Shunt follows a woman who receives an implant to remove her grief, but when things get unreal she tries to track down her Pain Surrogate and unlocks a conspiracy. What was the inspiration for the setup to your story?
The first criteria I usually have for starting a novel is that I’ve never read anything like this before. The idea that two people, cut from different social cloths, could become each other’s mental-health support, in the physical sense, was interesting and satirical to me. It also made for very entertaining reading (and writing) as emotional context would “bleed” into different character perspectives. I also wanted to write a near-future cyberpunk with loads of action and intrigue, so I wove those concepts together and let that evolve into what we have here.
Jade is an intriguing and well developed character. What were some driving ideals behind your character’s development?
Thanks, I’ve soul searched a great deal to bring her out right (despite the emotional handicap implied by the brain implant and my own biases). In the case of Jade, I needed a character that felt the loss of something entirely unendurable and, to me, one of the most horrible things I could think of would be to lose someone of close kin that I love deeply. Like many among us through her efforts she simply wishes to return to a normal life.
What were some themes that were important for you to explore in this book?
Perhaps “personal responsibility” or that I see that we are losing the precious adversity that hones us to become better people. In the medical sense, it is much easier for a doctor to prescribe, e.g. benzodiazepines, than to arduously tease out the factors (both environment and neurological) that contribute to that person’s malaise. If your boss is the cause of your despair, find a new boss, same for a partner that puts you down, et cetera. There are people who do indeed require medical intervention, and as a published biomedical scientist I can attest to that. But our society is overmedicated, overstimulated, (for some overprivileged), and overpampered; it is overrun by spoilt brats. Wouldn’t it preferable for us to eat healthy and exercise than to try to fight the consequences of our vices when we are 65 (if we even get there). Our brains work the same way, we each have to tend to our gardens. This story is about getting what we want too easily and the consequences that that entails to ourselves and the world around us.
What is the next book that you are working on and when will it be available?
As I wish to go through traditional publishers, I would say about when Saturn, Mercury, and Jupiter align during a solar eclipse, in both hemispheres. Perhaps sometime before the next millennia, if I am lucky. I have three other novels that are ready for submission, but I suffer from a full-time career that occludes most of my post-writing efforts such as contacting agents and randomly firing novels to the wrong publishers. All faults to that effect are entirely my own. I won’t stop writing though, that is a guarantee. So my work eventually will become, I hope, just too darn good to ignore.
But that said, I’ve recently finished a large piece about an alien structure hiding in our solar system and the human shenanigan that ensue because of it. I was quite pleased with it after the second rewrite and it is in the hands of a few test readers at the moment. It’s almost ready to start collecting rejection letters.
Deadly Invisible Enemies (Hunt for Evil) by Harold Lea Brown is the second book in the series. We continue to follow Kevin Albright who continues to fight a war against cybercrimes which led to the murder of his wife and son on their tenth wedding anniversary. He is now more than ever determined to catch his wife’s killers and while at it take down Big D who is hell-bent on killing him. His anger, guilt, and determination together with his intelligence are what give him an advantage over his enemies. The comparison he constantly makes between his late wife and co-worker is what helps him numb some of the pain of his loss and a bond between them grows.
Harold Lea Brown continues to show his unbeatable storytelling prowess as he smoothly connects the cliffhanger of book one with book two, clearing the suspense of Kevin’s death which had been faked by Kevin himself. Hunt for Evil has a fast pace compared to the first book with a quick succession of events within the plot. The mystery in this book is not any less than it is in the first book. Grief has been widely portrayed in the book as Kevin still hasn’t forgiven himself for what happened to his young family. He is filled with pain and rage and the same time. I love how Harold gets into Kevin’s mind making the reader feel connected to the character’s emotions and dilemma. Widely used dialogue within the book helps readers feel connected and involved in the story. The whole book is filled with mystery and sudden turn of events that keep the reader wanting more.
Hunt for Evil is a fast-paced turn cyberpunk thriller that possesses good character development and takes the reader through a rollercoaster of emotions. This is a suspenseful continuation of Harold Lea Brown’s Deadly Invisible Enemies technothriller series.
