Category Archives: sci-fi

Another NaNoWriMo Triumph!

This just in from M. D.: she’s completed the NaNoWriMo challenge for another year! I’m very proud of her. She tells me that her work-in-progress, tentatively entitled Noth’Nor, can be loosely called a space western, simply because the story happens on a ranch on another planet. After some doubts about whether she would continue playing with it after November, she told me that she probably will for the simple reason that she hates leaving stuff lying around, half alive…

However, when she started telling me about the story, I decided I had my doubts about whether this is an appropriate branching of her writing.

Well, first of all, it’s not really a space western. Sure, it happens on a ranch, but you’re talking sabotage and attempted murder rather than an oater, and there’s a sprinkling of romance thrown it (oh, pulease …). Not really her style, she says, and I agree. I think she should stick to my case files, at least that stuff really happened, hard as is it to believe. Bad enough she got wrapped up in those cloning stories. That first one, Synergy, maybe could happen; it’s a hundred years in the future. But that other one, the one coming out next year? Clone farms. Huh.

M. D. looks pretty determined to try to finish Noth’Nor, so I’ve decided to keep my trap shut for a while. It’s bad enough Christmas is coming. I don’t want to fight about writing genres on top of it. Too depressing. I’ll just shake her hand and say well done on that NaNo thing and jump her after the new year.

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Destiny’s delayed

Wouldn’t you love being able to say that? Well, unfortunately, I’m not talking of the world’s destiny but of the publication of Meter Destiny, the latest installment in my case files. It just happened that M. D. was talking about it with her publisher Zumaya Otherworlds, and they’ve decided to delay at least 6 months. She says she’s not all that upset since she hasn’t had time to think of promoting the book at all, what with her trip to Rome and NaNoWriMo.

I’m not that upset about it either. It’ll give me more time to sort out my notes on the Kayzar case that I solved last year.

Okay, I had some help from Aldus, Claire, and Fred. But who ended up with the kids in the first place? Yours truly.

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Jack is coming back: it’s Meter Destiny

md_cover.jpgYes, for all those who are following my adventures, I’ll be relating another one in Meter Destiny, coming out this Fall. Here’s a bit of a tease:

Ambrose peered at me, an amused grin on his face. It was clear that he knew exactly what I was thinking. “Ever hear of the three Fates, Mr. Meter?”
“As in the Greek goddesses who determine and control the length of each person’s life?”
“I’m impressed. Most people don’t know about them.”
“Classical education. My mother hoped I’d become a priest.”
“Ha! It didn’t take, I see.”
“Nothing’s wasted.”
Ambrose nodded. “I knew you were a smart one. I’m gonna need a smart buck if I want to get out of this mess. What else do you know about them?”
“That’s about all I remember.”
“Hmm. Let me expand, then. There’s Clotho, who’s in charge of spinning the thread of life. She calls herself Linda, these days. Lachesis, or Cam, coordinates the measurement of that thread. Atropos has the hardest job. She decides when and where to cut. When to end a life. That’s why they often call her the Crone. Hard to accept getting snuffed by a beautiful woman.”
“Atropos, she has another name, too?”
“Ialysa.”
“Okay. Linda, Cam, and Ialysa. What do the Fates have to do with me?”
“Don’t you get it? That’s what CompuLife is all about, man. Spinning, measuring, and cutting the thread of life of humans. Linda, Cam, and Ialysa are in charge of the process.”
“They don’t think they’re goddesses, I hope.”
“Their identities have never been in question. They’ve been the same people for thousands of years.”
I suppressed another sigh and tried to find a gracious way of getting out of there. Maybe reason would work. “How many people are on Earth, these days? Billions. They must be really busy women.”
“Don’t be a smart ass, boy. We use sophisticated tools these days.” His eyes glazed over with nostalgia. “It was real easy in the beginning. Only a few hundred thousand people, the girls could finish the job by lunchtime. They could have leisure activities, rest up. There was laughter around, and a certain ease. Then Linda got ambitious and got a frame spinner, and that meant more people to manage. We had to hire staff. Project management wasn’t her strongpoint. She let the production run 24/7. You can imagine what that did to the workload. With population growth, it soon became apparent that whoever had thought of the trio system hadn’t done any long-term planning. The girls started fighting amongst themselves, Cam and Ialysa went on strike for a while. I tell you, it was a real mess. We got backed up. Population explosion’s not good. Brings out all sorts of problems. So we had to introduce the plague. Had to do that a couple times more, after that. Drastic way to control population, but there you have it. Even then, we’ve never been able to control increases in the same efficient manner. There’s this complicated formula Cam expressed to explain the problem, but I’ll be damned if I understand it.”
I took a large sip of brandy. Even a year ago, I’d have thought either the old man was trying to scam me or he was delusional. Best scenario, someone was playing a joke on me, but I didn’t think so. All I knew was that I wasn’t running out of the room screaming. I wasn’t sure where Javed’s baloney led, but that damned curiosity of mine would kill me one day. “You still haven’t explained how they manage the lives of billions of people.”
Ambrose grunted. “Ever heard of Oracle?”
“The lady of Delphi or the database?”
He threw me a disgusted glance. “Of course the database. We created that. Meaning the Fates, of course. I just run the business side of it.”
“Dropping the name of a well-known database isn’t quite convincing, I’m afraid, even if the name touches on destiny.”
“We’ll visit the data centre once we’re finished here.”
I took another sip of brandy then looked deep into the fire. Now I understood why he’d sent a thug to bring me here at gunpoint. “Okay, let’s say I believe you. What do you want from me?
“Want?” he barked. “What I want is for you to find Ialysa. She’s been kidnapped.”
“Let me think. Ialysa’s the one who cuts the threads, right? Maybe she simply went on strike again.”
“Cheeky bastard. Didn’t you listen to anything I said? You can laugh as much as you want, but this situation is catastrophic. Oh, we can carry on for a while without her, but our system needs constant, minute decisions. Unless you find her and get her back to us, the Earth will continue to fill up, but no one’s gonna die. No one. Ever again. Now, how funny do you find that?”

