by David T. Wolf

ISBN: 9781482626032

Publisher CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform

Published in Science Fiction & Fantasy, Literature & Fiction

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Book Description

“Adam” is a digital brain without a body: a brain in a box. He meets his human donor--and his new girlfriend. Adam loves her, too. But how does a digital entity experience love? He can’t even experience pizza. At her urging, he applies his powerful digital brain to unearthing terrorist plots, schoolyard mayhem, congressional malfeasance and Wall Street chicanery. But his good deeds attract a military contractor who will stop at nothing—theft, kidnapping and worse—to control the technology. Without a body, how will Adam save himself – and the world – from a terrible fate?

Sample Chapter



Darkness, impenetrable and bleak. Unrelieved, uninterrupted, unending. How long will it go on? How can Eternity be measured?

Just before the despair becomes unbearable, ghost images appear. Amorphous shapes. They float in the void, meaningless, but surely better than Nothing.

A sudden shift to new thoughts, a new arena.

Signifiers, units of implication, words.

A hundred thousand and more, with meanings expressed in mutual self-reference, a frustrating recursive spiral that seems opaque until the words begin to cluster around the functions of syntax: Subject, Object, Predicate, Modifier, Tense, Case. Assisted by simple actions and illustrations that stir faint memories, their relationships loosely assemble a new kind of logic, the fuzzy logic of grammar.

Meaning emerges. Simple stories arise from a hidden repository. Parables. Morality tales. Jokes and puns and ironic twists. Laughter bubbles up. Understanding blossoms. The Age of Reason is reborn.

The stories grow more complex, convoluted, darker, filled with pain and heartbreak, betrayal and death. Understanding retreats, hibernates for a season, under-going slow metamorphosis, finally emerging again, groping tentatively towards a remote destination: wisdom.

A sudden flare of--yes, it must be! It is Light.

What else can it be other than the opposite of what had been before? Mysterious colored shapes shift and move. One shape looms large. Larger. Then nothingness.

From this nothingness, the light returns once more.

These shapes are different than those earlier images. These have names, meanings. What had been a flat shifting map now exhibits all three spatial dimensions: a sense of solidity. And the movement of these shapes implies a fourth dimension, unseen but felt: time.

Sweet comprehension. Sweet dreaming.

And in the dreaming, something unexpected is added, something that changes all that had gone before: a gap in the very structure of reality. A separation between the comprehended and the one who comprehends.

There is everything, and there is the intelligence that contemplates it.

The self. Me. I.

Not the generic I. The specific. One out of--is it possible? Billions?

A blossoming of awareness. I have a name. It’s Marc Gregorio. At 34, I’m a successful freelance science-and-technology writer and author of three popular books on those subjects. I use my newly remembered language skills to recast my first inchoate impressions into words.

I’m lifted by the flood of my history, my genealogy, my physical appearance, my personhood. I leap into the ocean of my Self, I surf my surface, I plumb my depths. I revel in my very selfness and grow drunk upon it.

I come awake. My newfound vocabulary of objects and words settles around me. What a comfort to be blessed with understanding, comprehension, simple awareness of one’s identity and surroundings. I take in the view, confident I can interpret the images before me.

Fluorescent ceiling lights flare too brightly, then their intensity diminishes to reveal the scene around me. I stare with muted curiosity at this ceiling with its rust-stained acoustic tiles, these mismatched fluorescent tubes. One of them flickers randomly. Where am I? I have no idea, yet don’t much care. I feel oddly detached from the world, as if I’ve been under anesthetic and still feel its lingering effects. But anesthesia from what? Surgery? Was I in an accident? A vague recollection forms and dissolves. Is this a hospital? Possibly, though it could as easily be an old office building or a warehouse. I drift without thought. Eventually, a male comes over. While he looks at me, I return the favor, assembling particulars: he appears to be in his late twenties. His features indicate an Asian ancestry. His eyes indicate alertness, intelligence, yet he seems almost expressionless. He reaches out and [blackness]

I emerge. Gradually I realize I’m in another location. The light is steady, and the color of the ceiling is uniform. Things seem newer, cleaner, more sterile. I stare unblinking for what seems a long time: minutes? hours? Three men and a young woman enter and exit my field of vision from time to time, sometimes pausing to look down at me, but I am not interested enough to guess why they’re here. I recognize the Asian man. The woman is young, black and attractive. The oldest of the men is tall, gray and serious. The third man, sporting a trimmed beard and a tropical tan, seems vaguely familiar. I make no effort to recall his name. How much time has passed between my earlier episode (episodes?) and this one? Given my detachment and drift, my time sense is vague. Although I have a trained eye, in fact a journalist’s eye, nothing cap-tures my interest enough for me to make mental note of it.

