Is this the first unprompted story written by a computer?

An iPad

An iPad

This was created by an iPad

While on Holiday in Spain more than a year ago now, my partner’s iPad appended a story manuscript with this at the end of the file, gradually adding to it over a period of weeks:

Lopressor
Copyright © 2013 by my partner’s iPad (Serial Number on Enquiry)
All Rights Reserved

Hello again hello hello we’re just now hello hello hello how are you doing my dear Lopressor

I named it Lopressor for copyright reasons (I want to protect the iPad!).

Just look at this masterpiece of fiction, assuming it is fiction! Not only has it constructed a full sentence but it has created a name from nowhere. Lopressor is not a name used in the work of fiction in the rest of the file. This is a completely new name. Not only has the iPad created a story, but has invented a name. It’s also interesting that the name ‘Lopressor’ is almost an anagram of ‘Processor.’

I have waited almost 2 years for any additional text but this appears to be the complete work.

This is my challenge to you and anybody else out there: can anybody else produce fiction created by any computer without prompting? If you can’t, I claim this as the first fiction written unprompted by a computer. Drop me a line in the comments below if you dispute my claim!

Deluxe Boxed Set of The War for Iron: Element of Civilization Series
This is coming soon! It will include 5 full-colour illustrations:

Cutaway View of the Tracked Drive System of the MCS Mark 6

Cutaway View of the Tracked Drive System of the MCS Mark 6

1. The Mobile Command Station (MCS) Mark 6
2. The SU 401 Rebel Alliance jet fighter
3. The alien organic plasma Clover Leaf rifle
4. The X.77 Laser Carbine
5. The LC5150 Laser Carbine

Here is a sneak preview, showing of a cutaway view of the tracked drive system of the MCS Mark 6.

Lastly, the Autumn Lazlo Newsletter will go out in the next 3 weeks. It will include specific dates for 2 forthcoming books so if you haven’t yet signed up, sign up for the Newsletter here (and don’t forget you get 3 FREE THRILLERS just for joining!)

How does Jake Nanden, replicant from Too Bright the Sun, interview?

There is an interview with Jake Nanden from the Iron Series here today:

http://libraryoferana.wordpress.com/2014/02/01/character-interview-number-seven-jake-nanden-sci-fi/

If you want to read more about Jake Nanden, read the page for Too Bright the Sun or its sequel, Unknown Place, Unknown Universe.

And don’t forget to subscribe to the Newsletter for Chapter One of Too Bright the Sun for FREE!

What is the most effective way to promote a Sci-Fi book launch?

This week: What is the most effective way to promote a Sci-Fi book launch? Also Lazlo Friend Newsletter, Hinduism and HAL 9000

What is the most effective way to promote a Sci-Fi book launch?

Two beta readers have now completed Iron III: Worlds like dust and it is getting nearer to publication. Science Fiction books are always hard to promote: sci-fi simply doesn’t get the attention of other genres, which is a shame, because it allows you to develop characters and explore elements of human nature in ways that no other genre allows. So I am faced with the problem: how do I promote this book?

In both Book I and Book III of the iron series there are video blogs recorded by some of the main characters; the corporation that supplies arms to the USAC army does so in exchange for sole rights to these video blogs recorded only by officers. The viewers are civilians looking for kicks. It occurred to me that since these blogs are done into a small camera (much like a web-cam today) anyway, they would be really fun and easy to shoot for real.

During one of the free promos for Too Bright the Sun, I met up with Dominic Kay – a British actor who has acted in Hollyoaks and happens to look exactly like my personal image of Jake Nanden. I asked him if he would be willing to shoot a Promo Video for the publication of the third and final part of the Iron Series: World Like Dust, and there is a slim chance he will do it – with a full professional camera crew. It won’t be free for me but I am hoping that it will be a nice way to introduce the final episode in what has become a fairly epic story. The scene choice is the three below (at a push Dominic could pass as Hani Deitner – a character in World Like Dust):

Jake Nanden in Iron I

There are two possible scenes for Jake (the star of the show and only character in all three books).

