Archives for category: Science fiction

Limit of Vision Cover Final

Limit of Vision by Linda Nagata

Virgil Copeland, Randall Panwar, and Gabrielle Villanti are all brilliant young biotechnologists, working together on an artificial life form affectionately known as “LOVs,” an acronym for Limit Of Vision, because in size LOVs are just at the boundary of what the human eye can easily see.

LOVs contain bioengineered human neurons. They enhance brain function when implanted in test animals. Experimentation on humans is, of course, highly illegal. But it’s the nature of brilliant and ambitious young minds to ignore the rules. Believing the LOVs to be perfectly safe, Virgil, Panwar, and Gabrielle experiment on themselves, using implanted LOVs to enhance their own cognitive abilities.

But there is a limit of vision, too, when we try to foresee the consequences of technology—especially of a living, thinking technology that can evolve into new forms in a matter of hours. When the experiment goes terribly wrong, the consequences are bizarre and unforeseeable. Virgil finds himself on the run, riding the whirlwind of a runaway biotechnology that could lead to the next phase of human evolution.

A “compelling biotech thriller […] an idea-provoking narrative that is genuinely innovative in conception.” —Publishers Weekly

“Nagata … blends hard science with cutting-edge technology in a fast-paced technothriller…” —Library Journal

“…the best science fiction isn’t so much about the science as about society’s reaction to it. A fine example is Linda Nagata’s Limit of Vision, which not only maintains the right balance of humanity and technology within its storytelling, but is actually about that balance—pinning down the elusive boundary, if there is one, beyond which technology will make humans something other than human.” —Amy Sisson, Metroland

“The increasingly desperate situation will serve to keep a lot of readers breathlessly turning pages […] The limit of vision can also refer to imagination struggling to catch up with events, as humanity gets booted into an era unlike any it has known.” —Faren Miller, Locus

Linda Nagata is a Nebula and Locus-award-winning writer, best known for her high-tech science fiction, including The Red trilogy, a series of near-future military thrillers. The first book in the trilogy, The Red: First Light, was a Nebula and John W. Campbell Memorial-award finalist, and named as a Publishers Weekly Best Book of 2015. Her newest novel is the very near-future thriller, The Last Good Man, due out in June 2017. Linda has lived most of her life in Hawaii, where she’s been a writer, a mom, a programmer of database-driven websites, and an independent publisher. She lives with her husband in their long-time home on the island of Maui.

Visit Linda at http://www.mythicisland.com

The A.I. Storybundle is live, but only one week more until April 20, 2017! Explore Artificial Intelligence and how A.I. will affect the future in Aristoi by Walter Jon Williams, The Bohr Maker by Linda Nagata, Arachne by Lisa Mason, Rewired: The Post-Cyberpunk Anthology, edited by John Kessel and James Patrick Kelly with stories by William Gibson, Bruce Sterling, Pat Cadigan, and others, Queen City Jazz by Kathleen Ann Goonan, Eye Candy by Ryan Schneider, Glass Houses by Laura Mixon, Cyberweb by Lisa Mason, Limit of Vision by Linda Nagata, and The A.I. Chronicles Anthology, edited by Samuel Peralta. Download yours today only at https://storybundle.com/ai

AllCoversLarge.AI.2

Glass Houses: Avatars Dance by Laura J. Mixon

MAN SCAVENGE

I don’t know if you’ve ever had a skyscraper collapse on you. I don’t recommend it. The floor gave out under me, cascades of concrete and steel fell onto my head, the screams of the old man filled my ears. I remember those few seconds in flashes, like it all happened under strobe lights.

His nearness to me-Golem when the ceiling collapsed was the only thing that kept him from being killed instantly. One of Golem’s arms crocked up as I-he toppled over and protected the old man’s head and upper chest. The old man probably wished he was dead, though, because a steel beam fell across his abdomen and crushed his internal organs and let buckets of blood spill into his abdominal cavity.

I know all this because I-Golem wasn’t completely disabled in the crush. The same steel beam that fell on the old man lodged against the wall and kept other chunks of mass from destroying Golem’s casing. That much I saw before the shock threw me home.

I struggled backward through the gel to the wall, pulled my knees to my chest, and shook. The connector dangled from wires in my hand—I must have pulled it loose from the beanjack at my crown. I wanted to tear the monofilaments right out of my brain. But the old man’s screams hung in my ears. He was still alive in there and he wouldn’t be for long. No waldo rescue squad, no ambulance would get there in time to save him. Every second counted. So I went back.

Golem’s light had gotten smashed and the infrared was useless in that chaos. Systems weren’t in great shape—the needles danced like amber Pick-Up Stix in my-Golem’s vision. Four of his eight gigacrystals were shattered. Besides the arm immobilized over the old man’s head, two limbs were inoperable, crushed. One of his two cameras was out, too. His chassis was severely damaged, with hydraulic pressure dribbling slowly away.

