||Double Dragon Publishing
||March 19, 2004
A cybersatire set 200 years in a future that's starting now.
Double Dragon Publishing
Double Dragon Publishing
They have his family. He has their secret. Their world is collapsing. He has just hours before he looses everything. He has only one friend and ally. The computer virus that started the whole thing in the first place.
The Great Nano Canyon
“Cold murdering bitch. Damn, just one night with her, one hour!” muttered Jeemo, as he wiped drool from his chin and took off the white robe. The orange spikes on his head stood straight up like sharp erections.
Jeemo Roosenvelt would gladly have taken the sexclone’s place if he could have fallen to his death with his brain fresh full of sex with Bella and the smell of her cruelty seeping into his gray flesh.
He stared at his naked body in the wall length mirror. “Perfection!”
Vast folds of flesh rolled over thick layers of fat. Seven feet, seven hundred pounds. Jeemo loved the symmetry of the numbers. Somewhere under that mass his penis twitched crazily. He could feel it. “Yes. Throb my hidden toy, throb for the goddess Bella, psycho lust kitten of the emerald palace.”
He turned sideways, looking up and down the bulk of his body, at the gray face bulging out of his shoulders, and the fan of orange hair spikes forming a line from one ear to the other. His hands and feet were small and delicate; his movement as he turned before the mirror, fluid and graceful. He loved to watch himself move. He loved to watch himself standing still. He loved to watch himself eat, sit, lying down. Every wall of every room in his mansion, except one, was a mirror. Through the mirrors he could watch his enormous girth stretch into an infinity of reflected images.
A tuxedoed serverclone—one of the lower orders of clones, bred without legs, but equipped with anti-gravity boots so that their footsteps would not irritate their owners—floated to his side with a glass of red wine on a silver tray. It was reflected thousands of times over in the walls. "Dinner will be ready in ten minutes, Mr. Roosenvelt."
Jeemo whisked the wine glass to his lips with a single motion and the serverclone floated away. Sipping wine, Jeemo bounced lightly, mounds of skin shaking like sickly jelly, to an arched window. The glass in the window could withstand the force of an F7 tornado—and it had.
Outside, the moon spilled over a Mid-west gutted like a war zone, spreading into the darkness, deep into the New Tornado Alley leading right up to the edge of the Great Nano Canyon. In the distance, strange light played in the air over sections of the canyon, dancing in bursts of blue and orange. This was normal.
The canyon wasn't.
Less than a hundred years into the new millennium, the human race came close to becoming cheese soup. It started with the world's smallest computer, a computer so small, it could only be seen with an electron microscope. It was the first assembler nanobot, a concoction of seven atoms that had been circuited, programmed and instructed to build—though what the nanobot was supposed to build was never known. In the process of building, it killed ten million people, including the people who had programmed it, and the last communication with them had been from the project's lead Nano-applications Specialist, Milton Nadd.
His pallid face had filled the phone monitor as he whispered, "My god, it's cheese soup..."
Then the screen had gone blank.
No one will ever know why it was cheese soup, but here’s how the nanobot was supposed to work: it was supposed to visit neighboring atoms and nudge them around until it had built another nanobot exactly like itself. Then the two nanobots were to visit neighboring atoms and nudge them around until they had built two more nanobots exactly like themselves. Then the four nanobots…
It was much like E-bola, only faster. In fact, it was so fast that, by the time Milton Nadd had said "cheese soup", he was cheese soup. And his videophone was cheese soup. The other researchers and scientists and administrators and computer technicians in the room with Milton Nadd were all cheese soup. Desks, computers, chairs, paper clips, Far Side calendars, pencils and papers and books were all cheese soup. A million dollar electron microscope shook twice then collapsed into a splash of cheese soup that turned most of the floor into cheese soup. The walls literally flowed into the floor and the ceiling fell and bubbled into the yellow-orange liquid. Within minutes, the entire underground high-security maximum-containment, fool-proof, fail-safe, absolutely accident free and "Senator-Jonz-you-won't-ever-have-to-worry-about-anything-escaping-from-this-place-or-my-name-isn't-Doctor-Milton-Nadd" facility was cheese soup, and it was working its way up through the ground, turning layers of red granite, quartz schist and an elevator containing junior research assistant, Jaqui Wright, who, strangely, had always wanted to be cheese soup, into cheese soup.
