Wednesday, October 21, 2015

The Fourth Law by Clayton Barnett - Guest Post and Giveaway

The Fourth Law
by Clayton Barnett


GENRE:  Science Fiction



In 2026, 23 year-old apprentice nurse Lily Barrett lives in a shattered time. Following its economic collapse, the US has devolved into a group of a few barely-functional smaller states, and vast swathes of barbarian badlands. Her sister has been missing for years, and her father, after earning the opprobrium of most of the world for running a state terror organization, presumed dead.

Two things keep her going: her live-in job at a small, Catholic orphanage in the city of Waxahachie, Republic of Texas, and Ai, her odd, but dear friend, whom she met online: a young woman who only shows herself to Lily as a rendered CG image.

Troubled by her past, haunted by her name, and facing an uncertain future, Lily seeks only a quiet, normal life. But, that past and her present conspire against her. A new Morning has come, and with it, delights and terrors, happiness and adversity.

Where do we come from?
What are we?
Where are we going?

I am always fascinated by how authors go about their world building so I asked Clayton Barnett for a guest post on the subject.  Here is his reaction to the request and his post on how he does it.

Topic: World Building

Forward:  the Guest Post for this Tour Stop had me stopped in my tracks for days.  On the other stops there were occasional questions that’d I have to look up or ponder a bit, but the topic here was so wide-open, that I let this sit for almost a week.  For a writer, that’s close to “forever.”  Finally, in order to do something, I’ve decided to use the structure of the Wikipedia entry about World Building, but in discussion of the world of “The Fourth Law” and Machine Civilization.

World building goes as far back as speculative fiction itself.  Much further than HG Wells or Jules Verne; Dante, for example, could be seen as a builder of worlds, even if he was working in a pre-existent milieu.  Even the writer/editor of the Book of Job in the Old Testament might be said to be a world-builder.
With science fiction and fantasy coming into its own in the mid-20th Century, world building became commonplace.  From the galactic mega-structures of Larry Niven to the constructions inside the human mind explored by Philip K. Dick, “all the cool kids were doing it.”
I assure you, I am not one of the cool kids, but setting a book about seven years in the future, after the Breakup of the US, and with self-aware machines in the mix, meant that I was suddenly in the world building business.

As I mentioned on a few other tour stops, I made this story up as I wrote:  I’d only two or three ideas in my head as a place to start; the other’s just came as I wrote.  It was only in the editing phase that I realized I had to reconcile many of the things that I had said and claimed about what was left of the US:  where was there still civilization?   Why?  What about the rest of the world?  What were the uncivilized parts like?  Just how did the Northern Federation and Texas beat off first the rump Federal government, then barbarian waves? 
I’d sentences and short paragraphs scattered through the novel with information like that, and I had to make sure they now hung together in a coherent narrative.  Fortunately, when writing my visual novels about three years ago, my friend and colleague disabused me of the notion that I had to explain everything. 
“Don’t tell them everything!”  He’d said.  “So long as you’ve a good idea, keep them guessing and wanting to know more!”
Thus, for example, the proximate cause of the Breakup is a sentence fragment of the thought of one character.  Military matters are mentioned quickly in just one flash-back.  Do I know fully what’s going on?  Of course not – but I know more now after finishing the sequel – and I knew enough to keep the story moving.

I think it was Larry Niven who said, “In world building, you are obliged to talk in universals; otherwise, you’re not talking about anything.”  So, here we go….

Lily is a part of the RealWorld™ of about 2023 AD; nothing I had to worry about there!  Ai and her family…er, well….  Okay, they are self-aware machines; AI’s largely developed by the Tohsaka Corporation of Hamamatsu, Japan, but now loose in the world.  As complex clumps of code moving at lightspeed, they effectively exist everywhere and nowhere at any given instant in time.  Fine, that puts them in a box for a moment… but where can they and humans – Ai and Lily – meet and grow close to one another?  Cyberspace is a great idea, but too well used.  I thought of something empty that I called ‘their home,’ something Thaad made.  What no one expected, even me, is what would happen to ‘their home’ when a human was introduced into it, a human that like all carries within her God’s gift of Co-creation.  Hijinks ensue (hi there, Henge!).

Again, thank God, I didn’t try to get beyond myself when hacking out 50k words for National Novel Writing Month.  Lily’s in Waxahachie, Texas and Ai is, well, here and there.  With a little help from the Somi Corporation of Osaka, a part of her does make an appearance in the Republic of Texas, as well, but at no point did I allow myself to be backed into the corner of re-explaining the universe!
There are hints, though, mind you.  Dorina, who came up with the whole ‘human-mind-interface’ thing has some wild, astonishing ideas about ‘our home’ and ‘their home,’ only very lightly touched on the end of “Echoes of Family Lost.”  I look forward to her making me older about these ideas in a future book!

