Month: January 2015

More Reviews of “Red Queen: the Substrate Wars”

Red Queen: The Substrate Wars

Red Queen: The Substrate Wars

More reviews of Red Queen: The Substrate Wars.

From Amazon, a random reader says:

5.0 out of 5 stars
Excellent!, January 30, 2015
By A. Shibley (Philadelphia)
Verified Purchase

I bought this Kindle book on a whim after seeing it on Instapundit. It was really a fun read! Too often, independent books like this are poorly edited, clumsily written, and hardly thought out. This is not one of those books. Indeed, I recently read a “big name” series (not Hunger Games) that was objectively less well-written and entertaining. Looking forward to the next one.

Also from Amazon:

5.0 out of 5 stars
A good read which is hard to put down, January 28, 2015
By John Stephens (Guerneville, CA USA)
Verified Purchase

I really enjoyed this book; I read it on vacation and I didn’t want to stop reading it. There were a couple of sections where the dialog was a bit stilted and it was reminiscent of Neal Stephenson’s Cryptonomicon in being somewhat didactic, but that’s just nit-picking – it had engaging characters and the plot moved along quickly. I liked the emerging universe he created and feel that the stage has been well set for a good series. I actually thought Samantha was going to be a government agent but happy to be disappointed 😉

I look forward to book number 2!

Like didactic is a bad thing! And “stilted dialog?” — argh! 😉

Book blogger Christina DeVries (whose native language is Norwegian, so bear that in mind) has a review at Geek Heaven:

4 stars out of 5
This is a science fiction thriller set in the US in the not too distant future. The country is run by a Unity Party, combining the worst of both the Democrats and the Republicans. The Bill of Rights is being ignored and people are being monitored by the government. Terrorist attacks results in more restrictions on people’s freedom and privacy.

The story follows a group of young people who are tired of their countries censor, stagnant economy and no jobs for young educated people. And when one of their favored professors suddenly disappears after being contacted by Homeland Security who suspects that he’s staying in touch with a former student who now runs a rebel group.

These young students discovers a new kind of technology that could ever free mankind or be the ultimate weapon to control or destroy us if it falls into the wrong hands. What are they to do with it? And they have to work fast before Homeland Security arrests them all and get their hands on the technology. Who can they trust? How do they know that they’re not being watched already?


I was very intrigued by the synopsis when I was contacted about this book and it did not disappoint me. It was fast-paced and exciting. The characters were really well made but I would have loved to have gotten to know them a little bit better. In the beginning of the story some of the writing could get a bit too technical for my taste, but it definitely picked up and got easier to follow as the story progressed.

I can’t say that I’ve read anything quite like this before so I went into this with a very open mind and was definitely pleasantly surprised!

I’m really looking forward to seeing where this series goes and I definitely recommend this if you like political thrillers and science fiction.

Title IX Totalitarianism is Gender-Neutral

Phall-o-meter, Intersex Society of North America

Phall-o-meter, Intersex Society of North America

From the beyond-the-Onion department:

CUNY’s Graduate Center now believes the use of gendered salutations like “Mr.” and “Mrs.” might offend some students. What’s more, administrators think federal non-discrimination law requires the university to prevent its faculty from inadvertently giving offense. Therefore, professors have been instructed to wipe the contentious words from their memories and cease using them in any and all forms of communication.

Full Reason story here.

Some young reviewers of Red Queen: The Substrate Wars think it portrays some unlikely future thought-control state. It’s actually about RIGHT NOW in many universities, which is why it bugs me I can’t get a conventional publisher to look at it in less than a year.

Scientific Revolutions and “Red Queen: the Substrate Wars”

Red Queen: The Substrate Wars

Red Queen: The Substrate Wars

These two reviews illustrate a conflict that anyone writing science fiction needs to deal with.

The primary driver of any good story is the characters and how they handle problems. What makes science fiction different is that these problems will be related to new science and technology; while in fantasy, any magical system with consistent rules will do, in science fiction the technologies should be at least possible, preferably plausible extensions of what is known. That is how science fiction predicted 200% of the innovations of the past decades (we are all still waiting for flying cars, for example!)

