C. L. Schneider
Indie Book Spotlight: The Copernicus Coercion, by G. J. Scobie
The Copernicus Coercion Book 1: Code Critical (A Cyberpunk Techno Thriller)
When A.I. is the new normal, what place is there for the soul?
In a dystopian future where the Earth’s air quality is fast deteriorating and implant technology has become second-nature, security hacker Brock is tasked with delivering an unknown human target to a secret organization. But to do so, he’ll first need to keep his body’s ever-expanding network of microchips under control.
Partnering with fellow specialist, Kathryn K, is his best option, though not an easy one. Human contact is not something he’s comfortable or even familiar with these days. But it’s a working relationship he must quickly come to terms with. Because when the identity of the target is revealed, the operation takes a sudden turn and Brock must make a decision that could put both their lives in danger.
As they delve deeper into an operation that leads them directly to the heart of the government and the shocking truth about their mission, Brock and Kathryn K realize for the first time in a long time just what it means to be human. And having populated themselves with chipsets, they had never once considered there would be no way back.
Featuring body hackers, the manipulation of computer networks via internet-connected implants and rogue Artificial Intelligence, Code Critical – a future cyber thriller and the first book in The Copernicus Coercion series – is a glimpse into a not-so-distant future; a world where cyber attacks, against machines and human beings, are carried out by those who wear the necessary computer hardware inside themselves.
Kathryn K froze as the conversation from the next room cut off mid-sentence. She was aware her physical frame was on hold, her fingers gripping the handle of the cup, her shoulders hunched, while she strained her ears in silence. The electronic body implants that made up her internal computer network continued to function normally, processing data from the surrounding area and taking feeds from a bank of database servers located on the Internet. For a second she felt entirely motionless, cocooned within a shifting sea of data feeds, empty of feeling, devoid of any emphatic connection.
Holding her breath she waited for an explanation, before a sickening feeling welled in her stomach telling her all she needed to know. An alert scrolled across her vision causing her to start. She adjusted her glasses and grimaced as she read through the display, her health monitor showing heart and pulse rate elevated, her personal diagnosis one of extreme alarm. The technology confirmed how she felt, but she knew it was deep-rooted instinct that triggered this response, uninfluenced by data from the chipsets embedded beneath her skin. She swallowed hard and fought to regain composure as her glasses filled with screeds of information, analyzed and presented by algorithms programmed to inform and assist with life’s decisions. She replayed the results. There was only one conclusion that matched how she felt – there were two life forms present and one of them had just gone critical.
Her eyes widened. She let go of the cup, watched it tumble to the floor where it broke into razor-sharp pieces. Spinning on her heels she rushed to the door, making no effort to soften her exit as her boots clattered on the tiled floor. She swallowed hard, her throat dry as adrenalin coursed through her. Sweeping her hair off her face she barged into the living area. Real-time scans confirmed the only other life form present was the body of her partner lying prone on the floor.
She dropped to her knees and placed two fingers on his neck in the hope of finding a pulse. It was an involuntary action; the output from his wireless implants was providing up-to-the-second health alerts. The data feed indicated he had suffered heart failure following a massive stroke. All indications were there was nothing she could do. Ignoring the assessment, she ripped back his shirt and called up instructions to administer CPR. Tilting his head to establish an airway, she placed one hand on top of the other on his chest, interlocking her fingers. She tensed up and thrust down near the sternum, delivering thirty compressions before leaning over and giving two breaths mouth to mouth. She saw his chest inflate. She repeated the compressions, grimacing at the thought she may break a rib, but that was hardly a worry at a time like this.
She stopped and again performed mouth to mouth. She let up and felt his wrist for a pulse despite her on-board computer confirming there was no sign of life. Sitting back on her heels she bit her lip as she worked through her options. His health monitor would have signaled the emergency services as soon as the trauma was detected. An ambulance would be on its way. A medical team would record the time of death from his on-board processing unit and remove the body to a holding center to ensure secure removal of all implants and data stored internally. If the data passed regulatory checks and nothing untoward was discovered, the corpse would be released for incineration, a funeral service optional. The police, already informed, would arrive to take her to the station for interview. She knew the drill; she had been here before.
Another alert scrolled across her vision. The emergency service vehicles had pulled up outside her apartment. Flashing blue lights illuminated the window, physical confirmation of what her computer system told her. She clasped her hands under her chin and stared down in the hope of seeing the slightest glimmer of life. But there was nothing. She rose to her feet, smoothing down her skirt as a jamming signal was flagged up on the perimeter of her internal network; access to the Internet was blocked. For a second she thought to retaliate and program around what she considered a crude attempt to coerce her into complying with the demands of protocol concerning sudden death. She sighed. With her expert knowledge of computer systems she knew there was little mileage in trying to make a break for it. Everyone was trackable. No one could hide. She may buy herself a little time but drones would pick her off before she could make it to the next block. She didn’t need a body full of silicon chips to know she had no choice other than to cooperate.
Resigned to being seen to follow the law, she walked to the front door as a man’s voice barked over the intercom. A tear welled in the corner of her eye. She tapped a pressure point on a miniature control panel secured around her wrist. The lock released and the door was thrown open to a shout and the thump of heavy boots. Kathryn K took a step back, placed her hands on her head and held her breath.
About the Author
GJ Scobie works in cyber security, is a Certified Information Systems Security Professional and has a particular interest in how technology impacts on our everyday lives. As a public speaker, he regularly presents on various aspects of computer security including sessions on Ransomware, Mobile Security and Cyber in the Movies. He participates in the Cabaret of Dangerous Ideas at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe with a sell-out show, "My neighbour hacked my toothbrush" highlighting the dangers of internet connected devices in the home. In his writing, he deals with the dark side of technology and how it affects society reliant on computers. He self-published his debut future cyber thriller in February 2022, The Copernicus Coercion, the first in a series featuring body hackers, the manipulation of computer networks via internet-connected implants and rogue Artificial Intelligence. His novel, The Kill Chain, a cybercrime thriller set in the present day, was published by Darkstroke in July 2022. He lives in Scotland and, when not writing, loves to explore his native country, taking more photographs than he can ever hope to catalogue.
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New Title Releasing This Month
The Kill Chain: This is the Digital Dark Age…
Nation State Adversaries.
Advanced Persistent Threats.
This is the Digital Dark Age.
Computer hacker, Jacob Anderson, accepts a job in a cyber defence firm, which is due to sign a high-profile government contract. Eager to impress his new employers, he takes on Dark Light, a company that offers a free trial of their anti-threat system. But in his haste, he fails to check their credentials thoroughly…
When he realises Dark Light intend to steal government data, he tries to back out of the deal. But a film from a hotel bedroom during a student hacking competition seven years earlier triggers a sextortion attempt, putting pressure on him to pass control of the network to his adversaries.
Backed into a corner, Jacob reunites the old hacking team from his university days with the intention of taking the Dark Light computers down.
As a target on the Kill Chain, can Jacob maintain his code of ethics while knowingly breaking the law? Or will one last hack allow him to regain control of the security his employers, the government, and his family have entrusted him to protect?
The Kill Chain releases on July 16th. Pre-Order now