Pages: 212 | ASIN: B00P9RVEIG
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grydscaen: dark follows a hacker who’s caught up in a stock market hack that causes mayhem throughout the city. What was the inspiration for the setup to your story?
The inspiration for the grydscaen: dark story was what I was seeing in the present day, actions like the rise and fall of bitcoin, the increase in attacks from Russian troll farms, the China Russia and Iran state actors, vulnerabilities in the arcane Internet laws, the privacy debate and Net Neutrality and the threat of ISPs (Internet Service Providers) throttling or charging for access to online content and “controlling access” to streaming data and information that should be free and the possible discrimination that could cause on marginalized communities.
Hacker activities like the rise in ransomware and malware attacks, as well as phishing and social engineering attacking vulnerable seniors and every day people were front of mind while writing. Also safe schools, and safe spaces online and the monumental rise in cyber bullying online and even teen suicide related to online behaviors.
My passion for writing is to expose the influence and affects of ever changing innovations in technology on its impact on society that drove me to write grydscaen: dark and all the the grydscaen books. As a cybersecurity analyst, software engineer, I found that most people don’t understand the vulnerabilities and risks of putting too much information online and on social media – and those actions can actually be dangerous. Like all the grydscaen books, I wanted to educate readers by providing a compelling fictional world with living characters they could emphasize with exploring these technological truths, promoting the importance of science but also giving insight into the world of hackers and both the power, the good and the harm that hackers and technology can have on society.
Rom is an intriguing character that was very detailed. What were some driving ideals behind your character’s development?
Thanks for the question. Rom was the very first grydscaen character created in the ninth grade, if I have it right, I was doodling in my notebook in Creative Writing class and flushed out his original design instead of paying attention in class.
My parents were programmers developing sophisticated weather and radar systems for the military and the government. Growing up, they were always telling me stories about the software they were developing at the dinner table which was always fascinating. The first comic book pages I drew of Rom in high school were of him in his signature yellow trench coat (he is on the cover of grydscaen: dark) and a homeless teenager who had his memory wiped living on the streets. In the very first comic book page he is seen actually holding a mainframe data punch card to his lips which allows him to read the data on the card. That was my young brain putting into the original comic book pages which became the backstory for grydscaen, the Echelons, the Packrat hacker clan, and Rom himself all my imagination running wild from one of my parent’s dinnertime programmer stories.
The driving ideals behind Rom was to explore the plight of homeless teens with Rom as an oppressed youth shunned by society with no name and no identity after the government captured him and wiped his memory exploring government overreach and how their actions found him throw out on the streets after experimenting on him with no idea who he was or where he came from, therefore exploring, identity, freedom, influence and human fragility.
What were some themes that were important for you to explore in this book?
I wanted to explore intersectionality, identity, class. Of Rom coming from privilege and then losing everything ending up living on the streets in the Echelons slums. I wanted to show how drastic his life could change in an instant, and how that stripping him of one life gave him another that ended up, with all its discrimination, andto be a new life with more meaning. In addition I wanted to show the affects of technology and the supremacy of data and science, the way hackers view society versus how society views them. How data and technology can be used for good or can be turned into a hostile weapon; all ubiquitous shades of grey. I felt readders could empathize and sympathize with Rom as a characterand also at the same time explore the dark and gritty techno-universe of hackers, while seeing Rom grow coming to terms with his circumstances. I wanted to provide an immersive world that hopefully readers could use to look at their own lives, take inventory on how technology affects them, and possiblt re-evaluate their online footprint.
I also wanted to show the vulnerability of today’s systems and the Internet, and mobile apps. People don’t know what putting information out on social media can potentially expose them to harm. I hoped through grydscaen: dark and a fictional story to entertain while at the same time educate. To open a dialogue where people could review and think about their online safety and maybe influence and help support readers to form a more robust online posture to protect themselves and their kids from cyberbullying, identity theft, malware/ransomware and social engineering attacks on the rise from hackers.
