Rethinking the Future: Science and Ethics
When I was in high school, science was my least favorite subject. I didn’t object to the subject matter -- theoretical chemistry and physics were rather similar to algebraic math which I loved -- but I dreaded class. See, I completed all my science classes (and many others as well) a year ahead. So when it came time to pair up with your lab partner…I was that lonely, quiet kid no one really knew or cared to partner up with. I’ve always hated group projects, but that kind of synched the deal.
It may come as a surprise to you that, after high school, I took to science with a lot more fervor. I read scientific journals and try to keep up to date with progress in certain fields simply because it is amazing what we can do. What we are doing. Really, the possibilities are endless.
I’m sure it will come as no surprise that I often add in a bit of science to my stories.
My latest, Hellish Haven, takes place in the near future. It’s a dystopian book about a government take-over. I borrowed many of George Orwell’s themes for this book, but having written it over sixty-five years in the future, I have an advantage that he didn’t: I know what science can do.
So I can take those themes to the next level by utilising not-so-far-fetched ideas. Video surveillance in people’s homes becomes unobtrusive digital photo-frames. Propaganda can be delivered across a variety of systems simultaneously, not only through billboard ads or television, but also through radio, downloadable music, email and the internet -- even through speakers set in the chests of self-propelling combat robots sent into pockets of resistance.
Controlling a population in this way might take years to master, if done on its own. So I invented another tool to keep the citizens complacent little sheep. Hidden in medicine injections and vitamins, a serum heightens the target’s susceptibility to suggestion. Pair that with the suggestions you have blaring from every corner, and you’ve got a pretty complacent flock. And if one or two happen to not be as quiet as the others, you can always erase them. From the records, from the earth, and from people’s memories. Suggestion is a powerful thing, especially when the brain is in an off-balance state.
What is stopping this from really happening? Ethics boards, scientists who have more important areas to study, and hopefully no megalomaniacs aiming to take over the world.
Science fiction is a wonderful genre for experimentation. Sure, I could have made the world a utopia instead of a dystopia, highlighting the way I believe the world could be with a little encouragement. But it wouldn’t be the same book, of a brainwashed wife sent to spy on her husband in the resistance movement.
In an ideal world, there wouldn’t be enough conflict to sustain a book at all. I guess that’s why I took to the darker side and plied my pen, armed with an arsenal of science.
Genre: Dystopian Romance
Publisher: Kensington Publishing Corp.,
Lyrical Press Imprint
Date of Publication: November 17, 2014
Number of pages: 72
Word Count: 33,718
Cover Artist: Renee Rocco
Two lives. Two realities. But only one truth.
The Senator reigns all-powerful in a manifested picture-perfect world. No worries. No wars. Only the unspoken threat of oblivion if you step a toe out of line. On the other side of the divide, the rebels face a debilitating war against an invulnerable robotic army. Every day is a struggle to earn back their freedoms. Freedom to feel. Freedom of speech. Freedom of thought.
Sergeant Grant Baker is pivotal to the war effort. But ever since his wife’s abduction, he’s been walking around in as much of a daze as the Senator’s brainwashed citizens. Then Eva reappears—without memories of him or their son. And he’s willing to do anything to keep her. Even if it means jeopardizing the war.
Eva doesn’t know which side to believe. Her predictable life as a single nurse, or the man claiming to be her husband. All she knows is she needs to discover how to end the war, quickly. If she doesn’t choose sides soon, she may lose the man—and the life—she never knew she wanted.
Acting as vanguard for the injured squad, Grant turned a corner and froze. A hulky man carried a limp woman over his shoulder.
Grant automatically reached for his gun. Even if they weren’t yet across the divide, he couldn’t stand idle as a man accosted a woman. Or worse. He aimed the rifle at the criminal. “Set her down nice and easy.”
The man froze. He glanced over one meaty shoulder, his unshaven mouth set in a scowl.
“Set her down, or I’ll shoot.”
A gold tooth flashed as the criminal grinned. He hurled the small woman at Grant and dashed for the slim space between two buildings.
Grant moved without thinking. His gun clattered to the ground as he lunged forward to catch the woman before she split her head open on the sidewalk. He grunted as he caught her with her weight against his bruised forearms. He shot a flickering glance her way. A riot of brown curls obscured her face. He set her gently on the ground.
He dashed for the opening the shady figure had disappeared into, but saw no sight of the man. The delinquent was long gone.
Ashland panted as he jogged to Grant’s side. “What happened?”
If Grant never heard that question again, it would be too soon. He shook his head wearily. “Mugging, I guess.”
“They still have those here? I thought the Senator brought an end to violence.” Ashland drew sarcastic quotes in the air as he spoke.
Grant didn’t bother to answer. He turned to the woman and where his squad was now gathered. A horrified private glanced from the woman to Grant and back again. “What do you want us to do with her…sir?”
If they left her, the Senator’s people might find her and stick her back in the pen with the rest of their brainwashed sheep. Then again, that same goon might double back to continue what he started.
He crossed to the woman and crouched to lift her into his arms. Her tangled hair fell away from her face. He nearly dropped her. “Eva?”
Frantically, he pressed his ear to her chest. Her breathing was shallow, but her heartbeat steady and strong. He clutched her tighter. He couldn’t believe it.
He’d found his wife.
About the Author:
L.K. Below wrote Hellish Haven to bring her love of Orwell’s classic 1984 into the modern day…or near future, as it turns out.
She reads as obsessively as she writes and likes to Tweet about both at @LBelowtheauthor.