The Amazing, Unfolding World of Machine Civilization Series
by Clayton Barnett
This post is part of a virtual book tour organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. Clayton Barnett will be awarding a $25 Amazon/BN GC to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour. Be sure to enter below.
About the Books
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.
Cursed Hearts - 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.
AUTHOR Bio and Links
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.
Excerpt from Friend and Ally
Mackenzie slowly moved her head. Her eyes opened. “Uhhh…?”
Nichole quickly spoke up. “You’re in my room, friend Mackenzie! You fell asleep after dinner on the ship! Do you remember?”
“Oooo! Head hurts!” Hangover.
“You need to drinks lots of water! And take a shower right now, to clean out your skin!” Nichole said. “Let me help you to your room!”
“My room…?” Mackenzie pushed herself up to a sitting position and tried to look around. It was obvious she was not all there. Her head lolled about, coming to a sudden stop when she looked at Nichole.
“Yes, friend Mackenzie?”
Nichole watched, fascinated, as clarity entered her friend’s face. Mackenzie held up her left hand, pointing.
“What’s that there for?”
She was just barely pointing to Nichole’s right. Did I leave my radio headset on again…?
Mackenzie looked at the cord that went from the back of Nichole’s neck, over her shoulder, across the floor, and into the wall outlet next to the bed she was in. Her eyes reversed their trace and ended back in Nichole’s. Anxiously, she pulled the sheet up to cover herself.
“What… what are you?!” Mackenzie cried.
Interview With The Author
What moment or event sparked the inspiration for your novel?
“The Fourth Law” – Prof. Glenn Reynolds offhand comment in a 2014 interview about AI: “why not make them love us?”
“Echoes of Family Lost” – If Lily’s sister isn’t dead… what in the world happened to her?
“Cursed Hearts” – was based upon a short story I wrote here, which itself was based upon a single NSFW image.
“Friend and Ally” – I had watched a video about DDG-173 because of an anime character of the same name. I wondered… why would that Japanese warship come to a devastated America? Then I saw Nichole walking down the gangway. I kept writing.
“Foes and Rivals” – The sci-fi author Larry Niven once said something to the effect of, “you don’t really own your world until you are able to destroy it.” So, as I try to do something a little different for every novel I write, I set out to wreck everything.
What is the most exciting issue you dealt with, as a writer, in your current novels?
1. Children. Some time ago, I wrote and coded a visual novel called OTChi Kocchi. Of the four possible love interests, one of the most popular was the young widow with a daughter. That surprised both me and the other developer.
When I set about exploring Machine Civilization, I’ve semi-deliberately made the introduction of ‘younger’ characters a key part of the stories. I really didn’t have the chance to do that in “Friend and Ally” & “Foes and Rivals” but my next novel, due this summer, will be centered on the two kids I introduced in “The Fourth Law” and “Echoes of Family Lost.”
2. Religion. I’ve spoken to other writers who say that this topic is so likely to blow up in their face that they consciously choose to avoid it. As a natural contrarian that just makes me mention it all the more! I don’t have my characters ever give a sermon or lecture – in fact when questioned about her faith by Thaad, Lily resorts to mumbling and hand-waving as she realizes just how little she understands her Catholicism. Little Henge takes it so seriously that in her picture book she wants to be baptized. Nichole, having her secular worldview repeatedly shaken, begins to accompany her older friend, Nancy, to Mass.
I don’t preach but I do introduce. As happy as I am to have people read my books, can you imagine my joy if I were to hear I’ve helped save a soul?
Please share some interesting facts about the characters in your books.
Let’s look at something I’ve not mentioned before: where do the humans work?
In “The Fourth Law” and “Echoes…” Lily Barrett is a live-in assistant director at an orphanage and an apprentice nurse. Her sister, Callie Hartmann, along with her husband Leslie, are fission reactor techs. Orloff, the guide for Lily and Fausta has a mysterious past but seems to be some kind of mercenary. The rest of the Knoxville Society are connected to power plant construction or security.
Katarina Sosabowski of “Cursed Hearts”… well, now. I don’t recall her working anywhere. That’s a bit of a plot hole!
Nichole 5’s two close friends, Joe and Gil, work odd jobs around the few remaining machine shops in the City. Her dear friend from across her apartment hallway, Mackenzie, teaches art lessons and later becomes an accountant for the city government.
How do you create characters to engage your readers? What makes a reader care about them? Are you able to use the setting to help develop your characters?
While Fausta’s combat android frame could probably hold its own in a fight with Alita, I never wanted to ‘Mary Sue’ anyone. Every person in these stories, human or machine, has their strengths and weaknesses. Physically, mentally, spiritually. Some of these lead to tragedy. Some led me to plot developments that were completely unexpected… below is part of a review of “Cursed Hearts” pointing out that while she’s the evilest thing I’ve ever written, even little Maya has a side that will tear your heart out… assuming she hasn’t already!
I both loved and hated Maya’s character. I wanted to save her from herself, as well as her creators. It’s hard not to hate her character as she becomes increasingly evil, but there is also a true sense of vulnerability that shines through her on occasion and made me wish I could cure her of her insanity and growing bloodlust. I found Maya to be by far the most complex character. She added a strong sense of terror to the novel, which had me on the edge of my seat as I read, particularly when I reached the last chapter.
Enter the Giveaway
Clayton Barnett will be awarding a $25 Amazon/BN GC to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour.
Other Tour Stops
February 11: Candrel's Crafts, Cooks, and Characters
February 12: Kit 'N Kabookle
February 13: Rogue's Angels
February 14: Mythical Books
February 15: Fabulous and Brunette
February 18: Just Books
February 19: Christine's Book Corner
February 20: BooksChatter
February 21: Sybrina's Book Blog
February 22: Independent Authors
February 25: Linda Nightingale....Musings
February 25: Readeropolis
February 26: Sharing Links and Wisdom
February 27: Mixed Book Bag
February 28: Literary Gold
March 1: The Avid Reader
March 4: Long and Short Reviews
March 5: Author Deborah A Bailey
March 6: Viviana MacKade
March 7: Author C.A.Milson
March 8: Hope. Dreams. Life... Love
March 8: Straight From the Library