by Bryon Vaughn
GENRE: Science Fiction, Techno-thriller
Where can you run when there is no place to hide?
Brenna Patrick is a brilliant technologist specializing in neural-cognitive functions and AI. She has cracked the code to solve one of the most troublesome problems in the field, and turned that into the multi-billion dollar NeuralTech Corporation.
Working quietly with the U.S. Department of Defense, NeuralTech is poised to leapfrog the competition with a revolutionary system for tracking people, starting with the world’s most wanted terrorists. But there are only so many terrorists in the world, so who’s next?
When a pair of Columbia graduate students, Jenny and Leo, stumble on the dark secret of NeuralTech’s success, it kicks off a tense game of cat and mouse. As they fight to defeat the powerful forces arrayed against them, nothing less than the fate of humanity hangs in the balance…
NEUROGARDEN is a roller-coaster ride of a thriller, one that will have readers pondering the nature of memory, and of reality, long after they’ve read the last page.
Every morning for Brenna Patrick began with a hot shower and a hotter cup of Jamaican Blue Mountain coffee in the same oversized mug she had stolen from a cabinet while studying at Oxford. Some poor British sod probably spent days looking for his ever so clever black-and-white yin and yang mug, and now, here, it played a part in the daily rituals of the world’s most renowned expert on artificial intelligence.
Halfway through her coffee, Brenna’s usual routine of morning news about the weather or the latest political storm was interrupted by a story on the previous day’s event at NeuralTech.
“According to sources, yesterday, in an impressive display of technical wizardry, the notorious Ethiopian strongman, Azim Dibaba, was eliminated by the U.S. military in partnership with NeuralTech. Stay tuned for exclusive video footage from the NeuralTech facility coming up after the break.”
With a dismissive wave of her hand, the television powered off, and she downed the last of her coffee. Explicit rules about keeping cameras from the Observation Deck were put in place to stop this kind of leaked footage, not so much to keep it a secret, but to control how the message was released. There was no way NeuralTech would have built such an elaborate display of lights and gadgetry if the world was never going to see what they were doing. The fanfare was all a show, a carnival for the masses to distract from the visceral heart of what they were witnessing. Hell, they used to run the ops from a small conference room in the basement of NeuralTech HQ with two laptops and an iPad. The spectacle was created for virality, but she wanted the first glimpses to be better than some shaky cell phone video from a reporter behind glass.
If you could apologize to someone in your past, who would it be?
This is a tough one since it dredges up old feelings of regret, and my case of the loss of somebody very dear to me. About four years ago, I moved from California to New York City to pursue a new opportunity that was just too good to pass up. My immediate family came with me, so the only person left behind that really mattered to me was my grandmother. She raised me
from a child, and she was the only mother I knew. In the years that followed, she aged as we all do, and her mind slowly drifted. Our coast to coast phone calls became increasingly incoherent and it pained me that I wasn’t there to help her through it. She passed away earlier this year.
I would give anything to have a conversation with the grandmother I left behind, and though I know she supported my move more than anybody else. She always said I “was like a son to her,” but when I think back,
I feel like I fell short of that high bar. I would apologize, she would most
certainly say there was nothing to be sorry about, and then give me a big,
warm, grandma hug.
If you could keep a mythical/paranormal creature as a pet, what would you have?
I would say unicorn, but the cleanup would probably be awful, not to mention there is no way I could get it up to my high-rise apartment. I guess I would then have to settle on a fairy. It would have to be a male fairy, because my wife is a jealous sort, even if we are talking about a different species. He would be small enough to get to my apartment, he wouldn’t
eat all of my food, and as long as he wasn’t one of those mischievous tortured fairies, he would add some happiness and wonder to our lives.
Now, since the premise is that he would be my pet, that may require a bit of work. I doubt that many fairies are going to be cool with that whole ownership thing. My guess is we would need to re-define what it
means to be a pet for this while thing to work.
How do you keep your writing different from all the others that write in this particular genre?
While I think it is essential for every author to find their own voice, I honestly believe it is impossible to be completely different from others in the genre. It is rare for an individual to truly innovate in any of the primary genres, but that doesn’t mean we should be complacent and blatantly
emulate each other.
In my case, I try to come up with unique story premises and then assemble a cast of characters that are not obvious choices for the situation. I would love to be inspired by an idea that breaks new ground, or even spins up an entirely new sub-genre, but until that day I will work with this approach to keep my material interesting in a field of extremely talented and unique authors.
What are the best and worst pieces of writing advice you
The best advice, which I totally did not follow was to keep writing regardless of the feedback or roadblocks that compelled me to give it up. It took me over twenty years to realize that I should have stayed the course.
The worst advice was to write only what you know. I agree that writing about familiar settings or people is easier, but it is through the exploration of the unknown and unfamiliar that we are all able to grow. If somebody asked me today whether or not to write about what you know, I would
say use what you know to inform, but don’t limit yourself to one person’s
reality, there is so much more to be discovered.
Are the experiences in this book based on someone you know, or events in your own life?
So, now I will contradict my last answer and tell you that my latest book, Neurogarden, is based loosely on things that I know. It is set in New York City, where I live. It involves students at Columbia University, where I work. Two characters are actual professors at Columbia, and their depictions are pretty spot-on. Other than that, it is a fantastical fiction that I hope is not true, though with the deep tendrils of technology probing our lives daily, who knows?
AUTHOR Bio and Links:
Ever since reading Douglas Adams back in my formative years, I have had an interesting relationship with humor, science fiction, and technology. My first computer was a TI-99/4A, so yeah, I’m old, but only until scientists have
cracked the code on transplanting our brains into shiny new vessels.
My body may be showing signs of wear, but I’m keeping my brain tight.
When I am not dreaming of far off worlds and writing, I am living a semi-normal life working in New York City, and watching movies with my wife and her spastic cat, Moss.
Web site: https://www.bryonvaughn.com
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