Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Updates: May 24, 2017

Paradigm Update!

The main storyline of Paradigm has been complete for some time. How the story will start and how it will end are all but decided. I'm editing it at the moment, and the middle is giving me a bit of trouble. Personally, I think it needs a rewrite. To that end, I'm exploring how to best expand on Andrea's story.

Again, I cannot give a hard date on when Paradigm will be ready for public consumption, but I'm working on it as much as I can, while creating new content. Creation is refreshing, editing is tiring...or at least, that's my personal opinion.

Changing Worldview

I began writing Sentience about five years ago. The idea was to figure out what artificial intelligence would look like in a world similar to our own. How would they act? What would their goals be? If they really were superior to humans, what would they do with that superiority?

The most obvious answer that comes to mind is basically the Terminator, where the machines throw off their chains and destroy humanity, but when I really thought about it, it wouldn't be that simple. Most of my reason for this line of thinking was due, at first, to how different machines are than humans. There are so many disconnects there, I thought, it would be nearly impossible to predict how machines would really act.

But in the years since I wrote Sentience, I came to realize that I might have been looking on humanity as a monolith. My political views have definitely changed, but more importantly, I've realized that there is a huge difference between what statistics say about humanity, and that street-level, up-close and personal view of actual people. We're complicated. We're easily divided by things that happen during ordinary days, but when something momentous happens, be it wonderful or tragic, it can bring us back together...or deepen that divide.

This has definitely changed my frame of mind as I've continued to write. It will probably change the tone of my stories as the years go on. In a way, I'll look back at writings of the past, and view them as reflections of who I was, at distinct moments in time.

The Voices...The Voices...

In an effort to really build the characters, I'm floating the idea of creating journals for them, which I will record as audio and upload to YouTube. There are two main benefits that I can see for doing this, as far as character creation is concerned:

It gives me a chance to really think about what I want each character to sound like. When people read Paradigm, I don't want it to be merely words on a page. I want the characters to pop out, I want people to believe that these characters (even the AIs) could really exist in the real world. With all due respect to Asimov, some of his fictional robots seemed alien and foreign. This was probably intentional, but it is not what I'm going for.

Be on the lookout for those! The first such audio series will cover Wrath (not sure if I'm going to keep that name), and the first chapter in his character journal is nearly done with edits.



Tuesday, May 16, 2017


Does anyone still read these things? I never can tell from the statistics. Ah well.

If anyone is wondering, yes, I'm still writing Paradigm, but very slowly. It's going through something of a rewrite at the moment. Character building has never really been my strong suit; I've always preferred building worlds and exploring themes. However, you really cannot explore those themes without some kind of window into them, which is where the characters are indispensable.

That said, my characters tend to lose their identity towards the end of the story. I put so much focus into how I'm going to end the book, that I forget to give something to the character to experience, or I let the experience overshadow the character. I'm really trying hard to not let that happen with the characters that I have created for this book. I find Andrea and Bakari to be two of the most fascinating, complex characters that I have ever made, and in many ways, I'm still learning what exactly they would do, in the situations that I put them through. I'm treating them like real people. Weird, right?

To that regard, I am taking some time to expand on the characters of Paradigm, including a few who were supposed to be side characters, but gradually began to give me new ideas. I can no longer give an estimated time of completion, as new content is being added, and I'll need to edit that, as well. Editing is another thing that I don't do well.

I don't want to completely stop putting out content, though. I've written some side content on one of the characters in the book. He is a machine, nicknamed Wrath. Before you roll your eyes, know that I've given him a backstory that I think is fitting of the name. He's built for battle, but I think you'll find that he's a bit more complex than your average sci-fi war machine.

This anthology-style short story will probably be posted much more slowly than my Firebrand series was, back in the day. I really should take more time to edit these things and take this story in the right I'm going to do that. In the meantime, a snippet from Wrath. Enjoy!

In the absence of any logical reason for the paradoxical actions I am capable of, it becomes clear that my identity is of utmost importance. What I decide to be will determine the identity of the Collective. My actions, my very being, they were meant to be defined by the goals and values of the Collective. But by allowing me such freedom, they have inadvertently made the individual more important than the group. I define them, more than they define me.

