by William Huff
Click on cover to access
increasing pollution and decreasing natural resources burden the
future of Earth, it would be wise to focus upon using less, rather
than clawing for more. This
book explores a variety of technologies whereby this objective might
had not pictured himself homeless in his worst nightmare, but the
system had rewarded his years of hard work with a layoff, debt, and
now homelessness. Rather than allow himself to be ground to powder by
cruel ordinances, he applied his creativity and technical expertise
to adapting in unexpected ways. Politics, organized crime,
interesting characters and even an unlikely romance bring this novel
of disaster and redemption to life.
of Expatriates of Babylon
Falling Out of The System
said that when people know what is right or best, they will do it,”
me on this one,” replied Cindy. “When it comes to human
relationships, Socrates was simply wrong. Instincts are better than
he was searching for a logical response to her irrational assertion,
Cindy took another swing: “Are we having a little difficulty
knowing what's right or best?”
fact, John was loving it. Their conversations in the college coffee
lounge were special to him, and he enjoyed an intelligent companion
who did her own thinking. Again, before John could collect his addled
thoughts, there was another interruption.
we expect your lovely form at our party this evening?”
this point Cindy was undecided on two counts. For one, these
fraternity guys were having more parties than she had time for, and
two, she was annoyed by the sexist reference in the invitation
itself. Somewhere during her pause the interloper added a snide
remark about her fraternizing with the lab help.
this John quietly stood up. Slovenly dressed, a bit overweight, and
not tall, a couple of the group began to snicker at his appropriate
exit. However, to their bemused wonder, John had only stood up to
on earth would she consider favoring you children with her gracious
presence? Perhaps she prefers to be around people of substance,
rather than those dependent upon their funny little cliques for
security and self-worth. For you to tarnish an invitation with a
sensual reference demonstrates your total disregard for her intellect
and other qualities that put her even further out of your league. Now
if she finds you amusing, far be it from me to even suggest a choice
for an intelligent and responsible person. I'm only in this
conversation because you invited me 'Frat boy,' so here I am.”
What did I step into? wondered Frat boy. Since he was six two and the
lead varsity swimmer, he knew full well what he'd like to do, but he
knew that that would be neither right nor best in this
situation. And too, John's absolute lack of fear – or even a trace
of respect, was frankly a little intimidating. The resulting conflict
between his instincts and intellect left him all but paralyzed.
“Would you kindly just...” He tried again: “When I invite you
to...” Frat boy would have been far better off if he had actually
known that he was speechless.
others attempted to assist their friend, they too were humiliated.
your name lab rat?”
has more than three letters, so someone like you would probably
you her little brother?”
you see a family resemblance? If you think I'm pretty, forget it –
you're not my type.”
likes a little ass, but nobody likes a smart ass.”
all heard that one before, but now I understand your humor – it's
the other half?”
so it went. These guys were trapped, and John was having fun.
Although they were clearly losing – both as individuals and as a
group – it would have been extremely awkward for them to just walk
away. The only one of their number who had been wise enough to keep
his mouth shut also had a trace of humility. He finally rescued his
friends by extending his hand and graciously offering: “If it were
up to me, I'd invite you to the party as well. I'd much rather have
you on my side.” With
grudging nods, they were now free to go without risking another word.
a couple of the bystanders who had accumulated during the scene,
Cindy resisted the temptation to applaud, but her beaming smile and
congratulatory nod said it clearly. Cindy's
motherly instincts had been piqued. She had just seen a small dog
attacked, only to rise up and humiliate a wolf pack. There was
obviously a whole lot more to this loner than she had imagined –
and there was another thing: He had protected her – that was a
first. Others in this academic environment had only treated her like
I be seeing you here sometime tomorrow morning?” she asked, as she
gathered her things to head off to her next class.
have some lab equipment to set up, but I'll be free from about 10:30
on,” said John.
far beneath her station, John was a refreshing change from her usual
fare. He wasn't phony, macho, a jock or wealthy – decent looking,
but he seemed to care little about his personal appearance. More
intriguing was that he didn't try to hit on her; he hadn't even asked
her out. He was just a comfortable friend who seemed interested and
knowledgeable in almost everything he encountered. As she further
mulled the scene in her mind she pictured herself helping him with
his dressing and social skills.
the comfortable income of her family, college had been assumed for
Cindy, but for her it was more of an extended childhood than a
serious pursuit. She had however, become intrigued by the intricacies
of living things, and was soon to garner a B.S. in biochemistry.
was often melancholy and seemingly disconnected from her surroundings
– a very lovely girl, clearly preoccupied with deep and
troubling issues. When she did smile, John felt the warmth of
the morning sun.
the middle child of a single mom, John was on his own when it came to
getting an education, and his resources didn't allow him to pursue a
degree. Still, he had been able to pick up a few courses in physics,
chemistry and art.
innate ability to solve problems enabled him to compete with graduate
engineers in the industrial world. On the down side, his maverick
career required exaggeration and networking to gain such positions.
