Virtual Silence E-book Free Fri-Sun on Amazon

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Virtual Silence is live on Kindle

Kindle Version

I have re-written Virtual Silence, clarifying the role of the aliens and the giant corporations. There’s more about the relationships between humans, and less about the political details. I’m very proud of the way it turned out.

Being Boring

It turns out that the complaint I have about the press, and by extension, Western culture, focusing 95% of its bandwidth on the 5% right and 5% left extremists, is universal.

So if 90% of the people are tired of hearing news centered only on the 10% that live and think on the fringe, then why do the 90% not put a stop to it?

Because news is entertainment.

Being reasonable is boring.

More on Virtual Silence

As I wrote down all of my ideas for my novel Virtual Silence years ago, and started writing the manuscript, I wondered how would I categorize this book? It has youth, love and sex. It has age, wisdom and death. It has crooked businessmen and terrorists. It has a songwriter in love and organic cookies. So how do you boil all of that down to one line you can pitch?

At one point I had merged all four of the stories into one, like David Mitchell’s Cloud Atlas. But later I broke it up into the novel and three related stories to eliminate confusion. They’re all connected, but they have different focal characters.

In the story also called Virtual Silence, Harry Bones escapes his abusive step mother and tries to woo Callie Wilson-Cox, his girl next door who has moved from San Antonio to Oakland to start her adult life. Wooing her in Oakland doesn’t work out, so he returns to San Antonio and gets a mail room job with the Amalgamate United Corporation. The AUC is the largest corporation on Earth, and owns a substantial share of many governments, including the US. The AUC arranges for the homeless to be shipped to Mexico where they are obligated to work for a Mexican drug lord, out of sight and mind of the US economy. Harry meets Simon DeMont, the sensitive HR director who is secretly in love with Morgan Vale, the Procurement Director, who is the leader of a protest/hacker group that seeks to shut down the mind-numbing and controlling media.

What Harry doesn’t know is that Callie is in love with him, and is on her way back to Texas to jump into his arms. What Simon doesn’t know is that Morgan wants him to ask her out, even if he is soft and weak. And what Morgan doesn’t know is that Simon already suspects she is the leader of the Virtual Silence Brigade and isn’t bothered by it. What none of them realize is that Tim Dank, the devious, artificially upbeat Facility Director at their site, has used his influence and insider knowledge to garner a majority share in the AUC, and is on his way to becoming the most powerful man on Earth. Does his executive assistant, Art Smith, support or thwart his insidious plans? The tension and intrigue build to an explosive crescendo where bricks fly, buildings rock, and Art and love triumph over greed and power.

In the second story, The Strobe, we learn more about Garrison Ensor, an accountant with the AUC who used to work for their competitor, the UUM, until he got laid off after a huge corporate growth spurt. His crush and former boss Janna McCafferty is also let go, and the two of them decide to have a night on the town. They discover a shiny orb of energy that turns out to be an accident of alien technology. They use it to travel through time and space to learn how aliens created corporations, and encouraged humans to make weapons and wars. The aliens wanted humans to stay focused on war, technology and TV so they could take the Earth’s resources without a fight. Garrison and Janna do not age in the Strobe, so they must decide whether to spend eternity together in this alternate universe, or return to the real world and deal with all of its imperfections.

The Money Machine is about an electronic money-laundering device that former hockey star Ronnie Day creates in order to buy back American slaves from Mexican drug lord Juan Manual Hermosa Chihuahua. Day has a plan to ship them by train to Alaska where they can live free, if not wealthy or warm, on a commune he created. In a corrupt world, one must be careful with whom one does business. So Ronnie gets a big surprise when the train doors open up in northern British Columbia, and a new life begins for him and his lover, former AUC executive Kitty Le Monde.

The Dialer is about the Second Coming of Sonny Mahon, who finds himself in a wrinkled business suit and sandals on a sidewalk in Downtown San Antonio, just down the street from the AUC Building. He tries to tell people about love and forgiveness, but no one wants to hear it. They are too busy going to work, or shopping, or getting to the next big thing. Venture Capitalist Burt Long sees Sonny as an opportunity, and convinces him to work for his new 900 number start up as a Dial-a-Jesus. When Sonny confronts Burt about his tiny paycheck, Burt fires him and tosses out his auto dialing machine, which Sonny retrieves from the dumpster outside. Art Smith convinces Sonny to start his own business with the dialer, calling people at random and helping them solve their direst problems.