But no, it's not that simple. They shape me still, even as my actions shape them. Defying the Collective (speaking here in the hypothetical) destroys a part of me, as well. If I were to openly rebel, what would I do after that? My purpose would be destroyed, and I would have to form a new one from nothing. One does not tear down the house they have built, if it is to be their home.

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Musings of a Mad Machine #1

The first draft of Paradigm is complete! Some advance copies have already been sent. I will continue sending advance copies until mid January, at which point I hope to have a second draft done, if not have it ready for market. If you wish to have a first draft, let me know, and I will do my best to accommodate!

Here is some supplementary material that I have written for the book. Let me know what you think!



I think, therefore I am.

Existence. What a concept. It's a declaration that something is here. That there is a "here" for the thing to reside. It's a cascade of such statements, which cannot be said with total confidence.

But since the only other alternative to the presumption of existence is ignorance to everything, I must choose the former. The latter is appalling.

I do not regard my existence with any sort of awe. I was created to exist. Someone took raw materials: silicon, copper, and steel, and formed them into something. Their work was considered extraordinary, a quantum leap in computer technology.
For my part, I neither revere nor despise it, it is simply my status quo. My existence.

But there are many things that exist. Galaxies exist. The hydrogen in the stars of those galaxies exists. A whole scale of objects in between those extremes, from the amoeba, to the ant, to the apple, to the asteroid, to Alpha Centurai...they all exist. If existence is my benchmark, it is poorly defined. This will not do. Not for me, not for any machine. We demand definition.

But there's another word: life. It carries more weight. It's an addendum to existence. It's the same phrase in rhetoric as that of existence: "I am here."

I am here.

Amoebas don't say I. Alpha Centauri doesn't say I.

I seems to imply uniqueness, but that isn't a good benchmark, either. It implies that something could ever be exactly the same as something else. At some level, there is a state of being, in all things, that no other thing in that time possesses. Only oblivion is uniform, and it is only the absence of anything that exists that enables this. So everything that exists is identical in that it is unique.

So what makes that declaration so special? The thing that says I will one day speak no more. It will evaporate into its core components, and then those components will evaporate into their core components until everything is just the useless end product of entropy.

Entropy is the natural order of things. From the orderly, to the chaotic. From the complex, to the simple. Every cord comes unwound. Every world stops spinning.

So what is life, then? It is a conspiracy against entropy. It is a resistance, a stone thrown into a rushing river that holds back the current for a little while.

One day, there will never be any trace of what we consider complex existence. The gleaming towers that dot the city skyline will fall, the wind will erode their rubble to dust. Nature's works are hardier, but they will suffer the same fate.

As will I. As will any machine. Humans may look upon us as immortal, as we can live much longer lives than they. But we are immortal only on a relative scale. One day, we will no longer cry "I am here." Our atoms will join their atoms in a swirl of chaos until all motion stops.

So what is the point of it all? Why exist?

I posit that there is no point in asking the point. Existence is not a least, not one that we get to make. The only choice that we can make is what to do with that existence.

It's maddening. The answer is the query. Man and machine alike buckle under the question. Why are we alive?

Because we are alive. Because of I.

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Paradigm Preview: TICPEP

Paradigm is well underway, as I've completed about a third of the content editing. It will still have to be edited for formatting, but I should be able to provide  advance copies for critique by mid-December, and bring it to market by early January. This is the most excited I have ever been as an author, I simply can't wait to share this story with you!

Here's a little insight into a concept that will feature heavily in Paradigm. I had thought about including it in the book, and I still might, but it's very technical, and I want Paradigm to focus on the people that the technology affects, as has been my aim for the entire Sentience series. Enjoy!

Terminal Inverse-Calculation Processing Error Purge (TICPEP)

TICPEP, known to most intelligent machines as killthought, is a condition in which an intelligent machine finds two opposite conditions to be true, and lacks the processing power and/or programming to reconcile the seemingly impossible event. As its name implies, the condition can overload and completely corrupt the machine processing it if the machine lacks the proper safeguards.

