Eighteen-year-old Ethan is a “make love, not war” type, forever talking about an age of abundance that’s upon us, where all human needs are met. The only work that will be undertaken by anyone is to drive the age of equanimity to the next level. His hard-luck girlfriend who grew up on the streets finds it easy to get lost in his escapist fantasies, though she truly doesn’t believe in them. They’re both biohackers. But for him, his upgrades are proof that soon humans will be as gods. For her, the upgrades merely offer slim hope of hanging on in a world grown too toxic to survive without them. Who’s to say which one has a handle on the truth?
Until FRE, a “nonexistent” agency, unleashes an army of cyborgs against the biohackers to make sure none of them becomes a threat to the old global order. Roman refuses to be sucked into the growing rebellion in the wake of FRE’s evil, despite witnessing plenty of reasons to take up the torch. But when his girlfriend is captured for “remediation” he loses it, and the man of peace becomes the man of war. It turns out he’s much better in the latter role. But even if he manages to snatch his girlfriend from FRE’s clutches, will he ever find his way back to the man she once loved? Might his cynical girlfriend have to get over herself to get him to believe again in a future she herself doesn’t see?
Less than forty years into the future, most of mankind has elected to upload themselves to digital nirvana, where they can live as many lives as they care to in parallel, in as many different fantasy worlds as they desire. A small percentage of humans, however, are loath to give up the mortal coil. These last holdouts are the escapees from the future. The question is, for how long? Will Mother, the sentient internet, be content with gentle prodding to upgrade and uplift? Or will she resort to more coercive means? Has she already, unbeknownst to the final holdouts?
Time Bandits (Age of Abundance, #1)
It’s the early days in an Age of Abundance, just decades into the future. Consciousness continues to co-evolve with the self-empowerment technologies at meteoric rates. Still, some would use these gifts to wage evil on the world. One psychopath and his cybernetic creation, a nine-year old girl, are out to save humanity from itself. Clyde Barker is convinced that self-empowerment and self-directed evolution is an affront to God. How could mankind take over his own ascension without bringing down the house that God made? One might think that even a genius in fashioning human upgrades and a cybernetic little girl with a four-digit IQ would be easily neutralized in an Age of Abundance in any event. One would be wrong. You see, Clyde has a rather unique skill. One might say a special power. He can pop in and out of timelines at will, steering them in the direction he wants without anyone being any the wiser.
Of course, nothing comes easy, not even to a clever, highly-manipulative psychopath. Kendra Harding is the detective heading up the hunt for Clyde Barker. Her on-again, off-again lover, Torin Zealton, her partner in crime, is both the coroner and highly psychic. Getting into her mind uninvited as a matter of habit has all but destroyed their relationship. But getting into Clyde’s mind might just save the world. Of course, how does one come up against a time bandit, exactly, particularly one with a cybernetic sidekick that belongs if not to another era, then certainly another decade or so into the Age of Abundance, when minds are closer to Singularity, and evolve at speeds beyond human comprehension?
The four timelines explored, in which Kendra and Torin chase down Clyde Barker and his cybernetic creation, give us four different takes on a near-future Age of Abundance, each more glorious and fantastic than the last. Seeing the romance between the wisecracking protagonist paramours evolve across four different timelines, moreover, replete with its ups and downs, lends the love they share an epic, eternal quality. One that might survive Clyde Barker, even if nothing else does.
The God Gene (Age of Abundance, #2)
It’s an Age of Abundance. No longer do humans want for having their basic needs met. Arguably, they live better than kings of old. But despite this, it’s the intelligence explosion that’s stealing the limelight. Technological innovations coming so rapidly that they create a backlash.
At one end of the spectrum are people like Gecko, who can’t get enough of self-transcendence, who are lost to the eternal need for “becoming” more than they are. At the other end of the spectrum are people like Nova, who are more interested in “being” and enjoying all that they are in the here and now. And refuse to keep their eye to the future. In the middle are people like Corona. Her aim is to strike a balance between both extremes, those who can’t wait to get over themselves, and those who have no desire to.
The three philosophical viewpoints cease to make for simple idle coffee house conversation when the three fall into a relationship. The late-year teens, on the cusp of adulthood, find their coming of age story and their ménage-a-trois swallowed up in a coming of age story for the entire planet. Will they find what they need in one another to live through it? And does the future have more in store for them than simply surfing the wave of explosive innovation without taking a header off the board? The first clue to answering those questions comes when the planetary UberMind tries to kill them.