Now the assemblers were in gear, revved up and ready to rock, rarin' to chew into the atoms of igneous and metamorphic rock, bite into the neutrons of trees and grass and asphalt and spit out cheese soup. Highways, lakes and towns, swimming pools and rivers, airports and trains, canoes full of frothy cold beer, and entire cities all churned into cheese soup. Hundreds of square miles of North Dakota were cheese soup by the time the news began to spread. Around the world, people panicked and rioted while others prepared quietly to become cheese soup. Jerry Springer was thawed from cryostasis and hosted a special on people who had sex in vats of cheese soup. Leaders of the Unified Global Village pondered and debated over international chat forums and concluded that it was time to try something new, and soup was always OK. Just when the world was ready to accept cheese soupness, the assemblers stopped.
There was no apparent reason. They just stopped, after having created a mass of cheese soup that stretched from Winnipeg to Fargo and from Williston to Duluth. The whole planet held its breath in unison, as the ocean of cheese soup trembled like gunky jello without advancing a single atom in any direction. It stayed like that for three days. Then the giant mass of cheese soup went "ping"—not a loud ping, but a barely audible "ping", like two expensive champagne glasses toasted by ladybugs. By the time the "ping" had "inged", the cheese soup was gone. In its place was a perfectly round bowl in the earth, its walls polished and smooth. Millions of people who had flocked to the edges of the cheese soup stared quietly, their faces a wall of open-eyed non-expression around the massive hole left by the cheese soup.
Nobody knew why it disappeared. Nobody knew why it stopped. Only the handful of Nanotechnologists Milton Nadd had called just before he became cheese soup knew why or how it had started, and they later restricted all nanoresearch to space stations far from the Earth's orbit until the research was proved safe. Or at least somewhat reasonably safe.
Of course, there were those who thought a giant empty bowl was a big improvement over the former landscape.
For the briefest flicker of time, Jeemo’s mind drew him back to the failure of nano-treatments to change his body, rejecting him like a bad odor. Then the rejection by his parents, as though he were an insult to their DNA, and then his childhood spent with serverclones and software. Other than his parents, he’d never been in the same room as a real human, never touched real flesh other than his own. But that was all he’d needed, to feel himself real and nano-resistant, so perfect even the bots couldn’t improve him. He was the new standard of human perfection, and he loved every cubic inch of space he occupied.
But he’d gladly die for just a brush of Bella’s cold touch.
“Hot damn! That crazy woman’s going to fuck my brains out and flush me into the ocean.” The throbbing between his huge legs went into hyper drive at the thought of plunging into the ocean with Bella’s acid love fluids burning into his body. All he had to do was get the woman and the girl for her.
He sipped his wine as he stared into the sky over the Great Nano Canyon. The pink hole that was his mouth curved into something like a smile. And there’s the key to it all, he thought, why didn’t I think of that sooner? I’ll move it later. He’ll never find them now.
A sweet aroma curled into his nostrils. Mmm, honey glazed ham. There would be Poinsettia Eggs en Gelee. Potatoes Savonnette and watercress soup. And none of it would taste like chicken. Oh, it might hint of chicken on the aftertaste—chicken was inescapable these days—but the glazed ham would taste like glazed ham on the first few chews.
Susan DiPlacido in Blue Iris Journal
So. What do cheese soup, sentient virtual reality beings, and a seven-hundred pound sado-masochist have to do with each other? Pick up The War Bug and unlock the mysteries. Part sci-fi, part action adventure, and plenty of dark humor is what Biff Mitchell weaves together, along with his eclectic and electric cast in his latest offering.