It took only seconds to clear out all the software and fill the remaining four linkware crystals with the bare-bones operating systems. The gyros told me which way was up, so I knew which way to dig, and I-Golem had length and strength—of the two of Golem’s five arms still working, one was his telescope arm and the other his schwarzenegger. I’ve scavenged under rubble before and I know how to keep an unstable structure from collapsing. Things didn’t seem too bad, except for the old man’s screaming. So I-Golem got started.

He was crazy with pain. A couple of times I-Golem tried to comfort him but he didn’t listen. It finally got to me—I-he yelled at the old man to shut the fuck up and stop feeling sorry for himself. Like he didn’t have a reason. Christ. I hope he was too far gone to understand.

Anyhow, as the sounds he made got wetter and softer I-Golem dug faster. But he’d been silent for what seemed like days before Golem’s hole saw drilled through to air. That give me-him enough light to see how to work free.

My-Golem’s ultrasound filaments fractured the chunk of concrete that had Golem pinned against the steel beam. Then I-he—ever so carefully!—disconnected the arm that protected the old man’s head, rolled myself-Golem all the way onto his back, then retracted the wheels—which lifted me-Golem up and gave the wheels purchase on the floor on either side of the Coffin—and slid myself-him off of it. With some judicious shoving and wedging I-he freed myself-him from the debris. Then I-Golem propped up wreckage, cleared a path for the old man, and slid him free.

I saw then that there was no point in calling an ambulance. His body was already starting to cool. I could have used Golem’s IR earlier, after all, and saved myself a lot of work.

I still remember all the details—the expression he’d died with; the way his crushed arm got left behind; the way his belly had swollen up with blood till it looked like the belly of a tick.

Anyhow, I sat there, squatting inside my battered Golem, and looked at him for a while till I realized that the sun had risen and was shining into Golem’s camera. Beyond the crumbled wall, where another interior room had been last night, was open air and twisted snarls of metal struts. I-Golem caught a glimpse of the Manhattan-Queens ferry moving up the sparkling East River, trailed by crying gulls; last night’s gales had softened to a breeze. Streamers of clouds raced inland overhead.

The storm remediation waldos, hundred-foot-tall mantises with blue flashing lights and steel maws, crawled along the streets below, lifting wreckage and debris with their crane arms. They scooped sludge and wood with their dozer mouths, dropping the debris into the massive hoppers they dragged behind.

According to Golem’s chronometer, it was almost six. The building wrecker waldos were due—we had to get out.

There wasn’t much hope for the scavenged data but I-Golem checked the Coffin anyway. As I’d suspected, they were so much worthless debris, bent and broken. Man, was Vetch going to be pissed. He hated losing salvage.

I-Golem emptied the Coffin, put the old man inside, and slid the Coffin onto Golem’s back. Then I-Golem and the old man headed for the nearest support cable.

A failed scavenge, a failed rescue, and Melissa off fucking some strange man for spending money in the middle of a hurricane. All in all, not a good night.

The A.I. Storybundle is live, but only for eight more days until April 20, 2017! Explore Artificial Intelligence and how A.I. will affect the future in Aristoi by Walter Jon Williams, The Bohr Maker by Linda Nagata, Arachne by Lisa Mason, Rewired: The Post-Cyberpunk Anthology, edited by John Kessel and James Patrick Kelly with stories by William Gibson, Bruce Sterling, Pat Cadigan, and others, Queen City Jazz by Kathleen Ann Goonan, Eye Candy by Ryan Schneider, Glass Houses by Laura Mixon, Cyberweb by Lisa Mason, Limit of Vision by Linda Nagata, and The A.I. Chronicles Anthology, edited by Samuel Peralta. Download yours today at https://storybundle.com/ai

Glass Houses Cover Final

Glass Houses: Avatars Dance by Laura J. Mixon

Ruby runs waldos. Freelance. Construction, security–no job too large or small. And her favorite tool is Golem, six hundred pounds of vaguely human-shaped, remote-operated power. Not an easy living, but it’s better than most in half-sunken, greenhouse-heated, 21st Century New York. Best of all the waldoes go Outside, not Ruby. Ruby hates the Outside.
But when a Ruby/Golem tries to rescue a rich Egyptian from a collapsing skyscraper, and accepts the papers he presses into her hands as he dies, Ruby’s in trouble. She may have to go Outside for real.
All of which might be a lot easier if she hadn’t stolen the diamonds off his body…

The 1992 feminist cyberpunk classic, finally back in print with an introduction by 2-time Arthur C. Clarke Award winner Pat Cadigan and an afterword by Lydia LeBlanc on genre and gender in cyberpunk fiction.

