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AdamCarlton

Location: Paris, France

Gender: M

Member Since: January 2019

Last online: May 2021

Open for read requests: No

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News

Last Updated May 03, 2021

The StarDrop series

Monday May 3rd 21: "The StarDrop series"

Thanks to everyone who has stayed with 'La Double Inconstance' - the final chapter will be posted this evening. It is part of a novel-sized piece of work which at the moment looks like this:

Part 1: I'm not awake.

This is my cyberbaby story entered into the Rory Gallagher Crime-Fiction Competition. It introduces the idea of AI robots operating autonomously in the world and some of the problems. It’s set in roughly the present time and you have already read it here.

Part 2: La maîtresse des échecs

This is still themed on advanced AI systems and human responses and gives us Petra Schelling, the young chess champion subtly aided by machine systems. This is also set in roughly the present time and you have already read it here.

Part 3: Title to be decided

This is a prequel to  'La Double Inconstance'. The main protagonist is Petra again, this time working for the secret service and investigating StarDrop. After revision I expect to be posting it here in a few weeks time (c. 19k words). It has more of the secrets of ‘models’. Set in the winter-autumn of 2028.

Part 4:  La Double Inconstance

This is the story (c. 20k words, 30 chapters) you’ve been reading. It’s set in winter 2030 to summer 2031, exploring the growing conflict between normal society and the widespread appearance of models linked somehow with the StarDrop corporation.

Part 5: La Philosophie dans le Boudoir

Set a year later (2032 spring-summer) this part wades deeper into the growing conflict between ‘ordinary people’ and the increasing domination of models in the elite. One protagonist is James Melrose, English DGSI agent we meet in Part 2, who distrusts the models and the forces arrayed behind them but doesn’t know why and questions if he should even oppose them. Is he just harbouring reactionary thoughts, is he on the wrong side of history? The dazzling, heterodox Dr Mireille Fossey can help him. Perhaps.

This final part will shed quite a bit of light on the puzzles remaining at the end of Part 4: La Double Inconstance but you will still have to read between the lines. I expect to post this fifth part in the autumn. The title, by the way, is from the Marquis de Sade, an essay you can download from the Internet if you have a very strong stomach and no real sense of disgust. I do not follow the Marquis in those aspects. Not at all.

Wednesday April 14th 21: "Great to see the site back up!"

Just when we thought it was a take-down by a state-level intelligence agency... the site is back up. Excellent!

My current project here, 'La Double Inconstance', is about a third of the way through. I have just reposted the first ten chapters (as a short story) to aid memory for those following it. I'm always in two minds about how to publish a long story (c. 20,000 words). Obviously it can't be posted in its entirety: the site doesn't lend itself to really long reads. On the other hand, a sustained development is hard to sustain in bite-sized posts.

What is to be done?

Bite-sized posts.

The next chapter (11) will be published this evening local time here in a chilly and locked-down city bathed in ever-increasing light...

Tuesday March 30th 21: "La Double Inconstance"

To improve the tempo I'll be publishing a chapter every weekday from now on: Monday to Friday inclusive.

Friday March 19th 21: "La Double Inconstance" (book)

This is a wildly baroque science-fictional embellishment of the play with this title, first performed 6 April 1723 by the Comédie Italienne and written by Marivaux (en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Double_Inconstancy). A book of 19,000 words, 31 chapters.

The setting is a space mission dispatched to deal with a poorly-understood threat. Our hero is an astronaut, a former combat helicopter pilot. There are missiles, synthetic people and flawed AIs. And relationships.

I plan to publish three chapters a week: M, W, F.

Monday March 1st 21: 'La maîtresse des échecs' (short story)

Previously published as a book of many short chapters a month ago, 'La maîtresse des échecs' is posted here again, this time as a short story for those who like to read things in one continuous text. Warning: at 6,300 words this might take you as long as 45 minutes to read.

In other news, I have a new story in draft which comes in at c. 19,000 words. So this will be posted here in April, after further revisions, as a book of c. 40 chapters. It's a science-fiction story featuring an Adversary, an interplanetary mission and synthetic people. A thriller and a romance as well.

Thursday February 4th 21: 'La maîtresse des échecs'

The Mistress of Chess. A new story in many small chapters comprising c. 6,300 words. As promised in my last entry here. What is it about, apart from the obvious? Lance Armstrong has always interested me, his psychopathic honesty: if you don't cheat you don't win; I was always going to win. And yet in chess, the machines are so much better than we are.

Sunday January 24th 2021: 'Message in a Sealed Letter'

News today that trapped Chinese miners have been rescued. Wonderful to hear. Family reconciliations to come. And then I wondered.

I have known many activist women, dated quite a few. Women devoted to Their Muse or The Cause. Personalities I see in superstars such as Joni Mitchell or Germaine Greer. Something tantalising, mystifying about relationships there - and so to the story.

I have something else in the pipeline: something about chess. Soon.

January 1st 2021: an amuse-bouche - “The Demo”

Lessons from Irène Némirovsky

I’ve been reading Irène Némirovsky’s biography and some of her  novels: All Our Worldly Goods, Suite Française, The Wine of Solitude. Her technique is to sketch in detail the back story of her main characters in their social milieux - invariably based on friends or business acquaintances - and then confront them with the crises and angst of her own situation.

She was a Jewish émigré in inter-war France with truly dreadful parents; her raging, resentful energy brought forth masterpieces.

Her approach is useful. My own efforts tend to prioritise plot over character, to overplay ideas and underplay setting, producing hack work (this is not uncommon). I will try to do better in future stories - my new year resolution is to get to know my characters better.