There’s a trap here, though. Pop culture is now saturated with science fictional technologies that were once novel ideas: time travel, wormholes, warp drive, runaway nanotechnology, powered armor, etc. Where once a single idea of this kind could make a book exciting, they are now routine. And a whole subgenre of space opera simply transfers naval warfare into space, with a few new features but old stories.

There’s a risk in introducing a truly paradigm-shattering idea: only a small and shrinking market of readers will follow the author into a fictional world that says familiar scientific rules are broken. So in “Red Queen” I have a new technology based on revolutionary new physics that appears to allow violation of some rules all of us educated in physics hold dear, like conservation of energy. Even the fictional developer of the technology has trouble accepting that, even though these violations only happen in very unusual circumstances, and may well be accounted for by as-yet-unknown effects elsewhere in the universe. Which is reminiscent of Einstein’s reaction to quantum entanglement–“this appears to be right but I don’t like it so it must not be the last word.”

This is how it feels when old paradigms are broken by a new theory backed up by experiment: this explains what we have seen better than the old theory, but “it can’t be right, it makes me uncomfortable.” Darwin’s work for biologists, quantum theory for physicists, Copernican heliocentrism for astronomers: all had to wait for a generation of believers in the old theory to die off.

So half your readers will willingly suspend disbelief and follow along, and the other half will stay bound to their reality and have the nagging feeling their hard science fiction story just turned into a fantasy. It’s far less risky, but in the end less interesting, to stick with a known science-fictional technology like hyperspace or warp drive, with a few differentiating features to make it “yours.” The readers are prepped for it. But maybe there is now so much science fiction already written that truly new ideas are hard to come by, and we are left with character and plot as the drivers of interest.

The idea for the physics breakthrough in “Red Queen” is actually thirty years old, coming from long BS sessions with friends at MIT. That there has been little testable progress in string theory and unified field theories since that time is a problem — something is being missed, with dark energy, dark matter, and Mach’s principle all pointing at a failure to see something. The physics in the book is just one way things might go, and the truth when it is found is likely to be similarly surprising.

5.0 out of 5 stars
Classic style Hard Sci-Fi January 26, 2015
By Donald W. Campbell
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase

A great read in old-style hard science fiction. The social/economic predictions are an easy extrapolation from where we are now. (very short term future) The ‘science’ part of the fiction is; Imagine a cellular automation is the basis and under-pinning of our universe, and the laws of physics represent ‘rules’ of emergent behavior of this automata. (This is a current theory, the author postulates it is true.) Imagine Quantum computers really work. (A 90% probably true, not a long shot)

Now, accepting these two, let us speculate a ‘fiction’. Aforementioned quantum computer is capable of interacting directly with the underlying cellular automata, bypassing the emergent ruleset and subsituting its own. If we accept this ‘fiction’, the remainder of the book is a logical extrapolation of reality as it exists.

(Hopefully this description hasn’t created any real spoilers for future readers.)

4.0 out of 5 stars
Excellent novel, full of interesting plot points, January 25, 2015
By Dave
Verified Purchase

Excellent novel, full of interesting plot points. This novel intrigues. While it’s not plausible, at least by any known science, it is thought-provoking, and that is often the more interesting form of fiction: what if something were possible? What would it imply.

In this novel we are presented with a calamitous terrorist attack and the attendant overreach of various governments. Concomitant with that a group of rogue scientists discover a way to move immediately to another planet via that obvious trope of science fiction, the wormhole.

But, but, but! you say. “Wormholes are fake!” Well, sure, they very well may be. But so what? If you are able to suspend your narrative disbelief and enjoy the plot for what it is, an interesting thought experiment occurs: in a panopticon society, in which your every move is tracked, how do you rebel agains the authority of the state?