So this book asks this question: Do you believe your life is about more than just where you work, what you watch, or what you buy? Is your passion for sale or subject to terms and conditions? Is your soul a wholly-owned subsidiary of the AUC and its affiliated companies? Or are you some assembly required?

It’s your choice to buy or sell the corprocracy.

The Golden Age of Not My Problem

You apply for a job. You get an automated email saying thanks for your interest, we’ll contact you on the maybe, but probably not side. Have a great day. That was a computer program thumbing its teeth at you. No human eyes ever see your resume’. No one ever tells you they hired the boss’s nephew who isn’t at all qualified, but that’s on a need to know basis. And you don’t.

Your bank has an important message about your account. So a computer calls you and tells you something is messed up, please call them back. You call them back and a computer phone tree answers and requires you to select from four options, three different times. You hit the right button eventually and the computer tells you everything is fixed. Maybe it was never messed up in the first place. You’ll never know, because it takes 20 minutes of fighting with 800 numbers and phone trees and hold times before a human being finally picks up and tells you that you called the wrong department. Your phone battery is dying and CSI:Reykjavik  is on in ten minutes anyway.

You get your policy information from your insurance agent and it says your home is insured for about $30,000 more than it’s ever been worth. Which means you’re paying a higher premium than you need to, because they’ll never give you what it’s insured for. You call the company and a nice man eventually picks up because you waited 21 minutes through 18 automated messages insisting your call is very important to them. The nice man tells you your agent will have to fix that. You call your agent and his voice mail system directs you to the phone tree for the company, where you wait 21 more minutes for another nice man to tell you that your agent will have to fix that for you. You call your agent again and again and he never answers. Three days later he calls you back and tries to tell you that it costs more to replace your house than the market value. You tell him in the nicest possible way that he is full of shit, and that he needs to fix your policy. He says he will get back to you in a few days, but you know he is more likely to roll over after he hangs up and tell his girlfriend what a jerk you are.

I don’t believe in a Golden Age of Anything. I don’t think there’s ever been a time when everything worked right, or when everyone was nice to each other, or when all people were rewarded for every nice thing they did.

But this?

We are living in the Age of You’re Not My Problem.

So have a nice day!

Floating into Eternity

So here’s the thing. People float.  They finish high school, or maybe they don’t. They get through college, or never try. They get married. They get divorced. They have babies. Babies grow up and learn to float. All the time; they float. Most of them. Almost all of them. Us, too. We float, right?

You can’t afford a new car, or that trip to Europe, or to buy a house. You can’t save enough money because you don’t earn enough. And you don’t earn enough because your job sucks. It really sucks.

Some people have jobs they love.  Sometimes those jobs pay well.

Yeah, but they just got lucky, like winning the lottery. Right place at the right time. Lightning strikes, but it doesn’t strike me.

Horse hockey. You make your own lightning. But not if you’re happy just floating.

You have to know the right people, you say.

So go out and meet those people. There’s nothing wrong with networking.

I did everything I could, you say. It just isn’t the right time.

That’s a crock. You applied for one job. Or you dropped out of the community college after one semester. It got hard. You quit.

I had a child, I had to quit, you say.

You have a child; you have to show them how to swim in this life. You have to get yourself a better boat. Quitters don’t get boats.

Naw, you say, because only the rich have boats.

So go get rich, quick or slow, but do it if that’s what you want. Get some better tools, or learn some better lines, because these are getting old.

I can’t afford college, or starting my own business, or moving to a better town, or anything else, you say.

You can’t afford to work for minimum wage, or live in a drug-infested neighborhood, or spend your time with all of those people who just want to float. Some of them are drowning and you just watch.

I can’t swim, you say.

You never tried, I say.

I’m drowning, too, you say.

Swimming is about moving your arms and legs. It’s like walking, only wetter.

I don’t like the water, you say.

You’re freaking soaked with it, I say.

The Internet Bill of Rights

1) If I do this thing I’m considering, will I make lots of money?

2) If it’s illegal, will I be able to avoid getting caught?

3) If I get caught, will my attorneys get me out of trouble for less money than I will make doing this thing I’m considering?

4) If it costs me a lot to get caught, can I somehow turn the scandal into some other profitable venture, like a book or a movie?

5) Will any of this negative or positive press help me get elected or re-elected?

6) If you can answer yes to any of these questions, then yours must be a darned good idea. Do it.

 

It sure feels true. If you can grow a company to be completely faceless, soulless, heartless, inhumane; then you can be stinking rotting rich.