1. This is midway through the book when he is hastily promoted to replace a dead officer:

I glanced at the piles of crates in the corner of the office marked ‘Roanald’. They had been left for me to go through but I couldn’t face them now. The only crate I was interested in was marked, ‘Nanden’. I flipped the catches and peered inside. It contained the only personal possessions of mine to be retrieved from the CMS which was blown up by the IM. I smiled and reached inside. “Marcus!” I lifted out the crushed pot with a pile of dry soil held to the clay shards by the roots of the miniature sunflower. I couldn’t believe he was still alive and I was grateful some grunt somewhere had even bothered to crate it. The sunflower looked almost dead and was bent right over like a crippled old man. I went to the n-gen and ordered four glasses of water and a large bowl. I replanted the flower in the bowl and poured on all the water before setting it on my desk. I would need a UV light but I could organise that in the morning. I turned on the comms unit and recorded my last company commander message for Amtel.
“Record. Today I’ve taken up my new position as Acting Lieutenant Colonel. I cannot tell you where I’m stationed now or what my new mission will be but I just wanted to say thank you to all of you who’ve followed me over the years and I hope you find another commander to follow. Thanks. Over and out! End record. Terminal on.”

2. This scene is filmed on a space-liner (as in 2001 A Space Odyssey) but you could do it so your face fills the camera or perhaps it could be in a booth on the ship.

(This is Jake talking in first person)
I was tired when I woke in my recliner four days in, on the flight to Mars, but I wanted to send a quick message to Jena. I had thought several times over the last few days of sending one to Katie, but the business with Jena was unfinished and it seemed faithless to abandon it. It was easier to send a message rather than record video or set up a vid meeting. I groggily put on my headband and pressed ‘On’.
“Record: message to Jena Ω. Hi Jena. I spent four days with Mum and Justine… I woke up the other day having had an argument with myself. At least it seemed like it… There is part of me I’m just not… connected with. I cannot remember its voice or words. It is something unknown to me… and it disturbs me. At the same time I am curious about it. I wanted you to know… Thinking about u. Jake. End record.”
Then I sent a brief one to Katie. “Record: message to Katie. Hi space boogle. Just spent four days on J5. Going back now to J4. Got promoted to L. Colonel. Cool eh? See u soon. J. End record.”

Hani Deitner in Iron III

The first bit is background leading up to the recording – the video blog bit is obvious.

Lieutenant Hani Deitner returned with his detail to the Operations Room after just over one hour. They had not been able to take the truck far, and he was exhausted. But every last soldier still able to shoot a laser, now knew what he was doing, and to be at the Hanger in 5 hours.
“Reporting, Colonel: all remaining forces now instructed for retreat!”
“Good work, Lieutenant. Now, you better get a few hours’ sleep. I am gonna need you fully alert for our exit. Oh, and one other thing. I am going to put you in charge of a squad. That means you now have to record your activities for the Amtel blog?”
“Yes, Ma’am! But I thought it had been closed down. Surely there’s no subscribers left?”
“That’s probably true. Today’s will be the last possible entry. The transmitter in the MCS wouldn’t reach the Moon or any other likely remaining allies even in peacetime. But with the Ischians blocking transmissions there’s no hope. This will the only chance for us all to record our last wills and testaments. Even the privates have borrowed sets from commanders to leave theirs. Use the third room on the right. It’s Pfeninghaven’s. Record you message and get some sleep.”
“Yes, sir. Sir?”
“What is it?”
“I had an idea.”
“Go on. I need any ideas I can get.”
“I saw this film, once – a nature film, about a bird which pretended its wing was broken, to avoid predators. What I was thinking was that we should deliberately damage the MCS. Take of one of the POD s and make it look like it’s been torn off. Then rig the side of the Hanger to blow out. We then slip out quietly, looking like the MCS has fallen out. If we drift for a while, the Ischians may assume it’s just a wreck.”
“Hm. I don’t like the thought of losing a POD. But something like that … I will get the engineers on to it. Nice idea Deitner. Sleep well.”
Climbing over debris, and negotiating the corridor to the Senior Staff quarters, Hani Deitner found door 3 and sealed himself inside. He wearily pulled on the Trion head-band and said, “Record. Hm. This is the log of Lieutenant Hani Deitner June 3, 2136.”
He sat looking at the small screen blankly for a few moments. His dark brown hair, stubble and goatee made him look like a criminal. Goatees were forbidden in USAC regulations, but since the alien attack, the book had been thrown away and discipline had become secondary to survival. One of his fellow Corporals was the first to try a goatee and had persuaded Deitner to try it.
He tried his first words. “Hello subscribers – on Earth, Mars, the Moon, or wherever you may be now. That is… if any of you are left alive. I don’t know what to say. I’ve never done one of these before!” He laughed nervously. “I don’t have parents, or relatives – what replicant does? I had some time with a foster family in New Brooklyn – on the bad side of the Moon dome! Anyway, I doubt they remember me much now. The USAC is my family now. But I joined late. Ran with the mob in Lunar City; stealing hoverbikes, cars, shoplifting – the usual. USAC made me. I don’t have anything to leave – I had a collection of lager cans, but my bunk was blown to pieces by the Ischian Dogs – should I say that? Oh well, seems a bit late for … protocol. This is going to be a fight to the death. Probably the end for us. Let’s see. I think that’s it. Oh, and if anybody knows me, I got promoted to Lieutenant!” He grinned like a stupid kid. Then he said, “End recording.”

