Thursday, October 27, 2016

Blog Tour: Autonomy by Jude Houghton

by Jude Houghton
Published by: Grimbold Books
Publication date: July 29th 2016
Genres: Dystopian, New Adult, Science Fiction


Balmoral Murraine works in a Battery, assembling devices she doesn’t understand for starvation pay. Pasco Eborgersen is the pampered son of an Elite, trying to navigate the temptations of the Pleasure Houses, the self-sacrifice of the Faith, and the high-octane excitement of Steel Ball. They are two strangers, who never should have met, and now they will rip apart the world.

What happens when ninety percent of the world lives on skaatch – a jellyfish and insect composite?

What happens when mankind spends more time in alternative life sims instead of in the “real” world?

What happens when economic interest is the sole determinant of global decision making?

What happens when a single secret is discovered that calls into question everything we have ever believed?

Welcome to the Autonomy. Welcome to your future.

Tour Dates:  October 17-28

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Kolo shrugged. The boy was gifted in so many ways, his intuitive understanding of technology and networks would put most of the other students to shame. But in recent weeks he had become increasingly agitated and quick to anger. Hakim thought he understood why, but that didn’t make teaching him any easier. At the end of the course Kolo’s visa would expire, and he would have to return home, and home was not a pleasant place.

With a thumb and forefinger Professor Hakim magnified the three dimensional image of the neuron and set it to rotate on the table in front of them.

“To understand the nanotechnology that makes iNet integration into the human mind possible, we must first understand the mechanism of the electrically excitable cell.”

“But why do you need it inside your head when you already have it in the iNet glasses you’re all chained to?”

And you too, since you’ve been here, the Professor thought, staying up all night, exploring the other lives, other experiences iNet has to offer. Even visiting the Pleasure Houses, despite your father’s strict injunctions. I know Kolo, I know, but I let it pass.

Professor Hakim smiled. “Imagine the entire sum of human knowledge at the flick of a synapse. Communication at the speed of thought. The capacity of the brain increased by a million fold without holographic touchpads, without lenses.”

“I understand the science, not the intent.”

The Professor sighed. “There is no intent, other than allowing the human mind to benefit from computer intelligence. For example, the almost instant recall of billions of data points, the sharing of knowledge at high speed, instead of using the very slow medium of language. All this functionality is incorporated into iAm.”

Kolo stared at the holograph impassively, a bored expression on his face.

The Professor sighed. “Perhaps we should just watch and listen.” He touched a command on his air pad and the high definition images came to life.

“In the early 2040s, with the increasing miniaturization of chip technology, the first implants were successfully fused with living brain tissue. In 2048 complete integration of iNet with primate neurons was achieved. A chip less than a millimetre in length . . .”

As the interactive lecture continued, moving through the biological sub structures of the technology, the Professor studied the boy. The other faculty protested when the University accepted him, with a sizable donation of course, from one of the Cut’s bloodiest dictators. His father was infamous for his erratic moods, devastating charm, and for murdering an estimated ten million people while coercing a quarter of the continent into a West African bloc.

From Hakim’s perspective, he couldn’t help being excited by the boy. For a Professor of neuroscience, the opportunity to interact with an adolescent mind from outside the Autonomy, unenhanced by iNet, was fascinating.

The faculty also missed the bigger picture. Top 10 was in negotiations with the Cut to provide its skeletal inhabitants with iAm at no cost. That was the only reason a non-citizen was permitted inside the Autonomy’s Sector walls. At the same time Kolo senior was suspicious of their motives, so he sent Kolo to scout out the technology for him.

His train of thought was broken as one of Kolo’s bodyguards opened the door, surveyed the Professor’s study and closed it again. Every twenty minutes. On the dot. The boy flinched when the bodyguard came in. This jumpiness, like his agitation, was also a recent development.
The Professor couldn’t understand it. His father had many enemies, but he was safe from the Cut here.

The brief visi-lecture finished and the image in the centre of the table reverted back to the rotating neuron.

“Well?” the Professor said.

Kolo didn’t reply. The boy’s expression was blank. Had he even been listening?

“Kolo?” he said, “You have less than two weeks until your exams.”

Slowly, the boy turned to him. “You know, when I go home, my father will ask me what I have learned here. He will ask for my advice on this . . . iAm. And I will say it is the control mechanism of their masses, the way guns are for ours.”

“There is no control. iAm is simply an expanded memory and communication system. Better data for better decisions.”

“But the Autonomy controls the information, controls what people see.”

“There is no volition in the information. The user selects what they review, whether academic research, or a game of Steel Ball, or even the Pleasure Houses.”

“But nothing can be published outside the system. What if you had something you wanted to say that despite its veracity, despite its importance, was not considered in the interest of the Autonomy?”

Hakim felt a flush of heat. What was the boy getting at? Surely he couldn’t know about the lecture. And yet hadn’t he returned to his office a week ago to discover the paper copy of his data slightly out of place?

Last night, in a fit of paranoia, he made a recording of the lecture, just in case anything went astray. In the cold light of the morning he had felt foolish, and regretted burning his paper copy, but studying Kolo he again felt uneasy.

“We need to get back to your studies,” Hakim said, a little unsteadily.

Kolo smiled. “Why? Are you afraid of where this conversation might lead us?”

“No. I’m afraid that you will fail the exams your father paid so much for you to sit.”

The boy shrugged. “My father already gave me the best education his wealth can buy, shipping in tutors from the Autonomy, sparing no expense in bribes. He wants me to rise above his achievements and unite the people of the Cut. He doesn’t realise the Cut has no future.”

The image of the revolving neuron flickered and disappeared. A second later, silence descended as the air conditioning, along with the rest of the building’s systems, shut off.

“What’s happening?” Kolo said, glancing towards the door.

“I don’t know.” The Professor pulled up his holopad, “A brown out, I expect. Let me see . . .”

There was a loud crack in the corridor, then another. It was a sound Hakim had not heard for almost forty years, but he had never forgotten it. Gunfire.

About the Author:

Jude developed a love of fantasy from a relatively early age after realising an innate talent for making stuff up could result in something other than detention. Working across the globe in fields as diverse as journalism, data entry, sales, management consultancy and babysitting, Jude has partially succeeded in putting an English and History degree from Oxford University to good use. A somnambulist, insomniac, lover of letters, Jude writes late into the night, most nights, tumbling down the rabbit hole to dream of other lives. Jude currently lives in Pennsylvania with an over-enthusiastic family and absurdly entitled dog.


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