Category Archives: Innerscape

My Favourite Bits…in Miira [3]

First and foremost, Miira is now free on Amazon for five days from January 19 to January 23, 2021! You should be able to find Miira on your local Amazon. For those in the US, the link to Amazon.com is below:

https://www.amazon.com/Miira-book-1-Innerscape-acflory-ebook/dp/B076GYZBKQ/ref=sr_1_2?crid=3BP2AQJ9TQLLQ&dchild=1&keywords=miira&qid=1611045851&sprefix=Miira%2Caps%2C445&sr=8-2

And in case you’re still wondering whether you should add yet another book to your bulging TBR list, here is my last ‘favourite bit’ from Miira. This scene is shorter than the previous one, but not by that much, so apologies again!

Before you read the excerpt, you will need a little bit of context about the ‘suit’. It isn’t a jacket, vest and pants! Gaming in 2101 involves the use of full body ‘suits’ that contain sensors which help create a biofeedback system for the wearer. For example, if the Gamer stubs his toe, he/she will feel the bump.

The Teslasuit, shown on the left, is almost available already, but by the start of the next century, the best quality suits will have so many sensors embedded in the material that the Gamer is fooled into thinking he/she is experiencing the real thing. The top of the range ‘suit’ is the RT69 by Real Touch.

Read on:

—*—*—*—

The rat-tat-tat of someone knocking on the door woke Lennie from a nap, and he started awake, heart pounding. Wha’ th’ fuck?

Nobody ever visited him at home. He made sure of that by keeping the address of his flea bitten kennel a close secret.

Rolling off the mattress, he grabbed the small table next to his bed and hauled himself upright as he tried to shake off the alcoholic fog that still clouded his thoughts. The only person who knew where he lived was the local pizza guy, but he had not ordered pizza. At least, he could not remember ordering pizza…

Gotta lay off the sauce a bit, he thought as he shambled towards the door, one hand scratching his crotch, the other rubbing the stubble on his chin.

When was the last time he’d shaved?

Lennie could not remember, but was not overly concerned. Life had been a very pleasant blur since the money came through, and he was not about to look a gift horse in the arse-

Bang, bang, bang.

“Okay, okay!” he cried. “I’m coming!”

Alcoholic fog notwithstanding, Lennie retained enough sense to check the view port before unlocking the door.

A woman wearing the bright red uniform of a courier stood outside, one hand raised to knock again. She would have been quite attractive had the red of her hair not clashed so badly with the red of her uniform.

She should dye it, Lennie thought as his eye dropped down to the woman’s other hand. It was holding the handle of a bright yellow trolley. On the trolley was a very big package with Real Touch written on it in electric purple lettering.

My suit! Lennie thought in delight as he quickly unlocked the deadbolt and the two padlocks securing his door. It was a cheap neighbourhood. It paid to be cautious.

“Lennie Huffnagel?” the woman asked.
“Yup, that’s me.”
“Authentication please.”

As Lennie bent to press his thumb into the tablet held out to him, a whiff of his own body odour made him wince. He would have to have a shower before he tried out the suit. Bugger.

“Where do you want it?” the woman asked.

“Um, just sort of in the middle,” Lennie said, suddenly very conscious of the piles of dirty dishes, and even dirtier clothing, that covered almost every available surface. “Hang on, I’ll clear a space.”

“It’s okay,” the woman said with a quick grin. “My brother’s room is just the same.”

Matching action to words, she set the trolley down in the middle of the room and began feeding the dirty dishes into the recycler.

Lennie gave her a quizzical look but did his part by throwing the dirty clothes into a pile by the wall. Soon, an empty rectangle of floor beckoned to be filled.

Spinning the trolley around with a quick flick of her wrists, the woman deposited the box in the middle of the newly cleared space and stood back to admire her handiwork.

“Got a cutter?” she asked.

“It’s okay,” Lennie said, suddenly a little uncomfortable. “I can manage.”

