Thursday, 10 July 2014

Now Available: Echelon: Jekyll and Hyde


One week after being Deleted from the Human Race, Griffin is still trying to find his place on a team of powerful people he barely knows. Stripped of his home, his job, and his Identity; he finally begins to make full use of his newfound power and near-infinite knowledge. Where once he wanted nothing more than to go back to his normal life, he now has to face the fact that he may never go back... and may not want to anymore.

Hunted by criminals, and haunted by what's left of the life he left behind, Griffin is still in training, while the rest of Team Echelon investigate the loss of one of their own.

Meanwhile, drawing his plans against Echelon, Dorian Hawke is recruiting the sharpest minds, and the most cunning soldiers to join him in a secret conspiracy of wealth and power that will shake the foundations of the modern world, and give him ultimate dominion over the globe.

Echelon: Jekyll and Hyde is the second book in the exciting Echelon Series; a daring Technothriller that takes a look at the world of today... and how it can easily grow into the world of tomorrow.


Available now for Amazon Kindle!

Saturday, 21 June 2014

Coming Soon: Echelon: Jekyll and Hyde


"Hey, Stupid!" A hand clapped hard on his shoulder.

Griffin squeaked as he spun around. It was Mack. "How the hell did you manage to sneak up on me?!"

"Because you know how to look through everyone's viewpoint, except your own." Mack said simply. "It's a mistake, coming here."

"That's why I stayed far back enough that nobody would see me." Griffin retorted.

"You could look around that café from anywhere. Have you forgotten what the Interface can do? You could hear and see everyone in that place better than they can, and you could do it from the top of the Eiffel Tower if you wanted to."

Griffin said nothing, forced to admit the point.

"You go over and talk to her?"

"No."

"Good."

"Not because I didn't want to." Griffin confessed. "I just don't have the nerve."

"Nobody's brave. Not really." Mack told him. "All you can do is summon courage for a few minutes. If they're the right few minutes, they can save your life. If you can do it over and over again, you're considered heroic." Mack gestured around. "Bad positioning. The sun is still in the morning part of the sky, so the opposite windows are reflecting the light. That's half the buildings in the street that you have to hack if you want to see inside. The El Train is only half a block away, but it would cover you from above. You could stay mobile and watch from a car, but you're standing on the curb, staring into space for over three minutes?" He was disgusted. "Good Grief, at least buy a magazine, sit on a park bench or something." Mack waved down the road. "And then you did the stupidest thing you could have done: You went somewhere you've been before, many, many times."

Griffin flushed. "Who exactly do you think is watching?"

Mack rolled his eyes sarcastically. "I know. It's not like you've been face to face with powerful and ruthless criminals. It's not like they had you prisoner for a while, and found out how dangerous you could be. It's not like you've crossed them so completely that they'd be out for vengeance."

Griffin flushed, because that was exactly what had happened, almost as soon as he'd received the Interface. Suddenly, he hated being out in the open. "I thought the Syndicates had been taken down."

"They have, but they've still got enough muscle to handle one ordinary man." Mack told him firmly. "You wanna survive? You want that girl Rebecca to survive? You have to be something extraordinary."

Griffin nodded, suitably chastened. "I understand."


~oo00oo~

One week after being Deleted from the world, Griffin is struggling to find his place on Team Echelon. A small group of powerful people he barely knows. He's been given power, and put in danger, and where once he wanted nothing more than to go back to his normal life; he now has to face the fact that he may never go home... and may not want to anymore.

Echelon: Jekyll and Hyde is a daring Technothriller that takes a look at the world of today... and how it can easily grow into tomorrow.

Coming Soon to the Amazon Kindle Store; the second book in the exciting Echelon series.

If you haven't read it yet, what better time to find out how it all began? Book One in the Echelon Series is on sale now: Echelon: Invisible Man

Thursday, 12 June 2014

Not Evenly Distributed


Some people say that Tony Stark is based on Elon Musk. An innovating futurist, interested in altruistic projects, mostly with a futuristic twist, like Private Space Travel, Solar Cities, etc.

I find myself agreeing with that now.


This morning, it was announced that Tesla Motors has open sourced their patents on the Electric Car. Anyone who wants to build an emissions free vehicle can now do so.

Tesla Motors kept their designs for an electric car patented, because they were stepping into an industry that had them woefully outnumbered. They kept their innovation to themselves in an attempt to keep everyone from copying it, and drowning them out.

Must have come as a surprise when they realized nobody else wanted to copy it. An innovation in the automobile industry? Perish the thought.

The electric car has to potential to be the most important upgrade in automobile history, and yet the major players ignore it completely.


