Not Quite Skynet with Clancy Nacht

November 18, 2015

Not Quite Skynet

I’m Clancy Nacht, and I’m here to talk about my new book, the sci fi thriller romance, Strange Times.

This isn’t my first time at the m/m rodeo. I’ve written several novels and novellas in the past, including the Black Gold series and The WASPs, which was originally released at Dreamspinner Press way back in my early days of writing. Funnily to me, the books I often read are horror and thrillers, but what was in my heart and soul to write was always romance. I think when it came to romance, I had things to say, but it hasn’t been until recently that I’ve really started to merge those interests.

Like many kids, I was taken to see the Star Wars series as a child and I loved it. I wanted to be Han Solo (though in the neighborhood I was always cast as Leia–she’s not bad either but hrmf) but I wanted a light saber. I spent hours with other kids playing war with sticks, imagining epic battles between good and evil. As I got older, I read Asimov and Bradbury, planting the seeds for a love of a genre I wouldn’t write in until much, much later.

This is my first longer work of sci fi. I’ve written the odd short story where you can create a very quick sketch of a vision of the future, but this story required me to think a lot harder and more deeply about what this vision of the future was.

I was working for an electric company and spent a good deal of time considering the power grid. As we add more electric conveniences, we are, as with everything in America, adding to an already overburdened infrastructure which may or may not be able to handle it. Pertinent to this particular novel was the concept of the Smart Grid, which is a blanket term for an electrical grid that can communicate with appliances in your home.

Say your air conditioning/heating unit is able to talk to the grid, which is then able to talk to an application on your smartphone. Say you’re on vacation and realize that you left your thermostat set to 72 and it’s 100 degrees outside. You don’t need to pay for all of that extra cooling, so you set it to 85 from wherever you’re vacationing. Thermostats are the front line for this concept, but the idea is to get all appliances on that grid so you can turn lights on or off, check on your fridge, basically control all your electronics remotely.

It’s hardly Skynet, but amusingly, some people are very, very alarmed by this and would write in on social media that the “chatter” between the thermostat and the grid gave them headaches. Others became very concerned that their appliances might be spying on them. Both suggest very interesting ideas and stories, but this idea of appliance spying and our reliance on smartphones is really what inspired the world of thought control in Strange Times.

That world has been hit by war and disaster but picks up the bones of civilization as we know it–now put under the control of a violent right wing extremist who is deadly serious about eradicating homosexuality. There’s also a symbiotic species of alien whose arrival on earth saves us from ecological disaster….but the aliens have their own agenda and are rumored to feast on humans. Those named criminals are sacrificed to the aliens.

Just to be who they are in this oppressive world, our heroes have to become rebels. Homosexuals are given the option to be reprogrammed and join the military or die. One of the main characters, Turk, is an ex-soldier who turns militant rebel. Alex is a young man about to enter college who’d successfully hidden his homosexuality until being caught in a honeytrap set up by the oppressive government. It’s Turk’s job to save him.

On top of being sexy and exciting, I hope this story also gets people thinking. To that end, one of the ideas posed does have to do with our devices. When you think about it, with GPS on in our phones, our banking information, our email, our texts, our contacts…our devices can paint a frighteningly accurate picture of us. Never before have we had such an invasive set of information collected in a one-stop shop sort of place. Yet, it’s just so convenient to have and use.

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Do you ever think about the data that is being compiled? Do you worry about that? Do you think only people doing things that are bad should be worried? Leave a comment and let me know what you think.

For these and other slightly frightening thoughts, you can find me in spooky omnipresence:

Blog: http://www.clancynacht.com/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/clancy.nacht
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2 Responses to “Not Quite Skynet with Clancy Nacht”

  1. Trix says:

    There’s definitely the potential for mistakes (not to mention nefarious deeds by identity thieves and hackers), so I always worry that innocent people will be punished with no ability to convincingly defend themselves.

  2. Clancy Nacht says:

    It is a pretty scary world, especially lately with all of the public shaming. Even if the government doesn’t do anything to you, think about the Fappening, where all those celebrities had their photo accounts from their phones hacked. Those hackers posted all of their naked photos from their sexting. Scary.

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