Hack the Future part 1 ( Steven Schaufler & J Dark )

She flipped her straight black hair back with a light toss of her head, then grunted in annoyance as strands floated like black silk back in front of her eyes. Grumbling, she took an alligator clip from her open kit with her right hand, and used it as an impromptu barrette to hold her hair. “Come on Blade, where’s that hack?” She muttered something low and scathing as the wires leading from her left hand continued to send signals, attempting to finesse the security login. “Hey! What’d you….”, the voice growled. She snapped back, “Shut it, spud. It’s hard enough hacking with a dog yapping.” The angry growl at the other end of her earbud promised a long talk when they got done. The last electron pattern for the security code dropped into place, the yellow ‘query’ going to a green ‘proceed’.

“I got it, I’m in. Doors opening now. We got ninety seconds before Dayner’s pet ‘runners find the hack.” She started feeding spoofers, small programs designed to randomly look, and act like a virus attempting to hack a program. Spoofers used a random algorithm to choose targets, then attached themselves to the program, and replicated, attempting to absorb all available memory. It was a slight variation on a distributed denial of service attack, but one that was internal rather than the archaic method of overwhelming the link to the ‘net.

Blade watched the spoofers take off, and watched the speed that the ‘watchdogs’, the company’s personal security runners isolated the spoofer swarm and began to deny them expansion. “It doesn’t look good, these guys are sharp. Pick up the pace. I…”, she started to say then dropped flat on her back as a soft scrape reached her ears. Three impacts hit just above her, the bullets pockmarking the wall and spalling ceramic dust into her eyes and nose. She brought her foot up, aiming the heel at the security guards in dark brown uniforms. Both carried silenced StGS Wasps, the stubby assault pistol with a silencer longer than the snub barrel. The guard to her left dropped to a knee to brace, the right guard leaned against the corner, only his head and right shoulder seen.

She lifted her left leg, tightened her toes a certain way, and the heel-mounted pulse laser fired, obliterating her boot, and the kneeling guard from the sternum up. The cauterized remains flopped and twitched as the body began to realize it had died. The other guard had ducked back around the corner as she’d fired. I got to get out of here. They found me way too fast. “They found me, I have to bail. Abort. Abort abort abort!” Dammit, there goes our payday. Angry at the shift in fortune, she pulled her father’s old Smith&Wesson Model 29 from the shoulder holster, and snapped a quick shot at the corner where the other security guard had slipped behind. The thunderous boom of the old .44 magnum raised the settling ceramic dust and she sneezed. The bullet tore a fist-sized chunk of cement and ceramic from the wall. She smiled grimly as she heard choking and coughing from around the corner.

She hobbled to her feet and ran clumsily, reaching the stairwell door, and yanking it open. It was second nature to slap the big D-ring around the steel railing and leap over the edge, using the rappelling wire brake to slow her descent. Landing at the bottom o the stairwell, she slapped the rappelling rig’s quick-release and sprinted out the doorway into the underground parking garage. Where is he?! I’m screwed if he gets caught. He’s got the keys.

Interviewing the Father of ‘Building Baby Brother’ part 2

Here is the second half of my interview with Steven Radecki, the author of ‘Building Baby Brother’.

Here’s a question about choosing a topic to write about. Do you feel that a story needs to have relevance in society?

I think that having some kind of social relevance helps to deepen a story. The trick, though, is to do it in such a way that it doesn’t feel preachy or pedantic to the reader. That can turn them off to the message (and story!) very quickly.

Comics are used at times to offer controversial subjects in stories. In ‘Civil War’, the idea of registration comes up. Do you feel ‘Building Baby Brother’ has touched a subject that could become more important as robotics and Artificial Intelligence become more sophisticated?

I think it raises the point that we probably need to re-examine our preconceptions about AI, much of which is driven by popular science fiction films, television, and literature.

It’s been said that all great stories like BBB are built on previous works the writer had read. In that vein, who, influenced your vision of the story?

There are several influences to this story, some of which are even subtly referenced during the course of the story. One of the inspirations that kept coming to my mind as I wrote and edited it was David Gerrold’s When Harlie was One. (I still prefer the original edition. Sorry, David.) Other conscious influences were the movie A.I. and, of course, Data from Star Trek: The Next Generation. I’m certain that there were many, many unconscious influences as well, such as Mycroft Holmes from The Moon is a Harsh Mistress, but none I specifically set out to emulate.

Were there any books that helped solidify your idea, or an author you enjoyed reading that might have given you ideas on style and presentation?

As mentioned in my answer to your previous question, I think David Gerrold with When Harlie was One was a major influence, both thematically and stylistically. Finding the right voice for this story was definitely a challenge—and one of the reasons that I very rarely tell a story from a first-person point-of-view. I felt that this story, though, demanded a first-person narrative perspective. Other than that, I can’t say that any specific storytelling style influenced the one used in this story. I’m not saying that it isn’t there, just like that I don’t recall using any other author’s particular style as an inspiration or template.

Interviewing the Father of ‘Building Baby Brother’

Hello all!

I’m J Dark, author of ‘Best Intentions’, book one of a series I’ve come to call ‘Glass Bottles’.

I’m here to interview the author of a story I really have wanted to see in print since I first critiqued it. That story is ‘Building Baby Brother’ ( BBB ), by Steven Radecki. What we’re going to do today is a little Q&A about his story.  This is a two-part series, with the second portion tomorrow.

I’m really honored to be the one to do this interview. So to jump right in, thank you Steven for sharing your time with the readers.


My first question is probably the one all authors get at least once every time your promoting a book. That question is: Where did you get the idea for BBB?