“Oh,” the woman said, her animated expression drooping into disappointment. “Sorry. It’s just…I’m a gamer too, ya know? I saw the label and I was kinda hoping I could get to see the RT69 for myself…”

“You play?” Lennie asked, unease forgotten. “Whadya play?”
“Mega Dome,” the woman said with a slight blush.
“Nice,” Lennie replied, working hard to keep a condescending smirk off his face.

Mega Dome was billed as a full contact martial arts game, but in reality it was just a fancy dating venue with a bit of slap slap thrown in to get people in the mood. He’d played it himself, before the agency picked him up and introduced him to real gaming. Still, the Ranga* knew enough to recognize a top of the range suit when she saw one.

Lennie gave the courier a quick but very professional appraisal as she stood in the middle of the room, clearly hoping to stay. She was not his type, far too fem with a small nose, small mouth and huge green eyes, but it would be fun to share the moment with someone who knew how awesome the suit really was.

“I’ll get the cutter,” he said.

The woman’s face lit up with pleasure, and Lennie suddenly felt quite warm towards her. If she played her cards right he might just give her a bit of slap slap himself.

My good deed for the day, he thought with a quiet chuckle as he ferreted around in the tiny food preparation area for the cutter.

When the woman finally left an hour later, Lennie lay on the mattress, his brand new suit fully connected and a look of terminal surprise on his face.

So why is this one of my favourite scenes? It’s because I’m fiercely protective of those I love, and I love Jaimie Watson, the only 18 year old Resident in Innerscape. Lennie Huffnagel betrayed Jaimie for money, so killing him off with his own ill gotten gains is poetic justice in my book. But I also love the colour red and characters with depth, so don’t expect the Woman in Red to be a simple anything. 🙂

A word of warning: I don’t write erotica or anything even approaching it, but I don’t pull any punches about ‘body functions’, so an earlier scene with Lennie may shock some people. Apologies in advance, but those scenes highlight the chasm that exists between the lives of the super rich, and those like Lennie who survive by exploiting them. Contrast is the key to everything.

I hope you’ve enjoyed seeing ‘Miira’ through my eyes. If you want to read the whole story, Miira, book 1 of Innerscape, is now free on Amazon until January 23, 2021.

-hugs-
Meeks


My Favourite bits…in Miira [2]

I was going to introduce you to the Innerscape assassin today, but I decided that post would work better tomorrow, when the book is actually free. For now, I’m going to show you my favourite bit of ‘tech’ in the book. It’s a bit gruesome but there is a happy ending. 🙂

So here, without further ado, is the final stage of Miira Tahn’s physical induction into the virtual world of Innerscape:

Exactly one week after entering Innerscape, Miira Tahn was ready for the most delicate and invasive part of the whole Induction process – the creation of the neural network that would link her to her new, digital home.

Before that could happen, however, her entire skull would have to be removed, including all the soft tissue of her face. Only then could her naked brain be encased in the bath of proprietary biofluids that would lead to full transition.

In keeping with the morbid humour that had named the containment modules the Catacombs, most of the medical staff referred to the biofluid as the ‘embalming fluid’, but that was a misnomer. In reality, the biofluid was seeded with self-replicating nanoparticles that would not only preserve the brain, they would invade it.

The centres for sight, sound, touch, taste, smell, gross and fine motor skills, and the finer senses like spatial awareness, all would be invaded. Some of the nanoparticles would even make their way to the amygdala because the ability to fear was an integral part of being human.

As the nanoparticles grew, they would self-organize into a network of artificial neural pathways which would interface between Miira’s organic brain and the electronic ‘brain’ of the Innerscape AIs.
Once that interface was complete, she would experience the most minute digital feedback as if it came from the real world, and in a very real sense, she would owe it all to Kenneth Wu.

