Three hackers. A deadly plot. One chance to save humanity.
In the tradition of William Gibson, Neal Stephenson, and Richard Morgan, British writer Colin F. Barnes delivers a cyberpunk tech thriller for the modern age.
2153. Post-cataclysm. The last city exists beneath a dome where the mysterious benefactors ‘The Family’ tightly control the population with a death lottery and a semi-autonomous network.
All is well until the day family man Gerry Cardle, head of the death lottery, inexplicably finds himself the no.1 target of a malicious Artificial Intelligence. Gerry’s numbers are up, and he has just 7 days to save himself, find the source of the AI, and keep the last stronghold of humanity safe.
Gerry finds help in the shadows of the city from two rogue hackers: Petal – a teenage girl with a penchant for violence, hacking systems and general anarchy, and, Gabriel – a burnt-out programmer-turned-priest with highly augmented cybernetics.
With his new team, Gerry discovers there is more beyond the dome than The Family had let on, and his journey to find the source of the AI leads him through a world of violence, danger, and startling revelations.
Everything is not as it seems. Gerry is not who he thinks he is. Evil can be coded…. Can Gerry and his friends stop it before it destroys humanity?
Artificial Evil is book 1 of 3 of The Techxorcist series. The larger-than-life offspring of Blade Runner, Mad Max and The Exorcist.
Colin F. Barnes is a writer of dark and daring fiction. He takes his influence from everyday life, and the weird happenings that go on in the shadowy locales of Essex in the UK.
Growing up, Colin was always obsessed with story and often wrote short stories based on various dubious 80s and 90s TV shows. Despite taking a detour in school into the arts and graphic design, he always maintained his love of fiction and general geekery. Now, as a slightly weathered adult, Colin draws on his experiences to blend genres and create edgy, but entertaining stories.
He is currently working on a Cyberpunk/Techno thriller serial 'The Techxorcist.' which combines elements of Sci-Fi, Thriller, and Horror.
Like many writers, he has an insatiable appetite for reading, with his favourite authors being: Stephen King, William Gibson, Ray Bradbury, James Herbert, Albert Camus, H.P Lovecraft, Clark Ashton Smith, and a vast array of unknown authors who he has had the privilege of beta reading for.
-Who is Colin Barnes?
I'm a thirty something from Essex in the UK. I write things, publish things, and consume a cornucopia of media to feed my imagination, where I live for the vast majority of the time. Before I got into writing I trained as a graphic designer and ran a web development company for a while, then I worked for the man as a Lab Tech, and recently jacked it all in to live my dream: one of poverty and daily struggle—that of the humble writer.
-Why do you write cyberpunk?
Well, cyberpunk is just one of many genres that I work in, and the main reason why I enjoy writing those kind of stories is that it's science fiction with an edge; it's a glimpse of our near future using technology that's just on the cusp of breaking through. Cyberpunk also has a lot of character and edge: the stories can be larger-than-life and full of adventure.
-What is your all time favorite cyberpunk story? Why?
I'd say Blade Runner (or Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep. The book from which it was adapted). It's just a great story that examines what it means to be human or how far can we evolve and still keep our core humanity.
-What would you do if you lived in a world you created?
If we're talking about the world in The Techxorcist, I'd like to think I'd be one of the rebels fighting for freedom, using technology for good and helping rebuild the world.
-We're dying to know, where did the idea of Techxorcist Artificial Evil come from?
Funny thing is I can’t. It wasn’t any one thing. It was a case of many influences finally smashing together to create a vague idea that I then explored further. It started life as a short story with a very open ending, which begged the age-old question: what if?
-Tell us about your main characters (warning: SPOILERS ALLOWED)
There's three main in characters in The Techxorcist trilogy, and each book follows each on of their stories. In the first we have Gerry Cardle. He's a family man, working as the lead algorithm designer for the death lottery in City Earth. The whole trilogy kicks off with his story. One morning he wakes to find his numbers have come up, despite being exempt. His investigations on that anomaly takes him on a dangerous and deadly adventure when he meets my other two protagonists: Petal and Gabriel - two 'off-the-grid' hackers.
Next up is Petal. She's an anarchic teenage girl with strange eyes that she keeps hidden behind goggles. She's foul-mouthed, a little bit violent, but entirely charming. She works as a hacker—amongst other things—and helps lead Gerry into a new world of discovery and truth.
The final book features Gabriel, the elder of the three protagonists. Like Petal, he, too, is a hacker. Only he's getting old and has been at it for a long time. He's a little on the edges of sanity and hides many secrets and agendas. Working with Petal he 'exorcises' malicious Artificial Intelligences. Together, all three have to work to gather to unveil the truth and save humanity.
-What was the hardest part of writing this novel?
I think weaving the overall plot. Because the narrative extends across three books, I needed to make sure that each character's arc worked for each book and across the entire story.
-What is your favorite plot-twist/character/element...from your novel?
That's really difficult because I love so many things about it, but Petal as a character is just ridiculous fun to write. She's crazy, loyal, violent, talented, funny and writing her scenes are always enjoyable.
-What's next for Colin Barnes?
Well, so many things! Aside from The Techxorcist trilogies next books, I have two novellas due out. The first 'Heart for the Raven's a gothic horror is out by Fox Spirit Books, I'm also publishing a weird/lovecraftian horror 'of Darkewood & Ivory' in the coming months.
Besides all that, I also run my own publishing company 'Anachron Press' and we have 9 titles scheduled for release in the first quarter of 2013, so I'm going to be exceptionally busy over the next few months.
-What advice would you give writers who want to write cyberpunk?
Read and watch everything in the genre. It has certain tropes that can be helpful or a hinderance, and the style has common elements. There's room to innovate and do something different (I've added horror and adventure to my cyberpunk story), but it makes sense to know the genre so you can decide how to subvert it.
-Very important question: Windows, iOs or Android?
I'm a mac fan. iOS or OS X all the way for me.
Thank you for interviewing me. It was a real pleasure.