Let’s start with a computer program that can cause a world changing event by a simple post on an internet forum. Is that even possible? Pick an event… Your favorite stock to sky-rocket… The jerk who cut you off to lose his job… Sounds like witchcraft. How to make that happen with an injection of an idea in the glutted, crowded, ground-to-a-halt internet highway?
Here’s what happens. It isn’t the post itself that causes the event. The post simply tweaks the thinking of someone reading it. That little tweak may spur a comment… maybe a post somewhere else… maybe an email… That doesn’t cause it either. What this is about is a chain reaction. It is probably a very long chain reaction. Like It’s a Wonderful Life, one thing leads to another and one little post could eventually start World War Three.
No one can see that coming. But what if you could? Are people so simple that a program could categorize them by their philosophies and determine just what to say, how to say it, and when–to create any real-world event it wants? That’s the invention! All it takes is a series of supercomputers along with a little help from the idle time of millions of compromised hand-held devices to keep track of every bit of social media traffic. Given that much data and a self evolving program with the directive of understanding and manipulating society, a team of sociology geeks can manipulate the world like a puppet.
This is the world that Phil Dresser, hapless avoider of all social media, falls into. Nicknamed Joe Anonymous, Phil drops through the rabbit hole of secret control centers and inept sociologists who study the human condition via reality TV. World War III is the threat and the reluctant gladiator, Phil, may have to be the one to do it.
And me. Yeah, I wish. I am not worthy to tie the shoes… but inventions came from their stories. And I bet their stories came from their inventions: pieces of imagination that joined the fantastic with the usual. For Jules Verne, it was the nuclear submarine. For Isaac Asimov, it was psychohistory, and Arthur C. Clark had a plethora of ideas that are being developed as feasible to this day. No Hero’s Journey. No big outline. Just an invention that needed a story.
We have nuclear powered submarines today. Asimov’s Psychohistory is being used, as “psychohistory”, by various organizations to predict the future of society. Of course, Asimov’s imaginative definition required rooms-full of advanced equations to make precise predictions of what galactic governments would do. It still is an invention though–and one that spurs contemplation and study in itself. Such is the staple for nerds like me. Then there is Arthur C. Clark’s idea of launching molten iron through space to thwart defense geared for energy blasts, by using what we are now developing as a “rail gun” …Or his “space elevator” which is tantalizingly close to reality.
Joe Anonymous begins with a description of “The Mind”. The Mind is actually a world-wide grid of compromised computers (already such a thing if you look up SETI or LIGO). The story is not about The Mind so much as about a social-media inept overly-cautious luddite (based on me again) who becomes the focus of this Mind. The Mind is an invention though. It is in the background but controls the whole thing (hence the puppet strings on the world). There is nothing more powerful than an anonymous nitwit that can be used to join the virtual world with the real.
Vertex Rider is a story built around the development of the Parabolic Portal. Now that is an invention that will stay firmly rooted in fantasy. But it is still an invention that needed a story. The Parabolic Portal, in a nutshell, is a device that transfers matter through the zeroeth dimension to anywhere within the bounds of the parabola—which can be millions of miles. It does this in a split second. Actually, 1.64 x 10 to the -26 power of a second. But there is a side affect—a rather obvious one actually. Obvious or not, it takes the team of scientists by surprise because of the mathematician’s tendency to throw out imaginary numbers. The object lesson throughout is to stop calling things impossible.
Planet Quest… well, that’s the same invention but in spades. Turn a billion mile range to well over a hundred light years and you go from the solar system to the stars. The goal, for now, is the Orion Nebula, via multiple hops from planet to planet. There are distractions that make the adventure.
These are the three that I have out on Amazon right now. I plan on excerpts, news, and blatant promotions in the near future. Thank you for reading this far.
— John Beavers (and his pen)