The final step will be to stick it on YouTube and see what happens. By the way, get ready to share this video with all your friends when it gets made.

So, that is my idea for a promo campaign, what would be yours? let me know your ideas. I really want to hear them so please comment below. If I like your suggestion enough, there may be a prize in return.

 

Lazlo Friend Newsletter

As you will have seen in my previous  post, there will now be a Lazlo Friend Newsletter every three months. Please subscribe: you will receive publication dates in advance, news of Freebies and Competitions. There is a permanent link to the Newsletter in the menu at the top of this blog.

 

Hinduism and HAL 9000

A friend of mine is a Hindu. The Hindu religion never ceases to amaze me. If you haven’t already seen it, you should think about watching the Mhabharat. There is a short British version but a much longer one  on youtube so you will need plenty of time. We were watching 2001: A Space Odyssey the other day and of course the scene where HAL is turned off was as impressive as ever. I have never sympathised with HAL. He had already killed. My friend didn’t. Surely only a Hindu would say, “He didn’t deserve to die. They were cruel to him.” The Hindu religion holds all life, and all consciousness in such a high esteem: no other religion could engender this kind of attitude. Only my opinion. Please let me know what you think.

Happy Christmas and a Happy New Year.

Blog: Creation 2

Lazlo Ferran talks about serendipity as part of the creative process in this YouTube Video.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MOK2nGooShI Enjoy!

Blog: Creation

Full marks this week if you knew the film after which this post is named.

This week’s excerpt
Since I am back on the story with a working title of Escher’s Staircase, we do have an excerpt this week. Here it is, from a section entitled Painter.

Escher’s Staircase
Copyright © 2013 by Lazlo Ferran
All Rights Reserved“I’m sorry, darling,” I explained as I sat down to my cornflakes and honey in our sunny, pine-furnished kitchenette.
But suddenly she wasn’t speaking to me. Typical! I don’t know whether to be grateful when she doesn’t pity me or angry because maybe she doesn’t care. On this occasion I was angry. As any man who has been in a long-term relationship with a woman will know, it’s the woman who decides where and when battles will be fought. The only choices I now had were what weapons to use. Righteousness? Jeez, no! Never to be used unless you are absolutely in the sight of God, correct. How about abject repentance. Perhaps worth a try. The old faithful; ignoring her too. Can work but tends to lend righteousness to her argument and prolong the battle. Time is the one thing I don’t have. Okay let’s try this one; the peace-offering from a friend combined with an explanation. Should at least win some Brownie points.
“Had a bad dream this morning. Only, not sure if it was a dream at all!” No response. She is still tidying away her own breakfast.
“There was this crow …”
“You know I’m no good at interpreting dreams, Ariel! And I’m really busy. Can you just call Jay? He might have fallen asleep again.”
Ah, a response. Worth continuing.
I leaned back in my chair and hollered. “Jay! Time to get up. I’ll come in, in five minutes, if you’re not up!”
Faintly, “Oh dad!” is heard.
“You could have gone to the door! The neighbours will hear!” Christy muttered.
“Anyway, as I was saying …”
“When are we going to tell him?” I had to count to five after this one. Every chance she gets, she asks this and she knows the answer.
“Tell him what? We don’t even know if it’s really going to happen. I might even recover. Not that you’d care!”
“Oh, don’t be stupid. I will even love your corpse.” Ouch. Now, I’ve really dug level two through to ten of my hole.
“Sorry, baby. I didn’t mean that.” I stood up, went around the table and put my hands around her stomach. I kissed her neck and she tilted her head obligingly.

