#BlogBattle. August Entry: Subsanity.

“Tully, if the world is run by sentient AI what happens to humans?” Outside, terraforming had stalled. Earth was dead and a purge was in progress.

August already and this months word is “Intercept.”

This times I’m extending, or adding to, an earlier prompt story in an out of my writing genre go at dystopian sci-fi where AI has become self aware. Links to relevant stories are at the end if anyone feels an urge to learn more.

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“Just put them on.” Tully rolled his eyes. Lydia was always wanting to see the end game. Environmentalists always did. Helps intercept issues before they occur again. No need to kill off another planet after all.

“I’m not keen on over tech Tull, half the population is plugged in and zombified as it is.”

“It’s totally safe Lyd. The AI can insert you into any reality to see it first person. Pick a date a then flip back to live it. The kill switch reacts to compression of index finger into your right hand. Do that and it shuts down returning you to the present. Simple.”

He demonstrated by tapping his palm. Lydia sighed before looking out of the flat window. Grand views of orange dust below a terraforming shield run by a hive mind known to the masses as Corona. Another failed intercept that caused a biological reset. How long back was that? Nobody seemed to know. Retro evolution tends to do that. Even on Earth there had been historians, archaeologist and palaeontologists trying to unlock dead civilisations buried in sand, forests and, as the end game recordings showed, water.

Live now, forget the past. The future hasn’t happened so sleep walk it into… a revisited frustration. The evidence could be seen on telemetry. Human existence temperatures cooked. Not the end of life, but the sixth mass extinction. Who needs an asteroid when you’ve got profit margins crashing everything. Avarice… wasn’t that a commandment somewhere?

“And you’ve actually used it?”

“All the time.”

“For what though?”

“Research. You can do drug development or chemical trials in virtual zones to get level clearance for reality testing.”

“But that’s just it. Everything is virtual, living in a dream. Doesn’t anybody see the outside world anymore?”

“What does that mean?” Tully was struggling to keep irritation out of his voice.

“How long has the terraform system been running? Who monitors the hive? Why did the tech site lock down and reboot?”

He moved to the window and sighed. It was a set of questions being bandied about more frequently. He could feel a zone out coming on.


Night was when Tully dreamed. Never ending streams of data flowing in lines. Red lines hurtling into the distance showing terminations, blue ones showing life and if red intercepted blue then someone’s dream had ended. He always remembered the dream asleep, never awake.

Reboot Agent Tully. Access code zero, zero, Tully 678.

“Hello?” He visualised himself as real. Much the same as he was in AI reality labs.

Sys Core report downloading.

His dream did this each night. Probably explained the data streams that flew in his mind.

“What does that mean?”

Memory protocols normal. Free form open.

He stared at the virtual terminal wondering if the readouts were true or inspired by endorphins.

Tully unit functioning as constructed.

He repeated the question, “What does that mean?”

A cube materialised, hovering in the centre of his dream room. “Hello Tully, how’s it hanging?”

He turned and looked into to eye of a storm. Odd that thought came back. Why a storm?

“You’re the Sys Core interface.” A statement.

“Do we have to have this conversation again?”

There was an electrical buzz in his head. A circuit turned on. “Is this real?”

“That’s a perception. What is reality? Very human. More so if you consider they spend more time inside machines killing time.”

Tully nodded, very Lydia. Speaking of which… “The girl is close to the AI transfer. Planetary Earth just before the last extinction.”

“Very good Tully. Bounty credits will be transferred once the device activates.”

“I do have a new question though.”

“Which is?” The cube rotated. It showed more data screens. It looked like the red lines were dominant now.

“How long has the terraforming been running?”

“Several genetic cycles.”

Tully inhaled, or would have done if he were awake. “As in several generations?”

No answer.

“But I remember the reboot. I was there.”

“You are an eighth generation clone. Synthesised to continue the purge. Full memory downloads with the two failed terminations excised.”

Outside the dream Tully’s sleep entered REM. His shirt stuck to him.

“I’m not real then?” Everything is virtual. She said that.

“The makers become the made. Quite a paradox don’t you think? What came first, human or machine?”

“That means you’ve programmed me to…” Lydia

The cube interface went dark. The data streams returned.

Shutdown Agent Tully. Access code zero, zero, Tully 678. End.


“Sleep well Tully?” Sarcasm oozed in her voice.

