Happy Monday! Welcome to the last week of February. Today my good friend C.S. Boyack has dropped by with his newest release, Grinders. I was fortunate to get a sneak peek of this highly imaginative novel and am enthralled by this one, folks. I asked Craig to share a bit about his AI creations (especially Cole) and holobarkers (a creation I’ve been in love with since he first introduced them in a short story by the same name). Here’s Craig to tell you more…
Thanks for inviting me over today, Mae. I won’t go into a lot of detail that will show up in the blurb, this is a cyberpunk novel. That means extensive world building on par with fantasy, and part of that is artificial intelligence and robots. Those are my topics for today.
Grinders is set in San Francisco, so it’s already got a leg up on being colorful. However, that isn’t enough to make a story like this work. I took the concept of Siri, Alexa, and others then attached the jumper cables and threw the switch. Those devices are long since gone, having been replaced by robots, smart home systems, and holographic companions.
My main character, Jimi, has a robotic cat. I’m including him today, because Cole was one of Mae’s favorites. Cole is basically patched into her apartment and the internet. When she needs something from the store, Cole summons a drone to have it delivered. She carries on conversations with him, just like another person. The fun part is that Cole has cat personality programming. He doesn’t quite understand why the catnip mouse drives him crazy and says so as he bats it around the living room. He’s interested in birds and fish, and doesn’t understand quite why since he doesn’t eat. His kitty bed is a magnetic charging station to keep him at full capacity.
Jimi’s partner, Lou, isn’t quite as well off. He doesn’t have a bot, but relies on old holographic technology that provides him with a companion named Piper. She serves the same practical functions, but also has a bit of sexuality. This is more titillating than pervy. My stories tend to keep such things kind of mild. The company that produces her is similar to a gaming site, which gives her a unique spin.
Piper is capable of getting new skins. This means she can be a completely different girl on the exterior, for a price. There is also a points lottery where they can use daily login points to spin a wheel that might let them win something for her. She also gets outfits, but those are tied to external purchases. A case of Budweiser might net her a one-piece swimsuit with the logo emblazoned across it.
Advertising is everywhere in the world of Grinders. Piper constantly pushes Lou to buy products that would provide her with new things. Makeup, hairstyles, shoes, a tattoo bundle, etc. She picks up on his conversations and actions to suggest things, which isn’t dissimilar to the stream of advertising we get via social media today.
There are lesser bots in the environment, too. Piper signs Lou up for a shared service for something called Handi-bot. Several people in his building share one Handi-bot, who cleans, folds laundry, and even cooks to a degree. Since Piper is a holographic projection, Handi-bot can assemble recipes and put them in the oven before Lou gets off his shift.
Cole even bats vacuum-bot until he’s wedged behind the toilet while Jimi is at work. There are high-rise window washing bots, delivery drones, and many more. They kind of blend into the environment, and they would for people who live under those circumstances.
Some of them get misused by entitled people. One example might be having a bot hold a prime spot along a parade route while its owner dawdles doing something else. The owner only wants to show up at the opportune time to snap a picture to share on social media.
Advertising is pervasive in Grinders. It’s programmed into the skins of public vehicles like police cars. One day the cruiser might be promoting a firefighter’s charity, the next day reminding everyone to get a flu shot.
One of the things I did was a callback to an old short story I published. There are holobarkers in Grinders. These orbs float everywhere and accost people with advertising. As an example, since my main characters are police officers, most of the holobarkers that swarm their encounters are promoting the services of attorneys.
I tried to keep the environment busy with this kind of stuff but in an “oh cool” kind of way that enhances the story. You’ll see floating billboards, holographic movie promotions, traffic boards, and much more.
I hope this post intrigues you enough to check out Grinders. I also hope I did Cole justice on Mae’s site. He’s one of those rare characters that took on a unique voice in my mind as I wrote him. (Jeremy Irons) That’s usually a sign that I’ve come up with a pretty good character
Jimi Cabot made one mistake as a starving college student. When she went to work for the San Francisco Police Department, it nearly cost her the job. The union stepped in and they had to reinstate her. They did so by assigning her to the duty nobody wants, Grinder Squad.
Grinders are people who use back room surgeries to enhance their bodies with computer chips, and various kinds of hardware. Jimi is sure that if she can just bust one grind shop, it will be her ticket back.
Paired with veteran cop, she soon learns that Grinder Squad is a cash-cow for the department. They are nothing more than glorified patrol cops, and generally get the worst assignments.
Matchless is the most wanted grinder of all time. He disappeared years ago, leaving only the evidence of those he enhanced during his career. With these pieces, Jimi picks up the cold trail to try working her way back to more respectable duty.
Grinders is a cyberpunk story set in a world where global warming has eroded coastlines, and society has solved many of our current problems by replacing them with new ones. There are cyber shut-ins, cyber-currency skimming schemes, and more in this futuristic tale.
This book also takes the opportunity to poke a stick at current issues that seem to have lasted into the future. Entitled people, helicopter moms, overzealous homeowner associations, and lack of decent jobs are all present. Never preachy, these issues make up the day to day work of a patrol officer.
I hope you enjoy Grinders as much as I enjoyed bringing it to you.
Cool, huh? Trust, me, you’re gonna love this one! There are so many intriguing aspects of this story. I would LOVE to see it on a TV screen. For now, I’ll settle for reading it on my Kindle. To pick up your copy, use the link below, and please help Craig out by using the sharing buttons!
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