Back when Innerscape first began, the neural interface had been little more than a net of microscopic sensors surgically implanted inside the skull of each Patient. The neural interface allowed them to enjoy a better quality of life than they would have done on the outside, but the experience had been less than perfect.

It had been Kenneth Wu’s idea to remove the skull completely, and it had been his ground-breaking work in nanotechnology that had been instrumental in the creation of the AI-neural interface Innerscape now used. No one alive knew more about Stage 3 of the process than he did, and even Charles McGragh deferred to him in this area.

“The team is ready to begin Stage 3, Dr. Wu,” Charles said evenly.
“My instruments are ready to begin as well,” the surgical AI added.

Kenneth Wu looked up at the image of Miira in his faceplate, but superimposed over that image was the memory of her frightened brown eyes staring up at him as the anaesthetic took effect. She had been scared, very scared, but her last look had held nothing but trust. She trusted him. He would not let her down.

“Begin.”
“Sealing external carotid arteries now,” the AI said as its tools cut through the skin with lightning speed. “External carotid arteries sealed. Initiating removal of skin.”

Even before the AI finished speaking, a fine mist began to form around Miira’s features. As the seconds ticked by it became progressively thicker until her whole head seemed to be encased in a swirling ball of white.

As Kenneth and the rest of the team watched, the mist gradually changed colour from white to a dirty pink.
When the mist was sucked away a few minutes later, all the soft tissue of Miira’s face was gone, leaving her head looking like a halloween mask. Her eye sockets gaped empty, her nose was gone, and her jaw sagged open, exposing the emptiness where her tongue had been.

“Phase 2 of Stage 3 complete,” the AI said. “Commencing removal of skull.”

Once again, a ball of liquid nanoparticles encased Miira’s head, but this time their function was to eat away at the bone protecting her brain. Bone was much denser than muscle and cartilage, and the process took a full 30 minutes. At the end of that time, the ball of liquid bore a rather disturbing resemblance to oatmeal porridge.

As the team watched, one of the tools hovering outside the ball released three drops of pale blue liquid onto the surface.
The outside of the ball quickly began to look more like dirty concrete than porridge. A few minutes later still, the concrete hardened and began to crack.

As the process accelerated, the cracks turned into shards, and the shards turned into even smaller fragments that lifted from the surface, and were drawn away like iron filings captured by a magnet. Once the hard crust was removed, the ball of liquid held in place by electromagnetic currents was perfectly clear once more. And nestled in the centre of it was Miira’s brain.

“Phase 3 of Stage 3 complete,” said the emotionless voice of the AI. “Commencing diagnostics.”

This was the moment at which Kenneth always held his breath. A great deal of computing power had gone into calculating the composition and number of nanoparticles to use, but there was always a slight element of uncertainty. If even a thin layer of unwanted cells remained around the patient’s brain, the embalming fluid would not work properly, and the team would have to take remedial action.

It could be done, but the results were not always optimal. The patients often suffered some small damage to the outer surface of the brain, or to one of the exposed blood vessels…

“Results are optimal,” the AI said.

Kenneth did not cheer like the rest of the team, but he did exhale on a very relieved sigh.

“Preparing to initiate Phase 4.”

This time, the AI inserted an array of needles into the ball of liquid cradling Miira’s brain. Each hollow needle was finer than a human hair, and dripped a measured dose of embalming fluid into the liquid. Over the next two days, the nanoparticles in the embalming fluid would grow to fill the entire ball.

Once that happened, the semi-solid surface of the ball would be sprayed with a different cocktail of nanoparticles which would grow into the interface connecting Miira’s mind to the digital world that awaited her.

“Phase 4 completed successfully.”

Now all we can do is wait, Kenneth thought with a familiar thrill of excitement mixed with trepidation. If he had done his job properly, the next time he saw Miira, it would be in Innerscape.


