Novel Excerpt

Here’s an except from my novel that’s in-progress. Just a tidbit from the first draft. Shows some definite influences of Stephenson’s Snow Crash to be sure, but I’m pretty pleased about how things are progressing, at least in quality, if not the speed. Feel free to fire back with thoughts.

This whole globalization thing has pretty much fucked everyone — take all the inequalities in income and GDP between rich nations and poor nations, and smear it around, and everyone eventually finds a bland middle ground. Live in a formerly-rich nation and suddenly you have a highly-educated workforce that has to hustle to make ends meet. In a stagnant worldwide market, money needs to be made, and the way to do that is artificially created bubbles. Money pours into a subsection of the economy and everyone flocks to it to make money before the bubble bursts and drags everything back to the mid-line (after the requisite dip into Oh-Shit Territory). So Mike, like most people, hustles and chases bubbles. In this case, he chases war — not as a gun carrier, nor anything so risky — he simply boots up the computer when he walks in the door, takes a piss, and by the time he’s back to the desk Drone@Home is up and running, and he’s in control of an ARV-17 Vulture drone, in a parking slot over Kandahar.

That thing about artificial bubbles being created in a flattened economy? Well, a war’s just one of those cases. And where there’s a bubble, there’s an opportunity. In the case of Drone@Home, there’s money going to the creators, to the ISPs who provide the connections the gamers use, the Air Force gets its share, too, via tax revenues, which trickles to the defense contractors, to the @Home pilots who run the ops, and so on. And then there’s the halo effect — third-party hangers-on that create associated systems to help the Drone@Home pilots more effectively plan their nightly runs — websites based around intelligence on al-Qaeda activity in certain areas, reinforced with a prediction market. Pilots pay money to access the intel, and third-party geeks make a haul on “investing” in certain areas. So when Mike logs into DroneIntel.com, he’s looking for temperature variations in the giant hotspot that is Kandahar.

And that’s when the second backload hits, leaving his fingers trembling, and his eyes hurting. He looks at DroneIntel, then at the Drone@Home screens, and realizes Kandahar is not important tonight. Panjshir is, despite the relatively-low price set on any action taking place in the region tonight.

He trusts the backload, calls up a new Vulture which, like the last, is driving in a racetrack oval at 60,000 feet, and running quiet. All three screens in his room go to drone infodump. On the left screen, his hand scrawls a new flight plan, that takes the vehicle on a course ten kilometers north of Bazarak, the capital of the province, and almost entirely non-noteworthy in the grander scheme of things. Not tonight, though, and he knows it.

Knowing these things should scare the shit out of him, but somewhere in between the cash from the sports book and the strangeness his life has suddenly become, he doesn’t really give a shit. Because he knows that something near Bazarak has something to do with his highly illicit backload.