From Library Journal
A dystopian Manhattan of the next century is the setting for this tough, gritty sf debut featuring an agoraphobic salvage artist who uses virtual reality to connect her with the machines that face the world in her stead. Part cyberpunk, part mystery, Mixon’s first novel introduces a lesbian heroine whose life is made up of second-hand encounters until reality comes calling with a vengeance. The author’s razor-sharp prose catapults this story beyond the bounds of genre. Recommended for most sf collections. Copyright 1992 Reed Business Information, Inc.

“One of the strongest debuts I’ve read in ages. READ THIS BOOK. And watch Laura Mixon. She’s going to be one of the stars.”
—George R.R. Martin

“Glass Houses is a remarkable first novel… one you will be glad to have read.”

—Algis Budrys

“A good, solid, entertaining novel that will probably keep you up half the night, unable to stop turning the pages.”

—Cynthia Ward

“Under the high tech and hard edge associated with cyberpunk, Glass Houses is an old-fashioned tale of honor and adventure and, especially, of all the small and large human choices that become what we call integrity.”
—Susannah Sturgis, Lambda Book Report

Author Bio
Laura J. Mixon

SF novelist and Hugo-winning blogger Laura J. Mixon wrote her first story for her own amusement at age eight. At age 11, she discovered science fiction in the local library and never looked back. Her popular SF thriller Up Against It came out from Tor Books (as M. J. Locke) in 2011 and is due for re-release soon as part of an upcoming trilogy. Set among the asteroids, it is the first book of WAVE, a series of novels about savvy and desperate people (and other beings) living in a future, settled solar system.

Author of six novels and assorted shorter works, including the highly acclaimed cyberpunk trilogy AVATARS DANCE (Glass Houses, Proxies, and Burning the Ice).

She and fellow SF writer Steven Gould stabbed the cake tied the knot at WeddingCon in early 1989. They have collaborated on one novel and two world-class daughters, now grown (who might even be spotted wandering the halls of certain cons and costuming events). They now live in New Mexico with their daughters.

She is an environmental engineer and served two years in Kenya in the Peace Corps. Her work is often associated with the cyberpunk movement, and has been the focus of academic studies on the intersection of technology, feminism, and gender. She is a graduate of the Clarion writing workshop and an instructor at the Viable Paradise genre writing workshop on Martha’s Vineyard. She blogs occasionally at laurajmixon.com and feralsapient.com and tweets as @LauraJMG.

Social Media
Website: http://laurajmixon.com/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/LauraJMixon/
Twitter: @LauraJMG
The A.I. Storybundle is live, but only nine days more until April 20, 2017! Explore Artificial Intelligence and how A.I. will affect the future in Aristoi by Walter Jon Williams, The Bohr Maker by Linda Nagata, Arachne by Lisa Mason, Rewired: The Post-Cyberpunk Anthology, edited by John Kessel and James Patrick Kelly with stories by William Gibson, Bruce Sterling, Pat Cadigan, and others, Queen City Jazz by Kathleen Ann Goonan, Eye Candy by Ryan Schneider, Glass Houses by Laura J. Mixon, Cyberweb by Lisa Mason, Limit of Vision by Linda Nagata, and The A.I. Chronicles Anthology, edited by Samuel Peralta. Download yours today at https://storybundle.com/ai

AllCoversLarge.AI.2

Eye Candy by Ryan Schneider
Chapter 1
Why Did the Robot Cross the Road?

“Are you sure she’s going to be okay?”

“Stop asking me that.” Rory slapped the big yellow crosswalk button again. Behind them, the Pacific Ocean stretched to the horizon, wide and blue.

At the end of the Santa Monica Sport Fishing pier, the giant Ferris wheel revolved under the California sun.

A bullet-nosed monorail train whooshed by on its silver electromagnet track perched on spidery stilts above the street.

“What if she’s not ready?” Tim asked. “Candy’s going to be. . . . I don’t know what she’s going to be, but she’s going to hate our guts, that’s for sure.”

“She’s not going to hate us; she’s our friend. We’ve been friends since college, remember? Besides, I’m not sure Candy is capable of hatred.” Rory pressed the big yellow button, hard this time.

A flatbed truck drove slowly down the street. On the back of it stood a tall electronic marquee. The marquee displayed a stocky, balding man wearing tinted eyeglasses.

Tim pointed. “There goes Grossman. Again.”

“Robots made in China and Japan are stealing jobs from hardworking Americans,” Grossman thundered.” The truck drove down the street.

“God, that guy is everywhere,” said Rory.

“He’s serious about being President.”

The truck drove down the street.

“What were we talking about?” Tim asked. “Oh yeah. Are you sure she’s going to be okay?”