Anyone who’s followed my blog for any length of time will know that I love tech, and the life sciences, so I’m sure you’re not surprised by the technical detail that went into this part of the story. I do, however, apologise for the length of the excerpt. Miira’s induction into Innerscape is perhaps the most ‘scifi’ part of the entire story, and I wanted it to feel plausible. I believe that one day, this kind of technology, or something similar to it, will be commonplace. No more cutting through bone with a saw or making holes with a drill. Neurosurgeons will use very different tools to accomplish procedures that are currently impossible. I hope I’m around to see it.

Would I allow my body to become 100% dependent on an AI? Yes….with reservations. A digital world like Innerscape may one day provide terminal patients with a second chance at life, but wherever we ‘go’, we take our hopes, fears, strengths and weaknesses with us. That means no world will ever become a paradise, but with a little lot of good will, it could turn into a home…maybe.

Thank you for staying with me. I’ve had fun and hope you have too. Miira will become free tomorrow [my time] so I’ll post the third and last favourite for this book once the Amazon clock has ticked over. You can find the complete schedule of books coming up for free, here.

cheers
Meeks

 


I’m a genius!

-grin- no really! I just read a New Atlas scientific article about :

“…biohybrid synapses that let living cells communicate with electronic systems, not with electrical signals but with neurotransmitters like dopamine.

New Atlas: https://newatlas.com/computers/artificial-synapses-living-cells-communicate-dopamine/?utm_source=New+Atlas+Subscribers&utm_campaign=ff0315b360-EMAIL_CAMPAIGN_2020_06_17_12_51&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_65b67362bd-ff0315b360-92416841

Remember when Miira was inducted into Innerscape and basically lost her whole skull so Kenneth Wu’s nano interface could connect the AI to her brain? Not quite there yet but…this article shows that it’s coming. And I actually forecast it…

Okay, okay, probably not that hard to do if you read sci-fi, but I’m still proud as punch.

Ahem, that’s all. As you were….


Hello and goodnight!

I was just about to toddle off to bed when I received an email from Sally Cronin of Smorgasbord Cafe and Bookstore, saying she’d posted an excerpt from The Godsend on her blog. -dance- And, she’s included Diana Peach’s fabulous review as well. As you can imagine, I’m thrilled.

The excerpt is a short bit about Kenneth, my broken hero. Hope you like it.

Here’s the link: https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2020/05/14/smorgasbord-cafe-and-bookstore-share-an-extract-scifi-the-godsend-innerscape-book-two-by-a-c-flory/

And now I really must go to bed. Sleep tight if you’re in my timezone. If not, have a happy day, and stay well.

cheers
Meeks


Faces, then and now

My how time flies…

Back in May, 2015, I wrote a post about faces which included photos of real people who reminded me of Miira Tahn and Kenneth Wu, two of the main characters of the story I was writing. Then, late last year [2019] I discovered Plotagon and learned how to create animated cartoon characters for a different kind of storytelling.

These are some of the faces from Innerscape, then and now:

At the top, Miira as she might have been in real life. Below, Miira in Innerscape.
On the left, Kenneth Wu as he would have appeared in the real world. On the right, his avatar in Innerscape.

I haven’t found photos for the rest of the characters in the trilogy, but here are some Plotagon versions:

Emily Watson and her son, Jaimie.
Alex Tang and the Woman in Red

And last, but not least, Charles McGragh and Peter McAlister, both of whom work for the Innerscape corporation:

If any of you come across a real face that you think might suit one of these Plotagon cartoons, please let me know!

And now a reminder – the Innerscape Omnibus is still free and will remain so until midnight April 24, in the northern hemisphere.

If you’re as timezone challenged as me, you can look up the time conversion here: https://www.timeanddate.com/worldclock/converter.html?iso=20200425T065900&p1=234&p2=152

To start, type in the name of the first city. I chose Seattle because that’s where Amazon is located.

Next, choose your own city. For me that was Melbourne, Australia.

