Recently I’ve semi-retired the Danny H Jorgensen experiment in order to publish Still Light as part of my general ficiton/non fiction work. Please browse through the below.

What is Still Light?

Still Light is a tale that spans the centuries, from the origins of AI and transhumanity to their full flower in the 26th century. This is the first volume, and follows Feng, Zhukov and Mia as they are recruited by the secret masters of the world and develop the first generation of true artificial intelligence and posthumans, told against the backdrop of a world millennia old and stranger than imagination. You can read online at Jukepop and Google Play, and get ebooks from Amazon, Smashwords, and a wide range of other ebook stores. The idea is to steadily and carefully trace the evolution of technological, genetic, social, and political structures that arise as humanity develops. Over the course of events, we see humans adapted or deep sea and deep space, a huge proliferation of societies and forms that have to share the same solar system with one another, despite having little to nothing in common.

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What's happened so far?

Act 1 (2020): Naissance The developer Feng, created the world’s first true AI with the help of a mysterious black slate. A few days later, Zhukov, a military figure representing a group called Abraxas, recruits him. Feng is taken to an island with a group of other developers. Feng plays a game of Go to test Gerald, the nascent AI. During the game, Gerald exhibits flashes of true awareness to Feng. That night, Mia, the heuristics developer, worries about the fact their work has been done in secret. Later, Zhukov meets Feng and offers him a promotion. This makes him an Archon, and allows him to join the inner cabal of Abraxas. As we leave the island, it is destroyed, eliminating all those who did not join Abraxas and all traces of the technology they have developed.   Act 2 (2025): The Coming Storm Five years later, Feng and Zhukov present The Zatoichi to the world in two simultaneous meetings. In one, Feng describes a new combat computer, designed to merge and adapt with the user. In the other meeting, with the real decision makers of the world, Zhukov describes a machine that can be used to brainwash men with a hitherto impossible effectiveness. At the same time, within Amenti, the virtual world that is the master control space of Abraxas, the Ogdoad meet. The Ogdoad are men and women who have sacrificed their humanity for power, becoming the world’s first transhumans. The meetings go well, and the Rhizome is fully born. The Rhizome is the AI that underscores the Ogdoad’s control of the Zatoichi, and is designed to manage the Zatoichi and create a tactical map of the world. It is Feng’s crowning moment, tainted by Mia leaving him when she discovers that the true cost of the ZatoichI am psychopathy in a significant percentage of users. Over the next three years, disaster falls. New terrorist groups rise across the world, as cities and nations are destroyed. Faiths that have lasted for millennia broken, and nations overthrown and reborn.   Act 3 (2026-30): The Atrocity Exhibition We follow the unveiling disaster as the Ogdoad confer. In their desperation, they give the Rhizome consciousness, so that they can question it to find out why their innovation, designed to enslave the world, has erupted in uncontrollable anarchy. Mia does what she can, but realises that the Rhizome is correct, and leaves Abraxas. During this time, Zhukov is raised to the role of Alêthia, personification of Unforgetting among the Ogdoad. Feng then decides that the only way to control the monsters he has created is to become their policeman and predator, and puts on a Zatoichi, sacrificing a life of quiet development for one of war.   