During an “in-between” period while working part-time as a lab
assistant at the local college, he had met Cindy while helping with
equipment in one of her classes.
friendship had begun when she encountered him outside of class and
had asked a question about a lab procedure. Though not officially a
teacher, he took the time to sit down with her in the coffee shop and
provide a depth of understanding that illuminated other areas of
confusion as well.
this time their friendship had grown and they no longer needed an
academic question for an excuse to hang out, and to share a few of
their more personal concerns and experiences. It had been an attempt
on Cindy's part to help John with his social skills that been
interrupted by the soon-to-be-humiliated fraternity boys.
tended to be inept socially,
and Cindy could see that. His preoccupation with technical issues had
proven to be a good place to hide his emotions, and his endless
projects provided an excuse to do other things besides pursue a
social life. His refusal to be phony also put him at a disadvantage.
He reasoned that he would rather not build a relationship
based upon false impressions which he would have to live up to or
suffer exposure. But as an insightful observer and listener, not
given to boasting, he managed to attract meaningful relationships at
the platonic level.
in hand, Cindy settled herself in the seat and sighed. She gave John
a faint smile and a nod in lieu of a verbal greeting, and then
proceeded to watch a bird flitting about a bush just outside the
what's bugging you?” asked John.
a brief struggle, she finally relaxed and replied: “I'll be
graduating in a couple of months, and I'm going to miss you.”
was surprised at how relieved he was to hear her say that. He too had
been dreading the day but – ever the social pessimist – his
mechanism for dealing with it had been to coldly begin plastering
over the doorway to yet another nook of his emotions. Now he suddenly
dared to consider that that might not be necessary. “We could keep
in touch,” he finally suggested hopefully.
like that.” A long pause.
was only part of it,” added John, carefully observing her body
language. Their mutual expression of wanting to see each other had
complicated,” she said. In actuality she wanted – needed someone
to care enough to invade her privacy and be by her side. Another
John's tenacity was reassuring.
Cindy dropped her head and began by talking to the table. “My
parents have been fighting a lot, and they don't care enough about me
to leave me out of it. I'm moving out weekend after next, but I
haven't told my parents yet. I've already paid first and last on a
you like some help?”
would be very grateful,” she said, finally looking up. “I've
never been on my own before, but the strife at home is killing me.”
be there,” said John, and they began to discuss how best to break
it to her parents.
surreptitiously collecting a couple days worth of personal items from
home she would contact her dad by phone at work, so he would not have
time for a wordy response.
honey, what's up?”
you any idea how difficult it's been to be caught between you and mom
in all your fighting?”
we talk about this later?”
be brief. I've rented a place to stay until you and mom can get your
stuff together.” A significant pause. “Could you do me a huge
favor and break the news to mom?”
don't blame you for being afraid to tell your mom, but can we discuss
got some major finals coming up this Friday, so I'll be staying with
friends for the next couple of days. Oh, and don't worry if I leave
my cell phone off tonight.”
convenient.” (Nobody was being fooled) “I understand honey, and
I'm very sorry for what we've been putting you through, but I'd still
like time to talk with you – perhaps at lunch tomorrow?”
it's a date, as long as you understand that my moving out for awhile
is not negotiable.”
don't like it, but I guess I don't blame you – I've got a call
coming in. Love you.”
kept his one-bedroom apartment reasonably neat in spite of the number
of projects in various stages of development. For these he had at
least built some shelves to keep them off the floor while they
awaited their rotation to the kitchen table to provide access to his
tools and a computer. John had offered Cindy the privacy of his
bedroom, but she insisted on staying on the couch – it would only
be for a couple of nights.
then and the time she was to move there were a couple of additional
evenings when she would escape the toxic environment of her home to
John's apartment to “study.” When the reality of the milestone
moving day arrived, her mom made one last emotional appeal, and
finally a threat:
you're that determined to be on your own, don't expect your dad and I
to continue paying your bills.”
dad however, was actually relieved that they could now address the
issues of their marriage without the distraction of a third party in
the house – and of course they both blamed each other for her
financial stress was new to her. Her intellectual awareness had not
become an emotional pressure until her mom had applied it.
