Saturday, July 29, 2017

Equality (Two Democracies: Revolution, Book 3) by Alasdair Shaw

Release date: July 28, 2017
Subgenre: Military science fiction, Space opera

About Equality


Harry Robinson lives an idyllic lifestyle. A brilliant computer engineer, he made his fortune pushing the limits of android design. When a neighbouring planet is hit by a global nuclear strike, he feels compelled to help. A chance encounter with a group of offworld soldiers launches him on the trail of the perpetrators.

Prefect Olivia Johnson leads a Legion of disillusioned soldiers from both sides of the civil war. She blames herself for failing to prevent the attack. Now her mission is to hunt for its architect. But first, she must reclaim their adopted home from a different enemy. An enemy who won’t even talk.

The Indescribable Joy of Destruction is Johnson’s best friend and closest ally. Despite the lives they have saved, artificial intelligences are still the victims of fear and prejudice. The shadowy warship fights to defend the first place it felt accepted, and for equal rights for its kind.


The sour stench of manure filled the hold of the freighter. Cows lowed and horses whinnied. The shaking intensified. One wide-eyed stallion with flared nostrils got a hoof free of its hobbles and kicked a storage container.
A middle-aged man crouched in a corner, holding his wife and young son as the ship bucked and jolted. Metal creaked. The lights flickered and went out.
“Ssshhh, ssshhhh. It’ll be all right. We’re just entering the atmosphere.” He removed his arm from his wife and lit a lamp.
The ship dropped for several seconds, leaving the man’s stomach high in his chest, and the boy cried out. His mother stroked his hair and glared at her husband.
He looked away. It was his fault they were riding in such atrocious conditions. They had the money to travel in style, but he didn’t want to draw attention to their passage. One day he’d be able to explain it to her, some of it anyway.
The buffeting eased and the main lights came back on. Two of his assistants rose and checked the animals. He knew he should help them, but couldn’t bring himself to let go of his son.

Chapter 1

Crystal clear water cascaded down between sandstone rocks before plunging into a large artificial lake. Another rill tinkled into a plunge pool before making its way to the lake. The water was a rich blue at its deepest and gradually shifted to green as it reached the sandy shallows. Koi swam in the perfectly balanced water, their oranges and reds providing a counterpoint to the colours of the liquid. A gentle breeze wafted in a hint of jasmine.
At one end of the lake, in the shade of a palm tree, Harry Robinson lay on a wooden recliner, reading. In this exquisitely, and terrifyingly expensively, engineered landscape he held real treasure: a paper book, rumoured to have survived from Earth itself. Having made his fortune in electronics and robotics it had amused him to build up a library of ancient physical books.
“Your visitor is here. Shall I ask them to come through or will you be meeting them in the house?”
Harry surfaced from the story and focused on the woman standing confidently at the edge of the tree’s shadow. “Thank you. Show them through please, Emily.”
Emily turned and walked back to the house, her bare feet sinking into the grass. Her crimson bikini and wrap complemented her flawless skin. Her movements were precise yet appeared carefree.
Harry carefully placed a bookmark between the pages and reverently laid it down on the small table beside the recliner. A few seconds with his eyes closed, then he gave a shrug and stood up effortlessly. He threw on a robe over his slick black shorts and adjusted it meticulously. He was the power player in this meeting, but even so, it paid not to look sloppy. As he took the few steps to the dining table, he pulled up the agenda for the meeting in a window in his electronic interface system. Not many civilians had wetwired electronic interfaces, preferring less invasive processors like watches and jewellery. He, however, found EIS invaluable.
Emily came back leading a man in a dark grey suit. His pink shirt collar was ruffled in the latest style for executives. The briefcase he carried was a fair replica of an antique, a stab at projecting dependability that Harry didn’t really trust.
“Mr Simon Jackson, CEO of TREcorps,” Emily announced with a hint of a bow.
“Thank you, Emily. Would you wait with us please?” invited Harry.
She poured a glass f sparkling elderflower pressé before taking to the recliner behind the visitor. She closed her eyes, to all the world a trophy relaxing by the pool not bothered about the men and their business.
“I am informed you don’t like small talk so I’ll get straight to the point,” said Simon. “We’d like to commission an android model from you. Something… special.”
Harry kept his face and body neutral. He’d learnt the hard way that ‘special’ usually meant ‘illegal’, or perhaps ‘immoral’. His standard searches before accepting the meeting hadn’t thrown up anything dodgy on TREcorps or its CEO. He quickly set off a deep crawler that would hunt through corporate and police records, tracking down any whiff of ill deed. If it was caught he ought to be able to argue it was a security test, he did hold the contracts for the computer systems of most law enforcement and intelligence agencies in the system. As the crawler left, he noticed Emily shift slightly; she’d spotted it go.
“Are you sure we don’t have a standard model that would do the job you want?” asked Harry. “Commissions are costly and could take some time to design. Then there’s building and testing.”
“I’m not interested in haggling,” said Simon. “Bottom line, the board has approved a budget of ten million for this project. Congressional bonds, not soft credit. No-one else is on our radar for doing the work. Either you accept or we have to rethink the entire concept.”
^He’s being straight with you,^ sent Emily via the EIS link. ^Make him feel at ease.^
Harry indicated an upright chair with a hand gesture. “Go on then. Give me your pitch.”



About Alasdair Shaw: 

I studied at the University of Cambridge, leaving with a BA in Natural Sciences and an MSci in Experimental and Theoretical Physics. My masters options included gravitational astrophysics, planetary geophysics, remote sensing and high resolution electron microscopy. I went on to earn a PGCE specialising in Science and Physics from the University of Bangor. A secondary teacher for over ten years I have plenty of experience communicating scientific ideas.
I grew up in Lancashire, within easy reach of the Yorkshire Dales, Pennines, Lake District and Snowdonia. After stints living in Cambridge, North Wales and the Cotswolds I have lived in Somerset since 2002.
I have been climbing, mountaineering, caving, kayaking and skiing as long as I can remember. Growing up I spent most of my spare time in the hills.
Landscape archaeology has always been one of my interests; when you spend a long time in the outdoors you start noticing things and wondering how they came to be there. At university I included geophysics in my options.
I am an experienced mountain and cave leader, holding a range of qualifications including ML, SPA and LCL. I am also a course director for climbing and navigation award schemes.

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