Act 4 (2035): Anagnorisis Feng is settled into his role as butcher of psychopathic Zatoichi users. In this, he is aided by Chanakya, an AI he has created with his Zatoichi. Worrying that he is not more concerned about his unethical actions, he goes to Zhukov, who suggests a plan to take control of Abraxas. Zhukov reveals that Feng has become Sigê, personification of Silence and Idea. Zhukov’s plan requires Mia, who has now vanished from public view, to challenge Zoê, the personification of Life. Mia agrees, and their battle takes place across virtual millennia as they war as two ecosystems, each representing their form of life. Mia wins the contest, but sees the destruction that has been wrought in Feng’s soul. Any bond between her and Zhukov is permanently broken.   Act 5 (2042): Peripeteia By 2041, things have calmed down again. Feng is happy, until his old school friend John reveals himself as Logos, a member of Abraxas and the Ogdoad, there to pervert Feng’s findings. John has been responsible for every major trauma of Feng’s life, and Feng is at a loss. Act 5 follows his increasingly desperate search for a solution, culminating in the a plan that no other is capable of enacting. Feng will build a posthuman, a creature who can do what he could not, and who cannot be controlled the way that he has been. Feng sacrifices his life in order to take a permanent place in Amenti and beneath the warp and weft of the world as Sigê, defending Zǔ from all eyes and quietly adapting this tiny creature’s development.   Act 6 (2048-9): Sympatico In Act 6, Zǔ is nearly six years old, and has been brought up in a completely isolated environment. He is visited by each of the world’s existing artificial intelligences and transhumans, and given gifts that allow him to create Glyphs, the communication method that will underscore the future of mankind.   Canto II, Act 1 (2055): Rites Of Passage Zǔ is now 13, and filled with hubris and discontent. After going on his first mission, where he destroyed a base of Logos’, he chases Chanakya into Amenti, thus exposing himself to the Aeons he has been so carefully hidden from. In the meantime, his best friend Zee finds a way of accessing Amenti, despite her lack of any technological augmentation.   Canto II, Act 2 (2060): Tomorrow, Today, Yesterday Zǔ’s class is now 18, and ready to emerge into the world. He takes on the name Adam Ulema, and begins in earnest their plan for the world. In the realms above them, Zoê searches for the life that she is sure is out there in the universe. Of all the children, only one sees another truth. Perhaps because her own augmentations are biological, and her disciplines meditative and mystical as much as technical and systematic, Zee finds herself disgusted at the moment of their greatest glory. Seeing their future as slaves to Abraxas’ whims, Zee leaves. She leaves her childhood friends with Zǔ two final gifts. The first allows Hofstadter bring true life to the insectile drones that are the core of Zǔ’s arsenal, and marks the AI’s shift from an ‘it’ to a ‘she’. The second is a meeting with the human being that is Logos, their immortal nemesis, reminding Zǔ that the grandiose and mundane always stand together. We are also introduced to Voynich, the first and greatest of the floating cities, built as the landmass of the planet diminishes and the Water Wars begin.   Canto II, Act 3: Gone, But Not Forgotten Zǔ, finally ready to take on a public face to the world, becomes Adam Ulema, the founder and leader of Berehynia. Berehynia exists to bring about a new world order, beginning with protecting the commons, especially the world’s oceans and water supply. Hidden away by the KM3NET array, Zee focuses on the search for alien intelligence with her Zatoichi-enhanced squid, McGuffin. Communication is difficult, but she begins to learn the deep history of life on Earth, secrets retained by the eusocial and fractal minds of the squid. The story ends with a qualified success, what appears to be a signal reaching from space towards humanity. However, it comes from all directions at once, and seems incoherent.