“No, damnit, I’m not sure. But so what? She’s gotta get out there sometime.” Rory slapped the big yellow crosswalk button half a dozen times more. “Does this thing even work? It’s 2047, for God’s sake. We’ve got orbital hotels but we can’t design a friggin’ crosswalk computer that works. There are no cars coming yet we have to stand here like robots incapable of determining for ourselves when it’s safe to cross the street.” Rory noticed a silver, skinny robot standing next to him with a case of beer in its hands, waiting to cross the street. “No offense.”

The robot’s balloon-shaped head swiveled toward Rory on its skinny post of a neck. “No offense taken, of course, sir.” Its electronic voice sounded happy and cheerful.

“Instead, we have to wait for the computer to tell us when we can cross,” said Rory. “And what are you looking at?”

A second robot stood nearby, grimy and with a significant dent on one side of its head. One of its glowing red eyes was missing. It held a square flap of brown cardboard scrawled with black ink: Will work for electricity. Or beer. God bless. A long, black leash stretched from a collar around the robot’s neck to the wrist of a filthy man lying flat on his back in a patch of nearby grass, fast asleep.

“I’m not looking at anything, sir,” replied the robot. “Could you spare some change?”

“Fuck you,” said Rory. “Fuck him, too.” Rory thrust his chin at the sleeping man.

“Yes, sir,” said the robot.

“Dude, calm down,” said Tim.

“No, goddamnit. I’m pissed off now. I think I can determine for myself when it’s safe to cross the street. I neither need nor want a damn machine telling me what I can or can’t do and when I can or can’t do it. Maybe Grossman is right. Screw this nanny-state bullshit. You know what, to hell with it, I’m crossing.”

“You’d better not. They’ll fine you.”

“Like hell.”

“See those little white cameras on top of each streetlight?” Tim pointed. “This entire intersection is covered. If you cross, they’ll see you. You’ll get a citation in your inbox. Five-hundred-and-forty dollars.”

“Five-hundred-and-forty dollars for jaywalking? Are you sure?”

“Dead sure. You know that new guy who started in the Bio-Plastics Division last week? Skin specialist?”

“Larry? Yeah. Good guy. Graduated Cal Tech.”

“Larry told me all about how he crossed the street on a red light because he ate some bad Japanese food. He ordered Teriyaki Chicken for lunch, but he said it wasn’t like any chicken he’d ever seen before. It was little round nuggets of weird, dark meat.

“Anyway, he wasn’t even through with lunch and already things were gurgling around down there. By the time they were paying the bill, he was having uncontrollable flatulence. And not cute little girl-farts, either. These were the long, hot, steamy ones that smell like death warmed over.

“Ten minutes later, he’s standing on this very corner. He doesn’t want to cross the street because he knows the cameras will see him and he’ll get a fine. But he doesn’t want to shit his pants, either. Plus, he and his fiancée were having dinner with her parents that evening right after work and he wasn’t going to have time to go home and change or to freshen up.

“So, finally, when it was safe to cross the street, even though the crosswalk computer said not to, he runs across the street and into Positronic Pizza and Pub. But you have to get a token from the robot cashier in order to get into the bathrooms, because of all the homeless people who like to bathe in there. And there was a huge long line for the cashier. By the time he was first in line, the robie tells him the bathrooms are for paying customers only, so he orders a soda and hands over his debit card, but the robie says it’s a ten-dollar-minimum order for all non-cash transactions. But Larry doesn’t have enough cash because he just spent it on the Teriyaki cat at the Japanese place. So he orders a pizza, even though he just had what he thought was lunch, which was probably some little girl’s tabby. He spends twenty-seven bucks on the pizza, gets the token, and goes to the bathroom. But there’s somebody in there; the door’s locked. So he waits, and he waits, and he waits. And a few minutes later, he shits himself.”

“He shit himself?”

“Completely. Larry told me there was nothing he could do. He said he was standing there clenching as hard as he could. He was sweating, breathing heavy. But it was no use. It was like a bowling ball of shit rolled out of his ass and exploded in his underwear. There was nothing he could do.”

Tim caught the robot holding the beer looking at him. The robot looked away.

“So what about dinner with his fiancée and her parents?” Rory asked.

“He made it. But he had to take the rest of the day off so he could go straight home from Positronic to shower and change. He said that when he got home, he tossed his pants and underwear into the incinerator. And he had to have a new driver’s seat installed in his car, which was a brand new Jag, by the way, one he’d only had three weeks. He said the Teriyaki cat stained the seat, because he went with the Icelandic White cloth, whereas if he’d gone with the Icelandic White leather, the stain wouldn’t have set in like it did. At least, that’s what they told him at the dealership. So he told them to put in a whole new seat, which was seventeen-hundred bucks. Plus, right there in his inbox was the jaywalking fine for another five-hundred-and-forty bucks. A real nice photo of him illegally crossing the street. He’s a pretty smart guy, so he does the math and between the citation, the new driver’s seat, the pizza, the cost of his poopy pants he had to incinerate, which were a gift from his fiancée, by the way, plus the cost of the Teriyaki cat, he figures he spent about twenty-six-hundred bucks.”

