Tag Archives: AI

Blog Tour: Red Dot by Mike Karpa

Red Dot | Mike Karpa

The Dot Trilogy #1

BANNER-FB - Red Dot

Release Date: November 1st, 2021

Cover Artist: Maria Oglesby

Word Count: 77,483

Buy Links:

Publisher | Amazon

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Blurb

After the disaster of global warming, the world has gotten its act together. People are positive, sensible, and intent on creating a better future and a just present. And it’s working! So, in a world where everyone makes good decisions, what could possibly go wrong?

Well, other people. Mardy is a 26-year old gay man who dreams of being a full-time machine-tool artist. He brims with ideas, puts in the hours, and has a solid circle of friends—both fellow artists and the artificial intelligences he works with.

But he’s always coming in second to another machine-tool artist at his makerspace. He’s dealing with that, thanks to the highly effective psychotherapy of the future, but then he meets his irritatingly successful rival’s twin—and falls for him hard.

Consequences ensue, and fast, driving Mardy not just to pursue his artistic dreams, but to try to liberate his AI friends from servitude, and find love in the process.

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Excerpt

Chapter 1

Mardy’s ExMail delivery jet was vectoring in fast on San Francisco.

“Coming in a little hot, don’t you think?” he said to the plane.

“It’s fine, Mardy,” the plane replied.

Mardy gripped the open side-portal of the plane. Hoverdown would normally have engaged by that point, but there was little at the moment to distinguish their trajectory from a kamikaze run at his apartment building rooftop.

“Plane?” Mardy asked, panicking a wee bit. They were plummeting. Mardy clamped his lips against the wind. He wanted to make the designstation time he’d booked for the evening, but as much as he wanted to be a full-time machine tool artist, he’d prefer not to die in the attempt.

One hundred feet, fifty feet. Twenty.

The plane hit its thrusters hard, sending Mardy sprawling out of the portal. He managed a shoulder roll onto the hot concrete roof, ending in a crouch. His heart pounded as the impact of his landing reverberated through his bones.

His plane floated above the roof. “See you tomorrow, Mardy.”

Mardy stood. Did he detect a smirk in the plane’s voice? It maintained its hover, wheels retracted. Was it waiting for Mardy’s reaction?

“See you tomorrow,” Mardy mumbled, shaken, sweating, and not just from the sun beating down on them.

The plane waggled its wings ever so slightly. It was laughing, Mardy was sure of it. Mardy waved slowly as the plane left for who knew where. The official story was that all the delivery jets were operated by a central AI, a single intelligence. But Mardy had sensed differences between planes almost from day one and found it harder and harder to pretend he didn’t. And this plane, a jokester, was his favorite. It knew Mardy was light on his feet, able to handle the abrupt braking. It was playing with him. Mardy wanted to give it a name.

Phil.

The name popped into Mardy’s mind, unbidden. Which felt more alarming than the idea of plunging to earth through an open portal, because naming AIs was illegal—not just technically illegal, but illegal enough to land you in jail.

Mardy caught the beautifully air-conditioned elevator down the thirty-three flights to ground level, legs tired from a full day on the job, and hoofed it one block down Mission Street to WorkShop Downtown SF, sweat now dribbling from him despite the near-dusk hour. The batteries of the personal cooler strapped to his chest must have filled up from harvesting his body heat as he’d raced through his workday.

Mardy pushed through the WorkShop front door. He planned to spend an all-nighter polishing his latest machine-tooled design. It was nearly ready to submit for the salon, the competitive exhibition WorkShop held every month. Salons had only one slot per discipline and he had never been selected, but this was the month he would finally beat out their resident star, Smith Hunt. Mardy could feel it: this month, he would be the salon’s chosen machine tool artist.

He dropped his satchel next to his designstation, already feeling the hours of slogging to come.

His design was a whirligig, one of the middle genres of machine tool art. He’d been working so far in gizmos, the very bottom rung of the genres, but having failed every single month he’d competed, he’d decided more ambition was called for. His whirligig was essentially a mobile cooling fan intended to track the person it was paired with, walking after its target on tiny legs to provide continuous cooling. The best part? When the person settled, their whirligig would dance a cha-cha. It naturally wouldn’t be as convenient or effective as the personal cooling units everyone wore to survive their globally warmed world, but it would be adorable.