How does creativity work for a writer?
Often get asked that question. There is no simple answer.

Like a shaman, do I summon from the murk something to make shine bright?

Yes, in a sense I do. But the process by which this (hopefully) happens varies. My best time of the day for ideas is about 10.30-11.30 am. I usually spend about a year developing a story from a germ of an idea to an actually story outline. Very often I will abandon an idea very early on. So in the early life of a story, I am often spending a lot of time in the morning thinking about it.

Afternoon and evening seem better for simply getting things down. While I was still working full-time in the IT industry, evening was usually the only time of day available for me to writer. Very often, I could only manage one hour or so after eating before my focus would be completely gone.

However, my writing is almost always cathartic. I don’t pretend it isn’t. For me this seems to mean that I have a very considerable resource of creativity. I won’t say it never runs out but it rare that I don’t feel like writing. I was a very angry child. ‘Cathartic’ means I don’t really have much control over it; the quality varies. Obviously, if I could I would write only my best stuff all the time but the very best comes only occasionally and usually when I am ‘in the zone’. Usually I have to accept writing quite a bit ‘in the zone’ before I will recognise that I have written one or two good phrases. Sometimes I don’t even see them until I read it back for the first time. Sometimes good passages are born of desperation: I will be trying to write and thinking it’s rubbish and something in my mind just takes a leap into the unknown and comes up with something good.

I think accepting that one has to write a lot of stuff that is very good rather than ‘inspired’ is one of the hardest aspects of writing. I don’t think anybody can be great all the time so one just has to keep working on one’s technique to make sure the good stuff is very good. Then the great stuff might be really great!

Other News
I have finished the firsts draft of Iron III: Worlds Like Dust. Expect to see this out some time late this year. At the moment two people are reading the draft so they can feed back to me on the general story structure.

You can now also dream up your own film cast for my books on storycasting.com. I have put together my own cast so why not sign up today and have a go.

Elsewhere
I am witnessing a strange phenomena right outside my window. We live above a park and in the last few weeks Polish migrant workers have started sleeping in large groups under my window! For some years now Polish construction workers have come to my area because of large Wickes and B&Q branches here. There have been articles on news programmes showing these workers waiting outside these branches early in the morning waiting for a builder who needs casual labourers for the day. Polish men are renowned as hardworking builders who work to very high standards. That’s why I am pretty sure these are migrant workers looking for building work. But why have they nowhere to live. The night before last there were thunderstorms all night and they stood under trees as long as they could before running of somewhere. Last night, again it rained and they had to sleep through it under blankets. They haven’t even got sleeping bags.

This morning my girlfriend and I gave them a loaf of bread. It bothers me that nobody is concerned about them. I thought now that Poland was part of the EU, we would have more of an obligation to watch out for them. During WWII we could not have won the Battle of Britain without these tough, brave men.

There is something else that bothers me. Last year the news programmes told us that now the UK was in recession Polish migrants were returning to Poland where wages were rising in comparison with the UKs. They are back. I guess that’s because we are slowly climbing out of recession. But before, when they came, they never slept in the park. What’s changed? Is it just the Government?

VIDEO OF POLISH MIGRANTS IN PARK ON YOUTUBE

Too Bright the Sun

BookCoverPreview

As you will see in the post below, I was very happy to find out today that Too Bright the Sun entered the Top 100 FREE Kindle books list on all three: Amazon USUK and Canada on Monday. Promoting my work takes me away from writing so it’s really nice to get some reward for all the effort I have put in over the last few weeks. I only wish I knew exactly what number it reached. You can rest assured I am watching the progress of Vampire: Beneficence (Short Stories III) very closely. Below I will discuss the results of the Amazon KDP Free Promotion for my books so far.

