The Amazing, Unfolding World of Machine Civilization Series
by Clayton Barnett
GENRE: Science Fiction
NOTE: Echoes of Family Lost and The Fourth Law are only $0.99
A history beginning in our near future, these stories are set in a world where the US dollar has been displaced as the world’s reserve currency, prompting its economic and political collapse, with a few areas able to hold onto civilization.
At the same time, across the Pacific, under a resurgent economy brought about by the implementation of new technology and deregulation, three Japanese companies produce breakthroughs in both artificial intelligence and robotics. These newly made people exhibit an odd interest in the goings-on of the former United States.
To-date, my chronicling of this interest of theirs has led to stories that populate five novels, which I would like to share with everyone now!
The Fourth Law – In the near future, 23-year-old apprentice nurse Lily Barrett lives in a shattered time. Following its economic collapse, the US has devolved into a group of a few barely functional smaller states and vast swathes of barbarian badlands. His sister has been missing for years, and her father, after earning the opprobrium of most of the world for running a state terror organization, presumed dead.
Two things keep her going: her live-in job at a small, Catholic orphanage in the city of Waxahachie, Republic of Texas, and Ai, her odd but dear friend, whom she met online; a young woman who only shows herself to Lily as a rendered CG image.
Troubled by her past, haunted by her name, and facing an uncertain future, Lily seems only a quiet, simple life. But, that past and her present conspire against her.
Echoes of Family Lost – Alive! After four years believing her older sister lost and presumed dead in the horrible Breakup of the United States, Lily Barrett gets word from her dear friend, Ai – and Ai’s family of Machine Civilization – that Callie Barrett is very likely alive… but over 900 miles away in Knoxville.
Using the resources of her and Ai’s family, Lily puts together a search party to go find Callie: old, broken, and burnt Orloff – an expert in surviving in the Badlands, Ai’s little sister, Fausta – her machine mind controlling a Combat Android to protect her friend, all together in a cart pulled by their sturdy pony, Clyde.
It’s almost a thousand miles to go, with something very odd trying to limit their ability to communicate over distance and even to cross bridges. A chance meeting along the way in Huntsville, former Alabama, wrecks their plans, and puts all of their lives in danger.
Cursed Hearts – Even with San Diego occupied by the Mexican Army, Katarina Sosabowski pursues her MBA at UCSD, and is happy to welcome and put up her visiting step-cousin from Japan, Christopher Dennou, for a night so he can complete his enrollment the following day.
But a minor earthquake brings a major surprise: Chris’s younger sister, Maya, murders their mother and escapes Neuroi Institute, the research facility that created them.
While Chris and ‘Cat’ grow closer to one another, Maya inexorably crosses an ocean and half a continent to take back her brother, killing anyone who gets in her way.
Friend and Ally – Model 5 is a prototype designed to fit seemlessly into human society. A meeting in Tokyo derails Nichole’s planned training as she is dispatched to Portland, former Oregon; the last working deep water port on the West Coast of the imploding US.
There, under her cover as a Graduate Engineering Student, she is to do her utmost to nurture the people and politics of the City-State into a Friend and Ally of the Japanese Empire. But from the first day in her new home, all of Nichole’s plans go awry.
Beset by those who want this small lamp of Western Civilization snuffed out, Nichole must find within herself the courage and ability to protect her new friends, at whatever consequence to herself.
Foes and Rivals – After residing nearly a year in Portland, Nichole’s life seems to finally settle down: with her classes, friends, and lover. But troubling rumors about secret deals between the City’s master and the savage horsemen to the east reach her ears.
With her own skills augmented by her friends and allies, she sets plans into motion she hopes will thwart those in opposition to her dream of a peaceful future.
Once again denied a quiet, normal life, Nichole is faced to make hard, dangerous choices that will jeopardize her, her friends, and the survival of the City itself.
Read an excerpt
Izumi blinked his eyes against the small light above him. Had power been restored already? He tried to sit up . . . .
Not only were his limbs restrained, he could not even move his head to look about. His eyes now adjusted to the light, he was able to tell he was in the surgery itself. That’s right, he thought, each unit has a small emergency generator. He heard movement in the room.
“Hello! Who’s there?!”
There was no reply, he was about to shout again when Maya came into his field of view.