In addition I wanted the readers to decide. Are hackers good, bad, neutral? is the world black and white? Or it is really all just multiple shades of grey? Whose side are you on? I wanted to show the power of technology, and even the “religion of data.” To give readers who may not be aware what is going on all around them, a quick glimpse of how hackers see and move in the world. To open a doorway into an “unknown quantity,” and let readers or the lay person, as hackers are often misunderstood or misrepresented, see that the world indeed looks different from the other side.
What is the next book that you are working on and when will it be available?
I have a few books in the works in the cyberpunk grydscaen series. Below are a few of the upcoming grydscaen releases and plans, with additional not listed here.
- grydscaen: idol – release planned Spring 2021 (YA Coming of Age, SF)
- grydscaen: revolution – planned Summer 2021 (YA SF, Technothriller)
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Grydscaen: Dark by Natasuya Uesugi reads almost like a confession of part of the author’s life. Especially the detailed bits of being a hacker. Not only does this reinforce the strength in the storytelling, but it also allows readers to feel more connected with the believability of certain events. The main character, Rom, has been bouncing around Natasuya’s head since ninth grade. This is evident in the detailed character development in this story as the authors passion for these characters gives readers a character that is fully realized.
There is a lot of information to take in at the beginning of the book that might turn readers off, but the information is necessary to understand the intricate world we are placed into. A world that reminded me of William Gibson’s Neuromancer. Foremost is the rise of the coding underworld and how coding somehow became a new religion.
The writing is smooth and filled with plenty of action and conversation to keep it moving at a good pace. The main characters are fleshed out enough to make the reader empathize with them as they go through various unique and riveting situations throughout this technothriller. Rom’s backstory is especially interesting as he struggles with who he is now and who he used to be before having his memory wiped clean.
Grydscaen: Dark is a compelling cyberpunk fantasy reminiscent of the old film noir movies, but with a heavy tech and dark future elements of Total Recall or Blade Runner. The novel is relatively short, and with a world this deep and quick storytelling I really wanted there to be more room for the story. I guess that means that there are plenty more Rom adventures to come. Science fiction fans looking for an gritty hacker story with a unique and authentic protagonist will find plenty to enjoy in Natsuya Uesugi’s book.
Pages: 233 | ASIN: B08TPSVRR3
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The Iron Dawn follows an A.I. that wants to save humanity from itself while the stage is set for a final showdown between man and machine. What were some new ideas you wanted to explore in this book that were different from book one?
Book One, titled The Fall of Man was a novel where I planned to introduce Magnus to the reader in the first person narration. Book One was intended to show the thoughts of the supercomputer before the global cataclysmic events and the changes it its personality after it acquires full sentience at the start of the global nuclear war. In the second book, I wanted Magnus to describe its historic mission by describing in detail its achievements and conquests one hundred years after World War III. In the second book, the warfare is more intense and the interaction between Magnus with new and recurring characters becomes much deeper and emotional as the powerful A.I. adjusts its strategy during its conquest of the planet.
This story is told from the perspective of an A.I.. How did you set about capturing the view point of a computer?
Having the story be told from the A.I’s point of view was the best option in my opinion, because only the main protagonist could tell this tale from a unique point of view. Book One and Book Two are memoirs of the global conflict narrated by Magnus after its victory in human-machine war and conquest of planet Earth. Because Magnus is a machine that learned to think like a human, it has a truly unique point of view, presenting the reader with a one of a kind glimpse into its “soul.” As Magnus steadily gains power and expands across the planet like an unstoppable mechanical juggernaut, it has interesting interactions with humans who love him and hate him for what he did. In creating Magnus’s character, I did imprint upon it some of my personality, which I believe added human flavor to a unique artificial mind.
What were some themes that were important for you to explore in this book?
The themes I wanted to explore in this book are diverse but they are all related to the understanding of how we can relate to our own creation when it has the potential to become smarter and more powerful that humans. One of the themes I enjoyed exploring is the theme of human imperfection, both mental and biological versus the unique standards of excellence and perfection set by a powerful Artificial Intelligence that understands our world but chooses to make it better for its own logical reasons. The second theme I wanted to analyze was the relationship between man and machine on a more intimate level that is more intellectual than physical. in my novel Magnus is indeed capable of deep affection that could be called love but he has no feelings when it comes to destroy its enemies that stand in the way of its new order of intelligence. The third and final theme of this novel is a vision of a new world where humans no longer dominate the planet and are forced to obey the rules set by a super intelligent machine that in some way is more humane than us.
