Monday, 23 December 2013

Transcendence is Near... The Trailer is Here



Darn.

I've been looking forward to this movie for a while now, because the makers seem to at least know what the word means.

Singularity means two different things, depending on who you ask. The first definition is the moment when computers become smarter than we are, smart enough to design themselves, and improve on the design. The other definition is when humans can upload themselves to the machine and achieve a form of digital immortality.

This movie is going with the second definition.

Why, oh why, can't we have a sci-fi movie where this moment is a good thing? All accounts say it will happen in the next 20 to 40 years. Singularity will be to current computers, what the Blu-Ray is to a cave drawing. It will remake the planet.

Why can't any sci-fi out there talk about this day as anything other than the birth of Skynet?

Maybe I'm wrong. Maybe the movie will be about the disruption of the current way of life, and the emergence of a new, hopefully better one. Maybe the trailer just looks like a digital Frankenstein as a way of generating excitement.

I hope so; because like it or not, everyone agrees it's going to happen at some point, and what happens then... who knows? I'd like to see one voice of optimism; and if it should happen to be a stunning mainstream movie full of A-List stars, that would be fantastic.

Friday, 6 December 2013

Now Available: The Jake Colbert Testimony


Dear Sir,

In response to your subpoena, I have (reluctantly) provided my personal journal. I never expected or wanted to see it again anyway, so you may keep it as evidence for as long as you wish.

You will, no doubt, find some sections unbelievable. Waking nightmares, abductions, missing time, strange lights in the sky... These things appear in plenty of stories like mine. I never believed those stories either, until it happened to me.

My notes and annotations are included. If you need more; I will come to testify in person; but this should be sufficient to tell my part in the story. What's left of my family need me here.

The story I have written in these pages is true. The account will detail the extent of my involvement, the moment that my friends and I decided to investigate the earliest stages of the attack, the results of our investigations; and the disaster that followed, as well as details on how the last of us survived.
~oo00oo~

In the small town of Curtis Creek, everyone knows each other. They also know which topics are safe, and which things never to speak about. One night, and with almost no warning, mysterious things start happening, easy to ignore or explain away, until it becomes too late...

By Day One, the bizarre was happening.
By Day Nine, there was no escape.
By Day Twelve, there was no going back.

In the tradition of X-Files and Dark Skies, comes a spooky new sci-fi thriller, by Matt Stephens; author of The Lostkind and the Echelon Series.


Wednesday, 6 November 2013

Coming Soon: The Jake Colbert Testimony

Coming Soon: The Jake Colbert Testimony

There was a long silence as they all listened. The omnipresent sounds of nature were missing. It was an unnatural eerie quiet, all they could hear were their own heartbeats, their own breathing...

The corn exploded outward and everyone jumped back as Jake came half running back into the headlights of the Jeep. And with him was the source of the noise Marie had heard.

It was a child.

The whole group gathered around tightly. The boy wandered like a zombie, led by the hand over to the bonfire. The boy was shaking, his hair was dark and cropped very short, almost a crew cut. His eyes were big and wide, and everyone realized he wasn't wearing shoes. Marie checked his vitals quickly.

"Heartbeat's okay. But he's ice cold." Marie whispered. "Kid, can you tell me your name?"

No response.

"His eyes aren't even moving." Marie whispered and tried again. "Can you understand me?"

No response.

"Marie..." Jake whispered, as though afraid the boy would hear him. "His feet."

The boy wasn't wearing shoes, his socks were shredded... and from the looks of things, so were the soles of his feet. Jake and Marie traded a quick look, and Jake swept the boy up, carrying him back to the cars, while the others followed, huddling together in the headlights.

"My God." Zack blurted as they approached. "Who is it?"

"Anyone recognize him?" Jake demanded.

Jess brushed the boy's hair gently. "That... That's impossible." She blurted. "It's... Jake, this is Douglas Gunn!"

"Doug?" Pierce blurted. "Impossible!" He leaned in closer. "Well, if it's not Doug, his twin brother is on one of the Missing Persons Posters at my dad's office."

Zack was swallowing compulsively. "It's not possible." He breathed. "It's not possible!"

Marie looked askance at her boyfriend. "What? Why? Why not?"

"Jake, it can't be Doug Gunn." Zack insisted.

Jake handed Zack the flashlight. "That flashlight of yours is a piece of junk, by the way."

Zack checked the flashlight over. "I put new batteries in a couple of days ago..." It suddenly came on in his hands, shining brightly.

"You had it switched off?" Pierce found that hilarious.

Zack shook his head firmly. "The flashlight is working. I never hit the switch."

The boy's eyes moved, aware of his surroundings for the first time. Instantly, he focused on the bright white headlights shining over them. His eyes went completely feral, terrified to the point of unhinged as the bright lights flashed over him. "YA-AAAAAAAH!" He shrieked hysterically, and everyone jumped back in shock at the sudden mania. "Liguo! Natabas Nalech Che!" He screamed psychotically...

...and promptly passed out. The boy dropped like his strings had been cut, and he lay collapsed on the ground.