to patterns of children since time immemorial, when one parent
doesn't behave you go to the other one – so she soon appealed to
her dad and was promised a temporary reprieve: She would be covered
through the first full month following graduation. If she couldn't
manage her finances by then, she'd have to move back home. This last
clause was a sweetener to justify this lenience to his wife – and
besides, he was confident she would be unable to pull it off.
her dad wasn't the only wily one in the family. Cindy had a strategy
of her own, and after settling into her new apartment, she approached
her most trusted friend. “John I'm scared. If I haven't been able
to land a job and receive a paycheck by the end of the first full
month after graduation I'm going to have to return home. If I can't
pay rent... I've never worked before, haven't even started looking
for work, and I've got these finals to study for and two projects to
turn in and...”
whoa, whoa! One disaster at a time.” He had never seen her panicked
like this before and was trying to discern what she expected him to
do. Certainly he was incapable of paying her bills.
the absence of knowing the right answer, he decided to intentionally
give her the wrong answer to buy time – and hopefully to learn more
about what she wanted. Why can't she just tell me? he wondered.
you need some help with your projects?” he offered, while observing
dropped her head in amazed wonder. Why can't this dolt take a hint?
she thought to herself. She wanted to know that John cared enough
about her to suggest moving in with her to share in the expenses.
“No.” she finally said, “These projects are outside of your
areas of expertise. The problem is that I've never had to manage my
own finances before, and I'm needing suggestions.” If that
doesn't do it, he's hopeless, she mused.
light was beginning to dawn in John, but the conflict of desire
versus fear of rejection began to impede his thinking. By this time
in their relationship he was aware of her sometimes devious ways, and
he really wanted to be gentle with her, but he didn't want to risk
making a fool of himself. So he decided to play it simple and
you know that I care about you, but you're going to have to simply
tell me what you want.”
be welcome to move into my other bedroom. It would be a lot cheaper
for both of us once I found a job.”
a couple of months after graduation Cindy indeed had a job, and a
good one. Their striking cultural differences held many surprises –
both good and bad – as they developed their own style of living
like all living things, are constantly either growing or dying, so
soon they were enjoying additional benefits.
parents were not impressed with John. Her mom was not even willing to
accept the fact that John was now living under the same roof as her
daughter. But by pointing out her parents' own problems at the time,
Cindy was able to reduce the noise of her lecture-prone mom. It also
helped that by this time John too had a full-time job with a very
unchanged in many respects, John embraced the respect and
self-confidence he found in dressing well. This in fact had been a
key factor in his landing a stable job with good pay and benefits.
Cindy's social connections were a new world to him, and his bearing
and social graces – when he cared – quickly improved.
was also a dark side to Cindy's family. To an indiscernible degree,
her father's wealth hinged upon an involvement with some very
dangerous people. When Cindy was willing to talk about some of this,
the things she would share were very disturbing.
had seemed contemplative the past few days, and John knew something
was up. When he would catch her in a moment of reverie and attempt to
engage in conversation, she would offer some comment about hormones,
being tired, work or some other dodge.
evening as John was returning home after work, he almost ran into a
large man in dark clothing as he exited the parking area. A crushing
blow to his face sent him reeling backwards into the arms of another
man who seemed to materialize out of nowhere. This second person
simply caught him and pushed him back the way he had come, only to be
sent backwards again by a devastating blow to his stomach. As he
began to wonder how long this tennis match was going to last, he
discovered there was no one behind to catch him this time, and he
barely avoided smacking his head on the concrete. He twisted
sideways, came up on his knees and promptly vomited.
too messy to ride in my
car,” said a mild voice.
open the trunk.”
John had a chance to join the conversation, a powerful hand was
dragging him by the back of his belt, and swinging him easily into
the waiting trunk. “You'll stand a chance of living if you remain
as cooperative as you've been so far,” was the only other comment
before the slam of the trunk lid turned off the lights.
quickly collected his wits and began counting seconds in his mind as
soon as the car was in motion, repositioning a finger and resetting
the count with each sixty seconds. It was a short ride, only lasting
about eight fingers, when the car came to a stop. When the trunk was
opened they were at the back edge of an empty unlighted parking lot
near a row of mature eucalyptus trees.
did I do?” asked John.