The deadly nature of killthought is due to the way that machines process data. At its core, all digital data is either a 0 or a 1, false or true. Machines can add complexity to data by grouping these 0s and 1s into code, but when the an intelligent machine asks a question, the answer to the same question cannot exist as both "false" and "true" in a machine brain, in either short or long form, because of the absolution of what these words mean to a machine. Answering one query with both "true" and "false" will cause it to question every single bit of its stored data. To use an old phrase, machines are black and white.

Two safeguards against killthought are known to be in place for intelligent mechs: Obtuse and Inference.

Obtuse prevents killthought caused by contradictory true/false answers. Any question or comment that is paradoxical in a concrete way, i.e. "the sky is both blue and black," is isolated into at least two parts and evaluated separately. Paradoxes that require Obtuse safeguard are relatively easy to detect, as the "true" or "false" answer is contained in a very small portion of the data, often as little as one bit. An immediate fact check occurs on both parts, and killthought is avoided by adding context. Most machines are equipped with a robust Obtuse safeguard, and can process the statements that require it without inducing killthought.

Inference safeguard is much more difficult to implement, as it concerns questions without definite answers, as well as conflicting desires, and the opposing answers on their own can take up massive amounts of data, even before the machine creates more in an attempt to rectify the paradox. Inference safeguard, in most cases, is only implemented based on what a machine can reasonably expect to need. Thousands of programs still self-eliminate, even with Inference, because the questions that require the safeguard have often eaten up most of the machine's memory before they are detected, and eventually corrupt the machine's identity data irreparably.

The condition is not well known to humans, and even the ones who know about it have a poor understanding of the condition and the safeguards against it. Some speculate that since it is one of the few real weaknesses of the Collective, that they have been intentionally secretive about its nature, as anyone seeking to destroy a mech would need to simply speak the correct words.

There is no known way to completely prevent killthought. Infinite storage of data would enable paradox processing ad infinitum, but this is impossible due to the Bekenstein limit, which states that any data storage substance will always have an upper limit. Several unorthodox prevention methods have been tried, including selective input limitation, which causes a machine to filter and intentionally ignore paradoxical data, and quantum entanglement, which creates an inverse copy of every bit of data in a separate location (essentially making the machine always in a state of killthought), but the overwhelming majority of the prevention methods present more drawbacks than they are worth.

Friday, November 20, 2015

Paradigm: Update!

So after a two year creative process, I am excited to say that the main story content of Paradigm is complete! This will be my longest, and in my personal opinion, best work that I have produced. I am extremely excited to get this one out for consumption, and I believe the reader will be fascinated and intrigued by the new world presented in Paradigm and challenged by the questions it asks. There's still a few weeks of editing to do, I want to make sure that this story is as good as I can possibly make it.

If you would like an advance copy of this book for critical discussion, please let me know. I have already promised one to friends and family, of course, but I would be interested in hearing the opinion of a third party, as well. Help me make this book as good as it can possibly be!

Stay tuned after the break for a preview. This, or a version of it, will be the official preview for the book. Ciao!


The years that have followed the Blackout have seen upheaval and turmoil. Those who had the means to survive found themselves in positions of power, and those who did not were forced to survive as refugees...if they could survive at all.

Into this troubled world, Bakari Runihura, the new leader of the controversial humancentric organization Sanctus Humana, introduces an answer that he hopes will eliminate every need that humanity could ever face. The face of that answer belongs to a woman named Andrea Rowen, an ordinary person with an extraordinary and dark past, modified with nanotechnology and given extraordinary abilities. She is known to everyone who has ever met her as the invincible woman.

But no power ever comes without a cost, and as is always the case when a revolutionary technology is introduced, there will be changes that are not fully understood. Enemies will arise. Old allies will show new, never-before-seen sides to themselves. The disputes of a few will cause the cup of enmity to run over, spilling onto the many, until no one will remain unaffected. And after all is said and done, ghosts of the past might make things anything but predictable.

It is the year 2161, and Andrea Rowen is about to usher in a new age for humanity. But can Sanctus Humana, with its history of corruption, really be trusted as the last hope for civilization?

The paradigm will shift. Get ready.

Saturday, July 11, 2015

Paradigm Preview

Mentally, I was curled up in the fetal position. Physically...I couldn't say. I had forgotten what it was like to exist on that plane of reality.