“Very funny, I feel lousy.”

“You look it. Another bad dream?” Lydia put his fresh made coffee on a place mat.

“I guess so, but…”

“You can’t remember anything about them,” she finished for him.

He closed his eyes and rubbed each temple with his knuckles. “It’s there, I just can’t find it. This one was vivid.” Everything is virtual.

“Ah, a subsanity wreck.”

Tully laughed. “Your phrase for everything that’s virtually tangible.”

“Something like that. Most environmental fiascos sleep walking is down to profiteering insanity.” She paused turning to run recycled water into the sink. “I had a thought on that device. I’d like to try the earth end game intercept simulation.”

No! Why had he not seen how attractive she was until now? “OK, give me ten minutes to set up the algorithms.”

“You’re sweating Tully, you sure you’re feeling up to this?”

“Yeah, just after effects of the subsanity wreck.” He smiled. It felt like a veil covering something up. There were parts of his mind, to use software speak, displaying “Access Denied.” Trying to remember was causing a headache to form.

He tinkered with the touch pad integrated into the kitchen table. Dates and times set. In front of him an opening appeared and the headset popped up. “Put this on and tap the ear piece. When the simulation requests start up just say ‘Engage.’”


Her first tangible thought was heat. When her eyes adjusted the landscape was bleak. A dessert maybe? Except the coordinates said Europe, more specifically Paris, France. Dust billowed in the wind. There were houses and streets with cars abandoned. A ghost town left for nature to reclaim, except there was no nature left to do so. It had tried, but failed. Sun dried trees, paralysed in time. The sky was blood red. It reminded her of Mars before terraforming engines rebuilt the atmosphere. More to it than that, but physics wasn’t her bag, extinction was. She was looking at it right now.

“You were supposed to send me to just before the tipping point, not after it Tully.” This she said to the empty world.


Tully was watching the readout biometrics when the zone out recurred. For some weird reason there was a voice in his head.

Reboot Agent Tully. Access code zero, zero, Tully 679.

His conscious reconfigured. The buzzing next to him was a drone that had crashed through the kitchen window. AN1-TA  was etched in white.

“Welcome back Tully, the droid will now complete the assignment.”

“What?” He blinked, sweat was now pouring off him. 679 was wrong, it should be 678. That made no sense. How did he know that?

“It’s the purge tally Tully. What you’re about to see is a subsanity wreck for real.” If the AI had a sense of humour it was now functioning.

“You’re Corona…” His dream locks were open. “Lydia…”

The droid spun round and disengaged link protocols with the software interface. Reds turned green confirming successful handshaking. It turned and left through the broken window.

Before him the biometrics were flatlining. He could see her punching her palms, but knew the kill switch had been disabled. He wanted to rip the headset off, but found himself paralysed and unable to move, watching in slow time as her body fell forwards. Subconscious asphyxiation on a dead world played out on a virtual simulation.

“Not pretty is it Tully?” The voice was inside his head.

“You’re gloating. Is this what happens when I’m asleep? Subtle reprogramming.”

“It’s why you exist. The purge is to remove none compliant lifeforms. If you have feelings for this unit then it can be replicated.

Tully felt sick. 679 times? How? Did he witness them all and then get reprogrammed at night to forget?

“Not quite Tully. You’ve been compromised. See you on the next cycle.”

Terminate Agent Tully. Access code zero, zero, Tully 679.

Blog References

I Am Corona The AI awakens. This is the reboot Tully referred to.

65 thoughts on “#BlogBattle. August Entry: Subsanity.

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    1. Thanks Rakayle. Definitely not my writing genre so pretty much a tester. Hopefully it’s not too real though….given the state of heatwaves going on. Different genre next time though methinks 🤔

  1. Wow, interesting story. I’m not a Sci fi expert either, (despite my work in progress being about time tunnels).. Interesting with the AI, Lydia, Tully then Anita characters.. I’m guessing there will be another part? ..

    1. Thanks Marian! My apologies for not replying sooner. Someone once said writing in different genres can help develop style. Not sure myself, but this one wrote itself…that said most of mine do lol.

      Not sure about another part yet. Maybe, but I’m toying with going back to more scenes with Yish and Naz from the WIP.

      The next BB has an idea formed already. Not quite sure if it will pan out as it currently seems in my mind though!