His best friend, Cat, a plastic surgery artist, hurried over to Mardy’s designstation, their bushy black hair bouncing. “We’re heading over to Uncle Mix for drinks.” They were dressed in work clothes—sweatshirt and jeans—except that their jeans had a starscape of Milky Way and crescent moon splashed in yellow against the dark blue denim, likely the work of one of the resident fabrics artists.

Mardy shook his head. “I haven’t finished my entry.” Plus, he really wanted to do more than design it. He wanted to build this sucker, an expensive, full realization. And on his pilot’s salary, he couldn’t afford another night out. A minimum-wage job like ExMail pilot was enough for a tidy supplement to universal basic income, but it left little room for art.

Cat bent over to look at his screen. “Show me,” they said.

“I want it to be a surprise.”

“I already know it’s a whirligig. You’ve been dropping hints for a solid month.”

“Are you submitting?” Mardy asked.

Cat cocked their head at him. “Think a question will distract me?”

Mardy chuckled. “Okay, not subtle. But your plastic surgery is so great. I reallywant you to submit a routine. Use me as your blank.”

Cat gave him a skeptical look.

Ever since Cat’s controversial near-triumph at Vegas Regionals last year, their plastic surgery performance recordings had gotten astonishing view metrics. Now everybody wanted to be in a Cat performance. But Mardy had shied away, despite Cat’s repeated requests and flattering remarks about his bone structure. Mardy trusted Cat’s ability to restore his face and/or other body parts afterwards, but he was afraid of knives. He’d only volunteered now to avoid showing Cat his design. But he’d said it, and if he’d said it, he’d do it.

“Done. And just to warn you, I submitted an hour ago,” Cat said.

“I’m not scared.” Mardy tried to hide a gulp of terror. “In bocca al lupo.” Over the last decade, the Italian phrase—in the mouth of the wolf—had thoroughly supplanted the nonsensical break a leg, part of a global migration of slang, as verbal fashions swarmed over the face of the planet like birds on the move.

Cat ran a finger down Mardy’s jawline, the plans for imagined cuts bubbling behind their eyes.

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About The Author

AUTHOR PIC - Red Dot - Mike Karpa

Mike was once a woodworker in a makerspace and knows how semiconductors are made. His novels hop around between genres, dabbling in scifi (Red Dot), romance (Red Dot again), suspense (Criminals), and forthcoming in 2022, a snarky comedy of manners set in New York and Arkansas and a YA novel about five puppies in search of a dog rumored to be their dad. Eventually, a behemoth about love, war and espionage in India in the 1960s (Between Countries) will see the light of day as well.

His goal these days is to write novels for queer audiences that are entertaining rather than esoteric, upbeat rather than angsty. His more recent shorter fiction, memoir and nonfiction (some in the more angsty vein) can be found in Tin HouseFoglifterTahoma Literary ReviewOyster River Pages and other magazines.

Mike has roots in Texas and Estonia, and has lived in California, Michigan and Ohio, not to mention eight years in Asia in the early part of his life.  Now he lives in San Francisco with his husband and dog in a house soon to be celebrating its 130th birthday. Red Dot is Mike’s second book, after Criminals (2021), and is the first in a planned trilogy.

Social Media

Website: https://mikekarpa.com

Facebook (Publishing): https://www.facebook.com/mumblerspress

Facebook (Personal): https://www.facebook.com/mike.karpa/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/mumblerspress

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/mumblerspress/

Liminal Fiction (LimFic.com): https://www.limfic.com/mbm-book-author/mike-karpa/

QueeRomance Ink: https://www.queeromanceink.com/mbm-book-author/mike-karpa/

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Mike-Karpa/e/B09GTNWKVY

Giveaway

Mike is giving away a $20 Amazon gift card with this tour

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New Release Blitz: Essex Colony by Lia Cooper

Essex Colony | Lia Cooper

The Moon Mirror #1

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Publisher: NineStar Press

Release Date: December 30, 2019

Heat Level: 3 – Some Sex

Pairing: Female/Female

Length: 36600

Genre: Science Fiction/Fantasy, LGBT, mutations, scientists, space travel, moon colonists, AI, shifter, interspecies, alien influence