Well, now the whole world can take a crack at it. If the major players don't want to play, someone out there will.

I don't know if this will make any difference in the long term. Most, if not all Car Manufacturers have been ignoring 100% Electric Car technology for this long, and if they did want to make any kind of move in that area, they would have. It would be incredibly good business for them to begin production on this yesterday; because however much money they're making, we're all running out of oil, and when it's gone, the disruption to the world will be unimaginable. Having technology in place that will keep the lights on and people moving and refrigerators working is the only hope of avoiding a return to the Stone Age.

The frustrating part isn't that this technology isn't being used, it's that nobody seems to care. To quote William Gibson: The future is already here — it's just not very evenly distributed.

But the truly awe inspiring part of this story, is that a billionaire made an altruistic decision. Not entirely of course, Tesla Motors will stand to benefit from this; but the planet stands to gain a whole lot more.

It's unusual, but not unprecedented. Linus Torvalds made Linux as a free OS. That's a gesture that led, at least in part, to Android. Google has also released Android to the world, and it's not the most successful OS that mobile devices have. Google's making a lot of money off Android, without charging for the use of it.

Can you picture how the world would look, if Energy and Transport had as much innovation as computers? The world would be turned on its head. Today we're one step closer; because if someone has a way to make Tesla Cars better, then they can actually do something about it now. Fear of litigation keeps most start-ups from getting anywhere. If this makes it easier, then it's the world that will benefit.

Here's to you, Tesla Motors!

Sunday, 27 April 2014

LAST NIGHT


LAST NIGHT
By Matt Stephens

She knew he was watching her. She stayed perfectly still, framed in the window. The moonlight came in, washing over her face, and casting her in perfect shadow. The noise from outside was distant and all too clear; but she put it out of her mind. She focused all her energy on keeping still for him, and on listening to his pencils as they scratched across the paper.

The wind whistled again. She ignored it, focusing on the sounds she wanted to hear. There was so much to ignore tonight. That was the whole point.

"It's cold." He said softly. "Do you want the blanket?"

She smiled a little. "I'm okay. How does your sketch look?"

"I thought I was being so subtle." He chucked warmly. His soft laughter echoed around the whole empty room, echoing off the hardwood floors. He held up the sketchbook to her, and she looked at the black and white sketch of her face. In the dark, he could only sketch the shape of her against the moonlight. The hollow of her throat, the curve of her lips... 

BOOM! Another explosion in the distance.

Neither of them flinched. They had both heard too many explosions to be shaken by them now.

He extended one arm from the blanket, over to the table lamp and flipped the switch on and off. There was no power, which surprised neither of them, and he drew his arm back into the safe warmth.

She reached out a hand and stoked the small fire in the saucepan. "Wonder if the lamp will burn?"

"Not in the good way." He chuckled again. "How does it look outside?"

She elbowed him lightly. "We aren't talking about that, remember?"

He nodded. "Not tonight." He unplugged the lamp, and held it out to her. "You want it?"

With a cheeky grin, she took the lamp and carried it over to the window. She opened it swiftly and tossed the lamp out. A chorus of cries echoed up from the street, silencing quickly. The wind whistled in quickly and she slammed the window shut.

She turned back to him as he stoked the little fire. His eyes glowed a little, and she was glad for it. They said the last thing to fade was the eyes, and as long as his were bright, her world was perfect.

Even so, she came away from the window-seat and came over to the rug, settling on the floor beside him. He wrapped the blanket around them both, curling into each other tightly. His left hand was around her shoulders, right hand still working on the sketch.

Even over the chaos outside, they could hear the distant sound of music. Someone in one of the apartments was playing the saxophone. It was soft, and soulful and full of terrible beauty. It just barely reached them over the soft crackle of their fire.

BOOM! Another explosion in the distance.

He leaned into her a little tighter, putting a soft kiss against the top of her head. "I never should have let you get rid of the piano."

Soft fingers brushed against his lips, but he couldn't see them in the dark. "Hush. It was too dangerous to keep it." She looked around the room. A few pillows, propping them up on the hardwood floor, a small campfire made in a large saucepan; with a flame as small as a candle. A stack of books, her gunnysack, and the two of them, wrapped in the blanket. "We made a good try of it. Held out for seven years."

"We did." He agreed, and kissed her again. "But we aren't talking about that, remember?"

"Not tonight." She repeated their mantra. The saxophone was still playing, growing progressively more and more... heartbroken; until the sound of a gunshot rang out, and the music stopped instantly. "Wonder why he held onto it this long?"

"Probably he same reason we kept the books." He murmured and finished scribbling on the page. "What do you think?"

She looked at the sketch of her face. "She's beautiful. Do I really look like that?"