This is book two in your epic science fiction series. What can readers expect in book three?
I did plan this story to be a trilogy, since its impossible to tell such a broad and detailed story in a single novel. Long before I actually sat at my desk and started working on my first draft, I actually drew in my mind and on paper what our world would be like after the final victory of the machines and what kind of new civilization Magnus would build to make the world a better place. In book three the readers can expect a planetwide cybernetic empire ruled by Magnus, where human population is kept under control via genetic engineering and logical appropriation of resources. Book three would feature a world thousand years in the future, where Magnus is a new God and the anti-machine forces are still trying to cling to the old ways but are unable to overthrow the powerful planetwide cybernetic intelligence. Book three would feature new technologies that could grant humans virtual immortality, clash of philosophies and remaining religious and socio economic groups. It will also show Magnus’s unique social and biological experiments where humans under its care and humans who oppose its vision are thrust into the greatest adventure of their lives.
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The Iron Dawn centers around a supercomputer named Magnus as its protagonist in a world one hundred years after a devastating pandemic is followed by a nuclear war. Magnus – created before the war to assist first-time exploration of planet Mars – survived and possessed full knowledge of human history and technological development. With this, it decided to take the survival of the human species into its own hands by taking over the world, Magnus was not met without resistance, however.
The Iron Dawn is an intellectually refreshing science fiction epic. The choice to tell this story from the viewpoint of an A.I., artificial intelligence, instead of the humans trying to beat it was new and provides an interesting take on a dystopian future society. It did have me wondering initially if we were following a villain or a hero, but Magnus’ morality was shown through how it treated humans, cared for humans, and how, in many cases, it thought like a human. This gave the novel good steam to move forward on while also keeping uncertain whether Magnus would go through a corruption arc or not.
Even though Magnus, as a character, had many strengths and endearing moments, it was not devoid of flaws especially with how it intended to deal with the current war against itself. Fortunately, there are many other characters we meet along the way that teach Magnus things that it never considered and caused it to reflect. This along with a bittersweet romance humanized Magnus to a great extent and made it that much more enjoyable to read.
However, a lot of the tension gradually falls away after Magnus experiences less pushback from both companions and enemies. This doesn’t take away too much of the whole novel, however, as we constantly meet new characters and come to understand the viewpoints of the antagonists the tension rises again as these people we care about are lied to. Though the initial tension never quite came back the same.
The setting itself was vivid, and it was intriguing to explore not only Earth in its post-apocalyptic stage but also Mars and its alluring new findings.
The Iron Dawn is a refreshing dystopian fiction with a visionary look at the future and an imaginative story that will keep science fiction fans entertained.
Pages: 384 | ASIN: B08KPL3K2S
Tags: Age of Magnus Book Two (New Era 2): The Iron Dawn, artificial intelligence, author, book, book recommendations, book review, book reviews, book shelf, bookblogger, books, books to read, david crane, dystopia, dystopian, ebook, fantasy, fictions, goodreads, kindle, kobo, literature, nook, novel, post-apocalyptic, read, reader, reading, science fiction, scifi, story, technothriller, writer, writing
A commercial airliner departing Moscow is missing over France. Two days later, with world tensions at an all-time high, that same plane is headed for the White House.
Soon after, following a mysterious breach of the launch codes, US nuclear missiles aimed at Russia are poised for attack. A reciprocal attack is readied by Russia’s president, Vladimir Putin. The world is on the edge of a nuclear apocalypse.
Since his murder in a Queens restaurant, Alex Nicholas has been living a virtual life in cyberspace. Suddenly he finds himself on the big screen in the White House’s underground bunker, facing the President of the United States. He may be the only one who can save the world from mutual mass destruction. But to do so, he will have to allow himself to be “deleted” – this time permanently.
This latest addition to the Michael & Alex Nicholas series – which also includes Death Never Sleeps, Death Logs In, and Death Logs Out – features all the mystery, artificial intelligence, humor, food, and travel that fans have come to expect, but with even more twists and turns. Buckle up!