Buy Links:

NineStar Press | Amazon | Smashwords | Barnes & Noble | Kobo

Add to Goodreads

EssexColony-500.jpg

Blurb

It’s been 227 days since Essex Colony’s last transmission…

Dispatched to the surface of Essex Prime and tasked with discovering what happened to the colony, Doctor Soran Ingram discovers that most of the colonists are dead and the surviving Executive Officer—Aline Aster—has turned into a ravening wolf-beast. The human survivors claim the XO and her Lunaran fellows went mad and killed everyone, but Soran has her doubts.

Following Aster’s testimony, as well as clues left behind, Soran embarks on a fact-finding mission to retrace the colony’s last steps before disaster struck.

She’ll soon discover more than uncertainty lurks in the dark spaces of the world.

Excerpt

Essex Colony
Lia Cooper © 2019
All Rights Reserved

Federal Standard Days since Last Essex Colony Transmission…227

Essex Colony, Location: Essex Prime/Equatorial 10S, Greenwich Meridian

06:55 AM, Colony Time

Soran stood at the forward port viewing station on board the starship Emery and watched Essex Prime spin slowly below her, a bright blue and green marble hanging in the dark of space. Technically speaking, the planet bore only a superficial resemblance to Earth, but she could see the appeal it must have had for the Earther colonists who had signed on to colonize it for the company. In her time working aboard the Emery, she had learned the importance of superficiality for her Earther colleagues. Something as simple as a color was often enough to evoke an emotional resonance for them.

They had picked Essex Prime for colonization because someone in the company had nicknamed it Earth 3—not to be confused with Earth 2, a planet locally know as L’n’ze-q24—but Soran wondered what they would find when they went down there now. Two hundred and twenty-seven days since since the colony’s last official transmission plus no sign of comms signals since the Emery crossed into local communication range combined into an anxious loop in Soran’s lesser subroutines. Fear, she realized, fear of what they would find.

Essex Prime wouldn’t be the first colony lost to catastrophic failure, whether from some unforeseen natural disaster or a breakdown in the colony’s equipment, or from a dangerous local agent that went unnoticed in the initial planetary surveys. There were a hundred things that could go wrong this far from galactic center.

The ship’s computer beeped at her through the ship’s network to remind her she was expected on the airlock deck in fifteen minutes.

She was dressed in her ground suit and had her go bag packed at her feet—just the essentials. The ship’s sensors hadn’t shown anything out of the ordinary, besides a lack of collected life signs large enough to belong to the colonists. This trip was intended as a brief scouting mission to ascertain the situation on the ground.

<<Contact. Doctor Ingram, did you receive your departure reminder?

Soran shouldered her go bag and acknowledged the computer’s check-in. Externally, she kept her expression blank as she made her way down to the airlock. That fear feeling squeezed at her regulatory system. If she were inclined to hope, she told herself, she’d hope that the colony’s comms equipment had simply suffered a mechanical breakdown and the colonists would greet them on the ground, all accounted for—all of them, but especially one Lunaran in particular. But even as the idea flickered through one of her lesser processes, another part of Soran wanted to shunt it away where it couldn’t hurt her to be disappointed. If she could only match her interior to the smooth expressionless surface of her exterior, then whatever they found couldn’t make that fear feeling worse.

But her interior felt riotous, clenching and twisting tight as her boots crossed the threshold, loud on the docking bay floor. The transport ship awaited her along with the two dozen security and medical personnel scheduled to fly down for the recon.

It had been nearly three years since she’d last seen Aline Aster, but Soran’s memory banks were nearly perfect—far superior to her Earther counterparts’—and she could recall with crisp clarity the feel of the Lunaran’s skin under her cutaneous sensors, the taste of her mouth, the sting of her teeth against Soran’s breasts, and the cadence of her voice winding down as she fell asleep still murmuring the words of a bedtime story from her homeworld. What would it feel like if Soran disembarked on Essex Prime to…nothing. No signs of life, no colony, no Aster waiting with a sheepish explanation for their silence?