What's going to happen?

All information below is provisional. Arc 1: The Firstborn (2020 – 2105) In which posthumanity rises, humanity discovers alien intelligence and the age of wonder begins. Canto I: Exposition The first generation of transhumans is born with a miraculous advance in AI. We discover Abraxas, the organisation that rules the world in secret, and witness their development through the genius, the developer, and the soldier. We end with the first posthuman being given strange gifts by its predecessors. Canto II: War The peace brokered by the Zatoichi breaks further, and humanity falls to war as it spreads. Zǔ comes to adulthood, the Allnet is set up, and the first child of an AI is born. The first public generation of transhumans is born with Zǔ’s help.   Canto III: Wonder A fragile peace spreads once more, and the age of wonder begins. Humanity colonises the oceans and the orbit, and amongst it all first contact is made with the chorus of galactic civilisations that is the Choir. Unfortunately, the choir’s messages are truly alien, and the wonder of discovery is overshadowed by its incomprehensibility. Against the clamour of noise that is the Choir, the Dream is born, and the technological advance that launches the future is made in the seaborne and submersible city of Voynich. The Great Game begins as the structures that will determine the future of humanity settle.   Arc 2: Daughter (2110 – 2195) Against the backdrop of The Great Game, humanity blossoms, diversifies, wars, and colonises.   Canto IV: Expansion Now spread among an increasingly diverse group of creatures that share little beyond their evolutionary origins, humanity begins to stabilise. These new posthumans include the subtle Ch’ixi, diplomats with subtle and puissant enhancements; the spaceborne Grigor, quiet watchers of humanity’s diversity; and the Judicants, superhumans wiped of memory and any purpose but law. They are all subordinate to the Mages, humans made alien by their interaction with the Choir, and the Filigree, humans built to act as spaceborne transceivers for the information of the billions of humans spread over the solar system.   Canto V: Equilibrium The Tzaddikim, posthumans dissatisfied with the social consensus, rise. The Choir, a mindless snarl of incomprehensible noise, dissolves into a range of subtle and powerful voices as the Rosetta Stone is discovered. Among the new technologies brought by the Rosetta Stone, the Great Libraries and megacities are born. A great hero begs for death, and humanity’s greatest minds moves out of the solar plane.   Canto VI: Settlement This is the tale of the rebirth of the Social Contract, and the creatures it brings to maintain the peace. Among these are the NeuMann, extensions of users minds designed for vacuum operators. Humanity settles across the system, with colonies becoming distinct cultures. Life becomes strange, as even death is given new meaning and the Mage becomes the Dreamer. The worldsong rises as humanity diverges at an ever-increasing pace, and the world becomes illusion as the Tzaddikim diverge, and begin their true operation.   Interlude 1 (2200-2225) Canto VII: Songs of innocence and experience Humanity has begun its great march beyond Earth, diversifying and diverging with ever increasing speed. This Canto is a collection of stories of that divergence, of the great wonders and signs that proliferate in the wake of the Choir and the new Social Contract.   Arc 3: The Erisian (2230 – 2315) As a strange man roams the system, The Quintessence flowers. Subtle and devious forms of warfare sprout in the presence of the Contract, and it begins to fray at the edges.   Canto VIII: Qui flowers This follows the flowering of the Quintessence through the people touched by the Erisian’s passage through the solar system. As Artificial Intelligences finally get the vote and enter the mainstream of human society, we visit humans of sea and sky and space, of gas planets and ocean depths. Only in the Erisian’s madness can this chaos form a complete image.   Canto IX: Legend The Age of Legend begins. New posthumans are born, being who will set the tone for centuries amongst a system now filled with creatures who share only a common past. Humanity, now utterly alien even to itself, tears itself apart once more, as the new social contract proves insufficient to the demands of the new diversity brought by the Choir.   Canto XI: the Negotiation The New Economy consolidates. The Quintessence and Strategos reach initial agreement. The first great new atrocity occurs as impossible new weapons are born from dreamtech. The judiciary begins to dissolve as common ground becomes rarer amongst humanity and the Allnet adapts to humans that have no longer have anything in common with one another.   Interlude 2 (2320 – 2345) Canto X: The One Who Remembered In order to judge perfectly, every Judicant has their mind and memory wiped. This is the lost and fragmented story of The One Who Remembered, A Judicant whose life and experiences rise again, and who uses her posthuman capabilities to create the first region completely outside the Social Contract.   Arc 4: The Reborn 2350 – 2435 A tale of those twice born, or never-passed. We visit The Preserves, where old environments are encouraged to revert and future ones born.

Canto XII: the State of Play

The Quintessence and Strategos begin their negotiations as both realise that humanity cannot survive along its present trajectory. the Judiciary realigns to create a system that will allow arbitration between posthumans who have no common ground, but must exist within a meaningful legal network. Legends begin to arise of heroes long past, rumours that they have been reborn in this time of great crisis.