Everyone was breathing hard in the sudden silence that followed. It had been a harsh, chilling moment, made all the more horrifying by the fact that it was a little boy that had gone berserk.

A moment later the crickets started singing again.

Pierce moved first, scooping the kid up and carrying him to Jake's car. "Party's over. Let's get the kid home." He said plainly, and everyone snapped into action, grabbing their stuff. Jess helped guide the boy inside the car gently, then headed for the Jeep with Pierce.

"Go." Pierce told Jake. "Jess and I will take Zack in the Jeep. Take Marie with you, she's a Nurse. We'll take care of the fire."

Marie put her hand up, like she was in class. "I'm not really a-"

"You're a lot closer than we are." Jake cut her off. "Let's go."

Pierce nodded, and the group split up quickly. Jake took the Driver's seat, Marie slid into the back seat next to Doug, cradling the boy's head carefully. "Jake, why can't it be this kid Doug Gunn?" Marie called from the back. "Everyone says it looks like him, Pierce said his father has a Missing Poster... why can't it be him?"

Jake called over his shoulder to her. "Dougie was a kid in our class, back before you moved here. He wasn't really a friend of ours, but we knew him... He went missing when we were all in Kindergarten... We were all six years old. He should be seventeen by now."

Marie looked down at the boy trembling in her lap. "Then who the heck is this?"

~oo00oo~

By Day One; the bizarre was happening.
By Day Nine, there was no escape.
By Day Twelve, there was no going back.

Coming Soon the the Amazon Kindle Store: The Jake Colbert Testimony

Wednesday, 21 August 2013

Echelon: Invisible Man

NOW AVAILABLE ON AMAZON


You live in a world without privacy. Your secrets are available to anyone who knows how to look. This is an inconvenient fact of life that everyone has learned to live with, and ignore.

Griffin cannot ignore it any longer. He sees every message, every record. Your bank accounts, your emails, your entire life story is completely open to him. A casual look can give him your every secret moment. He never wanted this ability. He never expected to get it. But now he can't escape it, because he is surrounded by sinister forces intent on taking advantage of his view of the world around him. As he fights to understand the power he has been given, he will need all his skill and strength to answer the questions that chase him into his new life.

Griffin can see anything. Griffin can find out anything about anyone. Griffin doesn't exist.

And he is not alone.

Echelon: Invisible Man is a thrilling adventure story taken directly from today's headlines. The first book in the Echelon series, available only on Amazon.

Monday, 22 July 2013

Echelon: Book One, Coming Soon

When I set out to write this story, I had no idea how relevant it would be by the time it was published. By now the world is aware that there's no such thing as a real secret, and at its core, that's what this whole series will speak to.
When I started this, I had something entirely different in mind, and it quickly became clear that the story was going to go places I hadn't originally thought of, so it naturally formed into a series of short stories more than a novel. 

I've always liked stories about regular people in extraordinary circumstances, but this one takes it a step further, because the central character in this tale is presented with something that most people would find very appealing: An ability to know anything about anyone. The world at large has gotten used to the idea that our lives are lived under a state of constant invisible scrutiny, and for the most part, people are willing to make that trade to be part of the convenience and instant gratification of the Information Age.

But what if there are people out there that use their own version of this Second Sight to fight the good fight? 

Echelon is a series that will make you think about what you would do under the same circumstances. Here now is a clip from the upcoming first book, which serves as something of a pilot episode for the new series.

~oo00oo~

Herbert flipped the case open, and took out the glasses. They looked like any other over-the-counter pair of reading glasses, though when he looked at them head on, they weren't bifocals.

They were heavier in his hand than most glasses he'd ever seen, though he couldn't tell how. He put them on, just to see, and they fit him perfectly. The lenses were fake, he knew that instantly.

And then suddenly, before his vision, was a... He couldn't begin to guess. Floating in midair, blinking in and out of existence, was writing, as if typing itself out across thin air.

(On.) It said.

Tilting the glasses down, he looked over the top of them, and there was nothing there. He slid the glasses back up, and turned his head. The writing moved with his eyes.

He blinked and the image changed, this time becoming a strange vein-like pattern that he couldn't recognize. Writing formed like a caption beneath it. (Retinal Scan... Confirmed. Begin start-up.)

"Retinal scan?" Herbert wondered aloud.

("Hello Herbert. I hope you like the book I sent you.")

The hairs on his arms and neck almost jumped to attention. "Hello?" He said automatically.

There was no response, and he couldn't help but feel a little silly; talking to thin air.

Herbert glanced around, as though expecting cameras to be watching him in secret. (Start-Up Complete. Interface Activated. Welcome to Echelon.)

~oo00oo~

In the first installment of the new, exciting Echelon Series, Herbert Brandis is thrown headfirst into a life that he never knew was possible.

The world is more connected than any of us realize, and growing more so every day. Something unexpected and unstoppable has emerged; throwing open every locked door, revealing every shady secret. Herbert Brandis never wanted more than his safe, ordinary life; when a strange package is sent to him anonymously. Within a day, he is catapulted into a conspiracy that reaches through Organized Crime, mysterious groups of operatives, and uknown powers that can exert enormous power over the world around him.