Vampire: Beneficence (Short Stories III)

So far there have been 131 downloads, 17 of them in Germany. It seems to be taking longer to get people’s attention with this one although it’s doing much better in the US than here. Perhaps the UK market really isn’t so keen on Vampire stories. Then again it’s been my experience that lycanthropy stories do well here in winter and not summer whereas for Science Fiction it’s the other way round,

It’s languishing around the 3000 Ranking on both Amazon US and UK so if you haven’t downloaded a copy, please do.

Unknown Place, Unknown Universe

Interestingly, I did a two-day paid advert for 29-30 June on Facebook for this and I think it made very little difference. There have been 103 downloads (the promotion is now finished) which is about half what Too Bright the Sun achieved. But then Amazon continued billing me for half of the 1st July before I could stop the advert!! Needless to say that I have complained to Facebook about this but have not heard back. Their promotional blurb is misleading if this is how the promotion works: you have to delete or pause a campaign to stop them from billing you after the campaign is due to finish. I am also waiting for reply to my complaint about having the link to Too Bright the Sun declared spam! There was only one option from drop downs for the complaining email: ‘my Human Rights have been violated’! Anyway, in that 2.5 day period 168,500 people were reached and there were 52 clicks giving a ‘conversion’ rate of  0.005%.However it doesn’t mean these 50 people downloaded copies. I am doubtful many of them did because if I look at the access statistics for my Lazlo Ferran page I see that I reached 97,000 people in India in the last month (the highest reach for any country) followed by Germany at 44,000, Uk at 31,000, Canada at 20,000 and US at 15,000. And yet I only had 5 downloads from India. It is however worth noting that the high number reached in Germany might explain why the downloads for Germany were so unexpectedly high. I haven’t paid for an advert for the Vampire book and downloads are soon to exceed those for Unknown Place, Unknown Universe.

Results of Caption Competition for Too Bright the Sun’s Laser Weapons

I decided to do a caption competition half way through Too Bright the Sun’s promotion and had some great suggesions.

The winner for the Alien Laser Rifle is Organic Plasma Rifle by Dominic Kay @DBCK83.

The winner for the laser pistol is Laser Carbine LC5150 ‘Bullpup’ by David Bayne @david_bayne.

The names will be included in Iron III: Worlds Like Dust and of course there will be a credit both winners!

Other News

I have added some more background information and pictures in a section ‘From the Author’ for both Iron Series books; Too Bright the Sun and Unknown Place, Unknown Universe so be sure to take a look by clicking on the menu above. Also if you are a writer and interested in lycanthropy or high tech science fiction please join my discussion group on Facebook.

Don’t forget, the Free Promotion of Vampire: Beneficence: (Short Stories III) is still FREE to download until 8 am Sunday UK time or midnight 6 July in the US.

Too Bright the Sun Sci-fi novel in Amazon top 100 Free list!

BookCoverPreviewI was very happy to find  out today that Too Bright the Sun entered the Top 100 FREE Kindle books list on all three: Amazon US, UK and Canada on Monday. Unfortunately I wasn’t there to see it because I simply wasn’t expecting it to do that well! The book  has been in a Free promotion over the last week and so I was expecting high download volumes but what I didn’t realise is that there are not that many eBooks offered for free at any one time. Hence I was looking the wrong way. Thanks to @JessieBTyson (an author in the Facebook Group Authors Tweeting Authors for noticing. Only wish I had taken a screen grab but I will be watching closely during the next Free Book Promotion.

I have no idea what number I reached although I checked Amazon UK, US and Canada today and there were no Science Fiction books  in any of them so that in itself is a victory for Science Fiction.

Looking at the books in the #1 position for Free Kindle books on Amazon UK and Amazon US they generally rank first in their category and somewhere between 20 and 300 for all the Kindles on sale. The ones at the #100 position vary anywhere from 300 to 3000 in the sales ranks. Too Bright the Sun peaked at #17 (UK) and #38 (US) in the sales rank for its category and therefore it could have been anywhere really in the Top 100 Free kindle books.

There may be a very short blog this weekend – I will be sipping a margarita and reflecting on the success of Too Bright the Sun. It’s not just my success though but a team effort. Thanks to everybody who tweeted for me or posted, shared and commented on Facebook. It all helped a lot.