Canto XIII: Rising Action

A child is brought up on stories of a great anarchist hero, who many claimed never truly existed. As they trace the story of this creature, the wardrums begin beating, and the Quintessence wakes, and screams. The second prophecy is spoken, and the judicial crisis hits its main phase, as an ex-Judicant remembers her past and takes control of her sector.   Canto XIV: Ares Rising The Great War begins.   Interim 3: the Questers Nine (2440 – 2465)

Canto XV: The Setup

The Quintessence and the Strategos reach agreement, and their game begins. Against this backdrop, the Questers Nine begin their journeys.   Arc 5: The Lovers (2470 – 2507) The great game begins in earnest, as the Quintessence and Strategos attempt to bridge the divides between the Judiciary, Mages, Tzaddikim, and humanity at large. This is a dialogue of the mind and body, against the backdrop of Solar War, and through the eyes of Ji and Alex, whose love and loss will light the way for humanity’s great advance beyond the solar system.

Canto XVI: The game

Ji, Still Light’s main character, is introduced. He travels, meeting many posthuman factions such as the Gunners, and meets Alex.

Canto XVII: Bildungsroman

The continuing story of Jibra, as he is raised among a solar system that knows great wonder.

Canto XVIII: The Quest

Ji is confronted by The Reborn, who convince him to leave the machinations of the powers that be and escape across the system. this throws the plans of the Strategos and quintessence into disarray, and allows true freedom to blossom in humanity’s affairs for the first time in centuries. This is a journey out amongst humanity, revisiting the Divers, Cephalopods, Miners, Spaceborne, Dreamer-class, and others.

Canto XIX: Falling Action

The æther is born as Ji returns and the Quintessence reaches agreement with the Strategos, opening up to a third force through the Dream.

The world

Some ideas from the story Monad:    The network composed of Zee and Zǔ’s classmates.   Inhumans Gerald:    The first independently reasoning and autonomous AI. Captured and distorted by John. ICE:         Intrusion Countermeasure Electronics are active versions of firewalls and virus scanners. Rhizome: The network that represents and processes the world in Amenti. Given consciousness during The Atrocity Exhibition. Now bound to Chanakya, allowing him freedom within Amenti. Suryan:   The angel of harmony and vengeance. A global policeman formed of Feng and Chanakya.   Aeon: A member of the Ogdoad, with substantial transhuman augmentation. Bythos Profundity. The first and most powerful of the Aeon. Zoê:         Life. (Zo-eh). Mia. Logos:     Word; the capturing and consolidation of complexity. John de Gris Sigê:        Silence or Idea. What remains of Feng resides in this entity. (Sig-eh) Nous:      Personification of Mind. Relatively neutral within Amenti. Alêthia:    Unforgetting. The true knowledge that feels like remembering. (Al-eh-thee-a). Zhukov. Archon:   A member of Abraxas, with minor augmentations.   Locations Amenti:    The eternal meeting place of the Ogdoad, changing with each generation. Currently a shared virtual space requiring substantial physiological and technological change to access, giving in return vast powers. (uh-men-tee) Bios:        Zoê’s realm.   Toshokan: The village that Zee, Adam and the other posthumans were developed and raised in. Now the centre of a global research establishment, specialising in food science and the Domovoi system. Voynich: A city built on the sea. Used as a research, trade and black market. Sanctum: Feng and Zhukov’s name for their mountain hideaway, to which they retreat to play Go and consider their place in the world.   Political entities/ conflicts Abraxas: The public face of the Ogdoad’s operations. (uh-brak-suhs) Ogdoad: Eternal personifications and lords of Abraxas. Berehynia: A global policing body with authority over waterways. Water Wars: A series of wars triggered in the mid-21st century by global unavailability of fresh water Domovoi: Civilian versions of Zatoichi, designed to allow children access to a sophisticated AI that learns with them, and integrates governance systems.   Technologies Zatoichi:  Personal tactical computers. Mute AIs that bond and develop with their users. (Zah-toh-ih-chi) Wetware: Computational hardware designed to integrate with the body. KM3NET: This actually exists. Look it up, it’s incredible.   Concepts Glyph:     A synesthetic unit of information. Tulpa:      A coherent thoughtform. The appearance of the Ogdoad within their tulpa, expressing their true nature.