I answer that,” came the mild voice of the older and slightly
smaller man, “how serious do you think we are about what we have to
enough to kill I would assume.”
said the man “Would you like assistance in climbing out of the
think I can make it.” John nonchalantly “stumbled” as he exited
the trunk, so he could clearly view the license plate.
is pregnant,” said the man, getting directly to the point. “You
have three days to move out. And,” he added, “be careful that you
don't do anything stupid; that's a 'borrowed' license plate you just
memorized – cell phone please.”
soon as John handed him the cell phone they drove off without saying
another word. It would be about two hours before a bloodied and
foul-smelling John would stumble into his apartment. This of course
had given John plenty of time to put two and two together concerning
Cindy's curious behavior of the past few days. Before a frightened
Cindy could express her concern and sympathy, John immediately
time you have something important to tell me, could you just send an
email instead of a gorilla?” said John, dripping with resentment
and sarcasm. “Why couldn't you have just told me? Shouldn't I have
been the first to know? Or is it even my child?”
How dare you! What happened?”
wouldn't have... My mom might have. We were out shopping when she
started asking me all these questions about the problems I've been
having lately. I had no clue what she was getting at until she made a
phone call and took me to a doctor instead of driving me home. I
simply wasn't in control.”
don't suppose this wonderful doctor of hers would be interested in
looking at a broken nose,” said John.
people rarely get pregnant from noses, I doubt if a gynecologist
be interested,” said Cindy, trying to stifle a laugh. John's own
seriousness gave way at this point, and his attempt as smothering a
laugh misted the air with blood.
was terrified when John suggested that they run away together. She
immediately began packing her things to move back in with her
parents, until John capitulated and promised to be out of there
within the specified time. As much as it tore her heart to do so, she
made herself pretend to John that he wasn't all that important
to her. This impression, she felt, was crucial to John's safety, and
by this time she loved him enough to allow him to think poorly of her
– for his sake.
the surface John fared well upon returning to the solitary life, and
he was able to create a suitable cocoon in which to hide his life and
emotions. He had always been a loner, and was soon able to
reestablish his emotional protective mechanisms. Deep inside however,
he was grievously wounded.
refused her parents demands that she get an abortion, and an
equilibrium of wills was eventually reached. John managed to stay in
touch with Cindy, and her parents eventually accepted the fact that
he probably always would.
birth of their daughter awakened a universe of new feelings and
priorities for John. He was helpless to dictate any of the terms of
visitation when dealing with the wealth and the more sinister aspects
of Cindy's family, but, he was granted a limited access to his
daughter. Child support was handled through the state to insure Cindy
would receive payments whether or not John was consistent with them
and to further prevent John from being involved.
knew how to solve problems and loved the challenge of it. Heedless of
worries about health, he generally flowed with whatever he found easy
or intellectually stimulating.
only emotional tie by this time was to his now six-year-old daughter
– whom he was rarely able to see. His protective mechanism was to
avoid thinking about her – but even so, he would find himself
choking tears at inopportune times. Buried even more deeply were his
feelings for Cindy, but by this point he had convinced himself that
he really didn't care. For now it sort of worked.
a major government contract was lost to a competitor, rumors of
layoffs began to circulate, but he was confident that any layoffs
would not include him. As their de facto mechanical engineer he was
too valuable. He routinely solved problems that nobody else would
take on. Besides, management had repeatedly assured them that they
had no intentions of laying off anybody.
Friday morning several groups of people were notified that they were
to report to the conference room. As the first group emerged from the
meeting they looked shocked, tearful or stoic – no one looked
normal. The company had carefully concealed all warnings so they
could reap a final productive week from those they no longer needed.
hatchet list held no regard for seniority, ability or value to the
company. What they needed was impressive looking proposals, and
people with degrees looked better on paper. The company was in far
more trouble than anyone besides top management had known, and
appearance was everything. As John's group answered the summons, he
was sure there was some mistake, but as the meeting progressed he
began to realize that the biggest mistake was that he had allowed
himself to go into debt.
state of the economy was very bleak, and with the scarcity of work
John found it particularly difficult to compete without having a
college degree. John's self confidence ebbed quickly after being
denied work dozens of times every week. He wanted desperately to quit
and go to sleep on a couch forever. He now understood why so many had
turned to alcohol and other substances after a few months of not
being able to do anything right besides accept rejection. He was
grateful to be living alone so that no one could see the crushing,
emasculating effect it was having on his emotions.
then entered a period of “couch-surfing,” where he stayed with
various friends and distant relatives who really didn't want him
there. They had no idea how diligent he had been in relentlessly
pursuing any and all forms of work, but since he still didn't have a
job after all this time, they too began to assume he was just lazy.
By this time he was spreading his resumé into different counties and
states – an obligatory action he secretly hoped would not produce
anything. While living in the backyard shop of a long-time friend, he
finally faced the fact that he would soon have to move far from
friends and familiar surroundings.
– Book two of the trilogy
awkwardness, politics, and mortal enemies, a professional student
develops a technology and culture for populating the harshest
climates on the planet. After rescuing a young lady from a bar, and
then finding himself in desperate peril, he turned to her for help.
