production facilities and “confidence and security building measures”. He soon discovers that something is deeply wrong at the birthplace of Biotime; and that his guide, Sylvester, has a disturbing sense of humour.
“Build Your Future on a Rock Biotime Futures PortfolioTM. Warning: Biotime prices can go down as well as up”
Rock Savings Corporation: advertising brochure
The moment Jake stepped out of Cleo Czernin’s office he began to plan his new ID. Dr Andrew Brown was compromised. He must leave the Central Authority Buildings as someone else. Nowhere was safe. But the numerous exits of the CAB were designed to offer visitors maximum privacy – coming in or going out. There were also at least two hundred and sixty five thousand identities available downstairs, many of whom would not be leaving the data-shielded structure for years, if ever. The challenge was to reach them before someone else reached him.
In Droplet 42 Martha O’Leary, introduced in Droplet 20 as Deputy Head of Mission and sole US-based diplomat at the US Embassy in Tashkent, lies to her suspiciously well-off local Uzbek colleague, Toxirov Gulomovich, about why she must make an urgent trip to Samarkand. As set out in Droplet 21, Martha is heading into peril.
Martha O’Leary wasn’t used to lying. She typed a few words on her antique computer. She tried to steady her breathing. Then she spoke.
‘I have to go away for a few days.’
‘Really?’ Toxirov Gulomovich looked up. ‘Where to?’
‘I have a meeting in Samarkand.’ Martha had read that it was best to embroider a fib with truth. Yet her voice seemed hollow and unconvincing.
‘Maybe better to wait until ambassador is back from States. Otherwise you must leave me in charge of embassy. All on my own.’ Gulomovich smirked. ‘What is meeting about?’
In excerpt 41 Devonte Ray, the oldest cop on the planet and veteran of the historic raid on Pax Vobiscum, goes to brief his boss, the President of the Central Authority. But first, Dev goes ski-ing in the Montezuma Basin.
Devonte Ray brushed the snow from his cap as he stepped off the slopes onto the brown fibre-pile carpet of the Central Authority HQ at Aspen 4000. Then he bent and brushed the snow from his arms and legs, before undoing his jacket and shaking free from his shirt and belt the snow that had somehow lodged there. It had been another fine morning’s powder in the Montezuma Basin.
In episode 40, Jake enters the ancient and intimidating Central Authority Buildings in Harlem, where mass production of Biotime was introduced in the US hundreds of years earlier. Assuming a false identity, he meets 480 year-old Dr Cleo Czernin, the CA’s top Biotime economist, to see if she can help him identify a motive for the murder of 10,290 people at the Hughes Procreation Facility in Santa Monica…
‘Harlem’s cocktail of indolence and frenzy owes much to the presence of the Central Authority Buildings. Several factors led the Authority to locate here its first foray into large-scale Biotime manufacture. Most important were the low Absolute Wealth Levels, immortalised in the famous Harlem refrain, “What we got? We got fuck AWL”.’
Kool’s New York – Zenon Kool, Schlaraffenland Press (out of print)
When Jake entered the Central Authority Buildings, the audible warning that he was now inside a shielded facility was followed by a stream of New York State legal disclaimers. These notified him that any harm which might arise from his bracelet being unable to communicate with external medical monitoring services, bookmakers and stockbrokers would not be the responsibility of the Central Authority. Jake had to smile. For most citizens, being cut off from the outside world was uncomfortable. For Jake, incommunicado was where he wanted to be.
While Jake Moonrath attempts to penetrate the Central Authority Buildings in New York City, his sister Life Sample is attending a beer pitching competition – the most unpredictable, heavily sponsored and highly profitable sport still played – entirely by One Lifers – in today’s United States. But Life Sample has important business to conduct with a visitor from Grassy Butte, North Dakota – the mysterious Jean Stays. Could Jean – or Life Sample – be linked to the One Life Army? Read on.
At the same moment Jake entered the Central Authority Buildings, his sister Life Sample, known as Sam and christened Rose, withdrew a beer bottle from a cool-box filled with ice.
‘Are we ready yet, Sam?’ Mark Time was an immensely tall, solid One Lifer of Native American origin. He looked at the bottle in Life Sample’s hand.
‘Any moment now.’ Life Sample gestured towards the tepees from which the other competitors were emerging. ‘Wait until everyone’s here.’
‘That bottle has my name on it.’
Life Sample smiled up at him. ‘Sure it does.’
Mark Time nodded. ‘If I win, I’ll donate the prize money to the Santa Monica appeal.’
‘That’s a lot of cash.’
‘Sure. But I got all I need already.’
‘Tax efficient, huh?’
The big man shrugged. ‘So I’m a tax avoidance specialist. What do you expect?’ (more…)