Today it is my pleasure to welcome author Floor Kist and his science fiction novel, Can Machines Bring Peace?
Can a machine bring peace? Or are humans built for war?
450 years after Earth was bombed back to the Stone Age, a young diplomat searches for lost human settlements. Kazimir Sakhalinsk narrowly escapes an exploration mission gone wrong and searches for ways to make future missions safer for his people. A festival introduces him to the Marvelous Thinking Machine.
A machine Kazimir believes can change everything
For his admiral it’s nothing more than a silly fairground gimmick. But Kazimir is convinced. Convinced enough to go against orders and build one of his own. Convinced enough to think he can bring peace. Convinced enough to think humanity is worth saving. What if he’s wrong?
He asks his hikikomori sister, a retired professor filling her empty days, the owner of the festival machine and the admiral’s daughter for help. Will that be enough?
About the Author
Floor Kist lives in a Dutch town called Voorburg with his wife, two sons, two cats and their dog Monty. He is currently deputy-mayor for the Green Party and an AI researcher. He’s concerned about current divisive public and political debates. But he’s also interested in how AI can be used to resolve society’s big issues.
This is his first novel. He’s been carrying the idea about a story about AI bringing peace for a long time. The Covid-19 lockdown in the Netherlands suddenly gave him time to actually write it.
Find the Author
Link to website: http://www.floorkist.nl/author
Buy the Book
Yes, there is a giveaway
The author will be awarding a $30 Amazon/BN gift card to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour.
This post is part of a tour sponsored by Goddess Fish.
A Guest Post
A big thank you to author Floor Kist for sharing the following guest post with us. I always find it fascinating to learn more about an author’s thought processes as they research a novel!
Hi, Sherrie. Thank you so much for having me on your site. I really like how you’re fascinated by superpowers, because deep down you believe each of us has extraordinary abilities we can draw on when forced to deal with dangers in our own lives. I never thought of it that way. I tend to believe each of us does have cool abilities that help us do extraordinary things. At least we’re both optimistic about what each of us can do.
Sherrie asked this about my novel Can Machines Bring Peace? Hope in a Post-Apocalyptic Age.
How much vocabulary did you create for your world of the future and what, if anything, did you use to guide the creation of your words?
Boiling it down to the actual answer to that question, I only created one new word. But I’d like to explain the principles of the world building I did, and why it only led to one word.
I didn’t create an entirely new world, I retrofitted the existing one. The novel is set in Japan of the 25th century. However, it has a 1930s vibe, because of the loss of modern technology after the Final War. So, in a sense, it became a historical setting. And most of my research was on Japan today and in the past.
Besides, you don’t really need new vocabulary when dealing with the Japanese Imperial Family. A Japanese emperor can have several names. Let me give you an example with the previous emperor Akihito: During his reign, in Japan, Akihito was never referred to by his name, but only by “His Majesty the Emperor”. The era of his reign from 1989 to 2019 bears the name Heisei, and according to custom he will be renamed Emperor Heisei after his death.
In my novel, Empress Suiko starts out as Princess Nukatabe. I took the name from Japanese history. Suiko was the first of eight women to take on the role of empress regnant, an empress who rules, not an empress because she’s the emperor’s wife.
So, do I really need new vocabulary?!
But I did need new technology.
I needed to adapt existing technological knowledge to the 1930s. The backstory is that just before the Final War, the Japanese government quickly built underground vaults. However, during that time primary systems began failing as well. Specifically, air filtering systems. Those suddenly broke down in more than half the vaults, killing everyone living there. They simply couldn’t revert those systems in time. Then, a brilliant engineer called Kirisu Mikase literally saved the Empire. She developed an oxygen-assisted aluminum/carbon dioxide power cell that uses electrochemical reactions to both sequester carbon dioxide and produce electricity. In one amazing swoop, air filtration systems kept working and also became efficient energy producers.
Her innovation led to more hydrogen-based energy. Because they didn’t have enough room in the vaults, they needed a power source that could be stored efficiently: electro-chemical hydrogen can be packed into small power cells. And with the CO2 sequestering power source, manufacturing hydrogen wasn’t a problem anymore. The cells are used to power surface households, factories and even airplane engines.
And, for the Thinking Machine computer, I needed vacuum tubes technology. A rudimentary model would need 3000 tubes. This has to do with the amount of memory that can be stored into the tubes. The vault engineers improved upon the basic vacuum tube by creating vacuum-channel transistors. An important benefit was that these were just as easily fabricated. By using field emission rather than the thermionic electron emission, the vacuum-channel transistors don’t require a heat source. And they don’t really need vacuum either. Instead, they use helium. That means the electrons traverse the air gap a lot faster than if they had to pass through an electrode. So, they are smaller and can be packaged more effectively.
No new vocabulary here either, I’m afraid.
So, what about that one new word: “tairikusei”. It means “continental” in the novel. And it is used as a derogatory word for outsider. I didn’t want to use existing Japanese words for obvious reasons. The protagonist is the son of Russian parents (or what’s left of it). And in the traditionalistic setting of the 1930s Japan his heritage doesn’t work in his favor. However, he and his band of outcasts-in-their-own-way actually build a machine that brings peace. And it’s their diversity that makes them succeed.
No new words, but an age old story.
My Favorite Excerpt
The memorial service is solemn. The admiral thanks the fallen officers for the ultimate sacrifice they made for the Empire. To the gathered wives, children, parents and grandparents he swears that they will not be forgotten. He tells the assembled men that he will do everything in his power to avoid these catastrophes in the future. And finally, he decorates the survivors, for their bravery and courage under fire. They are fine examples of Imperial officers.
Sugimoto shares the sentiment, of course. He is glad the admiral arranged this event. But it does feel a bit hollow, considering what happened to Kazimir Sakhalinsk. He steps forward when the admiral calls his name, announcing that he will lead the next mission.
He’s not surprised with his new orders. After Maeda’s death, Sugimoto expected as much. He gave his new team the report he received from the Kirisu-device as an example of what he expected. And they worked on the new one diligently. But he had to ask them to perfect it three times. And it took more than a week to prepare. Sakhalinsk’s Thinking Machine did it in half an hour. And Sakhalinsk’s is better.
Ogata will court-martial him for sure if Sugimoto visits Kazimir. But that’s preferable to dying in the middle of nowhere, isn’t it? It’s not as if Sakhalinsk will tell. He decides to risk it.
Floor Kist — we appreciate your sharing your book Can Machines Bring Peace? with us! Best of luck with sales, and with all of your future writing.