She introduced him to a whole new style of technology and culture.
Adventure, romance, and a assortment of surprising characters pave a
road to a more promising future for us all.
Beginning pages of
1 – Uneasy Rider
Levits was on his way home to his condo in Flagstaff from a distant
college lecture. Hunger could no longer be ignored, so he pulled his
chopper off the freeway onto a segment of old Route 66 in search of a
meal. Slowly cruising the service road he spotted a large rustic
building, surrounded by an expanse of deteriorating pavement that was
large enough for semis to maneuver. The pickup trucks parked outside
assured him that it had good food at a reasonable price.
was a young man and clean shaven, but the wind and sun of the
freeways made it difficult to discern his age. He was still about two
hundred yards away when the setting sun revealed a young lady working
her way through the weeds and sparse sage from the freeway. He
briefly considered driving behind the building to intercept her and
see if she needed help, but her stride seemed strong enough, so why
bother. Although exceptionally young for his impressive academic
credentials, Levits was not a social person.
he entered and drank the aroma of the beef-heavy menu, he noted the
already busy bar in the far end of the room. He knew he was in
redneck heaven, and he didn't mind it a bit. He did
a little out of place as he shed his leather jacket to reveal an
expensive silk shirt, but he had no interest in relating to the
culture – just the food.
made eye contact with a waitress, who nodded towards a stool at the
counter. As he slipped in and began to survey the slightly greased
menu, a lovely young lady with a strong balanced stride entered. Her
clothes were simple, but her long light colored hair had become
complicated during her trek through the sage and the freeway fence
paused to stand in the counter pathway, and lifted her chin slightly
as she surveyed the patrons. She soon made a selection and zeroed in
on Levits. “Nice shirt. Silk?” she asked with a winsome smile.
“May please I borrow your cell phone?”
Levits stood up to dig into a front pocket for his cell phone, they
know you – you name Kat,” said a gruff and slightly inebriated
voice. “Honey, you can borrow my cell phone any time you want it.”
wasn't talking to you,” said Levits quietly. As Levits extended his
hand with his phone, a powerful hand batted it to the floor.
your own business – Silk,” said the man, to the rustle of his
friends rising to their feet.
a pretense of reaching down to pick up his phone he crowded between
the speaker on his left and Kat, to prevent him from taking a step
towards her as she backed away. He had just learned that this brute
was right-handed, and expected a blow would quickly follow as he bent
screamed Kat, assuming the looming blow was unexpected.
shifted to his right, and raised his left forearm to deflect the
blow. As he rose he continued to turn, and drove his right elbow into
the side of the brute's neck. As the man staggered sideways Silk
briefly face Kat. “Out!” he said. “Left – to the chopper.”
the brute toppled, his head met the edge of a table, spewing instant
evidence of a severe cut. “You've killed Tommy!” yelled a brawny
worker as he reached across his fallen friend to seize Silk.
Kat paused to glance through the glass door in time to see Silk grab
the wrist of the extended hand and yank it forward, causing the man
to stumble over his fallen friend. Silk gave a hop as he placed a
knee on the inside of the man's elbow while still tightly holding his
wrist, and slammed him viciously into the floor. Bounding from there
to the door, Silk quickly passed Kat as he raced to his chopper,
starting it as he backed it out of the parking place. “Now!” he
urged Kat, as she looked frantically back and forth between the door
and the chopper.
the restaurant door flew open in the fury of pursuit, she made up her
mind. “This is insane!” she exclaimed as she bounced onto the
seat behind Silk.
seemed only seconds before the roar of the motorcycle was answered by
the sound of pickup trucks awakening for pursuit. At least one of
them sounded far more powerful than it would have been while on the
controlled his speed as they passed a scattering of gas stations, old
motels and pedestrians. The pickups didn't seem to care, coming
perilously close to oncoming traffic and completely ignoring a stop
think they're gaining,” said Kat. “I expected this motorcycle to
be faster than this.”
is but I'm not,” said Silk. “I'm not going to drive stupidly just
because they are.”
said Kat, cringing as she saw a pickup narrowly miss a pedestrian.
rapidly approaching pickup was only fifty yards behind as they passed
the last of the businesses and turned to ascend the overpass to the
freeway on-ramp beyond. The pickup ceased to gain further as it
negotiated the curve leaning heavily to its left.
Silk aligned himself with the freeway on-ramp, chopper and driver
became a different animal. “Hang on,” shouted Silk.
shamelessly wrapped her arms around the muscular back of this total
stranger and clung for dear life. The engine began to bellow and she
closed her eyes tightly and let out an involuntary wail, as the power
lifted the front wheel off the ground – surging forward, clawing
the on-ramp for traction. Kat opened her eyes to see white dashes
flickering past beneath them, and occasional cars that appeared to be
parked on the freeway in comparison to their speed.
