Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Spark by John Twelve Hawks - Ingenious! Imaginative! Excitingly Unique!

When I was in the clinic, Dr. Noland told me about a
logical problem created by a Greek philosopher named
Zeno that suggested that the buckshot would never hit
its target. The buckshot would take half the time to
get halfway there, but then it had to go halfway to the
next interval, and halfway after that, and so on. Since
there appeared to be an infinite number of these
smaller and smaller distances, the buckshot would
never arrive.
I thought about Zeno's paradox for several days until
Dr. Noland gave me a solution. A distance composed
of an infinite number of finite moments is not infinite.
If the distance between the shotgun barrel and Micky
Sicky's flesh was fifteen feet, it doesn't make a difference
how many times you divide it into fractions; it's still
fifteen feet. This was helpful to me at the clinic because
I realized that no matter how many times my thoughts
divided into a multitude of more thoughts, I could
still make a single choice and function in the world.
And this is what happened in the alleyway. The
buckshot burst through the paradox and hit my target
in his left leg.
I got out of the van but left the door open. The shotgun was on the driver's seat, the stock poking a few inches out of the rolled-up throw rug.
Micky appeared at the end of the alleyway and began walkiing toward the van. Picking up the throw rug, I cradled it in my arms as if it was a wounded dog and approached him slowly.
As the target drew closer my right hand thrust itself into the center of the rug, grabbed the stock of the shotgun, and let its concealment fall away.
My legs took two quick steps and then--
My finger squeezed the trigger and then--
The shotgun fired and buckshot cut through the air.
 Micky Sicky fell backward, then screamed with pain and started rolling around on the dirt. I took a few steps forward and pointed the shotgun at his head. He had lost control of his bladder and I found the smell unpleasant.
"Be quiet," I said.
Micky's mouth opened and closed like a Chinatown carp just pulled from the water tank. But he stopped making noises.
"You killed a little white dog," I said.
"Fuckin' bastard! You just shot me!"
I cocked the second barrel. "You have three seconds to say one truthful statement. Did you kill a little white dog?"
"It was nothing," Micky whimpered. "Just a joke, bruv. I swear. I'm sorry."
"Repeat after me: Joey was loved by the angels in heaven."
"Fuckin' hell!"
"Say it. If you want to live."
"Joey...love...by angels."
"Good. Remember that. If I see you in this neighborhood again. I'll take a blowtorch and burn off you ears."
I extended the shotgun like a walking stick and shot Micky in the right leg. He was still screaming as I got in the van and drove away. Although I had disobeyed Miss Holquist, my actions had established two facts:
1. I would no longer be distracted and--
2. I knew that my weapon worked.

By John Twelve Hawks

I love unique! And the main character in Spark is one unique dude! He's an Assassin... That's not the unique part though, as we know...  Jacob Underwood is dead...or, rather, he thinks he's dead. He has been transformed as the result of a motorcycle accident, being transformed by losing a substantial part of his brain. As a result, he now has some characteristics that are considered anti-social. He doesn't like to be touched. His thinking process has significantly changed and he needs to have a basic set of rules given to him upon which he can function. He eats or drinks nothing but a liquid food replacement and carries a case around him when he 
travels. Most importantly Jacob has lost most of his emotions. He found a book on the Internet which showed what various emotions look like, so, if he's curious, he'll pull out pictures of faces to match up against an individual to determine what he might be feeling. Most of his
interactions involve the show of fear... As you may have also, I immediately thought of the main character of Scorpion, a program I really enjoy! 

At first, his doctors and then his employer assumed that he must be told exactly what to do, so when he has been given an assignment, he is given exactly what gun(s) will be used, where he will stay, etc., But what readers will watch is that he appears to be more aware and intelligent than recognized. He uses the computer and learns more about the person he has been assigned to kill. And when he gets to the location, he investigates and plans exactly how and what he will do. And then he does the job, quickly and efficiently and leaves...

I have a Spark that creates my thoughts.
The Spark is bright and pure and trans-
cendent, but it's held captive within a
Shell of flesh and bone.
The woman in the green shimmery dress
and all the other Human Units walking
around New York City feel emotions
because their Spark is attached to their
But all my attachments have melted away.
Yes, I can breathe and swallow and fire
a handgun. In many ways, I resemble a
human being. But there is nothing inside
me. I'm filled with darkness.

Jacob has been diagnosed with Cotard's Syndrome, and recognizes that he has a Spark within him, but the rest of him is dead...               