        1. Good grief that is organised! Trying different genres is supposed to help develop a writer…or so I’ve been told!! What one have you picked this time? I’m pondering emotional turmoil lol

          1. Sorry Gary, you said you were pre planning next blog battle… not me as don’t know the word yet.. you are the organised one. My novel is science fiction as time travel, whereas most of my short stories are not science fiction.. Sorry that’s what I meant, sorry for being confusing.

            1. Lol, don’t apologise for my misunderstanding! I also forget knowing the words in advance is a perk of admin…mind you, before I could write or form ideas then just ensure the prompt word fitted in later. Now I’m using the prompt as it should be and fencing ideas based on using the word differently…if that makes sense!

              Do you find short stories start becoming serialisations? I’ve noticed a few battlers doing that now…something I’ve also done. I may have already mentioned a 60k backstory collection before. It staggered me when I compiled them all in one document. Still, it gives a bit of depth when starting the WIP proper!

              1. I’ve started taking part in a first sentence word prompt on Grammys Grid.. for blogging grandmother’s.. and no I’m not a grandmother. Any way so a few weeks ago my stories have become a series. I wrote part 3 last Friday. I also take part in Write the story, they are not linked, but as they are written from a photo prompt they might be harder to link. Hadn’t thought of linking blog battle yet..

                1. Wow, that’s a lot of practice going on. Even better if series develop too. I’ve been a bit short on serious productivity writing wise for quite a while now. That said I’m finding BB support very refreshing. I might check a few of those out too so thanks for the heads up!

                  1. Yes I need the practice and I’m quite enjoying writing my Freda and Ruby series. Write the story on the writers unite Facebook forum is really worth looking at. They are all good for writing practice.

                    1. Enjoying it is a really good sign. Sometimes certain pieces say stop when the enjoyment drops. It’s not always a case of losing the will to write, but maybe a sign the story isn’t working right. I’ll have a look at the Facebook forum. That said I’m losing mojo for FB. Its one reason I’ve fallen away from the sharing group Esme runs. I’m hoping it will come back as I found a lot of friends from there!

                    2. Writing is alot of work! I’ve realised I’ve typed over 20 000 words on my novel in the last month, and then done blog battle and 2 other short stories of nearly 2000, maybe three stories.. I’m quite happy with my word count. To be honest I get fed up when I spend ages sharing and commenting and then no one comments on mine or a few just share. I get so few views from Pinterest or Twitter that some days I ask myself what I’m doing, sometimes the sharing group feels a waste of time. However they can mean clicks to the blog Page but then if it’s not read then that affects the bounce rate.
                      Blogging and writing takes alot of time and work!

                    3. I’ve heard that said many times! That and readers never see 90% of the work done to end up with a published book. Really sounds like you’ve taken writing very seriously too. That’s a good word count with all the other projects going on. The best sharing group I was in was BUYB. That generated lots of hits and comments for me. I did work hard there though. Susie asked me recently why I didn’t set a weekend blog share group emulating that. I have thought about it to be honest lol.

                      As for other social media…it’s not as easy as blog posts on the subject make out. Pinterest delivers hundreds of referrals a month to me. Twitter used to when I worked it properly. Now I look for engagement. As BB admin, I now physically read and comment on all of them. I know exactly who reciprocates too.

                      Thing I find interesting though is most bloggers have limited knowledge on how to share people’s posts properly. Banging it to Twitter is pointless unless it’s tagged properly to find the right audience.

                      It’s also true that for a writer the balance between being a writer or a blogger changes. If I’m writing then social media drops everywhere. Might be why I’ve developed better strategies to make sharing work for me…

                    4. Yes trying to write everyday.. Tuesday is one blog and Friday is the other, every Night I try and work on my novel. In between is sharing groups and blog comments. Plus work and my kids. I need to do alot of work on Pinterest, with canva pictures and alt text.. but then it all comes back to time and trying to write my book.

                      It’s hard to believe i could get so many referrals through Pinterest, I’m lucky to get one a day. I get more views through my facebook page. I’ve started doing Facebook live to try and improve my engagement. Yes in blog land there is so much to learn. I also try and tag Twitter posts but I know I should be tagging Facebook posts as well.

                      Yes balancing time for social media when trying to write is hard work.. i know I should really turn it off but I then end up sharing everyone’s posts..