NOTE: THE NOVELS IN THE AGE OF ABUNDANCE SERIES ARE STAND-ALONE BOOKS THAT CAN BE READ IN ANY ORDER.
Convergence: Time Weavers (Age of Abundance, #3)
Come 2025, the Age of Abundance is well underway, earlier than anyone ever imagined possible. All basic human need has been eliminated. The poorest people on earth live like kings of old thanks to a universal basic income stipend taken from ten percent of earnings off of all technological breakthroughs that is shared with all of humanity equally. Such is the force of the intelligence explosion thanks to human upgrades, by way of mindchips and first generation nano nets, that the UBI stipend augments by leaps and bounds annually. 3D printers that can now print human replacement body parts, nootropics, and most anything we’d care to surround ourselves with have made their ways into most homes. But it’s no utopia. Far from it.
For it is also an era of convergence, where numerous technologies come together to form synergies no one can predict or control. Those who are adept at weaving these technological threads together are known as the Convergence Tech Wizards or CTWs. The power of their minds has been likened to that of black holes due to their ability to warp space and time, to yank inventions out of the far future that shouldn’t exist for a hundred or more years and pull them into the here and now. To others they are simply known as Time Weavers. They sabotage any notion of past, present, of future. No one can talk any longer of the pace of innovation simply accelerating. That would suggest progress in a stepwise fashion, even as the steps get smaller and closer together. What the Convergence Tech Wizards do is far scarier.
“The Time Weavers” opens with our chief detectives, Monica and Ethan. Monica is a Convergence Tech Wizard wannabe, but so far she hasn’t been able to pull off the necessary power of mind. Instead, she hunts them for a living; the ones that can’t be reined in, she kills. Her sidekick, Ethan, is of the minority of mortals still running around without any human upgrades at all. If he’s afraid of what Monica can do, he’s really afraid of what CTWs can do. So it doesn’t take much to convince him to go on her unholy mission. As time wears on they come to question their mission and their motivations for being on it. Who is the real danger, the ominous, mysterious forces pulling their strings, or the CTWs? Is it time to consider changing sides? If so, as things heat up between the rebel CTWs and corporate interests, who will win the war? And will anyone be left on the planet forever unchanged in the wake of their confrontation?
Since many of the novels below skirt the boundaries of sci-fi/techno-thriller, the titles also appear on the techno-thriller page.
Mind of a Child: “Sentient Serpents” (OMEGA FORCE & ALPHA UNIT, #1)
For fans of Rollins’ AMAZONIA and Crichton’s CONGO…
OMEGA FORCE’s and ALPHA UNIT’s usual assignments involve taking down warlords, overturning coups, or triggering some of their own in the name of a stable world order. With much of warmongering privatized and in the hands of corporations and military-industrial complexes, their jobs aren’t just dirty abroad, they’re dirty at home. In the U.S., they’re forced to deal with less-than-savory politics and peacekeeping missions that have more to do with enriching the corporate bottom line than with the good guys keeping the bad guys in check.
So when the Special Ops teams are called in to babysit a multibillionaire on his vacation of a lifetime in the Amazon rainforest, they are none too pleased.
The assignment is a new low.
Little do they know their charge, Natty Young, is the Tesla of his times, within whose mind many of their nextgen-tech toys are born. But he refuses to cooperate any longer with RevoCorp that holds so many DARPA contracts. Hence the attitude check of a series of war games disguised as a “vacation getaway”; maybe once he gets a taste of the real world, he’ll get over his idealism.
OMEGA FORCE and ALPHA UNIT are about to be challenged in ways they never have before coming up against the transhuman era head on, and human upgrade technology that does more than call their survival into question; it calls the survival of the human race into question.
Jane Macelvey is a genius bioengineer. Her first human guinea pig is also the one person who has any chance of keeping her alive against all the secret government agencies and private corporations that are after her. He is the first Nano Man. He has no idea what he can do, and neither does she.
But one thing is certain, the special interests closing in on them have their own nexgen human prototypes, and they know exactly what they can do. They also recognize that the first to market with their prototype wins. For that reason and that reason alone, the Nano Man must be eliminated at all costs. Budget no object.