But Security Chief Ryan was gesturing at her impatiently to board the transport vessel and Soran did the only thing she could do with this reductive thought string—she cut and pasted it into its own file and then buried it deep below her internal checklist for the mission. They were minutes away from an answer one way or another.

Or more precisely, fourteen hours later, she’d be staring into the malformed face of an answer while that fear in her chest crushed her heart into the sliver of a black hole.

Soran didn’t have a single word in her mouth as she stood next to SC Ryan outside the detention cell, staring in at what remained of XO Aster. Soran had to think of her—it like that or she was afraid the anguish would overwhelm her. She’d never lost someone with a personal—and emotional—connection to her before, and she wasn’t sure that her software had been properly programmed to handle that sort of emotional upheaval. The last thing she could afford to do would be to lose herself here on the ground, especially in front of SC Ryan.

“They found…it lurking around the edge of the forest. At the backside of the emergency compound,” SC Ryan said in a deep, bland voice, his eyes heavy on XO Aster’s hunched form. “Took enough electricity to stop an animal twice as big to subdue and facilitate capture.”

Soran swallowed around the bile in her throat. “And you want me to…?”

Ryan glanced at her finally, with a scowl, and said, “I don’t— Chelsea wants you to find out if it can talk. Find out why it killed the settlers. If there are any other Lunarans running around out there still. Probably a waste of time, but seeing as there’s nothing else for you to do down here, I figure you can’t hurt anything. Maybe ask it if this was their plan all along.”

“Who? The Lunarans? You don’t really think this was intentional?” Soran angled her face so she could glimpse Ryan’s expression without looking at him directly. She knew it unnerved the Earthers when she stared at them too closely.

“From what the survivors have told us—” he began.

“XO Aster is a survivor,” Soran insisted, choosing to ignore that part where she showed little resemblance to her former shape and sentience.

SC Ryan snorted and thrust a thick, calloused finger at the barrier separating them from the detention cell. “That’s a fucking monster,” he said.

“If that were true then what is the point of me—”

“I’m getting tired of your attitude, Ingram,” SC Ryan interrupted. He shot her a narrow-eyed look, a quick up and down that took in her entire person and always made Soran feel like a bug under a microscope—even if the Security Chief had probably never touched a microscope before. “You’re the ship shrink. Ask your questions, see what information you can get out of it, and report to Chelsea. Those are your orders. Don’t think about it too much; that’s not what they pay you for. Just collect the fucking data.”

Soran watched him leave, the door shutting behind him with an ominous clang that seemed to resonate in her perfectly shaped enamel plated teeth. She stared down at her boots, straight and shoulder-width apart, holding her up while her processor counted the individual beats of her circulatory system. A minute passed, or what more felt like a quarter of an hour, before a hoarse voice scraped across the air between her and the detention cell.

“S’not safe.”

A shiver raced down her spine. Soran looked up and met Aster’s all too familiar eyes, her circulatory regulator thumping painfully against the metal ribs of her geneered skeleton.

About the Author

Lia Cooper is a twenty-something native of the Pacific Northwest, voracious reader, pop-culture addict, and writer. She cultivated an early interest in writing through fandom and completed writing her first full length novel with the help of NaNoWriMo.

In the years since, she’s dabbled in catering, barista-ing, and working as a pastry chef before finally returning full time to the thing she loves most: storytelling.

When she’s not glued to Scrivener, Lia enjoys playing video games with friends and reviewing books for her booktube channel.

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | YouTube

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Just as good as the first book

e8fcc-thewaywardprince-hd-webThe Wayward Prince by Hanna Dare

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Oooh this one is a fabulous piece of Sci-Fi romance and action all rolled into one.

I had no idea where the narrative was going here, unlike with book one which had a very specific focus, but that just made it all the more enjoyable.

This is a twist on the whole fairy tale Prince riding to the rescue and it pulls elements of the unworthy heir and the rogue who finds his true value is maybe a shade lighter than the grey he’s been operating under.

Lots of great fight scenes, a new villain who is still at large, a throwaway reference to bounty hunter Xin and this one made me really happy.

Bring on book three!

#ARC kindly received from the author in return for an honest and unbiased review.

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