Livewood was a space ship designed to establish self-replicating
extraterrestrial colonies. As politics and the threat of war consume
Earth, the Livewood and the colonies it spawns have an opportunity to
reinvent humanity, and to become the heirs of the Solar System and
beyond. Politics, romance, and disasters draw out the personalities
of an eclectic cast of characters.
The science involved is a
mixture of existing technologies, and radical theories.
Science-oriented readers are challenged to either debunk or consider
theories that depart from traditional views.
Beginning pages of The
barely eighteen, Wade was fed up with life – as was much of the
human race. He lived in a generation where important decisions were
made for him. Since preschool days, instruction, test results, and
occasional interviews with institutional personnel, had determined
his scholastic path. Now they would determine his lifetime
was also true that the internet had given him access to any subject
of interest to him, and that the monitoring of these these interests
had been factored into this lifetime decision. But he still felt
cheated. It was his life and should be his decision.
When he allowed himself a philosophical moment, he pictured himself
as a plant whose nourishment depended upon his roots remaining where
they were so they could receive regular water and nourishment.
desire for adventure had been partially fulfilled by video games.
Vicarious fulfillment through sophisticated avatars gave some relief,
but knowing that such games were entirely safe, they had become
boring. He continued to wonder what real
and real pain
would be like. He had never seen a real explosion – or even seen a
real gun – and he wondered what the flashes on his screen would
actually sound like.
few years earlier he had begun to deduce that his choice and
performance in games was yet another means by which his abilities and
responses were being analyzed. As he became convinced that the
cunning intelligentsia who provided his computer recreation were
using it to monitor his intellect and personality, he began to
realize that this very intimate snooping could actually become an
avenue by which he could choose his own future.
was when he began to conceive a game of his own. He decided that he
did not want to be a “brain cow” and become one of their
resources. He would attempt to conceal the level of his intelligence
so he could flow among the more average of the population, and
manipulate his position among the less wary of society. So he
intentionally began to make “mistakes” that would get his avatar
killed or severely handicapped so he would return to lower levels of
the programs. He also reigned in his personality pattern of boldly
taking charge and anticipating the next looming challenge. This he
coordinated with intentional “failures,” so it would appear he
was becoming naturally cautious in response to mistakes. He would
react more slowly to developing situations. His new game was to
analyze and to manipulate his handlers.
had a small advantage in his realization that pride was the Achilles
tendon of brilliant people. The game masters, smugly confident that
their true objectives would rarely be discerned, would need to be
managed with care. The “mistakes” he would make would have to be
consistent with the types of mistakes he had made in the past. Also,
he would need to make some other slight changes in his life so that
the inevitable cross-correlation of data would obscure the fact that
he was intentionally manipulating his game performance.
he began to consider the methods and opportunities of this game of
his own, he realized the broader potential it had for actually
gaining control of his “real” life – if life in this cage that
society had created could be considered real at all. While performing
the more routine obligations of life that did not reveal his actual
thinking, he would ponder the type of life and career he would
actually prefer. He would create his own life avatar, and manipulate
his responses in the games he played. He would also modify his
performances and responses related to his career assignments to suit
his chosen image. While planning all this, He created a few
diagnostic responses so he could discern the degree to which his
intended actions would be noticed.
previously he had excelled in mathematics and physics, the potential
of actually being truly creative in these areas was limited to an
elite few on the very cutting edge of science. The rest in these
intellectually demanding disciplines were relegated to developing
applications of technologies, that would support the work of this
he began to learn more about life sciences, he recognized a vast
opportunity for exploration within this realm of inner space.
Although already having been explored for centuries, life sciences
still held depths of secrets yet to be plumbed. He felt that there
may be at least some remaining expressions of invention and
creativity in these areas.
settled upon the in-between field of bionics, where math and physics
met biology. In this narrow field, systems, software, and devices
were developed that emulated abilities found in nature. He was
realistic enough to see that opportunities simply did not currently
exist for him in this field, so as a stepping stone towards it, he
targeted botanical research.
this decision He began to voraciously consume materials available
online to make himself as qualified as possible. By specializing in
sophisticated instrumentation and analytical tools, he hoped to enter
at the leading edge of this discipline. This was a risky move because
if he could not pull it off, he would likely be categorized as a
farmer – a comfortable yet common and mundane occupation. Wade was
in danger of receiving exactly what he had earned.
now it was payday. He was about to be assigned to a career whether he
wanted it or not, and the final two or three years of his education
would bind him forever to this choice that they had made for him.