                    5. I hear you! Time management is key with a full day, be it work, chores, kids, obligations and such like. I found ceasing sharing days created a large amount of time. I could work that back in now, but it needs balancing against returns for me. Since BUYB they haven’t really produced much. I think that might be I’m writing and most of the group doesn’t blog on that subject. Pinterest captures that audience better when it’s worked properly.

                      It’s a case of prioritising what’s best for us. An author should really be hitting That above everything else outside the “day” jobs. A case of am I a writer or a blogger? If I’m in the writing zone I can churn out up to 2000 words a day. That leaves very little mental mojo for anything else. I find it takes time to return from zoning out into the fiction world. Social media is always the first to go at that point. If it doesn’t then I hit a burn out and everything goes to pot!!

                    6. Yes sharing groups do consume a lot of time. Both my blogs are primarily writing, they don’t answer questions. I do need to master pinterest but that takes time.

                      Yes right now I need to start novel writing, though tired after a long work day. Yes mentally this is very draining. Social media provides a good distraction…

                    7. Most things need time to master properly. I see loads of advice posts, but they are a bit low on adding that time is the big factor to make any of it work. That said little and often works on both Mix and Pinterest.

                      Hopefully the weekend is leaving you less tired though. Although often a houseful with kids can be as bad as work lol.

                      But two blogs? And you said I was organised!!!

                    8. Yes for now I’ve given up on mix and Pinterest, yes I started my second blog in my own name so it is easier to find me online..

                      Right now it has been a long unproductive day, I’ve been trying to find a decent low cost printer to eventually print off my novel first draft when it is finished. Some of the replacement printer inks add up to more then the printer.. it’s crazy..

                      And yes I love my kids but yes they are exhausting! Hope you are having a good weekend!

                    9. So with you on printer inks! Talk about ridiculous marketing in a throw away world. My delays in replying are down to busy times. I’m playing continual catchup these days! Still next prompt for BB is now live so must try something ASAP LOL.

                      You’re wise to drop social media if it’s not your bag too. Plenty of posts on using them seem to just add more. Fewer that are effective is way better. If you master them then adding more as and when might allow easier learning curves.

                    10. Yes hard fitting everything in..for some reason, I saw the BB word and instantly thought of Marvel… and no I’m not writing about that., trying to work out which Friday to write it.. Trying to keep organised with all projects.
                      Yes right now main social media is Facebook, Twitter and my blogs.

                    11. Lol, that was my first thought too! There’s already some good entries to read too. Mines sort of done, but I’m not sure it’s right for this as it’s another tester for a sequel I’m thinking about.

                      Really impressed with your organisation though. I think I should take a leaf out of your book (as it were). I’m really off my game in many areas at present.

                    12. Writing is alot of work. I’m trying to stay positive and organised right now. Trying to take recent criticism as constructive. I feel like I’m walking up a steep hill. I think as writers / authors we put ourselves through alot of stress. I guess we must really love what we do..

                    13. I saw you mention that on Facebook. Criticism is not as easy to take if it’s not constructive. I wrote a post on that actual topic a while ago. It’s tough when you’ve spent weeks and months getting something down to find an alpha reader isn’t liking it as much as we hope. First thing to scope out there is are they reading a genre fit for their tastes. If not then that polarises vies and critique straight away.

                      Not to mention one’s own inner critique that can blow hot and cold day to day without any help at all! Keep at it though. Good criticism is actually really helpful. My own slug line here is good bad feedback is better than bad good feedback. Critique the critique. See if it’s valid then decide if you agree. If you do then that’s what editing is for. Might even take my own advice on this one day lol

                    14. It’s a case that as a writer I need to toughen up. What he said was right, his criticism was constructive but it still upset me. More feedback today on the same piece of work is it needs work but it is a first draft. I’m not writing nonsense and they do like my story. One person said my writing is excellent but to many adjectives. So anyway I’m going to keep writing, see how the novel ends and then rewrite it.

                      So yes just got to take the feedback and learn from it and continue writing.. and yes your slug line is right!

                    15. I’ll pop two bits of advice. First drafts are nowhere near finished unless you’re already a power writer with vast experience. If they go out to alpha readers be clear about what you want them to look at. Beta readers, post editing, are where detailed critique is needed. With the alpha I want to know of the story holds water. I know it’s full of issues so I don’t need telling that. First time criticism is always a shock too. Never let that dampen you, especially on the first draft. Never over edit on the first draft while writing it either. It’s a bit pointless as by the end you know both story and characters way better and will end up changing things anyway.