©2007 M. D. Benoit

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Cover Art for Meter Destiny

Meter Destiny, the third SF Mystery in the Jack Meter Case Files series will hopefully come out before Christmas. To celebrate its release, Zumaya Otherworlds has decided to change the style of all three covers. Here, as an installment, is the cover of Meter Destiny:

tn MD Cover
As I began to walk to the mouth of the alley, the setting began to change. Gradually, colors leached out until I stood in a black and white world, as if I’d entered a 1940’s movie. The alley was gone and in front of me stood a three-meter-high wrought iron gate that pierced an even higher stone wall. Above the gate, something had been carved on the arch, but it was eroded and illegible. Beyond the gate, I spied a small courtyard that separated another stone wall from the wall I stood next to.

Dried leaves tumbled across the flagstones and whispered as they moved. To the right, brick walls flanked a set of stone stairs leading up. I pushed at the gate; it opened with a groan of hinges in need of industrial-strength oil.
As soon as I stepped into the courtyard, the gate snapped closed behind me. Of course. I didn’t even bother testing if I could open it again. One predictable goddess was enough. This place was either Charlie’s dream or it was another roadblock. If this place was just another snag, I’d use the telecarb.

I climbed the two dozen stairs and stopped at the top. The stairway merged into a path that led into an overgrown garden. Tall, leafless trees soared through a denser kind of trees that looked like pine or cedar, but their trunks were thick and sinuous and branches flattened out at the top like tables. Other trees had fallen everywhere. Dense ivy covered their bark. Further down was another short set of stairs going up to another level.

I followed the path, Fred on my heels. It felt weird to walk in a world that existed only in shades of grey. Even then, I could tell it was fall in this garden from the denuded trees and the pale, dried-out look of the grass. Here and there, copses of younger trees hugged the track then gave way further in to more fallen ivy-covered trunks, to stone structures that looked like mausoleums, or to dried-out patches of knee-high grass. In one of the thickets, a woman stood, one arm hugging a tree, her head leaning on the bark. I stopped, hailed her. She didn’t move.

I entered the woods, skirted brambles and slippery trunks. Several meters away, I was about to call out again when I saw why she hadn’t answered: she was made of stone. I nearly turned back, but something in her face, something familiar, kept me going. When I was close enough, a shiver skittered up my spine and raised the fine hairs on my arms. I knew her. She was the decorator for my new apartment, the one who’d wanted me to choose between two equally ridiculously named colors. Her face had a dreamy look, as if she were thinking about her lover or a box of good cigars. I now knew in what condition I’d find Charlie.

“Shit.”

Destiny. Friendship. Family. Jack Meter hasn’t spent a lot of time on these ideas and has avoided them completely since Annie’s violent death three years before. But the claim of a strange group calling themselves the Fates from Mythology that it is still controlling life on Earth, and the Fates’ allegation that one of them was kidnapped, force him to review where these concepts fit in his life.

As Jack Meter unravels the kidnapping mystery by wading through a series of riddles and lies, and as he realizes his new clients are using him and his friends in a game of their own, he finally understand he must accept his own destiny. But will that understanding come in time his friend’s lives and stop a sociopathic alien from destroying everything Jack knows and believes in?

Check back often to find out when Meter Destiny will be released, and about a great contest that could net you the first two books in the series!

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