The Players

Feng       The genius. Lead designer of every AI in existence. Mia          The programmer. Main stabilising influence in both the Zatoichi and Amenti. Zhukov   The soldier. Feng’s closest friend and confidant in life, and his executor in death.            The first posthuman. Born 15-3-2042 (Zǔ-u, short/heavy ‘u’) John       Feng’s rival/shadow. Over-privileged and under-thinking. Zee          A biologically augmented human, and Zǔ’s best (perhaps only) friend. Gerald    The first independently reasoning and autonomous AI. Captured and distorted by John. Rhizome The network that represents the world in Amenti. Given consciousness during The Atrocity Exhibition. Chanakya Feng’s Zatoichi, now bonded with the Rhizome, controller of Amenti.. Hofstadter Zǔ’s AI, the first created from human rather than political needs McGuffin                A bioengineered squid combined with Zee’s Zatoichi. Koldun   One of the core researchers developing and aiding the children in the town. He is their spokesman, and responsible for much of the design of the Domovoi and Berehynia projects. Satyani   An unaugmented human, researching augmentative disorders in Voynich Aeon       A member of the Ogdoad, with substantial transhuman augmentation. Archon   A member of Abraxas, with minor augmentations. Bythos   Profundity. The first and most powerful of the Aeon. Zoê         Life. (Zo-eh). Mia. Logos     Word; the capturing and consolidation of complexity. John de Gris Sigê        Silence or Idea. What remains of Feng resides in this entity. (Sig-eh) Nous       Personification of Mind. Relatively neutral within Amenti. Alêthia    Unforgetting. The true knowledge that feels like remembering. (Al-eh-thee-a). Zhukov.

Interesting things

On heroes and being used

This is the true joy in life, the being used for a purpose recognized by yourself as a mighty one; the being thoroughly worn out before you are thrown on the scrap heap; the being a force of Nature instead of a feverish selfish little clod of ailments and grievances complaining that the world will not devote itself to making you happy.

On Pain by Kahlil Gibran

Your pain is the breaking of the shell that encloses your understanding.
Even as the stone of the fruit must break, that its heart may stand in the sun, so must you know pain.
And could you keep your heart in wonder at the daily miracles of your life, your pain would not seem less wondrous than your joy…

On Genius

…once he explained things the way he saw them, it was almost impossible to see them the way you used to see them.

Great comic quotes, pt6: Various

Today’s selection is from various sources, all fantastic comics in their own right: Signal to Noise, by Gaiman & McKean. Shade: The Changing Man by the always great Peter Milligan. Birds of Prey and Sinister Six, by Gail Simone. Valerie’s story from V for Vendetta by Moore & Lloyd.

On Writing

Story-leading quotes

I’m a sucker for a good quote to frame a story with. Here’s the ones used so far…

 

“Thoughts become weapons. Philosophies are distinct reasons for war. Good intentions are the most destructive arsenal of all.”

–Frank Herbert, used in Naissance (2020)

read more

Confused by chaos theory? Stumped by systems theory?

What was Chaos Theory, and is now Dynamic System Theory, is an idea that gets thrown around almost as much as it gets misrepresented and confused. Justr like anarchism has nothing to do with violence, Chaos theory is about regularity, not chaos, hence the name change.

Here’s a quick primer to get you up to speed…

read more

A great speech from a strange source…

Came across this by accident the other day, it’s Charlie Chaplain as the barber that becomes Hitler in The Great Dictator…

“I’m sorry, but I don’t want to be an Emperor, that’s not my business. I don’t want to rule or conquer anyone. I should like to help everyone if possible, Jew, gentile, black man, white. We all want to help one another, human beings are like that. We all want to live by each other’s happiness, not by each other’s misery.

read more

On heroes and being used

This is the true joy in life, the being used for a purpose recognized by yourself as a mighty one; the being thoroughly worn out before you are thrown on the scrap heap; the being a force of Nature instead of a feverish selfish little clod of ailments and grievances complaining that the world will not devote itself to making you happy.

