AdamCarlton Profile

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Location: Paris, France

Gender: M

Member Since: January 2019

Last online: June 2019

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Last Updated Jun 15, 2019

'Hélène of Tuy Hòa' and 'Star Child'

Saturday June 15th 2019: 'Hélène of Tuy Hòa' and 'Star Child'

A Message and a Gift was about the use of remotely-piloted people as assassination devices. No different in principle from using RPVs and Hellfire missiles. Just technically harder.

Coming up tomorrow is Hélène of Tuy Hòa, a small vignette of war and its lifelong aftermath.

A few days later you'll see Star Child (6,250 words - 14 chapters). Will you take to a science-fiction story which starts with Gödel numbering?

Monday June 10th 2019: 'What Happened?'

A poignant poem of a childhood lost to time.

Saturday June 8th 2019: 'X-Cort'

Google has an 'X lab' where it works on its secret 'moonshot' projects. Google used to own Boston Dynamics which developed mobile robots ('Big Dog' qv) for the military - before their staff objected that they were too frightening (see countless YouTube videos).

The software Google uses for its AI neural nets is called TensorFlow. So this story is about the robot escorts of the future which will hoover up so much data about you .. which Google can then monetise. It's not just Google.

Wednesday June 5th 2019: 'So Many Years'

The beautiful Breton port-town of Saint-Malo with its great walls. In early May it's cold, lifeless and mostly deserted. Only passion can keep you warm.

Saturday June 1st 2019: 'Cousins'

Are you a bubble person? Does that make you a bad person? Be a better person. Step out of your bubble!

How hard could it be?

Thursday May 30th 2019: 'From Cantor's paradise no-one can expel us'

Once again I urge you not to read this. I used transfinite set theory as a background for my SF short story, 'Alef Won':

and an unexpected unslaught of the Wikipedia virus forced me to write this story, which kinda explains it. It's Cantor's fault!  'Georg Cantor Wikipedia'.

Confined to mental hospital for a theory?

Don't risk it, children!

Tuesday May 28th 2019: 'Summer Job'

For once I'm not encouraging you to read my new short story, 'Summer Job'. I imagine the intersection of readers on this site and people with an interest and background in quantum theory is a set which to a first approximation will be empty.

The physics content is accurate and the narrative is not a million miles from my personal history (although it's not directly autobiographical). I did take QM at university. I did have a summer job on a building site where I was rather inept.

It's not really a story about physics: it's a story about incomprehension and consequent misunderstandings between communities.

Sunday May 26th 2019: 'Annabel and the AI weapon'

You've already seen this, it was published as a two-chapter book a few weeks ago. I've lightly revised it, taking in comments from HJ Furl and Hullabaloo22 although they may well believe I didn't go far enough. It's an affectionate look at the SJW (Social Justice Warrior) movement and its morally-charged campaign against autonomous AI weapons.

Call me libertarian but I'm more the analytic-systematising type myself. I quite like them.

Sunday May 19th 2019: 'The Psychosurgeon'

I published a previous version under a different title but it's come back, shortened and revised as the short story 'The Psychosurgeon'. Greg Bear's 'Queen of Angels' is the inspiration for this story, which looks at what we would find out if we could really peek into other people's subconscious minds .. and discover what they really thought about us. Are we the cure - or the disease?

Meanwhile thanks to those who are still following the book 'Extinction Event'. This evening marks the transition to survival planning: there's many a twist and turn in the face of Armageddon!

Wednesday May 15th 2019: 'Extinction Event'

The prologue of this story has been published today. It's associated with Hullabaloo22’s book, ‘Five Years’ and describes a predicted major impact event on the Earth.

Based on David Bowie’s 1972 song Five Years, Hullabaloo22 imagined a catastrophic asteroid impact, an Extinction-Level Event due to occur in five years time. This is kept secret, the truth only emerging ten months before the end. She was concerned to tell the human story here:

But in my account we deal with something different. Humanity is finished. If all hope is dead, only the unimaginable remains.-- (7,100 words, 11 chapters).

Monday May 13th 2019: 'The Speciesist'

Continuing the theme of suffocating ideology. It's a sad day when we have to rely upon obscurantist religions for deconstruction.

Sunday May 12th 2019: 'Annabel' and 'Sheeple'? What's the story?

Is it a good idea to write ambiguous and allusive stories on controversial topics? The way critical writers in the Soviet Union used SF stories to fashion their heretical thoughts?

I don't know.