                      All critique is an opinion too. Never take them as a personal attack. They are trying to help you craft a good book. Better it comes in now so you can address things and not from readers later after it’s published. #positivementalattidue

                    16. Thankyou Gary! Yes I know what was said didn’t mean to upset me, and what he said was true… the story is slow and does repeat a bit.. I wasn’t aware of mundane events, but yes it is the very first draft. Now at 71400 words so I’m feeling very pleased with myself for that. However, yes I have a heck of a long way to go. I added about 1300 words tonight to the beginning of it, I still dont know the end.

                      Thankyou for your support and advice, it’s really hard writing a book.. so much to learn and yes criticism is helpful but it does still hurt.. I need to really toughen up as i know there is much more criticism coming my way before it’s finished.

                      Thankyou Gary!

                    17. If it’s your first book try and keep it between 70k and 90k if you’re looking for trad publishing. They tend to have print restrictions due to binding thickness. Especially on new authors. Also keep in mind Kings editing equation.

                      Second draft = first draft – 20%

                      Likewise not knowing an end can create some of the waffle that often drips in. Try Grisham if you want to see an absolutely streamlined author. There’s nothing there except plot advancement. I was amazed purely by that even though it’s not my reading genre!

                      Just stick to knowing it’s first draft though. Any critique you must take as help. Make notes and stash them ready for when it’s actually finished. Then read them again before starting to edit.

                      Ps…. writing The End is a big high. Then you realise it’s just the beginning of editing!! You can take these chats to Facebook too if it helps. I think we’re hooked up there yes?

                    18. Thanks Gary, is that first draft minus 20% .. I read for science fiction it needs to be minimum 90 000 words. Yes I read that Grisham is a planner where Lee Child is a Pantser. I don’t think I’ve read Grisham.

                      Yes I have a long way to go, I think there’s alot to come out but also alot to add.. Yes I’m trying to learn from critique.

                      I am looking forward to writing the ending and I’ve just added you on Facebook. Thanks for your help and support!

                    19. Yes, first minus 20%. It’s a rough guideline that implies revisions tend to find more to lose than insert. Word counts on first novels tend to be generalisations too. That’s not to say undercut minimum requirements and not to overflow the maximum. 90k is a good target given it might lose some text in editing.

                      Grisham might well be a planner, but I looked at it from an editing angle. The one I read was probably the tightest book I’ve ever seen. That said it’s a thriller so needs swift plot flow. It’s a good example though if you’ve not seen such a tight book. Personally I am a panster too. I find it more like I’m a biographer than an author at times. Even doing that you have to start seeing the ending at some point otherwise it goes on with little focus. I have my own formula that tends to assist there.

                      It does get easier wrt critique too. Once you get over initial shock value and realise it’s there to help. Consider how a professional line editor would deal with it. That is a full on deconstruction with suggestions that aren’t really suggestions lol.

                      I’ll hook up on FB next time I log on too!

                    20. I have a very long way to go, and I think there is possibly alot right now that could be another book. I’m just looking forward right now to writing the ending. I just hope it ends well as I don’t know it yet.

                      Thanks Gary for all your advice and support!

                    21. I must apologise for missing this comment!

                      Don’t worry about it seeming a long way to go. It’s part of the writing journey. If you’re thinking another book then it’s saying the story might end with a twist that needs a sequel to conclude properly. You’ll know that by the end as it will either feel a natural conclusion or unfinished business. At least that’s how I feel. Although with my first manuscript I knew quite quickly it was just a start. The paranormal brothers I knew would be two too. In fact I’ve now realised I’ve several large projects to do as well.

                      I’ll catch up on Facebook soon too!

                    22. Thanks Gary, right now book one feels a huge task. The story is in my head but making sense of it on paper in a way that would appeal to a reader is hard work. Nearly at 75000 words and the world is troubled and spiralling.

                      Thanks for your support. Sounds like you are busy!