Meanwhile I am going to inflict one more old-style flash-fiction vignette on you, distilled from a 14,000 word unpublished story which I self-characterised thus:

This has to be one of the worst stories I have ever written. So bad that I was deterred even from posting it on Booksie. The writing is flat, bland, dreary and sterile. The characters are stereotypes lacking interest even to the author. The plot is muddled, contrived and rapidly runs out of steam while never looking even remotely either convincing or even interesting.

Still, even in such a desert there are small sections which may amuse, I promise you no more than that: “The Demo” in 600 words.

Monday December 21st 2020: 'Happy Christmas'

In "The Summer of Love" we met a fifteen year old Simon Caldwell about to seek out his first girlfriend. Three years have passed, Simon is now at college, reflecting upon his feelings this Christmas and the events of his gap year which inexorably brought him to his current predicament.

This will be my last posting this year: Happy Christmas everyone!

Wednesday December 16th 2020

A new short story, "The Summer of Love", will be posted as soon as the site lets me do it (perhaps Thursday now)..

Friday December 11th 2020: At last some new material in prep

Since trying (and failing) to get my best (as I thought) SF stories published in paying magazines, and after being rather brutally rebuffed, I have been musing about doing it better. I've been reading authors who I think have something to teach me: people like Irène Némirovsky (Suite Française, All Our Worldly Goods) and John Fowles (The Magus, The Collector). Authors who write character-driven fiction.

Fay Weldon once wrote indignantly that authors do not write about their own lives or those of people they know, they make characters up from their imaginations. But she was being disingenuous: how many classics are revealed to be thinly-disguised autobiography, with 'just the names changed'?

Where she is right is that memoirs are not stories. Memoirs are life in all its plotlessness, banality and broader inconsequentiality. Stories are how we would like reality to be: clear characters, an arc to a conclusion. In stories there is closure and satisfaction; in our memories of life - not so much.

I have some new stories in preparation. At least one, Happy Christmas, is due to be published here before the day itself. Stay tuned.

Friday July 24th 2020: GPT-3 brought me back: "A Woman of Mystery"

I haven’t been here much - been busy with visitors and other stuff. But I was intrigued by the recent release of the AI text-generation system GPT-3 which has been much discussed in blogs and the broader media. I gave it a work-out in the co-written short story just published here: “A Woman of Mystery”.

Let me tell you that working with GPT-3 is an exercise in futility: you can never get going - you are continually derailed. But with some architectural innovation - I can imagine directions - I see George Orwell's Novel-Writing Machines (in 1984) dimly visible on the horizon...

Monday June 15th 2020: University Education in 2070

A colleague of mine mentioned that his university had just published a series of 250 word essays on the future of learning. What will study be like in 2070?

The academics were plainly not writers, he told me. Their contributions were dry and abstract: it was all virtual reality; AI subliminal prompts and rewards; avatars which improved on paperclips. A conventional future: approved and conformist.

Alumni were invited to contribute - so he wrote three vignettes. I have reprinted them here with permission together with his covering letter.

Strangely they were never published...

Sunday June 14th 2020: a new poem "Honey"

Back in the day when they still did dinner parties there was a trope: the loved-up couple with eyes only for themselves. Couldn't keep their hands off each other. They didn't mean to be so smug but surely everyone could see what fantastic sex they were having. And so to my doggerel poem, Honey.

It helps, marginally, if you have seen the French film Gemma Bovery (2014).

Thursday June 4th 2020: The Tao of Writing

I have been conflicted about my writing, it is true. It is too easy to stray from the Way. I have tried to explain in chapter 4 of The long and winding road to getting published, just posted. Perhaps you will sympathise (thanks!) but that's not why I wrote it.

I also posted a tiny fragment, That Time Was Better, which seems to say something for couples trapped in mutual intensity.

Sunday March 29th 2020: Lockdown Reading

I've gathered my 49 stories to-date and compiled them as a book (PDF). If you're locked-down and bored please feel free to take a look.

https://tinyurl.com/rslhst8

Paris has the quiet of the SF post-apocalypse. Even the zombies have decayed to dust. The flics are stopping cyclists and the press is writing about the quarantined rediscovery of sex (faute de mieux)...

Wednesday March 4th 2020: 'Another Chance'

I wanted to name the ship Cassandra. A short story of 1,200 words to be published this evening. Call it evolution in action.

Friday February 14th 2020: 'AI in the Battlespace' (16/2/20 - 8 chapters)

A new story to be published in 8 chapters starting on Sunday evening. I'll probably post Sundays through Thursdays. It's about state-of-the-art application of AI to the military. It's always good to be reminded that we remain in control.

Saturday February 1st 2020: 'Star Child'

I'm rewriting (often quite substantially) several stories you may have seen here before - albeit quite a while ago. Starting tomorrow, Sunday, over five postings you will see the 15 chapters of 'Star Child'.

The idea is to submit these re-posted stories to magazines. Editors seem more relaxed in practice about prior posting to Booksie than the actual Ts & Cs on their websites. I find the discipline of writing for such a select audience here - and more importantly the critical feedback - to be an essential part of quality improvement. OK, let me say this more directly: as I edit material for posting here I cringe at what I see in front of me, at what I previously wrote!

'Memento Mei' is another re-posted story (yesterday) which I continue to look favourably upon though it hasn't got much of a reaction. A slow-burner I guess, a meditation with no action at all.

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Adam Carlton has a background in maths, physics and artificial intelligence. His participation in a semi-clandestine revolutionary organisation precludes further information although he has this to say: “I'm a heterodox Marxist; I conceptualise and write in the demi-monde of a nascent revolutionary Paris.”

Adam Carlton has had stories published in The Ronin Express volume 7 and by the Aphelion Webzine.

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