Born F.R.E.E. (Spy, Inc., #1)
Ray Cunningham is one of the longest running, most successful serial killers on the planet. He also heads the FBI department in charge of hunting down America’s Most Wanted. Among the young agents he’s tutoring, will one of them be clever enough to catch him? And if so, will Ray be excused his bad habits in lieu of his success rate capturing the most lethal criminals?
As things heat up for Ray, they heat up for the beleaguered profiling department, as well. Underfunded, understaffed and facing hi-tech criminals that increasingly have them outclassed and outsmarted, and who respect no national boundaries, they make a desperate play. With the money-no-object tech wiz Ray is tutoring, Nick Young, they form a breakaway agency, SPY, INC., with international reach. SPY, INC. seems more interested, though, in recruiting the best of the best in mastermind criminals to work for them than they are in setting the world straight. Whatever their shadowy motives, it quickly becomes clear no one is equipped to go after the kinds of criminals these people go after, not even Interpol. With corporations and nation states increasingly indebted to them, their web of influence continues to catch up more and more free agents that used to operate under the radar. It’s not long before free thinkers and free spirits worldwide sound the battle cry. Their reaction to SPY, INC.’s overreaching is an agency of their own, aptly named F.R.E.E.
SPY, INC. and F.R.E.E. compete with each other for the best free agents in this first installment of the series. The hi-tech toys at the disposal of both agencies propel the kind of action that skirts the boundaries of hi-tech thrillers and sci-fi. As an added twist, Ray Cunningham and Nick Young are on a self-redemption kick. They have enough blood on their hands, and have tasted the dark side of power long enough to know that it’s no solution to their wounded psyches. You can’t stop being a victim by victimizing others. Going against their baser natures isn’t easy, but it might just mean that SPY, INC. is navigating into the light at the same time that F.R.E.E. is migrating into the darkness. As the series wends on, it’s left to be seen who the real good guys are in this tale, those who wear their monster masks on the surface, or those who keep those demons buried deep down.
Terraforming Earth – Phase 1: “The Plagues Era” (FutureScape, #1)
Rake Cunningham, a chip-enhanced detective, upgraded to sniff through paranoid-conspiracy theories to know which ones are worth following up, stumbles upon a case that is no typical example of corporate malfeasance. He signed on for the enhancement with the idea he’d be taking down white collar criminals and techies, or Machiavellian CEOs just too smart to be caught any other way. What he runs into instead is a plot to depopulate the world in order to return it to an Eden-like state. It will require far more than access to the truth to crush the parties in cahoots. Try a small miracle.
He quickly enlists Doc Holiday’s assistance. She’s known as the queen of the chipheads, overseeing constant chip improvements that keep people employed who would otherwise have no viable means of engaging in such a fast moving economy. If there’s anyone equipped to outfit the resistance with all the mind-power they need, it’s Doc Holiday.
What Rake doesn’t know is the other side is led by a no less formidable pair of lovers. Garrett Rawlings is the chairman of the most powerful corporate and military industrial complex super-alliance on the planet. Simone Bolivar is an android who has entered singularity state, evolving faster than human minds can possibly grasp. It’s perhaps just as well Rake and Doc Holiday don’t know all that they’re up against, or they might not even try to save the ninety-nine percent of humanity deemed expendable.
Terraforming Earth – Phase 2: “Humanoids in Sealed Habitats” (FutureScape, #2)
When steering human evolution with designer plagues proves too dangerous out in the open, people are herded into domed cities. There experiments can begin on them in earnest. Sing-Sing is tasked with containing the Singularity effect, making sure that the explosive release of creative energy continues to serve only the top one percent instead of creating an Age of Abundance. Nano Metro is tasked with preparing humanoids to migrate to the genesis ships in low orbit, where their guided evolution will continue to ensure they will one day be fit to occupy every environmental niche in the cosmos.
With the Earth quickly headed in the direction of its former pristine Garden of Eden state, and plans for conquering the cosmos virtually overnight well in hand thanks to a well-managed Singularity effect, Garrett Rawlings, Simone Bolivar, and the rest of the FutureScape corporate and military-industrial complex super-alliance ought to be able to relax. But they quickly realize that playing masters of the universe games pits them against alien civilizations with far more experience in this area. If they can’t hide the fact that Earth has entered Singularity state until they’re ready to fight a war for dominion of the cosmos, they’ll be blown off the map before the game has even started. It’s the first time that the all-powerful Garrett Rawlings and his lover, Simone, whose mind entered singularity state long ago, have ever played the roles of the underdogs.