I turned away from my target, walked five blocks east to Gravesend Park, and tossed the gun into a storm drain. Perhaps one day a city sewer worker might find this
artifact--rusty and covered with mud--but it would have no connection with my identity... Before my Transformation, I  lived like an ordinary Human Unit in an Upper East Side apartment with cooking pots and self-assembled teak-veneer  furniture. Nowadays I try to own only one object in each
category: a chair and a table, a bed and blanket, a cup and a spoon... After locking the entrance door, I removed all my  clothes and placed them in nylon bags. Everything worn that
evening would be washed or dry-cleaned at a laundry... Within twenty-four hours, all the invisible burned and unburned particles from the fired bullets would disappear. I took a shower, pulled on a sweatshirt and warm-up  pants, and  returned to the main room. rule #4 states that  I must supply my Shell with a minimum of two thousand calories a day, so I opened a bottle of a nutritional drink developed for the elderly  called ComPlete, pured it in the cup and mixd in a tablespoon of a coarse fiber supplement. i have a good memory, but don't like to re-experience the past. If thoughts are not controlled, then each remembered experience becomes an alternative reality. When I thought about shooting Peter Stetsko, my mind brought up different details--the sound of my shoes walking  across the street and the vision of the first bullet shattering the side window. But these memories didn't generate feelings of tegret or happiness...
The only real ongoing connections for Jacobs are his two Shadows, the latest versions of personal computers. Edward and Laura are speech-recognition programs connected to a computer with reactive intelligence. Jacob made Edward to discuss and talk with him something like an English Butler, while Laura has been more intimately designed...or perhaps I should say, more as a friend... Readers will learn much about that type of interaction with the computers, but the main advancement at that time is that everybody is watched by the EYE!

...so I decided to calm my agitation by visiting the pedestrian
walkway that runs across the Brooklyn Bridge. Two granite
and limestone towers hold a pair of massive cables that
display catenary curves--a three-dimensional display of a
hyperbolic cosine function. Attached to the curves is a
web of diagonal and vertical cables that hold up the bridge
platforms. When I stand at the center point and look
outward, it appears as if the sky is divided into clearly
marked sections. Randomness disappears and I'm able to
sort through my wayward thoughts and place them in
different boxes...

Every citizen on the bridge knew that the EYE system was
necessary for a safe and secure society. And there was a
specific reason for this new technology--the death and
violence caused by the Day of Rage...

I was a patient at the Ettinger Clinic on the Day or Rage.
The first news flash was about bombs exploding at Eton
Coillege...quickly followed by...an explosion at the Dalton
School... As the day went on, more reports came...


 And are now fully aware of everything being known...and also some humans have already been replaced with the latest artificial intelligence available for, especially, low-level positions... But that's not what has happened to Jacob... After being in the hospital and retrained, he was hired by a special services group for a major corporation. Miss Holquist is Jacob's boss, but most of their interaction is by email or text... Normally one job is completed and then he returns to his apartment, back to his normal life. Recently, however, she had an emergency request for him to take another job. Jacob reacts negatively to something out of the ordinary...
Normally, I would be given a few weeks
of free time before my next assignment.
Miss Holquist's unexpected request made
my Spark bounce around inside my Shell...

There is much going on in this novel, but I admit I was so fascinated with the main character that I paid extra attention to his characteristics... For instance, he would picture colors to help him understand an object or a human... The assassins are quickly handled and readers don't get the full impact of what has happened. Except when one of the other assassins, who is sadistic, has a job to handle... Be prepared...

It was interesting to see that Jacob had been assigned a different type of job, because his boss had noticed how good he was and felt he could do more than...just efficiently kill. So when an employee of the corporation disappeared, having stolen some important information, Jacob was given the assignment to find her...

Jacob was now required to think more on his own and he had to interact with people in a conversational/social situation. And then there came a time when he began to not understand what he was dealing with...things like black money, killing a neighbor's dog, which Jacob's felt was the highest order in the animal hierarchy with humans below that, of course... and then below them, the dead, where he was... There are many graphical illustrations inserted through the book which help readers understand the mind of Jacob as he saw himself within the world. But as he works on this latest job, he realizes that he's changing... All of a sudden, I perked up, anxious to see how far he had made from his automaton type of role...And that's when I started to have fun, watching Jacob, intuitively knowing what he would be doing as he began thinking for himself again... I loved it! If you enjoy unique, totally unexpected tales of the future and with regard to medical issues, do check this out!


JOHN TWELVE HAWKS is the author of the New York Times bestsellers The TravelerThe Dark River, and The Golden City.

This section of the site is for readers who are curious about my life and personal choices. I’ll try to answer some of the questions I’ve been asked during the last ten years.
I was born in the United States. I’m a father (The Dark River was dedicated to my children). I’m a Buddhist who has meditated for most of my life.
I’m not a recluse living in a mountain hideaway. I’m a fairly restless person with friends all over the world. Right now, I spend time in New York City, Berlin and rural Ireland.
Yes, it’s true: I’ve never owned a television. But I occasionally watch an entire season of one show on my computer.
Various bloggers have decided that I’m a famous person who is writing under another name. None of these theories are correct, and they are usually invented by people who have never read my books.
When The Golden City was published, I encouraged readers to “be me” for an evening. People all over the world organized “I am John Twelve Hawks” events and many of the videos are still up on YouTube.
Will I ever go public? Perhaps I might — if there was a reason for that decision. At this moment, I like my life the way it is.
Readers with specific questions can ask me via my verified Facebook page.
People interested in the political ideas expressed in my books, should take a look at wespeakforfreedom.com. Occasionally, I join online chats on this UK-based website..
John Hawks

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