Michelle Knight. Writer, photographer, programmer, truck driver and general, all round nut case. Life is a journey and that's what this blog will probably end up being. Let's see where we go, eh? ;-)
So, as the publisher seems to be putting out Chapter 1 of books as the teaser, I thought I'd give you a heads up at what's coming in G.E.N.I.E. with the first chapter, that sets the scene. If all keeps going as it is, then I estimate it being going to the editor at the end of Feb and on sale in March, as a 100,000 word book. However, I know that January is going to be a real sod of a month work-wise, so we'll have to see what happens.
Of course, it's still in first draft and the character introductions start in Chap 2, but if you've got any feedback, or want to offer encouragement... let me have it :-)
World War Three took place on Earth in the twenty fourth century. After it was done, peace finally ruled; but the price paid was considerable.
During the last all-out battles, the desperation for victory led to international agreements being discarded. Chemical weapons peppered the surface. Micro-wave cannons, fired from low orbit, fried whatever they hit; soldiers, civilians and wildlife alike. Whatever could be used, was pressed in to service no matter the cost either to the human race, or the earth. The gloves were off and the determination to win, drove all sense of sanity off a cliff. The carnage was wholesale and eventually people on all sides, finally sick of the death and disease, revolted. They turned on their own leaders and slaughtered them. It was almost as if the planet itself had said, “Enough.”
Seven of the original regions had survived, albeit in a heavily changed form. North and South America, Australia, Europe, Asia, the Middle East and Africa. They were joined by the Antarctics, a pacifist colony which had formed to try and avoid the wars of the others, although they did get dragged in from time to time.
The passing centuries continued to devastate the surface. The weather, made more aggressive by the weapons used in the war, claimed ever larger chunks of land through erosion and blew away anything which wasn't heavily anchored or aerodynamically designed. Rain was more dense and caused floods so powerful that they gouged mountains, destroyed communities and cost countless lives.
Borders, once argued over so viciously by men, now stood mostly as irrelevant items of historical record. Although what was left of humanity had stopped fighting against itself, it now had to battle for survival. It was pitted against the legacy of environmental change that the insanity of war had caused.
All eyes turned to the Antarctics for salvation. Not only had technology allowed them to flourish at the South, but they had created a peaceful and lasting democracy. Although they had been careful never to develop anything that the other regions might want, and thus invite invasion, the Antarctican people had made startling progress in living in extreme conditions. Their achievements would be critical to survival in the other regions.
The Antarticans had tried to salvage whatever human history they could. Books, burned during the war by leaders who wanted people to swallow their version of reality, had been rescued and hoarded at the Southernmost point of the globe. Enormous effort was taken to house delicate paper in the damp, cold environs and as such, reading had become a treasured and important element of their society. Careless treatment of any printed knowledge, especially that which was hand-written, was a stain on someone's social standing. Even works which were proven wrong or held in serious doubt were not destroyed, but simply stamped with a prominent red warning that the reader should treat what was contained within its pages, with caution.
The planetary reboot had destroyed sexism, racism and all the other 'isms which had plagued the preceding centuries. Not only had an unprecedented amount of historical vendetta been lost in the destruction, but the decimation in global population meant that society could not afford luxuries such as discrimination. There was work to be done and all shoulders had to be hard against the wheel of regeneration. Ego, greed and power seeking, came to be viewed as the most heinous of social taboos. Anyone exhibiting them remained firmly at the bottom of the social ladder. No one wanted to dare risk another selfish maniac rising to power and starting another war.
The politics that the Antarctics has created, was adapted and then spread throughout the regions. One representative from each, would come to form what was known as the Panel Of Eight. Election to the panel was not by choice, but by achievement; and not by seeking but by calling. Every year, by rota, one of the regions would elect their new representative. Instead of a list of candidates to choose from, voting forms had a blank space for a voter to write a name. Painters, musicians, authors, poets, vid-screen stars and more, would suddenly find themselves called to represent their region on the Panel. They were people with no aspiration of politics or leadership, who were torn from their careers and given the honour of serving a cycle of eight years on the Panel.