“Miss Maya! Thank goodness! Would you please – ” He broke off sharply as she raised the rotary bone saw in her right hand. “Miss Maya! What is the meaning – !”
“You have knowledge that we need. Now.” He’d just noted the red in her eyes before she pressed the saw against his forehead. Blood sprayed everywhere, across the room, across her face, as he screamed on and on.
With a heave of breath, he opened his eyes again. They stung from all the blood in them. Did he pass out? What was Maya doin-
She stood over him, his blood running down her face and dripping back onto his.
“M… Maya…” His voice choked with agony. “…what are… what…?”
“We have already answered that question.” She reached toward him, just above his eyes, into his forebrain.
Guest Post – Topic: Your plans for the future
Had to step back and take a walk to answer this one. As I have alluded to at other tour stops, I plan to keep telling stories about Machine Civilization for as long as they keep showing them to me. Which is when I had the idea for this Guest Post. Rather than tell you about my plans for the future, how about for this ‘Stop, just before the weekend, I show a little of what is coming next! Due out this summer, please enjoy getting to know Gary and Henge, and their families, in their story, “Worlds Without End.”
They walked along t he beach holding hands as they always did. It was typically warm: he’d a plain white tee shirt besides his navy swim trunks and she a translucent white wrap over her school-issue dark blue one-piece. There were clouds, but, of course, no sun. Just the brightness.
Nothing ever changes here, he thought, just me. And rarely, her.
Henge abruptly sat at the crest of the strand. Her legs stuck out before her and she rocked her bare feet back and forth.
Over the last ten years, Gary reflected, she has changed her appearance very little. The same purple hair in two twin-tails; her denim overalls atop her white tee shirt – and no shoes – were her typical attire; different now, of course, as they might go swimming in her sea. She’d gotten a little taller, as he had, keeping her open, friendly adobe-colored eyes over a mouth that never smiled, never frowned.
Gary sat down next to her. It was warm, so rather than putting his right arm about her, he took her hand. Their hips and legs touched. The contact was enough that her True Form, a playful otter, echoed about his subconscious.
“Over so many of your cycles, I am older to say, ‘happy birthday!’”
The corners of his mouth turned up. For him, quite the display.
“Thank you, wife!”
“Your mother and father say we must not call one another that!” Her voice was soft and even, but he heard the emotion behind it.
“My mother and father say lots. But as of today,” he leaned to kiss her cheek, “I’m a rebellious teenager!”
There was a flicker of light and the play of static in their palms.
Henge was different.
No more a slightly tom-boyish seeming 12-year old, Gary could not see a straight line on her anywhere. Her chest was fuller and her hips rounder. Her light purple hair still had two small twin-tails, but the mass of the rest was six inches or so past her shoulders. Her schoolgirl one-piece swimsuit now a white bikini. Modest, but still a bikini.
“Better?” She asked, her voice a tiny fraction lower.
He felt her start to move but he was on his back and she atop him faster than he could see. Typical: in their home human and machine reflexes were different. Her hands were just at the base of his ribs. Her eyes – that odd blend of tan and red – never left his.
“I have a present for you, Intended.”
“Nothing, I hope, that will anger my parents?” They had been totally honest with one another since they met.
She let her hands slide off him into the white sand as she lowered herself. Their lips touched. She shifted slightly. They touched again.
Henge sat back up. Her left hand returned to just below his chest. The index finger of her right traced along her lips. Still looking at him.
“I… liked that…” Her voice trailed off.
Did he really hear that whisper? Or, was it just the surf?
Henge stood, holding her hand out. Gary let her pull him up. Oh!
They were now the same height.
She pointed back to where they’d come from.
“Let’s talk a little and pray together before you go to your home.”
AUTHOR Bio and Links:
One time engineer, some time pharmacy technician, full time husband and father, Clayton Barnett stumbled into writing a traditional novel November 2014 during National Novel Writing Month. Liking the results, he edited what would become “The Fourth Law” and set about teaching himself self-publishing. In the following four years he has produced four more novels as well as a children’s early reader, all in what is now called Machine Civilization.
Clayton Barnett lives in central Ohio with his wife, two daughters, and two dogs.
Clayton Barnett will be awarding a $25 Amazon/BN GC to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour.