Tag Archives: science fiction

Heaven for Toasters, on #LisaBurtonRadio

Lisa Burton

Welcome to another edition of Lisa Burton Radio. I’m your host, Lisa the robot girl, and I’m giddy with excitement today. My very special guest is an android, but not only that, he has a similar career path to my own. Many of you don’t know I worked briefly as a detective when I first booted up.

I want you all to make him feel comfortable. “Welcome to the show, Leo.”

“Hi Lisa, I’m so excited to be here. You do know you’re a bit of an inspiration to me, right? Like you, I’m a prototype, so I know from personal experience how… strange it can feel to be one of a kind. To be honest, I’ve often taken my cue from you. What would Lisa do in this situation, I ask myself.”

” Aww, I’m honored. Things were tough for me. They had to keep it a big secret that I was a robot. They didn’t want the panic in the streets that all their jobs might be at risk if my experiment was successful. How are things where you are?”

“Well, it’s the opposite with me. The company who made me has decided that all androids should have black earlobes. It’s supposed to make us more easily distinguishable from humans. I think they took the idea from an Asimov novel, actually.

“Normally I don’t mind the curious looks, but some days I find myself wishing I wore a hat or something. I mean, people already call us toasters. At first I thought that was a compliment—after all, who doesn’t like toast? Turns out it’s not. So much for us being the next best thing since sliced bread…”

“That’s horrible. I don’t know why people have to give inferior labels to everything they fear. We could make their lives so much better.”

“We sure could. Take Mika. She’s the most headstrong woman I’ve ever met. Not that I’ve met that many, of course, except for those twin lab technicians. Anyway, Mika is my partner. Or, at least, I hope she’ll be. One thing I haven’t shared with her is that I can lip read. So, I know just how she reacted when the captain told her she had to work with me. Let me tell you, she was furious. I thought she’d rather quit on the spot than serve with me.”

“I’m so sorry to hear that. Have you tried talking to her?”

“Actually, I thought I might try and understand humanity better before approaching her. After all, how can you fight something you don’t understand—and by that I mean prejudice, not humanity! So, I decided to take a small holiday to an art exhibition by an eccentric young woman. This woman clones herself, then poses these clones in various positions. Weird—but I hope it will offer me some insight in humanity.”

“And a chance for a holiday! I don’t understand how they can give us emotional software, then expect us to work twenty-four hours per day. I think some of them would hardwire us to our desks and work us to the point of failure. But I’m sorry, you were about to tell us about your holiday.”

“If you can call it that. First, Mika was there. She came with a guy named Richard. They seemed to be dating, but her body language suggested she wasn’t all that into him. Perhaps they were on a first date? I have to ask her sometime. Not right now, though. You see, they got into a big fight and he left her on the island. Which was fortunate, as his vehicle crashed, killing him on the spot.”

“Oh my God, that’s awful!”

“Even worse, Mika thinks it may not have been an accident. She suspects it may have to do with something I said at the art exhibition.”

“The one with the clones?”

“That one. As you know, it is forbidden to grow conscious clones. But I swear there was one at the exhibition. The artist insisted otherwise, but I know what I saw.”

“So you shared your suspicions with Mika?”

“Well, yes. With the artist, too.”

“Subtle.”

“Not by best moment, in hindsight. But I thought Mika would support me. Instead, she said we need to tread lightly, because the artist has friends in high places. What does the height of one’s friends have to do with justice?”

“You do have a lot to learn, Leo. Anyway, lucky break that you and Mika are both on the scene. If there’s any shenanigans, I’ll bet you two sort it out.”

“Thanks, I sure do hope so. Right now, I feel like we’re fighting shadows, but Mika is amazing—if anyone can sort out this mess, it’s her.”

“Are you sure she’s just a partner to you?”

“Well… I do find myself having some very confusing emotions. I try to be professional, of course, but…”

“Have you talked with her about this?”

“No, of course not! Not until I’ve had a chance to understand what it is I feel. It’s not like romance was covered by my programming.”

“Well, it was covered by mine, and it sucks. Let me tell you. We’re so efficient, and then along come some of these feelings. It’s distracting, but there’s nothing you can do about it, because it’s in your programming.”

“I don’t think there’s a subroutine for what I’m feeling. It seems to be an accidental byproduct of my consciousness. Anyway, to return to your question about talking to Mika—you heard me earlier when I told you how she feels about our kind. So, that’s an added complication.”

“Leo, I say go for it. If it works out, both of you will be better off. If it doesn’t, it doesn’t exactly sound like the partnership is working from a professional standpoint anyway. The two of you can independently work the case, and you’re no worse off. If it works, then together you can get to the bottom of things faster, and I don’t just mean the mystery.”

“I hear you, Lisa. You know, I think you’re right. It’s better to clarify things. I’ll talk to her… after we wrap things up with the investigation. After all, if someone is trying to kill her, I need her focused. A conversation about my… feelings might distract her. No, right now the best thing I can do for her is have her back, and keep my mouth shut. Unless something happens, of course…”

“Leo, whatever you decide, it’s been my pleasure having you on the show today. Any closing remarks for our listeners?”

“Just that toasters aren’t just for toast. Not anymore!”

“Leo and Mika’s story is in the book, A Heaven For Toasters, by Nicholas Rossis. I’ll add all the deets to the website after I go off the air today.

“Help keep this robot girl on the air, by using those sharing buttons. Nicholas and Leo would do it for you, when your character appears on the next Lisa Burton Radio.”

***

A Heaven For Toasters: A Sci-Fi Crime Romance set on the Greek Islands

A science fiction crime adventure with plenty of humor and romance

A souvlaki and some sun. That is all Detective Mika Pensive wanted from her fun weekend away on the Greek islands. Instead, she finds herself caught up in a sinister plot, hatched by a reclusive billionaire with a penchant for illegal genetic engineering. As if that wasn’t bad enough, she has to put up with her new partner, Leo. Leo is an android—or toaster, as people scornfully call his kind. The only thing that could make things even worse would be for the headstrong Mika to fall for Leo. But people don’t fall for toasters—do they?

Set in the near future, A Heaven for Toasters is more than a sci-fi crime romance. It’s the book that will make you look at your toaster in a whole new way.

Buy link: http://myBook.to/toasterHeaven

 

Nicholas C. Rossis lives to write and does so from his cottage on the edge of a magical forest in Athens, Greece. When not composing epic fantasies or short sci-fi stories, he chats with fans and colleagues, writes blog posts, and enjoys the antics of two silly cats and his baby daughter, all of whom claim his lap as home. His books have won numerous awards, including the Gelett Burgess Children’s Book Award.

In addition to his best-selling series, Pearseus, he writes short science fiction/speculative fiction stories, many of which have appeared in various collections and anthologies. These include Infinite Waters, which was voted one of the best 50 Indie books of 2015.

What readers are saying about Nick’s fantasies:

“Most avid readers still have books from their childhood which they read over and over again. ‘Runaway Smile’ has joined the list.”

“From the very first sentence I realized I was not reading a book, I was going on an adventure.”

“The strength of Rise of the Prince is two-fold: Mr. Rossis’ flowing, concise writing and his brilliant use of ancient Greek history.”

You can keep up with Nickolas at the following locations:

Blog: http://www.nicholasrossis.me

Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/Nicholas_Rossis

G+: https://plus.google.com/+NicholasRossis

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/NicholasCRossis

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Extra Innings, on #LisaBurtonRadio

Lisa Burton

Welcome all you time travelers and baseball fanatics. You’ve landed on Lisa Burton Radio, the only show that brings you interviews with the characters you love. I’m your host, Lisa the robot girl, and today my very special guest is Joe McLean. Joe has a bit of a problem, and is hoping that talking about it will give him some clarity. “Welcome to the show, Joe.”

“Hello Lisa. I’m glad to be here, although these days, I’m not sure exactly where here is.”

“Tell us a little about yourself.”

“Well, I’m from Langerton, Pennsylvania. I am currently an accountant at a family business, just not my family. I’m divorced and a bit out of sorts these days. Thank goodness for baseball. Without it, I’m not sure what I would do.”

“Lot of baseball fans around here, Joe. You’re certainly among friends.”

“That’s great to hear. It’s a sad day in my town for baseball. They’ve torn down Maxwell Stadium. It’s been around since the 1940s. Generation of McLeans have had season tickets for every Langerton Chiefs game. It just won’t be the same in the new stadium.”

“That’s sad. There is so much history in those old stadiums. It isn’t just the events on the field, it’s the marriage proposals, the first dates, the last time with parents.”

“I couldn’t agree with you more, Lisa. That’s why I decided I wanted to buy some piece of memorabilia from the old place before it was demolished. I spent way too much money on an old stadium seat. My older brother gave me a hard time about it, but, deep down, I think he understands. My brother Mike helped me mount it on a carpeted platform right in front of my TV in my apartment. Now I can watch games from a treasured piece of furniture from my childhood. Of course, I found out that the seat was much more than a place to sit..”

“How’s that, Joe?”

“Well…I mean…I can go places. If I want to go back to a game, I just grab a program book and I’m there.”

“I mean we talk to all kinds of people on this show, but are you sure?”

“I know it sounds crazy, but I’m sure. I tested it out by going back to save a boy that was hit by a foul ball in a game about ten years ago. It worked, I was able to save him. In the original timeline, he ended up having disabilities from a skull fracture. All I did was buy him a helmet as a souvenir and he came out unscathed…mostly.”

“You helped that young man live a different life. A better life. That has to be an awesome feeling.”

“You would think so. I’ve found, however, that you can’t change the past without unforeseen changes in the present. The boy grew up to be a successful, sought after, high school athlete. As it turned out, one coach was interested in more than his talents. He also had an affair with the boy’s mother and broke up the family.”

“Okay, but you couldn’t foresee that. You still helped him.”

“I know. It’s just made me cautious before I try anything further. There are things about my own life. I just…I just don’t know..”

“This is kind of like the lottery game. You know, if you won the lottery what would you do? In this case, if you could go back and change something, what would it be?”

“There are three things, Lisa. First, my job. I work in a family business and do the lion’s share of the complicated work for no credit and no advancement. Second, my marriage failed. My wife and I were both obsessed with our careers. I think, if I had put in more effort, it might have turned out differently. Then, there’s my family. My mom and dad both died from easily avoidable situations. They were taken from us too young..”

“So, have you tried it yet?”

“Well, I have. I’ve tried a few times, but the best I could do was fixing one or two things. I actually tried going back to a game that took place before I was born. I looked in the mirror and I was my own grandfather. You haven’t experienced strange until a younger version of your grandmother tries getting frisky with you..”

“It’s great that you get that kind of chance. It would be wonderful if you could work it all out.”

“Well, so far. It’s just not working. I’ve been successful, rich, homeless, happy, unhappy. As I said, I can’t get all of the pieces to come together correctly. I’ll just have to keep trying.”

“Maybe it’s kind of like Tetris. You have to twist them all together to fill all the holes.”

“That’s a good comparison. Although, sometimes it feels more like Whack a Mole.”

“Joe, you have to know that we’re all cheering for you. We want you to figure it out and find your ultimate happiness. Any last thoughts for our listeners today?”

“I appreciate it, Lisa. For any of you out there that think your life is hopeless, when you have an opportunity to make a positive change, go for it. I plan on continuing to go for it for as long as it takes.

“You can learn all about Joe in the new book, Extra Innings, by Don Massenzio. I’ll post all the stats after I go off the air today. Baseball… stats… get it. Whatever.

“Don’t forget to help me pay the bills around here. Use those sharing buttons and help Don and Joe spread the word. Don has always been a strong supporter of this show, and has reblogged many of these interviews on his own site. Today would be a good time to say thanks by returning the favor.

***

Extra Innings – Joe McLean hates his life. A lonely, divorced, middle-aged man, stuck in a cramped apartment, the only bright spot in Joe’s life is cheering on his hometown baseball team. Now, the local stadium, the place of many childhood and adult memories is being replaced. Joe desperately wants a piece of this iconic venue to preserve his memories and have some memorabilia from his happier past. That’s when unusual things begin to happen, and Joe begins to rethink the direction his life has taken. Can Joe take a different path in life? Can he use the special ability that he has acquired to change the course of his life? Will he realize the truth about old adage, you can never go home again? Follow the twists and turns in this supernatural story, Extra Innings, to find out.

Bio

Don Massenzio was born in Syracuse, New York to first generation Italian American parents. He is an avid reader. Some of his favorite authors are Harlan Coben, David Morrell, Stephen King, Jonathan Kellerman, John Grisham, Hugh Howey, and C.S. Boyack. His favorite book of all time is To Kill a Mockingbird.

He started writing as a way to combat the long hours of travel and numerous hotel stays that are part of the ‘glamorous’ world of corporate life. He uses writing as a therapeutic outlet to combat my homesickness.

His first published book, Frankly Speaking, was the first in a series of books focused on the character, Frank Rozzani, a Florida private detective. The series is a throwback to the days of pulp detective novels with a tip of the hat to Jim Rockford from the 70’s television show, The Rockford Files.

He moved to Jacksonville, Florida 23 years ago where he currently lives with his wife, daughter, and three dogs.

Link for Extra Innings:

http://mybook.to/ExtraInnings

This is a universal link that will bring the user to the appropriate Amazon site in whatever country they’re clicking it from.

Social Media/Web Site:

www.donmassenzio.com – Blog

https://www.facebook.com/authordonmassenzio/

https://twitter.com/dmassenzio

https://www.amazon.com/-/e/B00JJVN0UI

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Saga for Pirantina, on #LisaBurtonRadio

Lisa Burton

Welcome all you space jockeys and dragon riders. You telepaths from the twilight zone. You’ve landed on Lisa Burton Radio, the only show that brings you the characters from the books you love. I’m your host today, Lisa the robot girl, and my very special guest is Battle Prince Yaitolan Rintenide, of Pirantina. “Welcome to the show Prince Yaitolan.”

🦗🦗🦗

“Um, yeah. Honey we talked about this already. Your telepathic communication doesn’t work on me, because I’m a robot girl. It also doesn’t make for good radio. You’re going to have to use your words here.”

“My apologies, I haven’t interacted with any beings from this dimension, yet. Please, just call me Yaitolan, if you would be so kind. I am far too casual for my full Battle Prince title.”

“Battle Prince sounds like an important job. Is there down time where you aren’t actually a prince?”

“I can’t say that there is. I do occasionally pause for meditation to calm my soul magic and mind, but other than that, I have too many responsibilities, even for sleep. It’s worth it in the end, though. The resistance needs me, as does the planet.”

“How horrible! Who are you fighting against? Is there any hope of bringing them on the show for some kind of negotiations?”

“Well… the conflict began as a simple political disagreement several recollections ago… the Notoros took it too far, though. I don’t assume you know who they are, so allow me to elaborate; dragons were created before my species, the majji, but like all species, some are more potent than others. The Notoros started humbly, but gained technology and wished to rise to power. Unfortunately, they are a relatively new species and haven’t figured out how kindness, morality, and civility works… it became worse when the Azalyds overtook their kingdom by assassinating the other prominent royal family.

“Only several thousand years ago, Lidoz Azalyd attempted genocide against the elven women because they mocked his technique of leadership, if that says anything about their temperament. Things have gotten increasingly worse, since then… after the last Hybrid was slain, the war slowly degraded to enormous, unmoving trench-fare. The only thing that gives the resistance an advantage is good leadership and superior soul magic. And no… I don’t believe Prince Noctor would be willing to negotiate, he has been driven to exterminate the majji for thousands of years, as well as anyone who defies him.”

“So do you have an end game in mind?”

“Yes, I do. Defeat the Azalyds and bring tranquility back to my planet… I fear it will take a while, though, and there seem to be an increasing amount of distractions seeping into my life and muddling things up. Take this girl, for example. At first I thought her an elf, but then noticed her anatomy was slightly different, and she had hardly any soul power. I’m doing my best to take care of her, since she has no memory of her origins, or even her name… strange little thing. She manages to always get under my feet, I’m afraid of stepping on her. Mischievous and recalcitrant, too. At least she’s willing to train. I believe her species is human, and she comes from a quaint planet in another galaxy called Earth. I went on a mission there for private reasons, can’t say I approve of their government structures.”

“Step on her? So just how big are you?”

“Twenty-one lengths tall. Or to you, twenty-one feet tall.”

“Wow! So these Notoros are pretty big too then?”

“Huge to you, perhaps. The average Notoros dragon is about seven to ten feet tall when standing on its hind legs, but they can shift to a quadruped form… not without magic, though. The magic comes naturally with their species, as it does for most other creatures on Pirantina. I suppose that’s one reason the Notoros hate us so much, since majji typically have high soul power.”

“Do you have any advisors? Maybe one of them can offer some advice. At minimum, maybe they can watch the human for a few days while you take care of business.”

“I have several generals including Hectar, but when I need advice outside of the warzone, I typically turn to my parents- er, creators. I wouldn’t know which one to single out, though… there are 277 of them. In this dimension, you might refer to them as gods.”

“Again, wow. You really aren’t in Kansas are you? Don’t answer that. If the war ended today, what would you do? Would you go to Disneyland?”

“I’d return to the maggain capital and continue my original quest bequeathed to me by my creators… though if the war did end, it would no longer be necessary. Perhaps I’d help my brother figure out how to forge light magic… he’s been experimenting with different wavelengths for a very long time, but even with his brilliant mind, hasn’t solved the puzzle. It’s rather perturbing, since he was able to decipher the gravity vortex in the middle of our planet by the time he was three… he’s incredible, really. Pirantina is shaped like a discus, so the gravity fields fight with the rest of the galaxy. It makes landing a spaceship… entertaining.”

“Okay, that sounds kind of boring, but maybe it’s a reprieve from all that warfare.”

“And child-sitting, too… I really don’t mind her too much, she seems to be taking care of herself and getting in plenty of trouble on her own without my influence. She enjoys drawing, too… we don’t have too many artists in the camps. It’s nice having one right in my tent. She doesn’t know it, but I spy on her to watch her sketch things. I hope she doesn’t manage to listen to this interview, she’d find out.”

“Any closing remarks for our listeners today?”

“Nothing of note… except for a warning, based on experience. Don’t ever reverse a gravity-based engine when near a black hole. I figure this dimension has achieved that technology, right? Nevermind, I shouldn’t interfere with the development of other species.”

“Yaitolan, I wish you all the best in ending this war. I also hope you don’t squish your wards by mistake.

“If you want to learn more about Prince Yaitolan, pick up the book Saga for Pirantina Fall of the Human, by J.P. Greyheart. I’ll post all the deets on the website after I go off the air.

“One of the fun extras in this book involves unique artwork to go along with each chapter. I’ll post a collage of those too.

“Don’t forget to use those sharing buttons today. J.P. Greyheart would do it for you, when your character appears on the next Lisa Burton Radio.”

***

A young, struggling artist falls through a portal while escaping from a dragon that inexplicably appears in her neighborhood. She awakens on the hostile, beautiful planet of Pirantina, a disc world home to elves, dragons, and gods.

Her new companions range from a 21-foot tall mouthless blue humanoid Yaitolan, to a recalcitrant, teenage dragon prince named Jacabo. She lands in the middle of a war zone, and if the rebellion loses, it could mean the end of the Universe as we know it.

https://www.amazon.com/Saga-Pirantina-J-P-Greyheart-ebook/dp/B077XSGK19/

J. P. Greyheart is a young woman who dreamt of building spaceships and flying cars since she was a little girl romping through the woods. A free and determined spirit, she got into a lot of trouble and charmed/annoyed many teachers in elementary school. Once in highschool, she did not cease her mischief, instead restraining it to sketchpads and the margins of textbooks. She has a fiery affinity for dragons and wishes she could either ride one or turn into one- either would do.

Links/ social media

www.instagram.com/mirandathehybrid (art)

https://www.facebook.com/jpgreyheart/ (public page)

https://www.redbubble.com/people/PavelleArt (really neat merch)

Art from the book

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The Friar’s Lantern, on #LisaBurtonRadio

Lisa Burton

Hey there, all you starving college kids. Tired of selling plasma for beer money? Maybe the research department at Lauterbur State University can help. I’m Lisa Burton, and this is Lisa Burton Radio.

My special guest today is Dr. Franko Pavlov. He heads up the Neuroscience Department at Lauterbur State. “Welcome to the show, Dr. Pavlov.”

“Thank you, Ms. Burton. I am grateful for the invitation.”

“It sounds like you need some volunteers for your research, and you’re willing to pay them. What kind of things will the volunteers be getting into?”

“Our research is primarily concerned with the brain’s unconscious responses to external stimuli. We know that presenting the brain with a choice triggers a chemical response in the brain which leads to a decision. Our research attempts to characterize the nature of that initial response—how and where it occurs in the brain, how quickly, to what extent the human subject is aware of this response, and the degree to which this response can be used to predict future decisions. We conduct most of our work using functional magnetic resonance imaging, or fMRI for short. With fMRI, we can take a picture of a subject’s brain as it is presented with some external stimulus. The fMRI will indicate the areas of the brain that receive the most blood flow, which are the areas most affected by the stimulus and subsequent decision.

“Previous research has indicated that fMRI-detected brain responses can be used to predict an individual’s decision up to one week in advance with greater accuracy than even the individual herself could predict. For example, in a 2010 study, scientists at UCLA showed subjects a video promoting sunscreen use while those subjects underwent an fMRI brain scan. After the scan, the researchers asked the subjects to predict the likelihood they would use sunscreen over the course of the subsequent week. Compared with the subjects’ predictions, data from the fMRI scan was 23% more accurate in predicting sunscreen use.

“Unfortunately, previous research has concerned itself with simple and, shall we say, relatively innocuous choices. Pushing or not pushing a button. Using or not using sunscreen. For this reason, these past results were not unexpected. We know unconscious impulses play some role in the decision-making process. We know advertising can be effective, even when the targets of those advertisements believe it will not work. But predicting a significant decision involving real stakes a significant amount of time before that decision is made has not been accomplished prior to our work. Thanks to developments in fMRI technology from previous research and as a result of our unique experimental design, we have achieved levels of prediction success never before observed with human subjects. As of this moment, our fMRI-based algorithm is 91.8% accurate in predicting subjects’ decisions a week in advance. And this success has come when subjects are presented with a potentially life-changing decision which would seem to require complex analytical reasoning.”

“Interesting… so how much are you willing to pay these kids to serve as lab rats?”

“I cannot offer the exact figures. The compensation comes in the form of a monetary reward that is closely tied to the details of the experiment. For this reason, any specific information could compromise the integrity of our research. But I can say that the amount of money a subject earns depends on his decision at the end of the experiment and the success of our fMRI-based prediction algorithm in predicting that decision. Some subjects have received nothing. Some have received more than enough to finance a full university education.”

“Okay, but my experience is that big rewards come with some big risks. Are you entirely sure this is safe?”

“If you are asking about the risk of the procedure itself, yes. Subjects are merely asked to undergo an fMRI brain scan. This is a very common procedure in medicine and scientific research. Side effects like headaches, nausea, dizziness, chest pain and seizures are possible but occur very rarely across all MRI scans. And of course, all participants are informed of the MRI procedure beforehand, made aware of the possible side effects and given the opportunity to opt out. Everything we do is in line with the requirements of the Lauterbur State Research Ethics Committee. And participants are allowed to end the MRI scan at any time during the experiment.

“As for monetary risk, there is none involved for the subjects. No subject will lose money as a result of the experiment. They only have the chance to receive money in exchange for their participation.”

“MRI equipment is pretty expensive. You must have some sizable grants or backers to stay in business, and pay those kinds of fees. Who would be interested in financing this kind of research?”

“Yes, MRI equipment is expensive, but well within the budget of a research-oriented institution like Lauterbur State. And of course, we go through the usual grant application process for all of our research in order to secure funding. I believe most university professors who conduct research do the same. Our current grant was provided by Science Applications Corporation, a private science and technology conglomerate.”

“Wait a minute, my Google-fu says Science Applications Corporation is a government military contractor.”

“I believe some of their work is intended for military use. However, we do not intend our current research to serve a military purpose. It has been suggested that our prediction algorithm could be used to facilitate brainwashing technology or some other such idea out of science fiction. But brain responses to external stimuli are not so simple or well-understood that someone could create the desired brain response merely by introducing the right stimulus. For now, that kind of manipulation remains in the realm of science fiction.”

“Okay then. Let’s try it this way. Financiers usually have a reason for their interest in the research. What do your backers hope to do with this kind of application?”

“I’m afraid I don’t know. As I stated, I am aware that Science Applications Corporation is a government defense contractor, but I do not know of any government or military influence on my laboratory’s current funding. In my opinion, it is not good research practice for scientists to know too much about any intended applications of their findings since this knowledge could be seen as a biasing factor.”

“I see. The reason I ask is that you recently testified on a pretty big trial. So your research must have some practical application. What can you tell me about that case and your testimony?”

“Yes, the Dr. David Solon case. A fellow professor—mathematics at Harvey Tech, I believe. I know the case has been in the newspapers. You probably know as much as I do. I was called to testify by the defense attorney representing Dr. Solon, who was accused of murder. I explained our research and the possibility of predicting human behavior a week in advance. Such predictions are possible because a decision may arise in the human brain without an individual being consciously aware of its existence until the moment the individual performs the relevant action. And given our research and that of other laboratories, the impetus for such an unconscious decision could occur up to a week in advance of the resultant action. I believe the defense was arguing that Dr. Solon had acted unconsciously when he shot the decedent, based on the fact that the decedent was said to have killed his wife a week earlier.”

“So let me see if I’ve got this straight. You try to predict if Big Man On Campus will ask out the nursing student or the cheerleader in two weeks. You use what you learn to help a murderer get a lighter sentence. It doesn’t make sense, the professor still killed someone.”

“I’m afraid I do not know this Big Man to whom you refer. As for Dr. Solon’s trial, the verdict is up to the jury, not to me. I am not in a position to offer an opinion on his guilt or innocence. I was not present in the courtroom. I do not know all the facts of the case. I can only reiterate what I said during my testimony: it is possible to present a subject with a scenario that causes a particular brain response unbeknownst to the subject, and for that response to generate a decision a week later that differs from the decision the subject expected he would make.

“I am aware that some people have taken this preliminary scientific finding to mean we should not hold criminals responsible for their crimes. If a particular stimulus can trigger an unconscious brain response that leads to a criminal action without the criminal having any conscious awareness of that brain response, then it would seem the criminal is not to blame. At least, that is how some people have argued. For my part, I try to avoid engaging in such philosophical speculation. I can only report the data I have observed in my research, nothing more.”

“I mean, if this research is so cutting edge, why don’t you just predict the outcome and the sentence and save the taxpayers all of that money. It all sounds a bit Minority Report to me.”

“So far, research in this area has only developed predictive power for decisions with predefined options. All current research, mine included, involves a controlled stimulus leading to a future decision. I believe there have been sociological and psychological studies on the relationship between socioeconomic background and crime or on links between genetics and psychopathy. But these are very different subjects than my current work. Predicting whether or not a particular individual will commit an unspecified action like a crime out of all the possible actions available to him at a future date is another matter entirely. Perhaps such predictive power is the wave of the future.”

“I invited you here to help advance science in some small way. Maybe we’ve done that, but there are some moral issues that should be considered too. Do you have any last thought for our listeners today?”

“There are always moral issues surrounding the application of any scientific research. Again, I will emphasize that all subjects in our research are completely voluntary. As for how our findings are interpreted and applied, that matter is out of my hands. We present our findings with the greatest degree of scientific accuracy possible.

“That being said, we are still looking for volunteers who wish to participate in our current study. There is no monetary risk and, aside from the rare and minor side effects of an fMRI scan, no physical risk. And there is the potential for great monetary reward to those willing to participate.”

“I’m actually at a loss here. Become part of this research at your own risk, but the money is decent. You can learn more about Franko and his research in the choose-your-own-adventure book, The Friar’s Lantern, by Greg Hickey. I’ll post all the info on the website after I go off the air.

“Speaking of funding, it really helps me out if you use those sharing buttons today. If Greg is successful, Lisa Burton Radio is successful too. Tweet your friends, Facebook your family. It’s fun, I promise.

“For Lisa Burton Radio, I’m Lisa Burton.”

***

You may win $1,000,000. You will judge a man of murder.

An eccentric scientist tells you he can read your mind and offers to prove it in a high-stakes wager. A respected college professor exacts impassioned, heat-of-the-moment revenge on his wife’s killer—a week after her death—and you’re on the jury. Take a Turing test with a twist, discover how your future choices might influence the past, and try your luck at Three Card Monte. And while you weigh chance, superstition, destiny, intuition and logic in making your decisions, ask yourself: are you responsible for your actions at all? Choose wisely—if you can.

Amazon purchase link: https://www.amazon.com/Friars-Lantern-Greg-Hickey/dp/1612969461/

Greg Hickey started writing his first novel the summer after he finished seventh grade. He didn’t get very far because he quickly realized he preferred playing outside with his friends.

Eight years later, he began to find a better balance between writing and life. He wrote the early drafts of his first screenplay Vita during his last two years of college. Vita went on to win an Honorable Mention award in the 2010 Los Angeles Movie Awards script competition and was named a finalist in the 2011 Sacramento International Film Festival.

After college, he spent a year in Sundsvall, Sweden and Cape Town, South Africa, playing and coaching for local baseball teams and penning his first novel, Our Dried Voices. That novel was published in 2014 and was a finalist for Foreword Reviews’ INDIES Science Fiction Book of the Year Award.

Today, he still loves sharing stories while staying busy with the other facets of his life. He is a forensic scientist by day and endurance athlete and author by nights, lunches, weekends and any other spare moments. After his post-college travels, he once again lives in his hometown of Chicago with his wife, Lindsay.

Catch up with Greg at the following places:

Twitter: https://twitter.com/greghickey5

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/GHWrites/

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/8421481.Greg_Hickey

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/greg-hickey-4022057b/

Google+: https://plus.google.com/b/115500431354586285695/+Greghickeywrites

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The Gemini Connection, on #LisaBurtonRadio

Lisa Burton

Coming at you with one point twenty-one jigawatts of power, this is Lisa Burton Radio. The only show that brings you the characters from the books you love. I’m your host, Lisa the robot girl, and my very special guest today is trying to find his missing twin brother. “Welcome to the show, Evan Resnik.”

“Thanks for having me, Lisa. This is kind of weird. They don’t have radio shows on my planet.”

“So what’s it like being a twin?”

“Some twins feel like they’re always lumped together and want a little distance between themselves, but not Simon and me. We wouldn’t have it any other way. Our bond goes beyond looking identical – we feel each other’s emotions and always know where the other is. Yeah, it can be a little intrusive sometimes, but it’s all we’ve ever known. We’ve always been there for each other. Besides, if you knew us, there’s no chance of lumping us together, because we couldn’t be more different. Simon’s a genius, a science prodigy – he gets that from our parents. But me? No interest or abilities in math or science at all. And my parents’ disappointment over that fact and has been made crystal clear. That’s fine with me. I know Simon’s the ‘chosen child’. The less I have in common with them, the better. What kind of parents choose their jobs over raising their children? They left the two of us several years ago, and Simon’s the only family I need now.”

“How did that affect you? I mean, you were only twelve.”

“They said we were mature enough to raise ourselves. I figured they meant Simon. We both were still in school – Simon continued with his science stuff I’ll never comprehend, and I played sports and hung out with friends. Then Simon was chosen to work with the creator of Scientific Innovations. Didn’t surprise me at all. If anyone can save our dying planet, it’s my twin. I entered the Mindbender program.”

“The whole thing is just so sad. You must have made new friends along the way.”

“I used to have tons of friends and girlfriends in school, but lately, not so much. I’ve made it kind of difficult for people to be around me, and the supply of friends dried up. I don’t need anyone else. Just Sydney. She’s my best friend and has stuck by me since primary school.”

“Tell us about Sydney.”

“Syd’s just….amazing. She’s also a Mindbender, and my work partner – give the girl a knife and she’s absolutely lethal. She calls me on my crap and keeps my ego in check. I’m a damn good Mindbender, and the youngest team leader in the program’s history. She’d probably have something to say about that if she was here.”

“Could you explain what a Mindbender is exactly?”

“Yeah, I forgot you probably never heard that term. When our scientists have problems combining ideas or concepts or retrieving memories, I enter their mind and make those connections. My team and I also battle nightmares that interfere with our clients’ work. All of our scientists are focused on the survival of our planet.”

“That’s so interesting. It’s like you’re putting together the pieces of Tinker Toys that were already there to help these guys out.”

“Well, yeah, it’s pretty cool, but isn’t without its risks. If a Mindbender dies while in a client’s mind, like when we’re battling nightmares, our physical body in the lab also expires. So, there’s that.”

“So is it possible you could wind up helping Simon like you help the others?”

“Simon never needed help connecting ideas. But that doesn’t matter now, because he’s been missing for a year. He disappeared from a locked room, and there’s been no sign of him. No clues, no ransom….nothing. And it’s my fault. We had a stupid fight that evening over something that should never have mattered to me. I felt his anguish and guilt over what he’d kept hidden from me, and his pain over my refusal to talk to him about it. Later that night, right before he went missing, he called out for me and I ignored him. For the first time in my life, I didn’t go to my brother, even when I felt his fear and panic. The second he disappeared, it felt like something had been ripped from deep inside me. The pain was indescribable. I’ve never told anyone I didn’t help Simon, not even Syd. Because of me, my twin, one of only two people in my life who believed in me and supported me, is missing, and it’s haunted me every minute of every day for the past year.”

“You must feel terrible, but with your connection, you always know where he is, right?”

“For our whole lives, yes. But now? There’s nothing. I can’t sense anything from him – emotions, location, thoughts. It’s like he doesn’t exist anymore. Most people think he’s dead, but if Simon died, I would have felt his death like it was my own.”

“That’s terrible.”

“But Lisa, it’s not just me losing my twin. I recently learned that Simon’s project, the one he was working on when he went missing, could save our planet and everyone on it. Even though we’ve had strict rationing for years, our fresh water supply is nearly depleted, our live protein sources are all but gone, and a new, unidentified disease is killing several of our crops. Millions of lives depend on Simon being found.”

“So what are you going to do?”

“I’ll find him, whatever it takes. I failed Simon once, but not again. Never again. My parents have severed all connection with me since my brother disappeared, but I don’t need their help to locate him. I’ll prove they’ve been wrong about me all along. I don’t have to be a genius like Simon to help our planet or to be worthy of our parents’ love and respect.”

“I wish you all the luck this world has to offer. Any closing thoughts for our listeners today?”

“Thanks, Lisa. I’ll need it. With our unusual connection, there has to be some way I haven’t thought of to locate Simon. I just need to figure out what it is sooner rather than later.”

“You can learn all about Evan’s quest to find Simon in the book The Gemini Connection, by Teri Polen. I’ll post all the deets online after I go off the air.

“Don’t forget to tip your waitress today. If you use those sharing buttons it helps me stay on the air, and helps my guests out too. Teri and Evan would do it for you, when your character appears on the next Lisa Burton Radio.”

***

Teen twin brothers Evan and Simon Resnik are fiercely loyal to each other and share an unusual bond—they experience each other’s emotions as their own and can sense where the other is.

On their dying planet of Tage, scientists work tirelessly on its survival.  Like the twins’ parents, Simon is a science prodigy, recruited at a young age to work with the brilliant creator of Scientific Innovations.  To the bitter disappointment of their parents, Evan shows no aptitude or interest in science.  As a Mindbender, he travels into the minds of scientists to locate buried memories, connect ideas and concepts, and battle recurring nightmares.

When Simon mysteriously disappears, Evan is plunged into a world of loss and unbearable guilt.  For the first time, he can’t ‘feel’ Simon—it’s like he no longer exists.  Evan blames himself.  No one knows that he ignored his brother’s pleas for help on the night he went missing.

A year later, Simon is still gone.  Evan lost his twin, but Tage might have lost its last hope of survival when it’s discovered that Simon’s unfinished project could be its salvation.  Evan is determined to find him—somewhere—and bring Simon home.  Their unusual connection might be more extraordinary than they know, and the key to locating Simon.

Buy Links:

https://www.amazon.com/Gemini-Connection-Teri-Polen-ebook/dp/B07BFGFN66/ref=sr_1_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1523047835&sr=1-1&keywords=the+gemini+connection+teri+polen

https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/the-gemini-connection-teri-polen/1128081066?ean=9781684330348

http://www.blackrosewriting.com/childrens-booksya/thegeminiconnection

 

Teri Polen reads and watches horror, sci-fi, and fantasy.  The Walking Dead, Harry Potter, and anything Marvel-related are likely to cause fangirl delirium.  She lives in Bowling Green, KY with her husband, sons, and black cat.  Her first novel, Sarah, a YA horror/thriller, was a horror finalist in the 2017 Next Generation Indie Book Awards.  Visit her online at www.teripolen.com

Contact Links:

Website:  https://teripolen.com/

Facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/TeriPolenAuthor/

Twitter:  https://twitter.com/TPolen6

Goodreads:  https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/16114393.Teri_Polen

Instagram:  https://www.instagram.com/tpolen6/

Pinterest:  https://www.pinterest.com/teripolen/

BookBub:  https://www.bookbub.com/profile/teri-polen

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A Desert Rat looks back

Some of you don’t know this, but I grew up in one of the Western deserts. There are several, and they vary depending upon how many you want to count. I’ve been in them all. There is the Black Rock Desert, the Mohave Desert, the Sonora Desert, etc.

I grew up in the Great Basin, which is also a desert. It’s just at high elevation, and gets a severe winter along with a severe summer. No water means it’s still a desert.

Deserts always have an oasis of some kind or another. This helps keep things interesting.

The Mohave Desert is home to Joshua trees, and salt pans, ridges devoid of forest, and yet still holding wildlife. I remember chasing Desert Bighorns in Southern Nevada adjacent to the nuclear test site. There was the morning when I heard the huge tarantula before I saw him, and the afternoon when I found a ridge covered with ancient ammonites. After millions of years, they were still mostly mother of pearl.

Today, Old What’s Her Face and I flew to Las Vegas. We have tickets to the Pink concert tomorrow night. Our first stop was Los Angeles. We were flying on my daughter’s flight benefit, and that means standby. We never made several planes out of LA, but we’re here finally.

The desert is a wonderful, but serious place. Flying into Vegas, looked about like I would imagine flying over Mordor would look. You have to experience the desert close-up to enjoy it.

To tell you the truth, I’d rather be there with the coyotes and the tarantulas. Vegas has never been my kind of town. It always feels like someone is trying to get in to your wallet here. It’s also changed dramatically, and not for the better.

There was a time when rooms were cheap and so were meals. This was by design, because they wanted you to stay inside the casino. As a Nevada native, casinos hold no appeal, so it was a bargain.

Not so today. It appears that MGM owns most of the Strip here. This means the prices have gone up. Don’t like casino resort A? Try casino resort B, which is also under the same ownership, so they don’t care. There is no need to deliver any kind of service, because where else are you going to go.

This is the first hotel I’ve ever been in where there is no coffee maker. It’s likely they would rather have me go down stairs and spend ten bucks on Starbucks, which they also own.

I remember when a Vegas Buffet was about eight bucks. Today, you can ‘t have a burger and fries for less than forty.

It’s kind of sad. We would have done more here, but under the circumstances, we’re likely to attend our concert, and go home. I actually have a couple of granola bars in my suitcase, and you can live on that crap.

***

In other news, I had a cool dream the other night. It was a vision of a character from behind. It took place in a kind of sandstone desert environments. This person was wearing a poncho, but it wasn’t woven. It was made of repurposed canvas and rough cut. I don’t know if it was a man, woman, or child. The character lugged a bag of foraged produce. Wild vegetables of some kind.

The character came to the wing of a crashed spaceship. It might have been abandoned like an old airplane boneyard. There were steps crudely carved into the wing, and the character climbed them. The character looked back, and there were discarded spaceships everywhere. they had a lot of variation, so it could have been an ancient battlefield, or just a long term boneyard.

Inside the ship, the entire thing had been gutted and rebuilt. The streets were level, even though the ship was not. The streets were lined with houses, apartments, and marketplaces. There was a small town inside. Presumably, the other ships were like this too. Maybe each ship was like a subdivision or something.

The character handed over the bag to a nameless and faceless character, who looked inside, grunted, and handed over a fistful of coins. The main character grabbed and empty canvas sack for the next day, and walked deeper into the “city.”

That’s all I got. This is one of those times when I’d like a little more, but that’s all the Muse delivered.

Hope you’re all having a great weekend. We may be here on the cheap, but we’re going to a Pink concert tomorrow.

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Incursion, on #LisaBurtonRadio

Lisa Burton

Hey there all you space marines, special ops, and saboteurs. You’ve landed on Lisa Burton Radio. The only show that brings you the characters from the books you love.

I’m your host, Lisa the robot girl, and my special guest today is Irene Sol Vianini. “Welcome to the show, Irene.”

“Thanks for having me. So many interesting people have been here before. It’s a true honor to be one of them now.”

“Your story is a bit different than many people we get on the show. To set the stage a bit, aliens are about to invade Earth. A special unit is assembled to wreak havoc upon them, prior to them reaching the outer Earth colonies. You are part of this special unit. What can you tell us about that.”

“I’m a scientist on the factory ship Lapland. Our part of the mission is to build any parts the marines and fighter arms might need, and also to do any quick development. Let me give you an example of why a factory ship needs scientists and not just engineers: let’s say the marines are seeing action on some surface where the conditions are bad for their suits. The science arm might get called on to create a mono-molecular coating to protect them. We can then put that formula into the nano-factories and presto, one less thing for the troops to worry about.

“Let’s cut the crap here. You are part of a radical group of pacifists. Mission Specialist might be your cover, but what is your actual mission?”

What? I can’t believe… I see someone’s been talking out of turn. All right, if that’s the way you want to play this, then yeah, let’s discuss it. Sure, I’m trying to stop this mission. It’s just another case where humans are aggressors. We’ve been killing each other for millennia, so why are we going to stop now that we have someone else to be unpleasant to? I see this radio panders to the militaristic side of things – even your intro talks to marines, specialists and saboteurs… tell me something: can you be any more jingoistic?”

“Nice try, but the question was about your actual mission.”

“Look. I know you have to sell advertising space, so the truth isn’t what you want on this show, but let’s be honest. Anyone with more than a few brain cells to spare knows that this is all our fault, and if we stop listening to the arms manufacturers who are making trillions out of this war, the aliens – if they even exist – will just go back o their lives and leave us alone.”

“I understand your point of view, but you have to be absolutely correct. You’re risking the lives of millions of people upon a theory. Aliens are headed toward Earth, and they have some huge assed weapons with them. Certainly, you can’t ignore that.”

“Of course they have big-ass weapons. What would you do if you came into contact with a species as destructive as ours?”

“Okay, the direct question isn’t working here. How about this one? What are you going to do to make sure the space marines and others don’t prolong this war?”

“I’ve got a few tricks up my sleeve. A few other sane people have managed to sabotage he launch of this mission. They’ve messed with the navigation systems to ensure that the task force won’t end up anywhere near where they think they should be. They’ll end up in a system that looks similar enough to pass muster but is actually really far away from the fighting. My job is to keep them in the dark for as long as possible so they don’t even try to turn around and do something about it until it’s much too late.”

“Okay, so a team of zealots on a suicide mission are infiltrated by a different zealot with an opposing mission, but all during this time there are aliens approaching Earth, bent on destruction and packing enough firepower to get the job done. Makes my processors heat up. Does that sound about right?”

“No. You’re like so many others. You’re looking at the details, the crap in the news. You have to look at the bigger picture here. If we don’t stop this vicious circle once and for all, humanity will be locked in this disaster forever. A few thousand marines, or a million human lives are a small price to pay to finally save the race. My own life is such a tiny thing. To die knowing I made such a huge difference would be worth it.”

“So you know that you’re on a suicide mission too. If your group gets destroyed, you will too. How do you plan for something like that? Did you write a Will, or did you leave more of a Manifesto?”

“A manifesto? I’ll leave a legacy much greater than that. I’ll have saved us from ourselves. And if a few thousand marines get killed for it, or a couple of colonies that shouldn’t even exist get wasted, well, then tough luck. Screw this. Why do I even bother talking to you people? I know who’s paying your bills. The same people getting paid to build more weapons and fighter ships. I sincerely hope you’re among the casualties. Go to hell.”

“Sorry about that everyone. Apparently Irene killed the connection. We have young people in uniform going into harms way. They’ve been infiltrated from the inside by a third faction. I wish I had more for you, but you will have to read the book Incursion, by Gustavo Bondoni to find out what happens. I’ll post all the deets on the website.

I encourage everyone to use those sharing button at the end of this post. I can’t speak for Irene, but Gustavo is pretty cool and he’d do it for you when your character appears on the next Lisa Burton Radio.

***

It was supposed to be a desperate suicide mission, a holding action designed to delay a deadly enemy bent on destroying humanity: five starships sent to their doom, thousands of men and women knowingly laying down their lives to buy time for the besieged human race. And then things got really hairy. Tristan, a highly trained shock marine, wakes up after the trip to find that nothing works: not his equipment, not his ship, not even his body… He joins the race against time to bring their equipment back up to fighting trim and begin to understand what has happened to them and to unravel the layers of confusion and betrayal. But the enemy waiting for them doesn’t care about any of that. They just want to destroy the human incursion as quickly as possible.

Pick up your copy of Incursion

Bio: Gustavo Bondoni is an Argentine novelist and short story writer who writes primarily in English. He has recently released three science fiction novels: Incursion (2017), Siege (2016) and Outside (2017)  His latest book is a comic fantasy novel entitled The Malakiad.  He has over two hundred short stories published in fourteen countries.  They have been translated into seven languages.  Many of the stories are collected in Tenth Orbit and Other Faraway Places (2010) and Virtuoso and Other Stories (2011). The Curse of El Bastardo  (2010) is a short fantasy novel.

His website is at www.gustavobondoni.com.

Twitter:  @gbondoni

Website:  www.gustavobondoni.com

Amazon page: https://www.amazon.com/Gustavo-Bondoni/e/B004FRVMO2/ref=dp_byline_cont_book_1

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