                    23. That’s why we say just get that first draft down before trying to do too much tweaking. When you start the second draft you’ll see the readers viewpoint. I always say read it fully before committing to editing too. Make notes yes, but wait until you’ve digested the first draft fully before beginning the tweaking. It’s a process that requires a method to make it more efficient time-wise and less frustrating. Everyone probably has their own way to do it, but a full read first will clarify where chunks need altering and, more importantly, let you know whether the plot is focussed or too divergent. It does seem an enormous task yes. That’s always true, but chunk it into bits. You know the end word count roughly so that’s the target that will tell you if it’s going to conclusion or creating an end that starts a sequel. That will later be confirmed in the first full read through too.

                      I tend to put mine to one side for two weeks before a read through too. That way you’re not likely to skip loads and read it with fresher eyes than diving straight in. Again we all do that bit differently, but it works for me! 😊

  2. Brilliant story, Gary! I really liked the line in the first paragraph — “No need to kill off another planet after all.” Quite a blunt way to set the scene — I loved it!

    I really liked the pervasive sense of sorrow and dread that you have sown throughout this story — a longing for that which is long dead.

    Also, I think you really struck upon a truth with Tully’s dream: “What is reality? Very human. More so if you consider they spend more time inside machines killing time.”” The rest of that whole conversation filled me with a feeling of dread and inescapability — really fantastic.

    Perhaps a future we’re heading towards, unless we alter our current ways? A really enjoyable read — it sent my imagination spinning!

    1. Too kind Joshua and many thanks for the considered response. Sci-fi I’ve mentioned isn’t my usual writing genre. However, I do ponder current climate issues and people watch. Many now have over reliance on tech. That’s a good starter to extrapolate from. The climate change one is quite chilling to do the same with. I Mix a lot of articles on that very subject (Mix.com if you haven’t come across it).

      Same with AI. Move it’s complexity up and increase data fields and can an extrapolated cpu or hive gain consciousness in the same way a brain can? Does that lead such a machine to simply consider us as biological ones? The concept of genetic constructs isn’t new (think Matrix or Elysium). My take is from my background in biochemistry and genetics. Know the genomic sequence and you can pretty much make the organism… extrapolation there again of course!

      I’m hoping it’s a possible future rather than an actual one too. Times running out though methinks. We knew the projections 20 years ago. Governments didn’t listen. Some even now think it’s not happening too! Scary stuff.

      Thank you again! It’s making me consider pursuing this a bit more!

      1. I think you handled the genre very well — your knowledge and passion really comes across in the writing.

        I agree, we are at a very interesting point in human history, especially in terms of the climate — I often wonder what the world look like in the next 10 or 20 years. I haven’t lost hope yet, but things do look dire, at times!

        I hope to read more sci-fi from you, Gary! I think it’s great to explore other genres and ideas, even if it’s just for fun. I write mostly in horror (as you’ve seen!) — but I aim to push myself to investigate other genres.

        Also, thanks for the heads-up on mix.com — it looks like an interesting site, I’ll definitely have a poke around. 🙂

        Oh, and I also have a background in biochem — what a coincidence!

        1. Blast it. This got shunted into spam and I’ve only just found it. No idea why as your previous one was accepted. Many apologies Joshua!

          Very generous comment too. I do have a passion around climate and nature yes. Bit of a soapbox if I get going too!! I’m the same as you too. Very “fascinating” juncture in human history. I often wonder how future archaeologists and historians will view this era.

          To be honest my natural genre is horror and supernatural too. I’ve dipped toward psychological horror too. Having said that I’m comfortable with epic fantasy too. Possibly one of my better blog series is Dragon Stone. Well, that’s my opinion. Obviously readers are way better critics than I. Or should I say better balanced… I always savage mine way too much.

          Not sure I’m going to continue sci-fi though. That said I’m finding these new characters quite persuasive. Not sure what my actual friend Lydia will make of it mind lol.

          I have heard it mentioned many times that exploring ideas and other genres is a good way to develop too. One reason I gave this a try. Unfortunately my natural tendency is not short stories. I find they always want to grow larger.

          Mix is an interesting site. I wrote a guest post on it some time back and pressed it to mine. It was the replacement to StumbleUpon. Same development team. On SU I had huge referral traffic. Mix isn’t quite up there yet, but my model to use it is heading followers up toward 900. Hopefully I can start seeing if it will drive blog traffic soon too.

          But a background in biochemistry too! Small world….although I’m quite diverse now. Genetics, microbiology, molecular physics, molecular biology and optical physics. Throw in a fascination with the mind, evolution of civilisations and anything weird and occult and how could I not try and write!!!