"You always have to me." He tore the page out and handed it to her. She folded it up and gently fed the small fire. It was an old ritual. She always thought her face was too narrow to be pretty, but she was beautiful to him. She felt a little more beautiful every time she saw herself through his eyes. "What do you call this one?"

"Selene." He said after a moment. "It means, Daughter of the Moon."

She smiled and kissed his fingers. "I miss the moon. Sweet Diana in the sky. Lucy with her Diamonds."

BOOM! Another explosion in the distance.

"Where were we up to?" He asked.

She licked her lips. "Flecker, I think you said. That was his name, right?"

He nodded and picked up the book. Half the pages were long since torn out, and she tore out the next one, holding it up to him as he read it softly.

"Or when the wind beneath the moon
is dazzling like a soul aswoon,
And harping planets talk love's tune
with milky wings outspread, Yasmin,
Shine down thy love, O burning bright!
for one night or the other night
Will come the Gardener in white,
and gather'd flowers are dead, Yasmin!"


"That's beautiful." She whispered, and folded up the page. She pressed her full lips against the folded page for just a moment, giving it the blessing of a last survivor's kiss as she pressed it gently into their flame. "I wish I knew how to read."

"I would have taught you." He promised.

"I know, but I wouldn't have remembered." She whispered warmly, and held his icy fingers between her own. "I like to pretend sometimes. I pretend that these pages always burn a little warmer. I like to imagine that the pages are full of love, because that's what the poet had when he wrote them. I think that love always burns a little brighter."

He smiled again. "You may not read, my love; but you sure can write."

"I'm serious." She said lightly. "You remember how we met?"

He shook his head. "Only sometimes. Only a little. But I remember the memory is so... warm."

She nodded, satisfied. "There you go."

He looked over at her with a look. "Why? What haven't you told me about that moment?"

She ducked her head, a little embarrassed. "I spilled my coffee on you. That's where the warmth came from."

He threw back his head and laughed. She delighted in it. He never lost laughter. He didn't know what decade it was, but he still knew laughter.

"Can I make a confession?"

"Sure."

She ducked her head again. "I can't remember our names." She confessed.

He nodded. "Me neither."

BOOM! Another explosion in the distance. They were getting closer.

They sat silently a moment. She leaned back a little more. "I love you."

"Love you." He returned. Neither of them remembered what this 'coffee' they spoke of was, but they both knew that. He traced her lips with one finger, barely able to make them out against the darkness. The flames did nothing to provide light, only a little warmth. "I remember your mouth. Your smile is always a little more on one side than the other."

She pressed a hand over his chest. "I remember your heartbeat. I know it, more than your voice." She shivered. "I don't want to lose that."

He shifted under the blanket, pulling her closer to his chest, so that she could listen to his heartbeat. "Did we have more things?" He asked. "When we say all the things we remember, did we have more than that?"

"I don't know." More gunshots outside. They were getting further away. "We should go." He sighed. "I don't think we can put it off any longer."

She looked over to the last of their things. "We can put it off for another five books. Six, if you don't want to take one with you."

BOOM! Another explosion in the distance. He reached out from their blanket and unrolled the gunnysack. It was empty. She snorted, as though that was to be expected, and started ripping the canvas up methodically, tearing the canvas into small pieces, feeding them into the flame.

"Can I ask you something?" She asked. "Are you scared?"

He smiled a little, as though amused by the question. "Not any more."

"Where were we up to?" He asked, reaching for the book again.

She reached out and covered his fingers with her own. They were both turning blue from the frigid air. "Before we go..." She whispered. "I just wanted you to know, that I'm glad we stayed. In a lot of ways, I wouldn't trade the last three years for anything."

"Me neither." He agreed.

The glass cracked. Maybe something hit it, maybe it was just done trying to hold together, but the open air was suddenly part of their little world. It was frigid and smelled of sulfur and burnt cinnamon. The already biting cold turned brutal.

They two of them barely noticed; pulling themselves closer together against the dark. The wind settled after a while. The fire had gone out instantly, the tiny flames washed away in the wind.

"I could try and get it going again." She offered.

"You want to do that?"

Silence.

"No." She confessed. "Time to go."

They wrapped as much cloth and clothing around each other as they could. They moved slowly, saving energy. When they went to the door, he turned the handle and pulled it open. The door fell off its hinges, and part of the door-frame came with it. Neither of them commented. Neither of them were surprised.

"I wish we could have made it till dawn." He said. "I wanted to give you one last night before we had to try for it."

