Paul A. Moscarella has been an English, ESL, Special Education and science teacher for over 20 years both in NYC and Hamilton, Ontario. The author lives in Southern Ontario, Canada with his wife and son. Machinia, by Pandamonium Publishing House, is Paul’s debut novel.
By Paul A. Moscarella: Machinia centers around robot rule as an inevitability. With machines increasingly reinforcing various parts of our lives, defining some arbitrary point where we limit their integration is no longer clear. Big corporate money is fueling the robot revolution, and we are all being swept up in their eventual assumption of power. Machinia does not depict the robot rule as something to fear, at least not overtly. Theirs is the governance of the superior, of the benevolent, so long as they have cooperation with the humans who coexist with them.
To give a little background, I began developing the story premise for Machinia as a high school student back in 1985. My English teacher asked us to create a short story about future dystopian societies. I knew then that whatever world I created would have to include the presence of robots in a dominant role. In the story I submitted, a robot and a human are engaged in a high-stakes standoff. The human is on trial for treason against the machine state. The robot is his lawyer. I received an “A+” and an encouragement to develop the story further.
Returning to the premise in 1991, I decided to build a novel around the original story that followed two trajectories: the decline of human influence and the subsequent rise of robots. I did not want to create some trite “war with robots” scenario. The robots of Machinia did not conquer the human world with weapons and aggression. Rather, they were given the keys to the kingdom and eventually took over. This robot power grab was a whimsical thought when I started Machinia in the 90’s. Looking at the future from the lens of 2020 I see that the handoff is well underway.
Machinia’s leader is the central data node of the robot world, a grand master machine called the Universal. Its influence is so entrenched that it plots the direction of the robot society with near perfect accuracy. Data is the key to its success, and the more it collects the greater its power becomes. Put simply, data is the greatest resource in the robot world.
With the numerous social media platforms today, we are all part of big data, feeding a vast machine consciousness with every nuance of our lives. These platforms are employing sophisticated AI algorithms used to analyze and predict our online activity and intentionally manipulate our choices. To connect this to Machinia, we are seeing the Universal in its infancy, scattered, unformed but growing to eventually emerge as a single supreme entity.
In Machinia, corporations have ceased to exist as have all forms of mercantile enterprise. There is no money, and human labor is relegated to producing ideas. The robots run the entire show, utilizing and refining the human intellectual output that offers the greatest benefit. Enter Damon Maxwell, an observer from our time and potential disruptor to theirs. Being that the Universal does nothing without a purpose Damon’s presence is not a benign event. Nothing moves in Machinia without having been calculated and predicted.
Two human civilizations exist in the future Earth of Machinia. One group lives in the robot-governed super cities that are distributed throughout the Earth; the rest survive in the ruined human-led Outlands. The humans in the Outlands pose a great threat to the machine empire and the Universal is determined to vanquish them. Damon is neither a citizen of Machinia nor a member of the Outland tribes. He is a unique product of another time and must navigate his way while being influenced by both the Universal and terrorist agents of the Outlands. It is in the choices he makes that the destiny of Machinia is decided. Whether these choices are his or part of some grand manipulation by the Universal leaves him unsettled and insecure.
Cybersecurity officer Damon Maxwell wakes from cryogenic sleep expecting to be ten years into his future but instead finds himself in the robot ruled empire of Machinia, 2156! Welcomed by Machinia’s omnipotent leader, the Universal, Damon learns that his extraordinary journey is part of a complex plan by the Universal to bait Machinia’s deadly enemy, the Underground into action. But the Universal’s brilliant robot aide, Nepcar, fears his leader’s dangerous scheme and pairs Damon with the beautiful and mysterious Cynthia Lhan hoping their union can prevent a catastrophe. Yet, even as the Universal’s plans fall into place an enigmatic figure appears in Damon’s life that even the mighty Universal is powerless to control. Will Damon ultimately be the destroyer of the robot race or its saviour?
PAUL A. MOSCARELLA ON SOCIAL MEDIA