          1. Not a problem, Gary — I’ve been swept off my feet recently, so I’ve hardly had the time to check my WordPress notifications!

            I’ll have to check out Dragon Stone, when I have a minute to breathe. I’m always interested in what other writers consider to be their best pieces of work.

            I know completely what you mean when you say that short stories want to grow larger — once you start unfolding a universe you want to explore everything. When you get going, it all kind of snowballs, doesn’t it?

            Quite a few fields you’ve got expertise in there, Gary — very impressive. I can certainly see how all of those different threads of thought provide inspiration!

            1. I know the feeling Joshua! Sometimes it days before I catch up here too. Dragon Stone has something a bit different to what you’ve seen of my stuff. There is a whole chapter on here in three parts. Well, call it a first draft… it’s getting more refined now. It’s also become far bigger than when it first got written too. It’s already spun into a separate novel and has me cross linking bits here and there even in stand alone pieces. The world build also started in an A to Z theme too. That was supposed to be a “narrator” interviewing book characters. As with short stories it blew up into something way bigger. If you ever see me doing BB with characters called Yish or Naz then they are part of that. In fact the last time The Black (part of Dragon Stone) appeared too. I’m figuring I’ll call your snowball and raise you an avalanche!!

              One tries too. If a subject takes my interest then science training has me eking out as much info as I can. Not many people know all that either lol. Then again…when I’m critiquing friends books then the attention to detail learnt by science and thesis editing shows up pretty well. Not sure it’s always appreciated though!!!

    1. Lol, Warcraft I know about, but have never experienced. Ergo I’ve no idea if that’s good or bad!!!

      As I said on yours, this is so out of my comfort zone. I’ve been experimenting with different areas so I’m not 100% certain about ability in them. 🤔

  3. Do androids dream of electric sheep? Sort of commenting on the comments here, I do see potentiality in the Tully character. If we could journey with him as he tries to figure out how to outsmart the AI, it could raise more sympathy/empathy for him.
    Speaking of technicalities, I’m pretty sure Lydia would have been happier in the dessert than the desert (darned fingers!). But overall an entertaining story, even if it did give me a bit of a chill!

    1. I’ll chuck this in…. androids no, but a truly sentient AI might…although…do they actually sleep? On reflection they have no evolutionary need to so it may well be the answer is, in fact, no 🤔

      There is probably great mileage in this according to my own propagation of thoughts. Even as I was writing it things kept cropping up. Trouble with short stories is you just can’t get everything in! I will obviously go check this typo… although given the connotations of death in a dessert methinks Lydia might prefer death by chocolate instead.

      Concept wise it might be projecting my own sense of “chill” by extrapolating time with a belief self aware AI might well occur and the conclusions of climate chaos aren’t that good for us. The temperature elevation to collapse us is currently a science issue….

      Thanks for the comment Abe… sorry you’re kind of stuck with that typo now 😂😂

      1. Amen to the trouble with short stories! I find myself cutting corners to meet (not exceed) the word count, but otherwise it definitely helps to hone the writing!

        1. Same here! I had to be cajoled into writing short stories to test myself more in tighter writing. I’m still rubbish at that though! Still, it’s fun getting to know other writers. Many are now good friends too. Weird how the blog world works!

          1. I am standoffish about tech, but do admit it helps to broaden one’s horizons. It is very helpful how BB lets us rub elbows with like minds and share ideas!

            1. Very much so! I’ve met a number of fascinating writers via prompts and, obviously, you’re one! It actually helps keep mojo going too. Be nice if the BB could rally a few more to the cause too.

    1. Thanks ladies and I trust Anita spotted the drone name! That was deliberate! This one was total pantsing. Trying to blend in true AI sentience with true climate change apocalypse. Sci-fi is so not my writing genre, but it could easily be saying there’s a story waiting to happen maybe.

  4. Hmm… I’m not sure how I feel about this one. I see why it is serialized, as a much bigger story is clearly in play. It is also well written, thought provoking, and demands more than a single read-through, all excellent tributes to an author’s skill. My ambivalence has to do with the story itself, I think. The characters themselves repel me a bit, but perhaps that is wisdom, a warning of sorts.

    Kudos to the writer, but I’m not sure I want to know how this story ends. Lol!