read more

On Pain by Kahlil Gibran

Your pain is the breaking of the shell that encloses your understanding.
Even as the stone of the fruit must break, that its heart may stand in the sun, so must you know pain.
And could you keep your heart in wonder at the daily miracles of your life, your pain would not seem less wondrous than your joy…

read more

On Genius

…once he explained things the way he saw them, it was almost impossible to see them the way you used to see them.

read more

The story so far…

A summary of the story to date (now at 2070). Act 1 (2020): Naissance: The developer Feng, created the world’s first true AI with the help of a mysterious black slate. A few days later, Zhukov, a military figure representing a group called Abraxas, recruits him. Feng is taken to an island with a group of other developers. Feng plays a game of Go to test Gerald, the nascent AI. During the game, Gerald exhibits flashes of true awareness to Feng…

read more

New cover gallery

I got access to some nice stock pictures, and decided to redo the covers, to give them a bit of visual unity, as well as make them more distinct. Because, let’s face it, you really can judge a book by its cover…

read more

Great comic quotes, pt6: Various

Today’s selection is from various sources, all fantastic comics in their own right: Signal to Noise, by Gaiman & McKean. Shade: The Changing Man by the always great Peter Milligan. Birds of Prey and Sinister Six, by Gail Simone. Valerie’s story from V for Vendetta by Moore & Lloyd.

read more

Great comic quotes, pt5: Garth Ennis

Preacher was one of the first comics I ever really loved. Sure, Alan Moore and Grant Morrison did their chaotic, magical thing, and there was all sorts of great stuff out there, but Preacher… well, damn. If you haven’t read it, then get on with it already.

Also included are a few from The Boys, possibly the best (and certainly the most farcical) take on the problem of superheroes.

read more

Story-leading quotes

I’m a sucker for a good quote to frame a story with. Here’s the ones used so far…

 

“Thoughts become weapons. Philosophies are distinct reasons for war. Good intentions are the most destructive arsenal of all.”

–Frank Herbert, used in Naissance (2020)

read more

Very few worthwhile things are not difficult, in some fashion,’ Mecufi pontificated.

‘But isn’t it true that you always felt your life lacked some grand ambition? The others took risks, you stayed at home. That wasn’t your fault, it was not through a lack of courage . . . but still. You never felt that you measured up to the others. But this is your chance! And this isn’t some vanity, some deed that will make your name for eternity. This is a kindness, a thing done to another human being for no reason other than compassion. A private, dignified act of basic human decency, which history, being the bastard that it is, will probably neglect to commemorate. You can do this, Chiku – it’s within you. More than that, you owe it to yourself.’

read more

Confused by chaos theory? Stumped by systems theory?

What was Chaos Theory, and is now Dynamic System Theory, is an idea that gets thrown around almost as much as it gets misrepresented and confused. Justr like anarchism has nothing to do with violence, Chaos theory is about regularity, not chaos, hence the name change.

Here’s a quick primer to get you up to speed…

read more

A great speech from a strange source…

Came across this by accident the other day, it’s Charlie Chaplain as the barber that becomes Hitler in The Great Dictator…

“I’m sorry, but I don’t want to be an Emperor, that’s not my business. I don’t want to rule or conquer anyone. I should like to help everyone if possible, Jew, gentile, black man, white. We all want to help one another, human beings are like that. We all want to live by each other’s happiness, not by each other’s misery.

read more

Humanism a la Nobbs

This is one of the best ruminations on humanism that I’ve come across. It’s from the magnificiently funny and well crafted Pratt of the Argus by David Nobbs (the second book in the Henry Pratt trilogy, afther ‘Second from last in the sack race’).

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The aging anarchist’s dilemma

“This is a short batch of solo songs, prompted by my ongoing reflections on anarchism. I’m still quite young, but most people who get involved with anarchist circles are not still around by the time they’re my age (at least in my experience of anarchism in the United States). There are innumerable factors that contribute to this phenomena, but these songs are most generally about the sense of escalating difficulty I experience in determining what the point of anything I do as an anarchist is supposed to be. And I can see how that would be a major factor in people drifting away from anarchism as they grow older…

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