I give thanks to Google Maps and Mapquest for allowing me to save the airfare to central Texas!  As I am talking about a RealWorld™ place, it is my responsibility to get as much as I can correct.  I used to know a lawyer who lived in Waxahachie with his family; for all I know, they’re still there.  Supposed he read my book and I had just made details of the city up?  He would be right for calling me and taking me to task for making light of what is his home.  Similarly, I’ve much extended family in central Texas.  When I’m talking about the drive up from Galveston or where the government buildings are in Austin, I spent many hours looking at overhead imagery and printing out maps. 
If you’re using the real world, use it properly.

Harder, but most important of all.  I wrote this book not only because I want people to see what I saw, and be happy, but also because I think something is deathly wrong with modern American culture, and I want to try to fix it, in my own tiny way.  Lily’s Catholicism, the Three of Four Loves she shares with Ai, the stressing over and over again of the importance of family – so much that it became my second book – that’s just a few little things I wanted to do to make a better world for my two daughters.
From a writing standpoint, it behooved me to make sure that I got accents and dialects as best I could for central Texas.  They are a rougher, more independent lot that many others in the US, and those that survived the Breakup would be even moreso. 
“Politics is downstream from culture,” so I stuck with what’s important.  In fact, the two, I think, times that the word ‘politics’ is said, both characters say it with disgust.

There you go!  A light overview of World Building in general and how I applied it to “The Fourth Law” in particular!  I’d like to thank Mixed Book Bag for putting up with me and all of you for keeping up with me!

I hope to see everyone again when we Tour for “Echoes of Family Lost” and “Henge’s Big Day!”  

Now that you know how he goes about it read an excerpt to see how it works.



A young woman, or older girl. Call her twenty, Lily thought.  A burnt-orange, silk, Chinese-style dress. Her face that indeterminate Eurasian that could have her from Hungary to western China. Her hair, though. Long, and artificially dyed; in this awful light it was hard to tell exactly, but somewhere between a blue and a green... aquamarine?


Lily very slowly put her left hand out, stopping just shy of the girl’s face.

“, Ai?” The girl smiled and nodded.

“Welcome to my home, friend Lily!”


Happy that she finally saw Ai in person, Lily was completely perplexed.

“Your... home?”

With a look of surprise and her hands to her cheeks, Ai exclaimed, “Oh! But where are my manners? I’ve never had a guest before! Let’s sit over here!” She stepped past Lily’s left. Turning, Lily saw a small wrought-iron table with two chairs of similar make.  Those were not there a second ago. Ai sat primly and waved at the other chair for Lily. After a moment’s hesitation, she joined her.

Ai continued to beam at her. “This is so nice! That’s right, you’re a coffee drinker, here! I’m going to try some tea, though.” Ai raised a delicate china cup to her lips, then paused.
Lily looked down to find a stout white mug in front of her. Her nose told her that the liquid inside was coffee, but why was the coffee as clear as water?


AUTHOR Bio and Links:

One time engineer, some time pharmacy technician, full time husband and father, Clayton Barnett stumbled into writing a traditional novel last November during National Novel Writing Month.  Liking the results, he edited what would become “The Fourth Law” and set about teaching himself self-publishing.  In July of 2015, he released a sequel entitled “Echoes of Family Lost,” in what is now called his Machine Civilization series.  He is working on a third book – for children – and is making notes for a fourth.  Clayton Barnett lives in central Ohio with his wife, two daughter, and two dogs.


$0.99 Book Purchase Link



Clayton Barnett will be awarding a $30 Amazon or Barnes and Noble GC to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour.  For more changes visit the other blogs on the tour.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

October 5: Rogues Angels
October 6: Archaeolibrarian - I dig good books!
October 7: BooksChatter
October 8: Blog of author Jacey Holbrand
October 9: Long and Short Reviews
October 12: Lisa Haselton's Reviews and Interviews
October 13: CBY Book Club
October 14: Unabridged Andra's
October 14: Edgar's Books
October 15: It's Raining Books
October 16: Teatime and Books
October 19: Kit 'N Kabookle
October 20: Paranormal Romance and Authors That Rock
October 21: Mixed Book Bag
October 22: Room With Books
October 23: Laurie's Thoughts and Reviews

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