2 – The Cultural Environment
young mind was ravenous for truth, and this had drawn him in to
wondering why everything in society seemed so predictable and under
control. He knew that his own inner thoughts were not under control,
and he knew full well that he wasn't the only one. But almost all
communication took place on screens. This allowed people to present
whatever face they wanted to about themselves, and somewhere every
word and scene was being recorded. There was an intuitive dread of
expressing anything that might be contrary to what people had been
instructed to think and feel. There were words that no one dared to
utter, and problems that no one dared to mention.
turned to history for answers, the story of any country or empire
contained far more of the standard geopolitical commentary than
historic facts. He was able to glean a few more details by searching
histories of art pieces, architecture, and various period
technologies. He would then zero in on backdrops incidental to the
context of the subjects. The best mining came from examining opposing
views – when such were allowed.
were cases where his web searches happened upon troves of forbidden
information, and within hours he was unable to return to the website.
He knew that this was not how life should be.
social life fostered shallow and uncommitted relationships. This was
facilitated by a hedonistic night life that favored the more
transitory levels of relationship.
had long since ceased to be the norm in society, and the benefits of
sterility were a routine part of scholastic and cultural
indoctrination. This theme was increasingly repeated as children
As students approached the age
where they could volunteer for sterility, the benefits included
opportunity for sexual experience a year earlier than it would be
allowed for those who retained their potency. This ironically (and
intentionally) made those with less control of their sexuality, less
likely to reproduce.
lifetime benefit of voluntary sterility would be the guarantee of a
stable income. This would appeal to those with less confidence in
their skills, and in their abilities to adapt to changing situations.
These two enticements amounted to a breeding program that would slow
population growth among those less disciplined and less confident in
their abilities – the lesser performers.
By this time children were
essentially wards of the state, and only lip service was given to the
role of parents in their lives. There was little reward or
satisfaction in parenting, and their allowed involvement was
essentially symbolic – overwhelmed by the influence of the school
and daycare systems. All adults were expected to work. The state was
the de facto parent – apparently for adults as well as for
and entertainment constantly portrayed religious experience as a
psychological weakness that were both opposed to rationality and
detrimental to humanity. Historically, vicious wars had been fought
over religious beliefs. As a result, any religious doctrine that
allowed violence against another for any reason, was banned. For the
sake of harmony however, there was symbolic allowance for peaceful
religions. And indeed, religious experiences and beliefs continued to
arise – seemingly out of nowhere.
By blunting loyalties to both
family and religion, the primary triggers of moral objections were
mollified. Governments were thereby less likely to be threatened by
conviction-based conflicts. The welfare of the state was then
promoted to fill the vacuum left by the suppression of these other
the global culture was developing, other causes of war were addressed
and mitigated as much as possible. Conflicts motivated by survival
needs were managed through technologies that met those needs, but
ongoing access to these technologies had to be purchased by
individuals through productivity. In other words, people were forced
to earn what they needed to survive.
Behavior deemed criminal
resulted in relocation to areas of reduced provision and reduced
opportunity to damage others. This “reduced provision” translated
into longer working hours to achieve survival itself.
prosperity took the form of increasing levels of comfort and
convenience, and in some cases, additional space. The increments of
improvement became smaller and increasingly difficult to achieve as
they inched upwards. Such increases became available through longer
hours, better performance, and additional public service.
made it possible for individuals to find levels where their ambitions
were balanced by the levels of effort they were willing and capable
of exerting. It was thus understood that wealth was available to any
who were willing to pay the price, and this in turn reduced
complaints due to jealousy or the perception of unfairness.
social order all depended upon the existence of a vague government
that arranged and manipulated it all. This Society of Benefactors
(SOB) was distant and impersonal enough to be considered untouchable.
The extent of the gap between this global government and the
populations of the world was unknown, and the path from one to the
other did not exist. The news media they controlled offered few
and unknown to the world they controlled, this Society of
Benefactors, was fraught with factions and infighting, but with no
referee. The SOB was roughly divided into three areas of
administration: Asia, Mideast-Europe-Africa (MEA), and the Amers. The
primary conflict was between Asia and MEA. The Amers, lacking the
ambition to take on either one, were neutral, but covert envoys from
both belligerents actively wooed their favor.
holographic instructor continued: “Within a few minutes your
individual career categories will begin to appear on your tablets –
along with the classrooms to which you will report. Upon receiving
this information you are individually dismissed to the refreshment
lounge for approximately thirty minutes. There you may relax and
exchange congratulations and farewells among your fellow students.”
instructor disappeared and the nearly fifty students began to chat
with each other as the individual assignments began to appear.