The converter will now show you the current time in both cities. To work out what the time will be when the free period ends, click on the date in Seattle and change it to April 24. Next, click on the time and change that to 23:59 – i.e. one minute to midnight.

The timezone converter will now show you precisely when the promotion will end in your part of the world. For Australians along the east coast it will be at… :

…4.59 pm, Saturday April the 25th, 2020.

lol – you’re welcome. 🙂

Meeks


The Omnibus is FREE!

I’m pleased to announce that the Innerscape Omnibus is now live on Amazon and free for the next five days. The last free day will be the 24th of April, 2020.

To download your free copy of the Omnibus, click the link below:

Or click ‘Amazon’, on the sidebar to the right ….>>>>>
Both links will take you to the Omnibus page on Amazon.com.

I hope you enjoy the story and escape the real world for a while. 🙂

Stay well,

Meeks


Five Free Days on the Kindle

Starting Monday the 20th of April, the Innerscape Omnibus will be free on Amazon. The free period ends on April the 24th, so expect to be annoyed with constant reminders until them. 🙂

Please share with anyone who’s stuck at home and likes sci-fi. And reading, of course! At almost 1000 pages, the Omnibus should keep all but the fastest readers occupied for quite a while.

At this point, I’m thinking of unpublishing the Omnibus once the 90 day KDP exclusive period is over, so please grab a free copy on Monday! Or Tuesday. Or Wednesday…

cheers
Meeks


The Taming of the Blurb!

In my last post I sent out a call for help, and my wonderful online friends answered.

This is the ‘before’ blurb:

‘Innerscape is marketed as a digital paradise where the terminally ill live out their lives in young, pain free bodies indistinguishable from the real thing. But Miira Tahn, last Lady of Dhurai, soon discovers that all is not well in paradise; an assassin is stalking the Burning Man, and nothing is what it seems. Together with friends, Kenneth Wu and Jaimie Watson, Miira becomes embroiled in a deadly game of cat and mouse where losing means death. Only by fighting back can she save herself, and those she loves.’

This is the ‘after’ blurb that will accompany the Omnibus onto the Kindle:

Innerscape: a virtual paradise where the terminally ill live out their lives in young, pain free bodies.
But Miira Tahn discovers paradise is an illusion.
An assassin stalks the Burning Man.
Lies masquerade as truth.
Together with her friends, Miira plunges into a deadly game of cat and mouse.
If she loses, she loses everything.
Her life – Those she loves – All of Innerscape.

So much better. 😀

My thanks to Yorgos, Dawn, Carol, Audrey, Cage, Elizabeth, Chris J and Chris G. You turned a sow’s ear into a silk purse. I love you all. 🙂

Meeks


The dreaded ‘blurb’…help!

Apologies, I know you’re all celebrating Easter however you can – waves- but I could really use your help. I’ve always found blurbs hard to write, but coming up with one blurb for three books is driving me insane. If you’ve got a sec could you tell me what you think of this?

Innerscape Omnibus blurb 1

‘Innerscape is marketed as a digital paradise where the terminally ill live out their lives in young, pain free bodies indistinguishable from the real thing. But Miira Tahn, last Lady of Dhurai, soon discovers that all is not well in paradise; an assassin is stalking the Burning Man, and nothing is what it seems. Together with friends, Kenneth Wu and Jaimie Watson, Miira becomes embroiled in a deadly game of cat and mouse where losing means death. Only by fighting back can she save herself, and those she loves.’

Is it too cheesy? Does it give too much away? Is there enough to interest a reader? Is it ‘sci-fi’ enough? -cringe- Is it just too boring?

Thank you, thank you!

Meeks


A bit of fun with Plotagon

Plotagon is an animation app that’s a bit like the SIMS, but you can get quite creative with the storytelling and editing. So here’s a scene using a new skill I just learned:

Jonathon Szabo interviews Peter McAlister, CEO of Innerscape

Enjoy. 🙂

Meeks


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