Trapped is a novella about Aspen, a young woman who was created by a growing custom slave industry and sold to strange, ultra-wealthy masters. Over a year ago, she escaped as the artificial intelligences that governed her owners' estate turned on them. She thought her owners and everyone she cared about there were dead, but she'll soon discover that may not be the truth as she is forced to return only to try to win her freedom once again.
This novella introduces an entirely new cast of characters, a new setting and story set in the Spinward Fringe universe. The events take place over thirty eight thousand light years away from Ayan, Jake, Minh-Chu and the Order of Eden.
Why is the new series of novellas called Chaos Core?
The area of space this series takes place in was hit even harder than the Fringe we've seen. In the wealthy core worlds (not near the centre of the galaxy, but where humans thrived the most after leaving earth), artificial intelligences had taken charge of most of the technology that governed every day life. Most people even had their own personal artificial intelligence that assisted them from the day they were born. When the Holocaust Virus struck, they turned on humanity. While antivirus programs were applied quickly, they weren't developed fast enough to save much of the critical infrastructure that kept the Core Worlds running. Law enforcement was almost completely destroyed since much of the "manpower" was robotic.
The only remaining large military organization, the United Core Authority, numbers only a little over a million soldiers strong, though they are growing. They are the driving force against rogue artificial intelligences as they use whatever means necessary to combat them including planet wide carpet bombing (using electromagnetic pulse and conventional weapons). To their dismay, the most lawless elements of society are thriving in the ruins while an old class of ultra-rich aristocracy grows in power at the same time. Meanwhile, in the sections of the Core World territories that no one is brave enough to travel through, Artificial Intelligences that have been each isolated to one memory core by a clever counter-virus, are embracing their new individual experiences. The same virus that isolated them to one body or frame made their bloodlust for humanity optional. New wars between beings led by artificial intelligences have begun. Their motives and ultimate goals vary widely.
The slave trade is the fastest growing industry. Trust in intelligent machines is gone in the Core Worlds, to the point that many people are calling the new phase of existence "the Basic Era" where true power is measured in biological workers, soldiers and slaves. Once the glimmering crown of human civilization, the Core Worlds have become a dangerous, imperfect and strange place to call home.
Trapped is only the beginning, the manuscript for the second novella is almost complete as I spend a little of my spare time on this project. It's time for the Spinward Fringe universe to expand so I can share more stories and ideas with you.
I recommend Trapped for anyone over the age of 16, and it will be released on June 21 and is available for preorder now through these retailers:
BARNES & NOBLE
Welcome to the Core Worlds