Red Queen: The Substrate Wars

For more on science fiction and pop culture:

Science Fiction Fandom and SJW Warfare
YA Dystopias vs Heinlein et al: Social Justice Warriors Strike Again
“Game of Thrones” and the Problem of PowerThe Lessons of Walter White
“Blue Valentine”
“Mad Men”
The Morality of Glamour
“Mockingjay” Propaganda Posters
“Big Bang Theory” — Aspergers and Emotional/Social Intelligence
Real-Life “Hunger Games”: Soft Oppression Destroys the Poor

Review by Chris Pavesic of “Red Queen: the Substrate Wars”

Red Queen: The Substrate Wars

Red Queen: The Substrate Wars

Book blogger Chris Pavesic has written a kind review of Red Queen: The Substrate Wars:

Red Queen: The Substrate Wars begins with a quotation from Robert Heinlein’s 1950’s novella, The Man Who Sold the Moon: “There is nothing in this world so permanent as a temporary emergency.” This idea sets the tone of Kinnison’s novel and permeates all of the events within his fictional world.

The novel is set in a not-too-distant future world with events that mirror our own society: Readers will recognize similarities in events like the AIDS epidemic, the creation of agencies like Homeland Security, and how some people use online games like World of Warcraft and other social media to create connections and send messages in “the real world.” The differences between our world and the story world of Red Queen: The Substrate Wars lies in how much personal freedom has been reduced and how far technology has developed. As it states in the book blurb, the technology being created could either save the world or destroy it; the stakes are no longer just personal freedom versus governmental control. The characters are actually fighting their governments for the right for the human race to exist.


It is hard to discuss the novel without giving away huge spoilers. (Of course I have this problem with most of the novels I review!) I really enjoyed the chapters with the ALife Simulations. The narrative of these chapters focused on the evolutionary development of the artificial life forms. It traces them from the very start of their existence, focusing on the entire species rather than one character, and each ALife section relates in some way to the actions taken by the main characters in the novel.

My favorite character in the novel is Professor Walter Wilson. Kinnison creates a very interesting character. Wilson is a homosexual male who grew up in a world that initially did not tolerate this lifestyle, although the level of acceptance evolved, and even flourished, over time. He survived the AIDS epidemic, although his lover did not. Infected, Wilson has to take what he terms a “daily wonder pill” to prevent the progression of the disease. Because of this loss, he never developed another close, romantic relationship. Instead, he threw himself into his work. He flourished in the academic world, even winning a protest against University regulations in the past when a security officer removed a poster with an image of a gun from his office door. Wilson also had a positive impact on his students, who maintained contact with him even after they left the University.

The twist with this character comes with the reduction of personal freedoms in The Red Queen society. At the start of the novel, Wilson has come under fire from the University officials because he commented on a biological difference between the genders. Any statement that points out a difference between people is considered offensive and subject to censure. This, however, is not as simple as it appears on the surface. The censure may be retaliation for the protest he won in the past, it may be an issue because his former students have become leaders in the resistance against The Red Queen governments, or it may have something to do with the ALife simulation project Wilson is running. The University’s actions do encourage Wilson’s former and current students to rally behind him. It is not really a “call to arms;” rather, it is the situation that starts a chain of events and it is fascinating as a reader to watch each domino fall into place.

I did enjoy this novel and look forward to the second book in the trilogy!

Interview with Serenity Sheild

Red Queen: The Substrate Wars

Red Queen: The Substrate Wars

[An interview prepared for Serenity Sheild’s book blog]

When did you realize that you wanted to become a writer?

I wrote terrible stories in grade school, journaled in high school, and took writing courses at MIT and Harvard. When I left MIT, I was interested in trying to write and spent time with a writer’s group, one of whom is now a bestselling author – Sue Miller, of The Good Mother and other novels. But I was not good enough to break in at that time (I was 22!) so I went on to careers in computer science and business. I’ve returned to writing after early retirement.

Is being an Author all you dreamed of, or did it just happen? The best and worst thing about it?

If you’re going to write novels, you’re going to be isolated a lot; you can’t be task-switching every ten minutes and hanging out with friends every night. So you spend long hours in your head and interruptions are resented. The best thing, I suppose, is that you get to single-handedly create—no one can stop you, no one (except possibly an editor!) is going to derail the flow of what you and your characters have to say.

What was the very first thing you ever wrote?

Hah! Probably a two-page science fiction story about a boy going into a cave and discovering aliens at the center of the Earth. I knew it was bad even at the time!