Wade noticed that there were
whoops of joy in response to the first of these revelations, but the
responses – though pleasant – became more subdued by the time
about half of the class had departed. Eventually the responses began
to sound more like relief than pleasure, and finally they got down to
occasional groans. This did not bode well for his own results, as he
continued to wait among the final few.
A smallish man of about forty
in immaculate formal attire stepped into the room. “Wade? Come with
me. The rest of you will continue to wait here until your careers are
revealed, whereupon you will proceed directly to your assigned
Kyle was identified only by a name plate on his breast pocket, and
did not offer so much as a handshake by way of introduction. When
just the two of them were seated in a small spartan conference room a
couple of doors away from the classroom, Dr. Kyle spared no words.
a few years ago you were at the top of your class, and headed for a
prestigious career as an aerospace engineer. What happened?”
was caught totally off guard by this blatant confrontation. He found
himself intimidated by the complete lack of empathy and encouragement
that until this point had oozed from all whom he had encountered
within the educational system. “I..I guess I'm uh probably not all
that good... after all.”
poop! You've been under achieving. Why?”
was under attack, and he began to intentionally adjust his position
in the unpadded chair as a pretext for delay, while rapidly
evaluating possible responses – short of confessing to the
accusation at hand he had few choices. “I
had kind of cheated a little – before.”
had this friend who helped...”
don't quite remember his name. It was a few year ago...”
Silence. It was Wade's turn to speak, but there was nothing he could
possibly say. He sat there staring at the table for what seemed like
an eternity, rather than making eye-contact with this intense
enforcer of reality. Kyle was diabolically patient as he continued to
await Wade's response, but finally:
is a farmer who needs an assistant. The studies you've been feeding
yourself lately have qualified you for this position, so you will
need no further education. If you do what he tells you, and if you
perform at the level you are capable of, you may eventually work
yourself up to the position of farmer.
have posted the location of a retail suite in a nearby connected
village on your tablet. You will report there at 8:00 am day after
tomorrow with a backpack containing your tablet, such personal items
as will fit, and an eagerness to perform. All else you will need will
be provided at your future home.
am giving you opportunity and motive, and can offer you little more –
other than any special tools or equipment you may feel you need.”
stirred and looked up from the table at this point. Had he actually
just been given the opportunity to request something? “Are you
offering me the opportunity to request tools or equipment – right
you also a hearing problem?”
like a portable mass spectrometer so I can analyze and monitor the
elements within the plant nutrients. I would like the library of
analytical procedures for monitoring plant health and diagnosing
weaknesses. I would like the equipment for performing these
procedures. I would like a high-resolution screen one and one half by
three fourths of a meter, so I can simultaneously work with multiple
screens, plus the computer resources to manage them. I would like to
begin with 48 remote sensors for monitoring temperature, humidity,
and soil conditions, but will doubtless need more in the future.”
an outrageous list – and far more than any farmer would even know
how to use, but I've been told to provide what you would request so I
am constrained to see what I can do. There will also be an ongoing
budget for additional essential tools and materials that you can
clearly justify on a piece-by-piece basis.
am day after tomorrow then. Another gentleman will be on hand to
conduct you to your assignment. You are dismissed.” Whereupon the
austere Dr. Kyle arose, turned away from Wade and began a phone call.
As Wade left the room, he could not see the smirk on Dr. Kyle's face.
than while awaiting Wade's responses, this highly efficient “Kyle
machine” had not wasted five seconds of time or a single syllable
of speech. As Wade stumbled along a garden pathway, stunned by the
disaster he had made of his young life, he could not understand why
he was smiling – until he realized: Adventure at last! He had
succeeded in breaking something – even if it was his own life, and
he was excited. He had felt real emotions about a real situation. He
had broken the game!
as an avowed techno-nerd, I found myself writing poetry as a means of
sorting out my thoughts – ironic: I didn't think I even liked
By the time it occurred to me to share them, I was able to locate
over three hundred such reflections. I share a few of them here.
section has been appended to this collection to provide some of the
back-stories from which the poetry was born.
who complain about deception and hypocrisy in the churches today are
in good company: St. Paul and others in the Bible also complained. I
learned this after I had expressed my anger to God for not warning me
about a deception in a church I had been attending. In a subsequent
verse-by-verse search of the New Testament, I was able to locate well
over a hundred and fifty warnings and instructions concerning these
issues. God’s response? “I only warned you a hundred and fifty
share this study of these verses in the off chance that there may be
others who might blame God for all this.