To be honest, I don’t remember where the actual idea for the plot came from. The story itself started as part of an exercise that, well, kind of got out hand. My son’s charter had planned to sponsor an event to help foster reading and writing skills by asking students and willing family members to write a short story and then read it out loud at this event. Always willing to write, particularly for a good cause such as that one, I started pondering possible story ideas. I knew I wanted something kind of “Twilight Zone”-ish—something short, entertaining, but with a fun twist at the end. From there, the basic concept of the story was born.

Every author develops their stories differently. In your case, did you create an outline first, or just choose a direction, or something else?

I rarely work from an outline for a short story. They are usually based on some concept I want to explore and I kind of see where the characters involved take it. In case, since it was originally only supposed to be 2,000 words, I felt a full-fledged outline might be overkill. As a result, though, the last third or so of the story went a direction that surprised even me.

No story ever flows smoothly as it’s created. What parts, or scenes were the hardest to develop?

I always have trouble with the middle. They say that maintaining the story and pace in the second book of a trilogy is often difficult, and I think the same thing is true about the middle of any story. I usually know how to start my stories and have a pretty good idea how it will end either when I start it or before I get a quarter of the way through it. In this story, probably the most difficult scene was scene with the police because I needed something that would transition the story from its setup to exploring the implications of the actions performed in its first half. I had a really tough time coming up with a scene that would work that would get me to where I wanted the story to go.

Another question I’m sure authors get asked all the time is, what made you decide to be a writer? With all the professions around, why get into writing?

Why not? I’ve always wanted to create—whether it be writing or filmmaking. There’s immensely satisfying about “putting on a show” and presenting it to an audience. With writing, perhaps even more than with filmmaking, you can have full control over your production: all the way from set design, costuming, and casting. Of course, when you sell the movie rights, you tend to lose those.

My last question for this series is, where and when do you like to write? I know that David Weber has said that he prefers the evenings, as it allows him to relax and concentrate. What are your favorite conditions for writing?

Peace and quiet—and good luck getting that! My preferred writing environment is where were I’m unlikely to be interrupted. I prefer to be able to get mentally lost in the world that I’m writing about. I find that the characters tend to be more vivid in my mind and are more to behave as they should so that mostly all I have to do is transcribe as they take whatever action the story requires of them. I’ve written in a lot of places: home, work, coffee shops, libraries, airports, hotel rooms…I’m pretty good at tuning out external distractions. Still, a quiet environment is my preference. Also, I don’t write with music on in the background; I find it too distracting.

Skid Style part 1

Charlie ‘Skid’ Moore ran leisurely in traffic, easily keeping up with the forty mile an hour pace. His bright suit of red shirt and blue pants stood out in the traffic. He’d originally gone for a dark grey and black, thinking it looked cooler, but after four very near misses with hurtling vehicles, he’d opted for a brighter, more visible color combination. While it kept him from more near misses, it also created it’s own problems. People, especially those in the news business, and fanatics on both sides of the ‘superhero’ argument were prone to following him around. It made it hard to enjoy just being himself for the sake of it. Now however, the rush hour traffic made it easy to avoid the newsies and just enjoy running.

Skid accelerated to sixty miles an hour, weaving quickly between cars. The cars honked, with some swerving to avoid the speedster in traffic. Skid grimaced at the noise and prayed that he just hadn’t started a chain reaction wreck, but beyond agitated honking, nothing sounded like a wreck. Thankful, and just a bit tense, Skid took the down ramp and dashed east towards the dockyards. I’ll start patrolling there. The scanner last night said there were a few robberies. Some missing crates and busted loading doors. I can check that. He angled off on to Belcher street, then sped up.

His field of vision narrowed. His eyes started to have trouble registering things closest to him. The ‘tunnel effect’ continued to narrow as he accelerated. God if I could only see stuff around me. That was what had gotten the papers to nickname him ‘Skid’. Early on in his career, he’d tried to use his full speed to catch a van escaping from a convenience store robbery. He was on the van so fast that he barely had time to register the impending collision and darted out of the way. He tripped on steps to a brownstone, then stumbled along the sidewalk, still at high speed.

He’d managed to dodge a couple out for an afternoon stroll, then angled back into the street and stopped running. The skid marks of his melting sneakers as he tried to stop like a comic book hero were over sixty yards long. The van got away by turning on a side street while Charlie had frantically tried to avoid collisions. He learned his lesson after that, staying under sixty miles an hour in moving traffic. He’d accelerate, when he had room, but in a city like Boston, room to run flat out was near impossible to find.

He turned off Belcher, then slowed and turned on Collier. The street ran north and fronted the warehouses that stored good from the ships being serviced at the docks. The pace on the docks and warehouses was frantic. It looked to Charlie like a ant nest that had been kicked open. Cranes were moving cargo off the freighters in large pallets. Another freighter was sliding containers down a ramp to waiting eighteen wheel tractor-trailer flatbeds. The line of trucks waiting for cargo stretched over a quarter mile by his estimate.

Glass Bottles Teaser

Zhirk turned Hervald over. A small bottle clung to the side of his hand. I squatted down to get a better view. It was made of an odd looking metallic glass. A small cork stopper lay on the floor.

I looked Hervald over carefully. His eyes were open and glassy. Spittle dribbled from the corner of his mouth, dripping to the carpet and soaking slowly in. His chest rose and fell shallowly, so he wasn’t dead. It was like no one was home at all. I looked again at the bottle and sounded out a small spell to see if magick was active. The moment the spell activated, I had to douse it, as the power nearly burned my eyes from their sockets. The bottle was glowing like a small sun. What the hell was going on here?