She shushed him. "We had crackers. We had fire. They didn't find us." She kissed his fingers. "It was a perfect day. I'm glad I got to spend it with you." Her lips brushed his fingers, and graced a gold band, wrapped around his third finger. "You never did tell me." She said quietly. "What you think this thing means. I've got one too." She held up her left hand, showing the identical ring on her hand.

"I don't know." He admitted. He had wrapped the strap from the gunnysack around the jagged plank of wood from the door-frame, and slung it over his shoulder.

BOOM! Another blast, this one much closer. They didn't flinch.

"What do you think we'll find?" He asked her.

"I don't know." She admitted. "There's lots of things we don't know. I remember that bothered me once. It doesn't any more."

They held hands and made one last look around the room. There wasn't much left in it to look at.

"It was a perfect day, wasn't it?" He decided finally, as they headed out into the dark.

End

AN: As an experiment, I decided to try writing  a short story, and do it completely without planning. I would just sit at the keys and start writing words. Within half an hour, I had this. I have no idea what the story is about, or where it would lead, or where it would start. The point of the story was that the act of typing it would lead somewhere. This is where it went. I hope you enjoyed it. If you did, feel free to review.

Image: Silhouette by Yuri Samoilov
Poetry Quotation:  Hassan's Serenade by James Elroy Flecker.

Thursday, 6 February 2014

The Jake Colbert Giveaway

For the next few days, I'll be having a Giveaway.

The Jake Colbert Testimony, is currently free on the Amazon Kindle Store.

After only a few hours, the book has already jumped to the Top Fifty in Free Science Fiction Novels. If you happen to love Alien Invasion stories in particular, (And find me a geek that doesn't) you'll be pleased to see that we've cracked the top ten list.

The reviews are saying it's "as tropey as a summer movie for teens, it's fun to read, and fresh... The pace keeps picking up, as fast as the reader can keep up... and the end is surprising and satisfying and not at all tropey."

If you're still on the fence, you can read the early review in it's entirety over on 'A Book Unopened'.

The Top Fifty list is good, Top Ten is Better. I'm hoping to get this one out top a lot of people, so I'm holding my first ever Publicity Drive. If you were so inclined, please retweet or repost this news to anyone you think might be interested in a good, spooky YA Sci-Fi thriller.

I'm hoping to get this one out in print eventually, but by then it won't be free of charge any more, so why not take a look now and see what you think? If you don't have a kindle, you can still read it on your Tablet/Smartphone Kindle App, or on your PC.

This is a limited time offer, available only until the 9th of February.

Sunday, 2 February 2014

Technology In Fiction

I remember a Star Trek episode, where they bragged that the Enterprise had a 2-Terabyte memory core. (Who knows, maybe they measure a Terabyte differently in the 24th Century.)



I like the way they did it in 2001. A caveman discovers the club as the first use of technology; and suddenly we upgrade to the 21st century with spaceships. Everything else in between is beta-testing.

What we have today is a world where we serve technology instead of the other way around. Don't believe me? When was the last time you went as far as your mailbox without your phone?

The problem with writing fiction about future technology is that nobody can predict the position of it. (Short Circuit had a brilliant, self aware robot, telling us that he'd upgraded his brain to 500MB.) The problem with reading future-fic is that to make an exciting story; the fiction almost always focuses on the downside of it, or the way it can be misused. Years ago, War Games came out; a movie about a teenage genius who liked to hack computers for fun. He almost tips off a third world war. That movie was about the dangers of Brinkmanship in a world where everyone is connected to anyone else; as well as some of the dangers in AI, and automation.

But that movie doesn't talk nearly as much about the benefits of the internet. Ten years ago, if someone had made a blockbuster movie about smartphones, it would have been about the phones turning evil and spying on everyone... but that hasn't stopped the Smartphone Revolution.



H+ is a web series that I follow seriously, about a future where personal wi-fi devices can actually be implanted and become part of our bodies, giving us a permanent uplink. The plot is that this technology leads to the collapse of civilization when something goes wrong; but the number one comment on the series is this: “I wish I had an implant!”

And that's just the big, massive blockbusters. Someone who made a movie about the Internet in the 80's would never have seen a smaller problem like Cyber-bullying as likely. Someone making a movie about AI's fifteen years ago, would never have considered a simple upside like a pizza being delivered to your door via drones using Google Maps.

It's a fact of technology that the first step toward realizing an idea is imagining it. For that reason; a lot of the things we have today started out as Science Fiction. I don't know why the first step is always to think of the dark side of all this tech.

I find it comforting that fear of the misuse of something doesn't seem to stop the general population from embracing it. Maybe I'm wrong. Maybe we should view Frankenstein as a cautionary tale, and put a stop to that research. But I'd like to think that the number of people who use something new for good will always outnumber the people who use it for evil.