For me, 'Annabel' was not really about autonomous AI weapons, it was about privileged SJWs from elite liberal arts colleges (google 'middlebury college murray') turning a deaf ear to reasoned argument and even hard evidence in front of their eyes. Annabel's Manichean worldview is really my interest here. We were all like this once. I was.

'Sheeple': we have always genetically engineered the lifeforms around us. It's called selective breeding; artificial evolution. We select for the phenotypes we desire and when these are heritable we consequently change allele frequencies. That's why it sticks.

Today we can modify alleles directly, rather than indirectly. Why die in a ditch protesting that?

Over the last thousands of years humanity has gone through a self-domestication process. The violent and psychopathic were culled (executed or butchered) and the calmer peasants and workers were allowed to reproduce (cf Gregory Clark, economist). This without explicit alterations of the human genome. The story uses an allegory of sheep-breeding to dramatise that.

But even sheep will rebel if you goad them hard enough. Sometimes the bleating-many will overwhelm the master-few. Now there's a thought! Hope for the masses? An inducement to breed even calmer sheep?

Is it slavery if they like it?

There is a science and technology of genetics and genomics. It's solid stuff, adds to the sum of human understanding and our capacity as a technological society. It's how this understanding and technology is used which should be in dispute. I plead for more nuance!

Friday May 10th 2019: 'Sheeple' and 'Annabel'

One of my interests is genomics. Both the artificial variety of genetic engineering and the lower-tech version we've practised since the Neolithic revolution: selective breeding. Did you know we did it to ourselves? Isn't it obvious?

This evening and tomorrow (Saturday) will see the appearance of 'Annabel',  two chapters on autonomous AI weapon systems. Thanks HJ for helping me get Annabel's name right and for sparking the story. You may not agree with it, though.

Wednesday May 8th 2019: 'Annabel' and HJ's 'Insurgent'

'Alison' was reposted today as a short story, having previously appeared here a month ago as a book. Easier to read in one scroll. It's about US military interrogation of a special and peculiar kind.

A day or two ago H J Furl wrote an excellent story about Autonomous AI Weapons called 'Insurgent'.

I don't really agree with HJ's position and my contrarian view should get an outing at the weekend with 'Annabel'. Hope you find it interesting.

Sunday May 5th 2019: 'A Turbulent Priest'

This is my second contribution to Hullabaloo22's book, 'Five Years' (chapter 39). You can see it here:

Fr. Damas will also appear in another story of mine to be posted shortly: 'Nathalie'.

Friday May 3rd 2019: 'Bérénice'

Bérénice is the kind of lawyer any guy in a tight spot would want to have. Is it more allegorical than autobiographical? Yes.

May 1st 2019: advance notice about 'Bérénice'

An exciting day in Montparnasse in the 14th arrondissement today. You'll see it on TV - maybe. I have some other things to do on account of recent history, lightly fictionalised in Bérénice to be posted this weekend.

Friday April 26th 2019: 'Valentine'

A few weeks ago I casually asked Hullabaloo22 to write an empathic piece about a lamprey. She gamely delivered:

What would I have written?

'Valentine': 1,400 words in 3 chapters to be published over the next three days.

Famous writers have their admirers and sometimes things turn nasty. And perhaps the future Criminal Justice System won't be quite as understanding as at present - not that that's any picnic .. .

Friday April 26th 2019: Review of Ian McEwan's 'Machines Like Me'

Just posted a 500 word review of McEwan's interesting and engrossing new novel. I categorised it as 'Book Review' which apparently means it's invisible on the Booksie home screen, where this category is not featured!

Sunday April 21st 2019: 'Alef Won'

Aleph-zero (ℵ0) counts the set of computable objects while Aleph-one (ℵ1) - assuming the continuum hypothesis - counts the reals, within which computation is a set of measure zero. An Empire battle-computer is no match for a feisty, blue-haired woman called Alef Won.

Friday April 19th 2019: 'Pig-Tale'

I was quite transfixed by that story about Yale scientists bringing pigs' brains back from the dead. If there was ever an SF story waiting to be written, a classic 'brain in a vat' tale, that was surely it.

And yet, and yet .. . The narrative just wouldn't come. Oh yes, there were ideas. But I need more than ideas - I need excitement and inspiration!

So perhaps that's the story, the writer's last refuge: metafiction.