“Damn.”

“The best part is, he helped design the new-generation facial recognition software they’re using in the cameras up there on those traffic lights. He basically got himself busted.

“So, if you jaywalk, they’ll see you, too. Five-hundred-and-forty bucks, guaranteed.”

“So if he designed it, he can pay the fine for me.”

“Good luck with that.”

Tim caught the robot holding the beer looking at him. The robot looked away.

The crosswalk signal LEDs flicked to green. The electronic voice ordered pedestrians to “Cross now . . . Cross now . . . Cross now.”

The robot with the beer crossed the street.

The robot with the collar around its neck remained standing on the sidewalk.

Rory and Tim proceeded into the street.

“So who’s Candy going on the date with?” Tim asked.

“I don’t know,” said Rory, “some guy. She said she met him on the Internet.”

“She met him on the Internet? Do you think that’s a good idea?”

“It’s her decision.”

“What if he’s a murderer or a human trafficker, and he kidnaps her and takes her to another country and sells her as a sex slave?” The robot carrying the beer turned its silver head and looked at Tim. “I wasn’t speaking to you,” said Tim. The robot looked away.

“She said he seems like a nice guy,” said Rory.

“What if he’s not?”

“Relax. She’s an accomplished psychologist. She can handle it.”

“She’s a robopsychologist. The robot brain and the human mind are nothing alike.”

“Hey, watch this. I bet I can freeze out that robie.”

“Don’t do that,” said Tim.

“Hey! Robot!”

Mid-way across the street, the robot carrying the beer turned its head toward them.

“Is that beer you’re carrying to be delivered to your master?”

“Yes, sir.”

“Did you know beer is unhealthy for humans? Alcohol is harmful. By delivering that beer to your master, you will be harming him. Remember: robots aren’t allowed to injure humans.”

The robot stopped walking and stood in the crosswalk. It began to take a step forward, then stopped. It tried yet again, but stopped. Its red eyes angled down to the beer in its hands, then up to Rory, then to the dozens of humans crossing the street and strolling among the storefronts and sidewalk cafes. The robot shuddered for a moment and became still. The red glow faded from its eyes, and its silver mechanical body sagged. It stood motionless in the crosswalk, a little more than halfway across the street, the case of beer still in its hands.

Tim said, “You killed it.” He and Rory gained the sidewalk, peering behind at the inert robot.

“Relax, it’s insured. The lazy bastard who owns it will be able to buy a newer model.”

“For a roboticist, you’re a vindictive son of a bitch.”

“Can’t help it,” said Rory. “If we don’t keep robots in their place, they’ll take over the friggin’ world.”

“You know, that thing almost surely has a recorder in it.”

“Nah, look at it. It’s a low-end model, at least ten years old. They didn’t come with separate recorders back then. When its positronic relays went bye-bye, so did its recordings.”

“How do you know it didn’t have recordings from birthday parties or weddings? Or childbirths? Those things are irreplaceable.”

“True. But anyone stupid enough to not back up their data deserves to lose it.”

Tim gave one last glance toward the robot. “Are we going to leave it there in the middle of the street?”

“Of course.”

“Think it’ll get a ticket for jaywalking?”

“No,” Rory laughed, “but the registered owner will. Five hundred-and-forty bucks.”

“That’s an expensive case of beer.”

“Serves him right for not getting off his fat ass to go buy it himself.”

“So, what about Candy?” Tim asked.

“If it makes you feel better, we’ll call her after the date, to make sure she hasn’t been kidnapped or sold as a sex slave. Hey, why did the robot cross the road?”

“Why?”

“To rescue the slow and inferior human on the other side, thereby obeying the first law of robotics.”

Visit Ryan at http://www.authorryanschneider.com/p/eye-candy.html and on Twitter at https://twitter.com/RyanLSchneider

The A.I. Storybundle is live but only ten more days until April 20, 2017! Explore Artificial Intelligence and how A.I. will affect the future in Aristoi by Walter Jon Williams, The Bohr Maker by Linda Nagata, Arachne by Lisa Mason, Rewired: The Post-Cyberpunk Anthology, edited by John Kessel and James Patrick Kelly with stories by William Gibson, Bruce Sterling, Pat Cadigan, and others, Queen City Jazz by Kathleen Ann Goonan, Eye Candy by Ryan Schneider, Glass Houses by Laura Mixon, Cyberweb by Lisa Mason, Limit of Vision by Linda Nagata, and The A.I. Chronicles Anthology, edited by Samuel Peralta. Download yours only at https://storybundle.com/ai

Eye Candy Cover Final

Eye Candy by Ryan Schneider

In a near-future Los Angeles of 2047, roboticist Danny Olivaw finds himself on a blind date with a beautiful robopsychologist named Candy. But the next day, strange things begin to happen. Confronted with an unbearable truth, Danny soon begins a downward spiral in search for the woman he loves. Little does he know what fate has in store for them. Brilliantly conceived and executed with delicate precision, Eye Candy is a complex, endearing tale for mature readers that’s as fast-paced and uplifting as it is fun.