Information is Power, and the tools of ultimate power now rest in the hands of a small group of people, called together for a common purpose, against a powerful enemy that will stop at nothing to achieve his aims.

Coming Soon to the Amazon Kindle Store:
Echelon: Book One: Invisible Man.

Monday, 21 January 2013

Ingress Day 01: Welcome to the Resistance.

Welcome to the Resistance...


(Some spoilers on how the game is played; none for the backstory.)

Tasmania is not the biggest place in the Western Hemisphere. There's more than enough people to ensure a comfortable population; a good standard of living... And very little of the hassle you get with a huge metropolis. The traffic rarely feels like a parking lot; you never feel crammed in on Public Transport. In short; a great place to live.

For the Ingress Experience... It suddenly feels a lot bigger.

My Activation code came this morning; at last.

I headed out into my street and found myself pacing back and forth for several minutes for my training. I have carefully avoided all information I can thus far; because as far as I can tell; Ingress; as with many ARG's, teach you the game by playing it. As a result; I get a bunch of terms I don't really understand thrown at me in the first few minutes; and all I can do is roll with it; and hope the help page is on standby.

The training ends all too quickly; and I find myself in a blue and black map, drawn in a minimalist style. I recognize the layout of the roads and such of course. This is my street. And up the road; is a small collection of lights. I walk up the street to investigate; and a chime goes off to tell me that i've collected something useful.

I very quickly discover that i've jumped into the middle of the story.

So far so good... but it could be better. I wander a few blocks, back and forth; and find a few more points of light...

And then I get on a bus.

I live in a suburb; and the city is where the action is. Even from the game trailers; I have an idea of what I'm looking for. Something unusual; artistic. The sort of thing that is noticeable; but that few people who live here actually notice.

I spend the entire bus ride with my eyes glued to the screen. I can see the streets moving as I go; sweeping through two or three; then five or six points of Exotic Matter. It's exciting. Five or six points...

Then I zoom out on my map and my jaw drops. As we get closer to the action... The numbers get a whole lot bigger.

The bus pauses to turn a corner. An unmarked portal is ten feet away. I hesitate for exactly the wrong second; and I've missed it. Quick! Stop the bus!

I wander through the sidestreets; looking at the elaborate murals painted on the walls and peeking around the corners of the cafe's seeking the fountains and the statuettes. Do any of them hold a secret for those that know how to look?

And then it hits me. All these portals that I find are glowing green. I turn to the COMMS and the forums and realize that I may just be the only member of the Resistance in town. In my region; the rest of The Blue Team seems to be over 200km away, in another city. Help!

And then I see it. The points of gentle light are getting stronger this way too; but this one does not lead to green. An unhacked Portal. Unclaimed territory. Neutral ground. I'm on it like a shot. Where once there was only green, now there is blue as well. My foot is in the door.

I walk through the same streets I've walked a hundred times before. Taking the exact same route; in fact. But now I feel like a sci-fi gunslinger. I sweep my scanner back and forth; watching the map turn in front of me. I'm searching for clues; following a trail that nobody else can see.

At every turn there are people with headphones plugged into their smartphones. Their eyes rove over me as mine do over them. Anyone who's ever used a mobile device in public knows this walk. Eyes on the screen, step step, scan ahead for things I'm about to trip over, step step, back to the screen, step step...

But now they're all competition too. It's not like I was unaware that people lived on their cell phones; but when I hit city limits; there suddenly seemed to be a lot more of them.

Him! That one! He's looking at the same spot I just left. Is he hacking my portal? Is he taking a photo? Is he just turning up his music... Oh wait. It's just an iPhone. Sucker.

The feeling was exactly what it was supposed to be. A race through the normal places; finding more there than I suspected. The map on my phone was the exact same map I've walked a hundred times before; but I've rarely looked so closely. I was almost glued to the screen as I walked; watching the flow of lights and energies. These places were here before I was, the Portals they hold came later; but still long before I was invited to the party.

I hack and I protect and I upgrade and I explore; and I judge the routes; and which way is faster, and what's my range, and how close do I have to get, and how many minutes have passed? All I saw were the angles; the directions, the possible links; the connections too weak, or the opposition too strong...

It's a strangely hypnotic way to spend an afternoon.

And difficult to leave... because I know that The Green Team is there somewhere; and they held this town long before I arrived; possibly without opposition at all. I have to take a bus back to my home; my little suburb, with no portals and little XM. Away from the front.

And I know that sooner or later; they'll be back to reclaim what little I have carved out today. The numbers are against me; and that's not like to change any time soon.

Welcome to the Resistance.

#Ingress

*Image is screenshot from my town once I was done.

Tuesday, 8 January 2013

NOW AVAILABLE ON AMAZON

If you've been following updates about my new novel; then you'll be happy to know that not only is it now available for purchase from the Amazon Store; but for the next 48 hours; it will be free of charge!

The early reviews are in and have been incredibly positive; and you can't really get a better price than 'absolutely free'.

Act now to get this great deal!

You can find it available right here!