- N. N. Light
Quantum Crystal by Rob Shackleford is a Shake Off Winter Doldrums pick #scifi #medicalfic #giveaway
Science Fiction / Medical
Is humanity evolving?
Today, millions suffer from Traumatic Brain Injury and Post-Traumatic Stress due to warfare, car accidents and violence.
In response to this global epidemic, pioneering medical researchers develop a new treatment that is seen to produce outstanding results. Dubbed the ‘Quantum Crystal’, the treatment is soon rolled out for many of the maladies that affect modern humanity.
But is this treatment all it is purported to be, or are deeper changes under way?
‘Quantum Crystal’ examines the efforts of victim support group, The Staff, to rollout the Quantum Crystal to a deeply divided humanity and the inevitable violent opposition to change.
Maeve made no effort to appear enthusiastic and, to make matters worse, she was certain this guy was retarded, some kind of Forest Gump with his old cars, crotch-smelling mutt, snakes, filthy fridge, and no decent story at all. “What is that?” she asked and hoped her tone didn’t reveal how pissed off and disinterested she really was. At this very moment, one of her colleagues was interviewing an international fashion mogul’s visit in a story that mattered, surrounded by beauty and glamour in air-conditioned comfort. There, they were respected, admired, and appreciated. Meanwhile, she was out here with Barry the boofhead.
“Well this is a car I’ve been working with. I’ve been thinking of this for some time, you know, the potential shortage of oil in the future, the cost of cars and the heavy environmental cost of transport in general,” he explained. His face became animated, losing his retarded expression. “The thing that has always concerned me, even before my accident, was how cars essentially have the same internal combustion engine design created over one hundred years ago. A simple motor drives a crankshaft and then two or four wheels via a differential or two. All car companies have manufactured essentially the same product since Henry Ford’s invention of the production line and, but for what are really relatively minor modifications, seek to maintain the status quo. Sure, they’ve made the engines more efficient, added computers, and have been successful in making the whole device so much more expensive. There is, of course, the drive to make most vehicles electric, but how serious are they, really? They persist with the same simple engineering principles of a petroleum-driven device designed to make the wheels go around. My beef with electric vehicles is that they aren’t that much better, no cheaper, not quite as powerful or efficient as they could be, and are compelled to use unrecyclable components that are manufactured using power and materials produced by the fossil-fuel industry anyway.”
Maeve had instinctively activated the microphone while Steve filmed. She cast a bored glance at Steve but, to her surprise, her savvy camera man appeared interested, sensing something might be in the wind. Barely understanding what Barry was saying but realising that his language had increased in complexity, she let the man talk. It was as if another person addressed them.
“I’ve spent the past years researching the latest in mechanical and electrical engineering and a lot of my resources from the old racing days have gone into having components custom-built. Sure, Elon Musk is doing something in the field, but not enough. I’ve become reacquainted with some of my old racing team and, while they make it plain they think I’m crazy, they’ve helped a lot. But I’ve finally got this baby assembled and tested, simplified the design and tested it all again.”
Barry crouched and fiddled with one of the balls under the car. There was no motor in the front of the frame so Maeve had difficulty seeing where this was all going. Inside the frame, a couple of old bucket seats had been bolted with seat belts, while a joystick, like one used to fly a helicopter, was where a gear stick would normally rest between the seats. The back seats had been replaced by a bank of car batteries. Barry fiddled with them, attaching yellow cables and using a screwdriver to tighten the connections as he chatted happily. “My main obstacle has been to develop an adequate power source. I understand that there are more efficient power sources than these old car batteries, you know, like equipment developed by Elon Musk or the like. One of the people who I’ve met on web forums has told me that something very exciting is on the way, so I’ll have to make do with old car batteries for now.”
With a flourish, he finished his happy chatter. “There, she’s all ready. Want to come for a ride?” he asked. He produced a couple of battered, visorless helmets and was busily strapping one on, then donned a scratched old pair of sunglasses and slid into one of the old seats.
Maeve and Steve passed a look between them.
This guy was nuts.
“Why don’t you show us how this works and then I’ll have a test run,” smiled Maeve sweetly, expecting him to start blowing raspberries and making car noises. However, Barry simply nodded.
“Okay” he exclaimed happily, then pushed a red button on the battered dash. The vehicle silently rose about half a meter from the ground. Steve swore and Maeve simply stepped back, not sure if what she saw was really happening. She cast a quick look to see if there were unnoticed, hidden cables that might be used in any duplicity, for this must be a practical joke. But the vehicle immediately shot away, the only sound the brush of tall grass against the chassis as it sped about the vacant land.
After a few seconds, the vehicle returned and Barry beamed his goofy, open-mouthed grin as he sat in the motionless frame. In his helmet and sunglasses he looked particularly retarded. As the vehicle rested onto the ground, Maeve looked to Steve who was wide-eyed and shook his head in wonder.
“You’ve got to be fucking kidding!” he muttered and resumed filming as she carefully settled herself into the other worn and cracked bucket seat, sacrificing her hair for the story by donning the smelly old helmet. She then carefully slipped on her Ray Bans and tucked her short dress into her crotch so there would not be a flash of knickers. She didn’t want that footage to end up on the station’s Christmas Blooper tape.
Maeve looked to Steve, gave a thumbs-up, and then before she could make any comment into the microphone was whisked away so quickly she screamed in terror and delight.
What’s your favorite activity to shake off the winter doldrums?
Snuggle by the fireplace with a blanket and book – or a decent movie – maybe with a hot toddy or hot chocolate.
Why is your featured book a cure for the winter blues?
Quantum Crystal will engross a reader, to be lost for hours between the covers. It’s the best way to forget the cold.
One lucky reader will win a $75 Amazon US or Canada gift card
Open internationally. You must have a valid Amazon US or Amazon CA account to win.
Runs March 1 – 31, 2023.
Drawing will be held on April 3, 2023.
An English-born Australian, Rob Shackleford has lived in New Zealand and Papua New Guinea, with a varied career that has included Customs Officer, Scuba Instructor, College Teacher and management roles in too many places.
With degrees in the Arts and Business, he is mad keen on travel, Scuba diving, Family History, martial arts, astronomy, and playing Djembe and Congas. Despite that, he is actually not that boring.
Rob is father of two and has made his green escape with his lovely lady to Tamborine Mountain in Australia’s Gold Coast hinterland.
Social Media Links:
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Rob Shackleford (Author of Traveller - Inceptio) | Goodreads