Cynics regarded it not so much an honour, but more a prison sentence for being nothing more than a model citizen. Those who wished to avoid such service exhibited just enough pride in themselves to be seen as unworthy to serve, but not so much as to be perceived as a danger to society. Anyone who was thoughtless enough to try and become elected by touting for support, was certain to be hauled in front of a court for their insolence. Most likely also imprisoned for a time, to reflect on their inflated self-importance.
The Panel itself served on an artificial island that was created in the pacific ocean. Large enough to sustain the Panel, the necessities of life and still buffet the worst of the weather. However, not so large that it couldn't be moved around, albeit slowly. And moved it was, on odd occasion. Just to avoid complacency.
Various luxuries were afforded the Panel Members during their time of service. In recognition of the sacrifice they were making, their individual apartments were tailored for them before they began their stint. Whether they had a love of wood, marble, books, music, each one was styled by the top designers of the day, and nothing but the best materials were used.
Once a Panel Member had served their time, packed their belongings and left; whatever was left in their apartment was sold for the benefit of the Member's chosen charity. Many of the deliberations were made public to the planet via vid-screen, and if a Member had performed particularly brilliantly, achieved much and argued passionately and honestly for the cause of the planet, the money raised would be considerable. Sometimes key items would go to a region's museum and be displayed as a symbol of what they had done in the name of peace and personal service to the world.
On the island, the Panel Members performed their daily business in an impressive central chamber. At its heart was a circular table with comfortable chairs. The day was long, but the breaks were many; Members being encouraged to retreat to one of the covered gardens or artistic chambers to ponder the decisions they were required to make.
The overall atmosphere of the main chamber was one of muted white, to represent purity of thought. Around the edges stood podiums with quotes that the Antarcticans had chosen, long ago, to remind them of their goals and be mindful of the pit down which selfish politics inevitably led. Atop the podiums, where surviving records permitted, there stood busts of the people responsible for the words beneath.
"There has never been a protracted war from which a country has benefited.” Sun Tzu circa 5th Cent. BC. “History has tried hard to teach us that we can't have good government under politicians. Now, to go and stick one at the very head of the government couldn't be wise.” Mark Twain circa 19th Cent. “The desire to be a politician, should be an automatic bar.” William Connolly, circa 21st Cent. “To not reach out your hand to a fellow human, is to slap the face of the entire race.” Gemma Reams, circa 23rd Cent. “We killed our leaders for a reason; the right to lead ourselves.” Jooles Grace, circa 26th Cent.
On one side of the circular table, were three large screens. On them, the PM's took their audience with the outside world. On the other side was a map of the dwindling global surface; with sub divisions for each province, within each region. The provinces could change colour to indicate anything from local disturbances to major disasters.
To one side of the map was a series of clocks, each showing the local time in a different zone. To the other, there was a display showing the generation and distribution of food and energy on the planet, according to regions. Each region was responsible for creating resources and controlling consumption, but the Panel of Eight could step in if they felt something was wrong. In this way, resources could be swapped between region, smoothly.
The Antarcticans had also re-designed finance in the face of centuries of greed. Structures critical to the service of the people, such as power and general transport, stayed within the hands of the people. The new corporations faced a global tax rate so there was nothing to be gained by moving funds, and representation to the Panel had to be done by the vid-screens; so all lobbying was on the public record.
From here, the Panel of Eight effectively ruled the world. They set laws, allocated resources and heard petitions from the provinces and regions. The one thing that did weigh on everyone's mind was that it took the near annihilation of the planet, to be able to afford it a second chance. No one was going to risk squandering it, to shave a corner off a process and make something more efficient.
The military had also evolved. Following the rising against the world leaders, there had been a period known as, “The Purity Inquisition.” In that somewhat lawless period, before the formation of the New Order, people went through the records that remained and rooted out the politicians and military personnel who had committed atrocities. They were judged by the rhetoric they had used in communications and a range of punishments were employed, depending on how hungry they had been to taste human blood. Some pockets of activists were more aggressive than others with the sentences passed. These ranged from discharge from public service, to various forms of death and everything in between. The chaos of restoring order to the planet was used as a convenient excuse to turn a blind eye to these revenge killings.