Candy Calvin has it all. She’s a respected robopsychologist who specializes in the care and feeding of robots, particularly those belonging to Los Angeles’ wealthy elite. Her best friend Susannah helps Candy run her practice. The only thing Candy is missing is someone special with whom she can share her life. Until one day, on a whim, she visits an online dating site. She soon finds a profile she likes: ROBOSTUD2047. They agree to meet for dinner. But when Candy lays eyes on him, she gets more than she bargained for, including a trip into orbit, a midnight ride in a ViperJet, and a revelation that rattles her to her core.
Danny Olivaw is a reknown roboticist famous for his books on the inner workings of artificially-intelligent beings. When he’s not writing, he flies his jet and hobnobs with celebrities and movie stars. His roommate Floyd is a screenwriter and actor who convinces Danny to try online dating.

EYECANDYPh.D. immediately catches Danny’s eye. They agree to meet at Chateaux Pizza and before Danny can get over the statuesque beauty before him, she’s sampling his bruschetta and tasting his wine. Danny knows instantly that he’s head over heels for Candy. But things aren’t always what they seem, and Danny soon finds himself in a downward spiral in his quest to reunite with Candy.
Packed with action, comedy, romance, and an ensemble of lovable characters, EYE CANDY is an uplifting roller coaster ride in the time of robots.

Ryan Schneider is a husband, aspiring father, writer, and full-time novelist.
Ryan writes in many genres, including Science Fiction, Fantasy, and Mainstream Fiction. He is the author of five novels, a collection of short stories, and a dozen screenplays.
Ryan earned a Bachelor’s degree in English Literature from the University of the Pacific, and advanced degrees in Screenwriting and Independent Producing at UCLA. He has worked as a newspaper staff writer and film critic, as well as co-host of a weekly radio show.
Ryan is also a commercially-licensed pilot with multi-engine and instrument ratings. He lives in Palm Springs, CA with his wife Taliya, a Guinness World Record-holding singer/songwriter and recording artist. Taliya received a Guinness World Record in 2005 for recording her original song “Flower Child” in 15 languages. She is currently in the studio, mastering a brand new acoustic album.

Visit Ryan at http://www.authorryanschneider.com/p/eye-candy.html and on Twitter at https://twitter.com/RyanLSchneider

The A.I. Storybundle is live, but only until April 20, 2017! Explore Artificial Intelligence and how A.I. will affect the future in Aristoi by Walter Jon Williams, The Bohr Maker by Linda Nagata, Arachne by Lisa Mason, Rewired: The Post-Cyberpunk Anthology, edited by John Kessel and James Patrick Kelly with stories by William Gibson, Bruce Sterling, Pat Cadigan, and others, Queen City Jazz by Kathleen Ann Goonan, Eye Candy by Ryan Schneider, Glass Houses by Laura Mixon, Cyberweb by Lisa Mason, Limit of Vision by Linda Nagata, and The A.I. Chronicles Anthology, edited by Samuel Peralta. Download yours today only at https://storybundle.com/ai

AllCoversLarge.AI.2

QUEEN CITY JAZZ
by
KATHLEEN ANN GOONAN
Excerpt from Chapter One:
True Simplicity

John was blue, steady as the blue light far down the abandoned maglev track; Verity and Cairo had walked down it one spring day when Verity was only ten though she was forbidden by Evangeline. Verity watched the light in wonder, thinking of John. It still received the hidden signal programmed into its chips, activated, John told her, by power stored in its solar battery.

Verity had flipped her straw hat back over her shoulders so that it hung by the string around her neck and watched the light for a long time before Cairo, her dog, grew restless and thrust the picture of home before her relentlessly, several times. It was a plain, white frame house on a low hill protruding from a glittering green sea of soy and corn, five miles from the Great Miami River. Solar power was allowed by the Scriptures, as long as it was not enlivened, and they had several ancient panels on their roof which John had foraged from far-off Columbus.

Verity had gone with John, when she was little; urging the horse on with pictures of oats, though John thought it was the flick of his whip that moved the beast. The empty, deactivated City scolded them audibly for disconnecting the solar panels. It terrified and fascinated her. She begged to go back, but John had been more spooked than she, and it was several day’s journey besides. One wagonload was all they got from Columbus. Cincinnati was closer, but it was still living, and the Scriptures absolutely forbade contact with an Enlivened City. John wasn’t too comfortable about Dayton either, although it was only about ten miles away.