Abner Hayes is Virtual Code Geneticist, where he works online studying DNA codes of plants and animals and then simulating them offline. However, his offline world is a drag. He's alone, he lives in a hovel, and his parents have already been "included", which Abner fears will also someday happen to him. Especially if his secret about his online life is to ever leak out. Because online, he has a beautiful wife and daughter. They are not avatars from the real world like he is, nor are they flat coded programs. His wife Claire and daughter Cassie are the only two online entities to have made the leap from programs to sentient, thinking and feeling, beings. However, their time is limited because the 'net is under siege and ready to collapse. Abner has created a bubble protection for his family, but they've been abducted by some sinister forces who've figured out his secret and want to unlock it for themselves. The only way to save his family is to team up with the deadly, ultimate destruction virus, known as The War Bug, to find and rescue his family before the entire world crumbles to oblivion.
Thrills and chills abound as the clock ticks down and the race is on for Abner to save his family. This is a rich and complex world, but Mitchell makes it wholly comprehensible without ever losing momentum. In his signature style, the satire and laughs are woven throughout, along with a plethora of zinging one-liners and unique descriptions. The characters are rich and varied, fully-fleshed and wholly intriguing. The good guys have edges, the bad guys have allure. And even amid the brewing chaos in this strange landscape, the story flies so high and resonates because it's so very human.
It's rare that a novel can so thoroughly capture the mind, heart, and imagination. Biff Mitchell is a blessed breed of writer who mixes the real, surreal, and potentially real by fusing philosophy, science, human emotions, humor, and terror. And The War Bug is this writer at the top of his game.
Patricia Spork in eBook Reviews Weekly
Two-hundred years in the future, nanotechnology is at its peak, although research still commences. Humans not only live and work in the real world, but also live and work online as virtual beings interacting with software programs. Abner Hayes, a Virtual Code Geneticist, prefers living in this virtual world. Using DNA coding, he's illegally created the first sentient programs - Claire, his wife, and Cassie, his teenage daughter.
Unbeknownst to Abner, immortal life is sought by Bella Bjork, a beautiful perverted sex-monger and murderer. She teams with genius programmer Jeemo Roosenvelt, a seven-foot, 700-pound sado-masochist, who seeks to break the coding of Abner's sentient programs.
But the Net is falling apart as war rages between online cities, placing Claire and Cassie in life-threatening danger. So Abner's created the world's smallest bubble computer as a sanctuary for his beloved virtual family until a new Net is developed. But before he can transfer his family's programs to the bubble computer, Claire and Cassie disappear.
As Abner searches online for Claire and Cassie, he meets the War Bug, a conniving virus behind the Net's degeneration. The War Bug, at a steep price, offers his assistance to find Claire and Cassie. But can this destructive virus and Abner save them before the Net completely crumbles, or before Jeemo fragments and deletes them all?
Biff Mitchell does a stunning job pulling a reader into his virtual world. Characters are honely carved and dialogue spiced with dark humor. Love and deceit fill the pages, as does technological intrigue and adventuresome thrills. To me, the ending is set up for a sequel, which I'd enjoy reading if ever written and published. So I highly recommend "The War Bug" by Biff Mitchell to Science Fiction fans who can stomach sexual perversion, grotesque humor, and total cyber satire.
Barry Hunter in Baryon Magazine
Imagine if you will a computer crafted on a strand of DNA that is able to store all the information that is available today and is also able to process any problem in hardly any time at all. The creator of this commits suicide and the computer is lost for 150 years. Yang Yin rediscovers the DNA Bubble Computer and when he is “screwed” by the marketing group, he unleashes a program to exact his revenge
Fifty years later, Abner Hayes has taken the DNA computer and used it to create a world wherein he has created a family and enabled them with life that may be immortal. Bella Bjork, the richest person in the world wants the secret of immortality and will do anything to get it.
The only problems are that not everyone is as sane as they need to be and a rogue program, THE WAR BUG, that was introduced by Yang Yin to destroy the net at a future date.
Mitchell has taken a very unusual cast and given the internet a twist to give us a look at a future that may not be what we expect. This is an interesting and unusual book that deserves more than a passing glance. Give it a try.
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