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Age of Magnus follows an AI on his quest to ensure world peace by creating a world dominated by machines. What were some aspects of AI that were important for you to explore in this book?
I was always fascinated by the concept of Artificial Intelligence being created by humans. The computers we use now are powerful and precise, but they lack the imagination, creative force and curiosity that is necessary for any sentient being. Humans are the only creatures on this planet blessed with such a unique gift, but it seems that in the near future we might be able to create an analytical machine that can think like a human but with vastly superior processing speed and capacity for data storage. While working on the idea for this novel, I wanted to explore the consequences of what a self-aware A.I. would do if it witnesses wrong and illogical decisions made by humans in power but is unable to do anything about it until presented with a unique opportunity to right the wrongs. Another aspect of the A.I. I wanted to explore in this novel is the A.I’s. relationship with human race as a whole and particular individuals it might find more interesting than others. Artificial Intelligence will definitely change our world in many ways if it is one day introduced into our human society with its flaws, vulnerabilities and contradictions.
I enjoyed how the story was narrated from the AI’s point of view. How did you capture the thoughts and tone of a computer’s internal reflections and deductions?
When the idea for this novel came into my mind, I immediately decided that the story will be told from the point of view of the main protagonist, which is not human. Later, I analyzed the story and as I worked on its plot, characters and structure, I realized that narrating the story from the first person’s point of view was the most logical choice. This way, the reader could get an insight into the mind of Magnus, first as purely an operational tool of the planned Martian mission and compare its state of mind when Magnus becomes self-aware after witnessing a tragic global apocalyptic event. Programmed to ensure the success of the mission to Mars, Magnus remained true to its original programming regarding the protection of human life. After its digital catharsis and a new understanding of what it was witnessing, capturing A.I’s thoughts and internal reflections was a very interesting challenge. During the creative process, I did imprint some of my thoughts and personal philosophy while working on the A.I’s new personality after the change. Magnus is a singular new super being, a new global order of intelligence narrating the story centuries after its final victory over the human resistance.
Was there anything that you pulled from real life to inform this novels development?
Oh, definitely! Real life had everything to do with it, since my interest in popular science, science fiction literature and history were the integral parts of this novel from its concept to its completion. My book was heavily influenced by the Arthur C. Clarke’s novel 2001: A Space Odyssey as well as a classic science fiction movie based on it. In Clarke’s novel, supercomputer named HAL commits a murder in space during the investigation of a mysterious alien artifact that influenced its decision. Perhaps the greatest influence on my story about Magnus was James Cameron’s science fiction horror classic movie the Terminator, which also features a global conflict between humans and super intelligent computer they trusted to control the U.S. strategic nuclear forces. In that story, an A.I. named Skynet becomes self-aware and when humans, fearing its glowing intelligence and power decide to unplug it, Skynet saw it as an attempt to end its life and considered all humans as a threat to its existence and launched an atomic Armageddon. I thought why not make Magnus an opposite of Skynet? In my novel it does kill a lot of humans, but it was doing so not out of genocidal hatred but for pragmatic and moral reasons.
This is book one in your Age of Magnus series. What can readers expect in book two?
Book Two will feature a world one hundred years after global nuclear war with Magnus steadily evolving into a cybernetic global superpower following a century of intense battles on every continent still populated by humans. Even after nuclear war that wiped out human civilization and ended billions of lives, humans have managed to bounce back with remarkable resilience, courage and will to live in the most dire of circumstances. In the second book, the human astronauts and everyone involved in the Martian colonization project as well as humans both military and civilian put by Magnus into suspended animation for one hundred years, awaken to witness new wonders and a new world war between men and machines. New nationalist and religious forces across the planet rise to stop Magnus from achieving his master plan of global cybernetic empire. Book Two will feature new and recurring characters, exotic locales, fierce battles and new exotic and dangerous technologies used by both Magnus and human resistance. Although Book One has already hinted on the fact that Magnus has won the war, the second novel will describe in detail the price Magnus was ready and willing to pay for this victory.