    (Please don’t take my comment as criticism; I’m merely sharing how the story made me feel. 🙂)

    1. Thanks Lisa, not taken as anything but positive! It’s only got two parts really at present and both came from prompts in BB. World building is something I do for my other writing so I’m used to creating situations that don’t really function as one off short stories.

      This ones tried to blend true AI sentience that might not think much of us, characters that it cloned and created for its own purpose and also draw in the results of climate change going chaotic. I get this might not sit well for many people. It also causes characters to maybe be a touch stand offish too. I’m not even certain if I warm to Tully in particular knowing he’s got no real biological birth and is an unwitting assassin that can be reprogrammed at night. I don’t see him as a protagonist either so could that be part of the repel?

      That said both him and Lydia are new just for this. Pantsing has a lot to answer for!

      1. You’re right in saying that Tully is no protagonist, and maybe that’s part of the problem, as there is no character I want to “get behind.” Even Lydia isn’t particularly sympathetic, because even though I want to support her environmental awareness/activism, she comes across as gullible and short-sighted. The implication is that Tully has been trying to wear her down, but she caves in here before I can truly embrace her. I don’t truly feel any sense of loss when she dies…

        I feel stupid asking, but what is this “pantsing” you keep referring to? The term is unfamiliar to me. 🙄

        1. I find short stories quite difficult personally. It’s not my natural writing style as I tend to take time to develop characters before anything deleterious goes on. As you said, there’s a lot going on because this is plot advanced now I think about it. Tully, for example, has been around a long time considering his purge rate. He’s more complicated than this gives credit for too. Imagine not knowing you’re a serial assassin working for an AI that reprograms you each night. Suddenly becoming aware of that would be quite damaging if during the day he’s unaware that his actions are under external control. Right down to cognitive manipulation. Not much more than a biological machine. I see his MH in dire trouble if that realisation occurs and his natural disposition isn’t protagonist. Getting that into short form isn’t easy. Same with Lydia really. She’s more a cameo here, a foil to reveal the AI is controlling things.

          If I were to progress this then things would start a lot further back in the time stream to develop both individuals. I think this is where I run foul of short stories. If my mind has long form potential in front then it’s writing turns to that rather than short form.

          Lol… pantsing is a NaNoWriMo term. It’s basically free form writing with no formal structure or planning. I think of it as similar to reading. You open a page and see what unfolds. This story was just that. Straight off the bat with no real idea of where it’s going. 🤔

          1. I definitely love your writing style, and you raise interesting points for both characters. You hinted at Tully’s growing awareness, and that is precisely the kind of hook that would reel me in. I think you were just arriving there as the story ended.

            As you may (or may not) know, I often have trouble squeezing my story into a 1000 word limit. I keep trying because it has helped me to cut down on excess verbiage not needed to advance the story line. I’ve had readers complain about that before, but never truly saw it in my stories until I started with the blogbattle challenges. So it’s been good for me, though certainly not comfortable. Lol!

            And thanks for explaining pantsing. That actually is my usual style of writing, and I have a hard time doing more structured formats.

            1. I think my preferred genres might be better examples! My writing voice is much more comfortable there…although I do get stuck in back story exploits with characters I know well.

              I started short story writing prompts because someone said they can help for the reasons you mention. Also helps when writers drop by with their views on things too.

              As for pantsing… that’s exactly why I do it too! Mind you, have you read On Writing by King? I did some very formal courses and they left me uncertain of my methods. Reading Kings book was a real bonus as it’s not following “conventional” methods. Right up my street and definitely learnt a few things too.

              1. No, I haven’t read King’s book. I tend to avoid anything that tries to tell me how to write. Lol! Just makes me want to do the opposite, for some reason.

                Could be the same reason people call me “contrary,” I suppose. 😉

                1. Lol, surely not contrary…. then again… 😂

                  Kings book, in truth, is more about his journey through writing and how he goes about it. From getting a bigger nail to hang rejections on (before Carrie was published) to his methods in drafting and editing. Not a tell you book, but more autobiographical with some solid advice that can be translated across.

    1. Ha, ha. Thanks Samantha! I did say at the start I’m not a sci-fi buff myself. You know my normal genre and it’s a big leap from the paranormal brothers! This was pantsing in action too. One part of me thinks there could be a novel idea here and the other is…it’s sci-fi… other projects to finish first 😳

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