Saturday, 1 March 2014

Guest Post ~ Jim Webster Author of Justice 4.1

Justice 4.1Justice 4.1

Release Date: Today (March 1st)

Publisher: Safkhet Publishing

When a journalist is shot down in a backward area of Tsarina, Haldar Drom of the Governor's Investigation Office is sent to investigate. He uncovers a hidden medical facility dedicated to the production of Abate, a drug used for population control, as well as evidence of the implantation of pre-created embryos in women brought to Tsarina for the purpose. He also discovers a deeper plot with far reaching political ramifications. A senior member of the Governors family, Doran Stilan is running a personal feud with the major pirate/Starmancer Wayland Strang. Indeed he begins to suspect that Stilan may even be angling to take Stang's place.

The medical facility is destroyed after it is attacked by mercenaries hired by Strang, and Drom has to travel off world to untangle the treads of the conspiracy.

Arriving back on Tsarina, he has to deal with a failed Starmancer attack, punish the guilty and arrange for Doran Stilan to get what's coming without undermining the position of the Governor. To do this, he'll need skill, know-how and a whole lot of luck to ensure that the guilty face justice.

Guest Post ~ The SF writer and technology

Looking ahead what will happen to technology and what will drive it? I suspect that some things will not change much. As an example I have a set of sheep shears. They're the old fashioned sort that farmers still use occasionally because they're manual; they don't need batteries or mains electricity. On my blog I have a photo of a modern set, as well as a set found at Flag Fen. The latter set is three thousand years old and is made of bronze, but other than that, nothing much has changed.

So peering many centuries into the future, assuming we crack the whole 'faster than light drive' problem and get out there into the stars, what sort of technology will we see? Will we see people with fashionably accessorised bionic limbs, electronic implants to give them extra memory or skills, or will we see planets where lack of local manufacturing has led to people reverting to the use of beasts of burden, whether it's a horse pulling the cart or some local equine substitute.

Some things will be decided by fashion. Looking back in my own life, when I was twenty it was unthinkable that my friends or I would actually go out and get a tattoo; at least not when we were sober. As for body piercing, we'd seen it on the telly. It was something you saw being sported by tribesmen from the darker corners of dark continents where their culture owed more to the late Stone Age than the twentieth century. So I'd put the bionic limbs and electronic implants in that category. At some place and time, someone will doubtless do it. Their grandparents will be shocked, and two generations later the adopters of this technological life style will be shocked that their own grandchildren are shunning the obvious benefits of this socially acceptable use of technology.

Other things will be decided more by economics than by the availability of technology. If you've got plenty of people and they need jobs, why spend money in labour saving devices when all that happens is that you create unemployment and social unrest. Obviously it's different if the labour you displace can be used elsewhere. So why have household droids to do the cleaning when you can hire well trained staff?

On the other hand, what better way of displaying wealth than by having both domestic staff AND household droids? Conspicuous consumption can play out in so many different ways.

Then we'll find technology comes with its own built in problems. In computer games now, we see the concept of the 'technology tree' where you have to invent some technologies before you can progress to even higher technologies. But should we spread out into space, newly colonised planets may lack certain intermediate technologies. So whilst the colonists might arrive on a ship with the latest of human technology, it might take them centuries to build up their own industries and technologies so that they can make their own space ships. The inhabitants know all the science, but until you can synthesise quarn-24 you cannot produce gravitonic motors.

So Jim, stop wittering, what are you driving at? Simple, when you're writing SF you can use any technology you want, mix it with any other technology you feel your story needs, secure in the knowledge that you can probably produce a suitably erudite spurious justification

If anyone wants to see what I'm up to visit:
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The flitter was hardly luxurious. It was a spacious workhorse with just enough concessions to comfort to deter personal injury claims from those who hired it. At the moment, it loitered over the northern highlands of the Border Kingdoms at a safe altitude. To their north, the highlands rose steadily until they became snow-capped and were lost in the clouds. Below them was a jumbled badlands of gorges and ridges, twisted rock,
frost-shattered and crumbling. Wheeling below them was a pair of great four-winged aradons, keen-eyed carrion feeders. In the distance, perhaps five miles away, Kilonwin Kardoverin could just make out what might be another pair. As far as he could tell, they were the only signs of life in sight. He looked down; even with vision enhancers, the ridges showed virtually no sign of life. He counted three stunted bushes with occasional blades of grass poking through the loose scree.

Kardoverin strapped himself into the co-pilot seat and fiddled with the camera array, determined to get as much footage as possible. Kardoverin had a reputation in the industry as one of the best documentary makers in the sector. This reputation was based on arrogance, a casual disregard for personal safety, and painstaking camera work. He was reputed to get five times as much material as was needed, even for top quality holo work. He turned to the pilot. "Can we get lower? I'd like to film into those gorges."


"Well, there's damn all up here."

"Why not zoom?" The pilot sounded nervous.

"They're in heavy shadow."

"Look, this is the Border Kingdoms, it isn't safe."

Kardoverin adjusted the central rig and raked the peripheral arrays so that they covered both flanks.

"Take us down fast; we'll be through and out."

"They're barbarians! They shoot at people."

"With black powder weapons." Kardoverin's tone was dismissive as he checked the satellite relay. It seemed to be working perfectly. "Look, just go in, one quick fly-through. It isn't as if I'm asking you to land, or even hover."

The pilot muttered something blasphemous under his breath and brought the flitter round. "I'll take us up that gorge on the left, it's narrower. Being so overcast, it's less likely to be inhabited."

He opened the throttle and brought the bow of the flitter sharply down. The clumsy craft accelerated rather faster than Kardoverin had expected, and he hastily checked the camera focus. This model of vehicle was effectively a rectangular box which flew and had little consideration of style. But for his purposes, the open top meant it had been comparatively easy to fit the cameras. The pilot brought them down sharply, heading south, gaining speed as he lost altitude. Then suddenly, he spun the controls and the flitter turned and banked so sharply Kardoverin felt himself hanging in the harness. Then the pilot pointed the nose of his craft straight into the mouth of the gorge, still dropping and gaining speed. As they entered between the towering rock walls, they were barely twenty feet above the ground and moving faster than Kardoverin would have believed possible. Kardoverin kept his eyes on the monitors, running his fingers over the controls in front of him, altering the zoom, the angle, the filters. They were deep in the gorge now and the boxy craft was travelling at breakneck speed. Kardoverin constantly re-adjusted the controls. "Isn't this a bit fast?"

The pilot's answer came through clenched teeth. "If I could go faster, I would. I want us out of here and—" He paused. "Oh hell, we are in deep—"

There was a staccato rattle of automatic weapons fire from one side. The burst struck the pilot, jerking his body against the seat harness. Kardoverin tore his gaze from the monitors and looked towards where the noise had come from. The second burst hit the front of the flitter, and the engine began to whine. Kardoverin frantically unbuckled his harness and stood up to reach over the pilot's body for the controls. The third burst struck him in the chest, spun him round and left him draped over the side of the flitter. Thirty seconds later, with no one at the controls, the flitter struck the rock wall of the gorge and exploded.

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