Although all that was now behind them, the onslaught of Mother Nature was strong and relentless. The military thus became a global force that could be sent to disaster areas. Wherever the destructive finger of fate decided to point, they were deployed to save lives instead of taking them. To kick start building projects, instead of destroying critical architecture. To feed people in need, instead of creating mass starvation.
There was still violence on the planet, however. The equator not only provided the most efficient source of light energy, but it also housed the more potent of the earth's various species; none of which were too happy to see the human race, especially since the chemicals used in the war had also affected them as well. People had historically overlooked the intelligence that existed in the animal kingdom. Now, they were the target of its wrath.
Higher functioning beasts including primates, big cats and elephants, not only attacked small parties that ventured beyond the protected towns, but occasionally mounted assaults against the more isolated settlements. As a consequence, there was still plenty of killing in some areas. Humanity had stayed its trigger-finger and opted not to retaliate en-mass against the animals, but it was too late to prevent the steady stream of aggression that was constantly being delivered. The best that people could hope for, was that the rage and aggression which came from the animals would eventually burn itself out.
It was, however, an issue which refused to go away, with frequent, low-level calls for retaliation whenever a small outpost, a poorly defended village or a convoy had been attacked, and people killed.
So it was that despite war being the darkest stain in human hearts, it was impossible to put all weapons beyond reach. They were, however, tightly controlled. Licenses to use firearms were hard to obtain and security companies existed that specialised in armed protection. To be a security guard was a respected position, and teams were regularly hired by some communities to protect them from the most dangerous creatures; the ones with wild eyes that were foaming at the mouth, angry and vengeful.
Transport had changed also. Gone were the resource hungry coffins of metal that screamed their way through the skies. The continents were now connected with large, hardened glass tubes. At the base was a near-frictionless coating, created from the centuries old discovery of graphene. On top of it, a slight topping of supporting oil meant that wide-bottomed “boats,” could be propelled easily on a jet of wind. People and light loads could be transported at low cost, and as a result of this, populations mixed and mingled like never before in the history of humanity.
Not all people were satisfied with the way that things had turned out. Pockets of the population called, “Separatists,” wanted the borders of old to be reinstated. They rejected the rule of The Panel of Eight and pined for the sovereignty of past ages. They honestly believed that people had learned their lessons and there would be no more wars. The lesson taught by history that this was not the case, did nothing to sway them. Trouble and terrorism from within the human race itself, was sadly not entirely extinguished.
As if all that wasn't enough, there was still considerable damage to be repaired. Not only had the land suffered, but the human race itself had been contaminated. The various weapons and cocktails of chemicals that had been used indiscriminately, had resulted in neurological disorders that plagued the population. Diseases that were not only passed from one generation to the other, but were also triggered by undetectable organisms that came from the food grown in the land. These issues were causing a considerable amount of suffering and they needed tackling. In comparison to this, the Separatists were a mere thorn in societies side.
The range of ailments was wide and in order to battle them, it had been decided to create a large research centre. It was to be equipped with a specialist computer on which the complexities of the human body could be simulated. In order to make the most use of solar power and planetary heat, it was decided to build it in Africa, despite the threat of animal attack. To mitigate against changes in the weather, to create a stable environment and internal temperature, it was determined that the majority of the structure should be built below ground.
This was another area where the Antarctic settlement was able to help. Machines had been developed to dig down deep, and lay sturdy wall structures behind them as they went lower. Very little could survive for long on the hostile, frozen surface, so the majority of Antarctican structures went down, instead of up. The robots they had developed for that job would be perfect for building the new complex.
Construction took four years to complete. It had two floors above ground level, with some thirty-odd floors below. Situated roughly in the middle of Africa, it was nestled close to a range of natural hills. By the time they had finished, a few more had been added, created from the material that had been dug from below.
As well as having staff quarters, multiples levels of specialist laboratories, storage facilities and a large fleet of the latest maintenance robots, the complex also contained the finest computing technology. A system, the first in a new line, which had been eagerly awaited and was finally available. The Genetic Engine for Neurological Information Evaluation, or G.E.N.I.E. for short.