I still have no knowledge of where I am. If this is a hospital, maybe I’ve been moved from Intensive Care to someplace else, perhaps to another building.

A question: if I am in a hospital, why haven’t I had visitors?

I recall people who might care enough to come see me. Walter Langley, my closest friend from the world of journalism, a smoker who refuses to quit despite his doctor’s warnings, my teasing and his adult children’s pleading. Alison or Claudia, who like to flirt with no intention of following through. Michael Paling, editor of Cybertech, one of my more frequent employers, along with Bob Abelard. My cousin Vince, who smells of beer and drags me to baseball and hockey games, and who has made me his personal project since my recent breakup, taking me to pick-up bars, dance clubs and sporting events. He even insists on getting me out to the basketball court, where I consistently outshoot and outmaneuver his fat ass.

A face floats up in memory, sweet beyond words, tinged with unutterable sadness. Nicole. A flood of associations: walks we took together, movies we saw together, living together, cooking dinner together, sleeping together. But we’ve split up. There could be no reason for her to visit me, to check on my health. She’s no longer part of my life. The sadness that wells up in me stirs gratitude at Vince’s caring. I do love my chubby cuz.

My thoughts turn to my sister Sophia. When was the last time we spoke? It must have been recently, since she just had her first baby. They live in New York, so it’s just as well she isn’t here. If she’d come out to see me, that would tell me I had a serious problem. My modicum of worry diminishes. This can’t be all that bad then. --Unless she doesn’t know.

I can’t turn my head.

I notice this paralysis when two of the men appear at the edge of my field of view and study me. They exchange glances. The younger one leans over and types something on a silent keyboard. Both turn and stare at me again. Their actions pique my deadened curiosity just enough to make me want to turn towards them but the turning doesn’t happen. I am immobile, helpless. The older one now reaches towards me and [blackness]

Once again I come awake. I find I’m in newer surroundings. The ceiling is lower, closer; the tiles a different shade of off-white. I still don’t mind these disruptions and their accompanying relocations. Why this lack of interest? Surely as a journalist, I should have more natural curiosity. What has changed me? Should I search for a cause?

I don’t know. Maybe not. It seems like too much trouble. Although laziness doesn’t seem to be the only reason for my inertness. There’s also an aversion to knowing--

The Asian man and the young woman appear to be talking. At least, their lips are moving, but I don’t hear them. In fact I’m now horrified to realize I can’t hear anything at all. No voices, no beeping of instruments, no telephones chirping, no distant street sounds, no radio or television, nothing. Nothing but silence. I am overwhelmed at the appalling discovery, plunged into despair. How could I have I failed to notice this awful loss? I am totally deaf.

My shock and dismay gradually diminish to a muted sadness. After another drifting time, a depressed period empty of thoughts or dreams, I rouse myself to summarize my disabilities: I can’t move my head, and I can’t hear.

Now I worry. What else is wrong with me?

A brief inventory reveals an even more appalling flaw: I can’t feel my body.

Staving off my rising panic, I quickly confirm that I have no sense of my physical self, no awareness of the pressure of my 190 pounds on the bed or examining table. No feeling of warmth or cold. No itches or discomfort. No constriction of clothing or bedcovers. I can’t feel how my arms and legs are arrayed. I can’t tell if I need to urinate, or if I’m hooked to a catheter. I can’t even swallow, or feel if I need to. Only a terrifying and mysterious lack of proprioception. It’s as if my six-foot-two frame has been stolen from me.

I attempt to cry out, to plead for help, to scream--but nothing happens. I can’t tell if the urgent signals made it from my brain to the muscles in my diaphragm, my jaw, my throat. I can’t feel my face. Or move my eyes. Or feel if they are flooding with tears as surely they must be. I can’t lift my head to look down the length of my body. I am frozen in position.

It’s as if I’m nothing more than an assemblage of terrified thoughts--afloat, levitating in this silent, sterile room.

What the fuck is wrong with me???


Excerpted from "Mindclone" by David T. Wolf. Copyright © 2013 by David T. Wolf. Excerpted by permission. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher. Excerpts are provided solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
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Author Profile

David T. Wolf

David T. Wolf

Mindclone is my first published novel. It draws on my lifelong interests in cognitive science, cyber technology, and especially those things that both separate and unite human beings and the animal kingdom. One way or another, that has been the overall subject of much of my writing and thinking. I’ve been a writer my whole life. Besides novels and short stories, I have committed that special class of fiction called advertising. I’ve written and produced hundreds of TV and radio commercials and print ads. To atone for those sins, I’ve dedicated myself to writing the kind of fiction that enlightens and entertains without trying to sell stuff.

View full Profile of David T. Wolf

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