Having an employee who’s an expert in AI has its advantages. Asking him about emergent AI prompted much laughter, though.

Confirming the suspicions I had, we are so far from the type of artificial intelligence we see in the movies, it’s unreal … and laughable.

We understand so little about the brain — almost any brain — that creating AI is a bit fanciful.

But then there’s also the question of self-awareness and consciousness, neither of which are synonymous with the other, and both are poorly understood.

And to confuse things further, there is no agreed definition of what life is. You’d think it’d be obvious, but it is a very contentious subject.

I suppose it’s unfair to ask if the idea I’ve had is possible or feasible for that matter, so it’s a question of whether it’s viable.

But, as a writer of science fiction, I’m not going to allow a few niggling facts to get in the way of a good idea.

So far, the extent of the idea I’ve been cultivating is at least viable.

A Darkening of Fortune

A Darkening of Fortune is the first major novel by Wayne Smallman, author of psychological thriller Lucidity and post-apocalyptic thriller Earth Day.

Justice with extreme prejudice.

“A riot-torn London struggles under a rising tide of racially motivated violence that gradually sweeps up through Birmingham to the great northern cities of Leeds and finally Manchester.

Detective Constable Pooja Chopra — a feisty and gifted second generation British-born Indian — and Detective Sergeant Matthew Bray — a motivated, brash and cocky local lad with a chequered past — of the Criminal Investigation Department in Southwark in London, soon realise the violence might not be everything it appears to be.

Joe — Yusef Iqbal, of Arab-Jewish extraction, and a former competitive martial arts combatant — is on the verge of sealing a lucrative government defence contract that could change his life and the life of his girlfriend, Sarah, forever. But when his presentation to the military is overrun by rioters, Joe inadvertently finds himself in possession of an advanced military prototype, and the temptation to try it out is unimaginable.

Joe is no super hero, and he quickly realises he’s definitely not Ironman, Superman or Batman, when things don’t quite work out the way they do in the movies. As his exploits become more elaborate, Joe becomes the target of a determined Colonel Rooney — head of the prototype research program — who doggedly pursues him and the prototype across the fiery cityscape of a London deep in the grip of turmoil.

Are these riots really an outpouring of a disaffected, racially divided nation on the brink of socioeconomic collapse? Or is there something more sinister and deadly lurking behind the scenes?

In a frantic quest to make good of this one truly unique opportunity, spurred on by memories of his dead father — a vocal campaigner for peace in the Middle East — Joe forges on. He is determined to bring an end to the unrest, rising to a climactic conclusion in his native Manchester, amidst a backdrop of raging street battles and, in doing so, resurrects dark demons from his youth.

But what price must Joe and the nation pay for victory, justice and peace?”

A Darkening of Fortune is available NOW on Amazon

A Darkening of Fortune is available to buy right now for Amazon Kindle and Apple’s iBookstore.

Project Status — A Darkening of Fortune

So far, I’ve been working on A Darkening of Fortune (Wraith being its former and provisional name) almost the whole of 2012, and it has been the most difficult novel to date.

As some may remember, I’ve already written a large novel, which came very easily. However, that really isn’t the same here.

Presently, I have a written plan of how the end of the novel must be re-written, and it’s a substantial task.

I’m hoping to have a final draft ready for my editor by the end of the week. But I won’t allow myself to be rushed with this, not with so much depending on this first novel.


Lucidity is the latest science fiction thriller novella by Wayne Smallman, author of post-apocalyptic thriller Earth Day. When dreams of New York — the city that never sleeps — turn into a nightmare.

In dreams, you’re never alone.

“On the verge of a major breakthrough in sleep therapy, Barbara Ostermann, an expert in disruptive sleep disorders, uncovers a remarkable conspiracy that strikes at the very heart of her work and that of her colleagues, Martin — her occasional lover — and Anna — the gregarious though disillusioned young technical prodigy — who team up to help avert an international crisis.

Enlisting the help of her brother, Karl, Barbara seeks to disentangle this plot to assassinate the elusive and mercurial DeShaun Gates, a strident campaigner for racial equality, on a collision course with the authorities.

Tireless in his efforts, Karl finds himself in New York, where events are not as they appear and his dream of averting disaster skims along the abyss of a monumental nightmare.”

Lucidity is available NOW on Amazon

Lucidity is available to buy right now for Amazon Kindle.

The science fact behind the fiction

When I tell people I write but don’t read science fiction, they either think I’m lying, stupid or insane. The fact is, reading is to me synonymous with work, and while I enjoy doing what I do for a living, as a task, reading isn’t one of those things I enjoy.

So when I read science fiction and come across mention of rocket ships, or talk of clunky robots with tubular arms in the 23rd century I just switch off, because without authenticity or an attempt to explain why such incongruities or implausibilities should be believed, my ability to suspend disbelief is, quite frankly, severely impaired.

While I’m not looking for validation or vindication, it’s always helpful to know others agree with me, to help formulate a sturdy defence — a defence, ironically enough, coming from another science fiction writer:

“I work with a lot of scientists and one of the frustrating things they find is that all this fascinating stuff is being done which doesn’t find its way into science fiction. They say look at the science fact pages – they’re so much more imaginative than science fiction.”

Just like the science colleagues of Geoff Ryman suggest, I read huge amounts of science fact, and that’s the only fuel I need power my own person “What if?” engine.