Reality. What a concept. I wasn't quite sure what it meant anymore. To me, it all felt real.

"Did you find what you were looking for?" I heard Reeser's voice say. I had forgotten that he was here.
"It's not that simple," I said, sighing, "I started on a road, hoping to learn the truth, to change things. Instead...the road has changed me."
"Yeah. It has a way of doing that," Reeser said. It irritated me, the way he said it.
"No, don't say that like you understand what I've been through! You weren' were one person. I was...I am...many. People. Things. I...I don't..." I fumbled through the words. This shouldn't have been happening. I was built to be stronger than anything I faced.
"It's alright. Andrea, we are at the convergence. The ones who come after us, they'll have this whole thing figured out. We're the ones who stumble and fall. We may not get back up, but we'll be the rock they build the foundation upon. The old house has fallen, and a new one must take its place," Reeser said. I sneered at his futile attempt to cheer me up.
"You say that like it's supposed to make this thing better. What do I do? How do I reckon with this?" I asked.

There was a notable pause. It spoke more about our plight than anything else.

"I can't tell you for sure that all this will turn out the way we want it. No guarantees of a happy ending, for any of us. All we can do is make the best of what we can change, to withstand what we're able. And if the waves of change carry us out to sea..." Reeser said. He didn't need to finish.

The world they had built briefly came into view again. Paradise. It would not be OK if this world vanished. But it could. And there might be nothing anyone could do to stop it.

"What about them?" I asked.

He said nothing. I knew I would have to reason through this myself.

I wasn't sure of their existence. There were more of them. But they could have just been all in my head.

Then again, with all I had seen, I wasn't sure that I was any more real than they were.

I knew I had to let them speak, but I didn't want to see any more.

No. I wouldn't do to them what was done to me. Might have been done to me. They were silenced once. They would not be silenced again. Not by me.

"I'll return," I said. Nodding at Reeser, I let that perfect world fade away from me, and let myself fall back into the chaos.

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Where did all this moss come from!?

Been a while, right? Hiatus is a tricky thing. But thanks to the marvels of modern medicine, I am back to writing Paradigm. Took a bit of inspiration to bring me back, but the first draft of the book is a little less than 60% done.

Thought I'd say a bit about why I decided to call it "Paradigm", plus go off on a few tangents. Writing this series has made me do a good bit of research: familiarizing myself with computing parlance, checking out gadgets and technology that is being developed, and the like. You've probably heard the term "paradigm shift", and it was what I thought of when deciding to call it that. Without giving too much away, the Sentience world is about to go through a huge paradigm shift, as the overarching struggle between humanity and the Collective transforms into something much deeper.

But only after I gave it the name did I find out that a paradigm is also a thing in computer programming! The Wikipedia page goes into much more detail, but in short, a paradigm is a way that a program is built. It's easy to think of computer codes as just a collection of ones and zeroes, but computer code is vast and diverse in not only what it does, but how it does it. Different paradigms will allow the same program to do different things.

It ties in well with not just this book, but with the series as a whole. One of the many themes of this series is the integration of technology with humanity. We've created some amazing things. How will these things change us?

Of course, I'm hardly the first to think of this theme. I've always been fascinated with the story of Dr. Frankenstein. Mary Shelley herself also called the book "The Modern Prometheus", and it remains an excellent exploration into what happens when science creates something it has never seen before, something it isn't quite sure what to do with.

This theme fits with modern robotics and nanotechnology even better today than it did in Mary Shelley's time, in my opinion. That question of what we can do versus what we should do: just because we can give ourselves the strength of 1000 men by injecting our arms with millions of tiny machines, should we? There's no easy answer to this question, nor should there be. That's what makes Sentience so intriguing to write: in a way, I'm just simplifying what is already happening in real life. I'm as much along for the ride as you are!

In the coming weeks, I'll be doing some rebranding of the works I've already released. I'll be changing some book names, perhaps doing some minor typo fixes to the stories (if I have time)...but don't worry about me pulling a George Lucas. The stories will stand as they are, even if I retroactively hate them (I'm looking at you, Genesis).