THE AMAZING UNFOLDING WORLD OF MACHINE CIVILIZATION SERIES
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.
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.
The Fourth Law
“LILY! You’re not a wolf! Wake up!”
She groggily sat up from her bed. Huh?
“It’s three in the morning... you need to help your kids!” Ai shouted at her from her phone.
She flung the cover aside and pushed her glasses onto her face. Now she could hear the siren. What was it this time? Tornado, airstrike, barbarians... the last was almost a year ago when they lost Texarkana. Wait. She shook her head to try to wake up. This time, she’d an unimpeachable information source.
“Ai. Status.” She said into the darkness.
“A fission weapon was detonated outside San Francisco about ten minutes ago; the weather pattern indicates fallout will travel north of you, into parts of former Kansas and Oklahoma. But, winds do change...”
“Right.” She started pulling her clothes on. “Wake up the Fitzhughs; I’ll be there in a minute.”
She walked from her bedroom through her main room, glancing at the monitors. She suddenly bit hard on her lower lip. On the monitors, Ai stood at attention in a Texas Field Forces uniform. For some unknown reason, she forgot to render her pants. Striped green and white panties? Lily worried about her friend sometimes.
AN INTERVIEW WITH CLAYTON
-What inspired you to become a writer?
While the proximate trigger would have been NaNoWriMo 2014, I’d say now – after five novels – that someone wanted their stories told and I was the vessel chosen to tell them, as mildly creepy as that may sound.
-If you could visit your book’s world for a day, what one thing would you do?
Hmmm… let’s take a look at each!
T4L: I hear that Thaad is working to get the Texas spaceports up and running again! I’d rather go see how that’s proceeding than look at the forests of crucified along the Rio Grande and Sabine Rivers.
EFL: I’d like to check up on law Prof. G. Reynolds of Knoxville, Tennessee, who inadvertently coined the Fourth Law.
CH: The Hotel del Coronado in San Diego, California is one of the most beautiful in America. Although now restricted to the military and government officials of the Mexican Occupation Force, if invited I would like to see it again. It’s been almost forty years since I last did.
F&A: The Simon-Benson House at the northern end of Portland State University used to house the Alumni Association. At some point during the Breakup, it was renovated into a pub called Zom’s, with a most peculiar proprietor. Definitely would stop in for a drink!
F&R: Just to the west of the city of Portland was the bedroom community of Beaverton. I spent part of my childhood there. I wonder if my old house is still standing?
-It’s two in the morning. What does your protagonist reveal in confidence? (Don’t worry, we won’t tell.)
Using the same format, let’s listen!
T4L: If I suddenly ended up in Lily Barrett’s flat over the main office of St. Joseph’s Home for Children in Waxahachie, Texas at 0200, the best that would happen is she breaks my arms as she disables me (she’s a 2nd degree black belt in Shorin-Ryu karate); at worst, she guts me like a trout with her K-Bar knife! No thank you!
EFL: Walking back to the Society’s encampment in Redstone Arsenal chatting with Fausta about military history, some locals pass us going home, laughing and carrying on. First checking that no one is looking at her, she removes her sunglasses and examines their retreating forms with her crystalline search array. “I am a warrior,” I hear her whisper, “but I wish I could look pretty in a dress, too!”
CH: In the middle of the tanjed night my phone chimes. Who…? Oh, it’s Cat. Blearily I read the text: ‘I think im falling for Chris!’ What?
F&A: the curfew has been lifted, again, and Nichole is ambling home after another late night in the Miller Library’s Special Collection department: old, pre-digital knowledge. She sings softly to herself in Japanese. “You okay, Five?” I call from across the walk. She blinks several times before shaking her head once with a tiny smile. “I miss my home and family!”
F&R: There are still faint sounds of mortars to the far north and the Stratford House is largely deserted in the face of the unfolding disaster. Checking quickly that everyone’s off the fourth floor, I pause at an open door to a dark room. That artist girl’s room. A quick scan with my flashlight shows it’s empty. But… a few steps and one more flash of light at the large canvas in the middle of the tiny apartment. The image… that image…
-Which of your characters would you go out for drinks with?
At the end of one of my earlier novels, most all of the characters get together on a “simulation” of a beach called into being by one of the machines of tribe Tohsaka. A barbeque ensues. I’d love to wander about with a gin and soda and chat with everyone I could.
-You’re in a tavern, and a dwarf challenges you to a duel. What do you do?
Immediately summon BATTLE DWARF GIMLI, who designed and made the cover of “Foes and Rivals”, to my defense!
-Is there a genre you could never write? Which and why?
About two years ago I wanted to find out what was going on in Texas early in the Breakup. Called “Crosses and Doublecrosses,” it was to be a political/espionage/thriller. I wrote the prologue and part of chapter one and became so lost in who was doing what to whom and where that I abandoned the project. A year later I’d an Army MP suggest I make one of the wall-boards that have mugshots and bits of string running from person to person to indicate all the interconnected relationships. That sounds a lot more like work than fun, but perhaps I’ll return to it… someday.
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.
Find him at his website
Clayton Barnett will be awarding a $25 Amazon/BN GC to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour.a Rafflecopter giveaway