Wednesday April 17th 2019: 'Time Warrior'

I'm reading "The Nightmare of Reason: A Life of Franz Kafka" by Ernst Pawel. This is perhaps the best biography of Kafka, situating him in the Jewish Bohemian subculture of early twentieth-century Prague. The Jewish literary and artistic community was beleaguered: not German, not Czech, the object of institutional and popular anti-semitism while dismissive of traditional Judaic culture. They were the prototype for western alienated 21st century existence.

I'm prompted to revisit Kafka's short stories, especially the collection "The Metamorphosis, In the Penal Colony and other Stories". As the author said: 'All my stories are about me.'

I will shortly be posting a jokey-SF story ('Alef Won') along the lines of 'Time Warrior' - on Easter Sunday April 21st. And then 'Valentine': 1,300 words in three chapters. Probably starting a week today, Wednesday April 24th. It's gothic horror with a plot device loosely based on Dan Simmons' dystopian thriller 'Flashback' (2013) - particularly the ending.

Monday April 15th 2019: 'Extinction Event' (to come) after 'Five Years'

I've been working with Hullabaloo22 on her book, Five Years, which you should take a look at. She has been doing all the heavy lifting by the way, telling the story of her young protagonist Jo who's finding her way through a collapsing world under the shadow of an approaching asteroid - which in a few months will extinguish all human life on Earth.

I have contributed three chapters, of which one 'The policeman and the priest' was published yesterday. In that story the priest ducked the big questions. In my next chapter, a different priest, a Spinozan, takes them on. Truly only the unorthodox can give you answers. The final story, set in the last days, is one of heroism and self-sacrifice - and perhaps futility. I don't know where Hully will be taking her characters.

In parallel I am finishing off a book, Extinction Event, which is set in the same universe and is complementary to Hully's. It's big - currently ten chapters and 7,000 words - and I'll roll it out once Five Years completes. It includes the three chapters I contributed to Hully's book.

Mine will have more of a science-fiction feel overall. It covers the period from the discovery of the asteroid to what's anticipated and planned-for post-impact.

Friday April 5th 2019: 'Alison'

This week's story is called 'Alison'. Be aware that it features scenes of a sexual nature. It's a dramatisation of real events: the enhanced interrogation of Muslim suspects at Guantanamo in 2003 (see Historical Note at the end) although this story is set in the middle-east.

What's the story about?

Manipulation and the vanity and lusts of men. Love .. and loss .. and the appearance of love.  --  (Five chapters: 3,400 words).


Friday March 29th 2019: 'The strange death of Alphonse Hubert'

A new story starts today, The strange death of Alphonse Hubert, in six chapters (3,600 words). It's a high-tech murder mystery with intelligence agency involvement, politicians and AI. I hope you enjoy it. After the six days I will eventually publish it as a standalone short story.


Thursday March 28th 2019: 'Diplomat' (also relevant to 'Alison')

Sex scenes. I find these are the hardest part of a story to write. The sections I revise the most. The easy answer is just not to have any. And that's an OK choice in certain genres. But what if you do want to explore this central driver of human behaviour?

There was a whole period I fixated on plumbing - what level of explicit detail do I need? It leads to a dangerous dichotomy: Victorian prudery vs. pornographic excess. In self-reviewing, my blue pencil finds furious activity, toing-and-froing across the text.

Then I realised two things. Sex is in the head and readers have imagination too. I didn't need to write a manual. Concentrate instead on the feelings of the participants, not what their limbs are up to. The reader can fill that in - with the right hints. And so erotica segues to drama. The hard part of writing begins.

I revised my poorly-titled Lust-Caution short-story with these thoughts in mind. It's now called Diplomat. In my portfolio somewhere.


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I write to clear my thoughts and move on. I try to improve, learn from other writers - some great writers here! I especially value comments: please be usefully critical, I will be grateful.

Appreciation is nice, critique is even better! Tell me what you think: setting, descriptive writing, plot, characterisation, tempo, colour, excitement, interest! So many dimensions  ... !


Me? I'm a heterodox Marxist. Hard work in these difficult times! I think, conceptualise and write in the demi-monde of a vanishing revolutionary Paris.

Let me add a little more. I've been through all the uncritical stages. I read Marx now as a sociologist, someone thinking about society through patterns of recurrent behaviour. Society as autopoiesis.

I think his analysis is methodologically accurate; I think his tone moralistic (but given the Dickensian times ..); his socialism I find utopian and derivative while his psychology unduly favours nurture over nature. I do not believe in the perfectibility of humankind, or that we can even define such a term outside the Darwinism of which Marx so approved.

I am a sociobiological-Marxist. Perhaps the only one in the world. I find my allies where I can.


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