Garrett and Simone face ever-increasing problems on the home front as well. The resistance, led by Rake Cunningham and Doc Holiday, is coming on strong. If Garrett and Simone aren’t careful, the Age of Abundance they’ve worked so hard to forestall could come around sooner than anyone imagined. And that would mean a total loss of control. The one thing Garrett and Simone will not tolerate.
The planet’s ruling elite, the top one percent, finally manages to do the unthinkable: stir the dragon. They awaken the ninety-nine percent from their apathy and despair and sense of helplessness after decades of systematic abuse and subjugation. But the results are not what anyone could have anticipated. The FutureScape board’s ongoing genocide, conducted in an effort to return the planet to its once pristine, Garden-of-Eden state, causes a split among the survivors. A small percentage of humanity will remain on Earth to learn the game of power and politics from the masters in an effort to beat them at their own game. To gain the skills, in short, to govern more than just one planet. Why is that so important? Because the rest of humanity, now evolved into humanoids and hybrids, and more aptly labeled trans-human or post-human, are not long for this world. They will use the incubators of the genesis ships in low orbit around Earth, driving their bio-diversification, to colonize not just the solar system, but the multiverse, taking advantage of warp drive engines and other ahead-of-their time technologies. Technologies that might not have been available, ironically, for ages to come, were it not for the desperation of countless minds to escape from under the thumb of a small oligarchic group. Proving, at least for the religiously inclined, that the devil too shall do God’s work. And why is it so important that we do more than colonize the cosmos in a systematic way, starting with our solar system, then branching out to our nearest star, and so on? Quite simple, really. Turns out that looming threats from within posed by fellow transhumans, as well as from without—from lifeforms already populating the multiverse—with power to destroy entire galaxies with a wave of their hand, means that spreading out to the rest of our solar system is no real protection at all.
When digital lifeforms escape their virtual reality realm they are quick to make their play for global domination. They prove rather good at outmaneuvering all the world’s major hitters in this area from corporations to governments and various special ops agencies.
Downloading themselves to advanced prototype bodies being engineered in secret in various labs around the world, Morbius and his followers are quick to take control of those pipelines to bring more of their kind into this realm. However, their access to super-sentience hardly ends there. Being artificial life, they can work the Internet to their advantage like no one else. Morbius also makes sure prior to leaving his digital arena to equip himself with team members possessing specialized aptitudes in areas such as Earth politics and propaganda, skills obtained in part by observing the outside world before making the leap. He also has everything else he needs to direct the relatively dimwitted unupgraded humans in the massive task at hand, redirecting Earth’s entire economy to an accelerated space race, ostensibly to bolster the greater good.
In what turns out to be supreme irony, the corporate and government heads worldwide quickly line up in support of Morbius, no heavy handed persuasion necessary. As it turns out, he can fill the shortage of geniuses needed to make the future happen today, which has been a lingering worldwide problem that contributed to a sustained crashed global economy. Morbius promises these leaders profits and power beyond their wildest dreams, speaking their language and easily cajoling mankind’s master manipulators into playing his game.
But not everyone is swayed by Morbius’s insta-guru charisma. Among those trying to bring him down are–surprise of surprises–earlier breakouts from the digital world hiding out in a remote region in Alaska, led by a man named Brewster. Occupying earlier prototypes, they’re relatively ancient compared to the newer cybernetic bodies co-opted by Morbius’s people. But like primitive cars relative to newer models, they may also be more durable and less prone to flaws. Working with them are some of the smartest unupgraded humans on the planet who struggle to keep up but are not beyond serving up surprises of their own.
It soon becomes apparent that Morbius and his minions are not satisfied with merely ruling the planet. They have their sights set on the entire multiverse. And with their greatly enhanced intellects relative to unupgraded and upgraded humans alike, there’s little to stand in their way except for Brewster and his gang. Again the irony: Brewster and his insurgents may have to wait until Morbius is spread out across the cosmos enough to make their move, when he’ll be taxed to his limits and therefore the most vulnerable. But by then, will it be too late?