And if people were colors then Sare was yellow like warm golden cornmeal after it was ground at the mill on Bear Creek, or the sun just after it rose over the fields and forests of Western Ohio. Evangeline, Sare’s twin sister, was hard and green like the emerald ring Verity wore on her right hand. They were both around forty.

Blaze, nineteen, was wild as an orange autumn sunset seen through the black branches of the bare orchard just before storm set in. That wild sound was in him too, of branches rattling furious in wind rushing from the flat plains to the west, crystallizing the sky with rapid frigidity. Verity loved weather, and weather’s changes, and how people were like weather. She had once hooked into some old weathersats and eddied through years of the quickened flow of storm systems for several hours before John flung open the door of the evening-darkened library and rudely disconnected her, telling her roughly that she could read all she liked but to stay away from that and that she didn’t need to know. That annoyed her. Weather, she told John, is very important to farmers and he said well that weather’s a century old, a lot’s happened since then.

But she often crept into that corner of the library afterwards and hooked herself in. Russ said it was all right, anyway. Anything in the library was for them all. John was not the boss. He only thought he was sometimes. The tiny bumps behind her ears where she hooked in hadn’t been discovered till she’d been cleared, certified, and taken from Edgetown, just outside Cincinnati. At that time Verity was, by their best estimation, three years old.

Sare had told Verity how she had found the nubs, the second day Verity was with them. Sare was braiding Verity’s hair when she felt the right nub with her little finger. “I trembled,” she said. “Then I pulled back your hair for a better look. I’m not the fainting type, but I almost fainted then.” Verity had been certified plague-free by a Certifier–an old man–in Edgetown. Verity didn’t remember it, but apparently she was taken inside a small black building for a while and brought out with a nod. The Shakers had no idea what went on inside the building, just knew that they trusted the old man as he had been a friend of a long-dead Sister. Yet though she was plague-free, the nubs proclaimed her abnormal, and the source and effect of this anomaly was completely unknown to the Shakers and therefore to be feared.

They had called a Meeting immediately. Verity could imagine the arguments, but they loved her already and kept her of course, despite the unknown danger.

The Shakers had not dared venture back to Edgetown since they had added Verity to Shaker Hill, even though four Elders and two Elderesses had died and should have been replaced. They never really talked about it, but Verity knew it was because of her. The nubs behind her ears were proof of some sort of tampering; tampering which might infect the Shakers in some unknown way or even kill them. The Shakers took responsibility for her, but fear of the unknown kept them from returning to Edge-town for more children, and the community had dwindled. Twenty years ago, it had been thriving, with fifty Brethren, mostly very old people. The last of those old ones had died when Verity was a child.

But so far, in all the years of her growing up, Verity had posed no danger. She seemed quite normal. She knew she was lucky to be at Shaker Hill; they told her so, and she believed it. Her days and nights were part of a larger Shaker cycle bound to the land, exploiting nothing, using what they needed. They were all going to Heaven when they died, which was a lot like Ohio, all ordered and filled with the living light that Verity felt she saw everyone moving through fairly often, especially in the evening when they were preparing dinner, and sometimes when they all worked to get the hay in. Most of them did not like Cairo much. She had come wagging out of a thicket a few years earlier, and became Verity’s dog. They were inseparable.

The rest of her family was a jumble of doors–the private rooms in which the Brothers and Sisters lived–and kind faces, arms that hugged, voices that scolded or more often gently corrected and instructed, a deep and wide community that held her in a hammock of relationships until she was sixteen, and taking in the triticale harvest by herself since Tai Tai was not feeling well that day.

Verity hadn’t seen the Flowers since she was a child, but often longed for them with a shortening of breath, an ache in her chest, with a vision that spread out inside her mind like the growing light of day. And she had found it hard to believe that Bees were almost as large as humans (if they even existed at all, that is), but that day of harvest, when she was sixteen, she found that it was so.

Her back ached from bending over with the scythe. Her bike lay on its side a quarter mile away, at the top of the bank above the flood plain where she worked, its rust-flowered blue paint catching the sun. The Great Miami River glittered wide, deep, and olive-green, edged by a steep drop-off at the end of the field. It overflowed its banks each spring, making this fertile ground and worth the fifteen-minute bike ride. The remains of a small, old town, Miamisburg, lay across the river. The earthquake flood had swept much of it away. A few remaining sections of a fallen iron bridge lay tangled in the river below.

Verity’s rhythmic swipes slowed as a foreign vibration entered her body even before she could hear it. Cairo, who had been lying in a cool thicket at the edge of the field, leaped up and whined.

Verity turned, shaded her eyes with her hand, and saw against the sun a small black dot which grew steadily larger.

It was following the path of the river.

And it was a Bee.

Sweat burned her eyes as she stared. She was twenty feet from the bluff overlooking the river, and wanted to run, take cover, but couldn’t move. Her heart contracted in fear as she gradually realized how large it was.

Her entire body hummed as the Bee halted and hovered near her, over the middle of the river and about thirty feet above in the air. She was caught in the rush of air stirred by its wings, in the loud, lovely tone they gave forth in vibrating, almost as if the strength of the sound could lift her too.

Soft gold and brown bands circled its body and glowed in the sun. Its front was a black complication of shiny parts. The eyes that stared at her reminded her of the heart of a Black-eyed Susan. Pictures hummed in the air between them, and Cairo leaped up, stiff-legged, and began to bark.

A man’s face was before her, half torn away and unrecognizable. Spurting blood and gray brains mixed with ivory splinters of bone. The remaining eye stared lifeless and she felt deep horror yet could not look away.

Vision segued insistently to a woman lying dead in a white room, her pale face washed by blinking green and blue lights. Deep anguish and inexplicable guilt seized Verity.

The next instant Verity stood on the edge of a high chasm surrounded by tall buildings. Far below flowed rivers of light. Across the chasm an impossibly huge iris moved in the night wind, filling her with deep happiness which switched suddenly to a darkness she fully believed would never, never end.

Her own anguished cry startled her. Her vision cleared. She saw the field, the river, the sky above.

And the Bee.

Faced with the hovering Bee, her hair blown back from her face by the wind from the vibrating wings, Verity knew with stunned and instant certainty that the pictures came from Cincinnati, yet did not know why she saw them, what they meant, or why they tore at her.

But she suddenly realized what would happen next.

Visit Kathleen Ann Goonan at https://www.facebook.com/kathleen.goonan, www.goonan.com, www.goonan.com/blog, and on Twitter @KathleenAnnGoonan

The A.I. Storybundle is live but only for twelve more days until April 20, 2017! Explore Artificial Intelligence and how A.I. will affect the future in Aristoi by Walter Jon Williams, The Bohr Maker by Linda Nagata, Arachne by Lisa Mason, Rewired: The Post-Cyberpunk Anthology, edited by John Kessel and James Patrick Kelly with stories by William Gibson, Bruce Sterling, Pat Cadigan, and others, Queen City Jazz by Kathleen Ann Goonan, Eye Candy by Ryan Schneider, Glass Houses by Laura Mixon, Cyberweb by Lisa Mason, Limit of Vision by Linda Nagata, and The A.I. Chronicles Anthology, edited by Samuel Peralta. Download yours today for the Spring only at https://storybundle.com/ai

AllCoversLarge.AI.2

Table of Contents of Rewired: The Post-Cyberpunk Anthology
Edited by James Patrick Kelly and John Kessel

“Introduction: Hacking Cyberpunk” by James Patrick Kelly and John Kessel

“Bicycle Repairman” by Bruce Sterling

“Lobsters” by Charles Stross

“The Voluntary State” by Christopher Rowe

“When Sysadmins Ruled the Earth” by Cory Doctorow

“The Wedding Album” by David Marusek

“Two Dreams on Trains” by Elizabeth Bear

“Yeyuka” by Greg Egan

“Red Sonja and Lessingham in Dreamland” by Gwyneth Jones

Sterling-Kessel Correspondence

“How We Got in Town and out Again” by Jonathan Lethem

“Search Engine” by Mary Rosenblum

“The Dog Said Bow-Wow” by Michael Swanwick

“The Calorie Man” by Paolo Bacigalupi

“The Final Remake of The Return of Little Latin Larry With a Completely Remastered ‘Soundtrack’” by Pat Cadigan

“What’s Up Tiger Lily?” by Paul Di Filippo

“Daddy’s World” by Walter Jon Williams

“Thirteen Views of a Cardboard City” by William Gibson

The A.I. Storybundle is live, but only until April 20, 2017! Explore Artificial Intelligence and how A.I. will affect the future in Aristoi by Walter Jon Williams, The Bohr Maker by Linda Nagata, Arachne by Lisa Mason, Rewired: The Post-Cyberpunk Anthology, edited by John Kessel and James Patrick Kelly with stories by William Gibson, Bruce Sterling, Pat Cadigan, and others, Queen City Jazz by Kathleen Ann Goonan, Eye Candy by Ryan Schneider, Glass Houses by Laura Mixon, Cyberweb by Lisa Mason, Limit of Vision by Linda Nagata, and The A.I. Chronicles Anthology, edited by Samuel Peralta. Stock up your ereader for the Spring only at https://storybundle.com/ai