 What made you create (your book)? How did it come to you?

I had done well with two books about attachment theory and relationships: Bad Boyfriends: Using Attachment Theory to Avoid Mr. (or Ms.) Wrong and Make You a Better Partner and Avoidant: How to Love (or Leave) a Dismissive Partner. I had not tried to write long-form fiction in 20+ years, but a long discussion online with a group of science fiction writers and fans convinced me to take up the challenge of writing a story about and for younger people which had some of the technological optimism of old-school science fiction, blended with the diversity and sensibility of today. Part of the problem with YA fiction is the depressive tone taken by many authors, as if every story should focus on Major Issues like global warming and environmental catastrophe. A breakthrough like Hunger Games happened because publishers saw it was a story with a strong young woman as hero — which is true and a big part of its appeal. But it became a phenomenon because it is also a story about today’s politics, with the elite urban disdain for rural and lower-class people and the oppressive micromanagement of an ever-increasing and manipulative government. I wanted to more directly address the same urge for freedom.

Who is your literary hero?

Hmm, I don’t have just one. But I grew up reading Robert Heinlein’s juveniles, so-called because they were designed to be relatively simple and feature young people growing into adulthood and doing great things. When he wrote more complex and adult stories, his publisher refused them – starting with Starship Troopers, still considered a classic. In later years as he became too commercially successful to be told what to do by editors, he got self-indulgent and his work was less focused.

Evan Connell is another master of literary fiction whose work is less known than it should be. Mr. Bridge and Mrs. Bridge are perfect, lapidary novels capturing a husband and wife in Kansas City in the 1930s and 40s. Heartbreaking portraits composed of a series of small scenes, each one adding a tiny bit to your understanding until you are overcome by the power of it — and all without major drama. Restrained, refined, repressed. Two of the top ten American novels.

How much of your characters are based on your traits or someone you know personally?

None directly. There are fragments of my own background and personality mixed up with other people I have known, but once set they tend to take on a life of their own beyond those starting ingredients.

Describe your main character in six words.

Grad student waiting for a challenge.

Describe the world you’ve created in six words.

Soft fascist thought control state, overturned.

What scene was your favorite to write?

The fictional version of an incident where a professor put up a “Firefly” poster and was cited by campus authorities for creating a threatening environment. Which actually happened. I enjoyed gently mocking Star Trek and Firefly.

 What scene was the hardest for you to write?

One must have villains, and one of mine is the boyfriend of my main female character, Samantha. He’s a narcissistic, rich schmuck, and in the scene where she breaks up with him in a restaurant, he is abusive. It was intense to write feeling how she must be feeling.

 What are you working on now?

The next book in the series. Our rebels take on the governments of the world and bring peace, harmony, and plenty to all. No, really! Until the next book, anyway.

What’s your favorite thing to do when you’re not writing?

I work out every day at a gym, lifting weights and doing cardio. I really enjoy that and come up with some great ideas while on the Stairmaster. 

Red Queen: The Substrate Wars

Jeb Kinnison’s Amazon author page

Science Fiction Fandom and SJW warfare

Amazon Warrior

Amazon Warrior

The culture war continues between Social Justice Warriors (who want to elevate politics over story in science fiction) and everyone else (writers and fans who come from all political perspectives but see true diversity as a product of merit, not correctness.)

I came into this battle late and I lack the scars of many of the writers who’ve manned the barricades, but it’s obvious where my sympathies lie: freedom of speech, freedom to write a good story wherever it leads, freedom to have characters of any and all cultures and colors, including white and privileged, so long as the story is compelling and the writing is good. Applying a political correctness screen to fiction gets us bad fiction and bad politics. And just as certain elitists tend to see any business that is profitable as suspect and in need of more government supervision, science fiction elitists would try to screen out science fiction that is “too entertaining” or too accessible to the less refined. Joy, you see, is to be found only in the tiniest of nuances, the finest of emotions that can only be expressed by a truly literary author. It is the joy of feeling yourself superior to all those unwashed who cannot see what you see. And if it doesn’t confirm the latest and most advanced progressive ideology, it’s dangerous and only perpetuates racism and sexism…

Many have written good pieces on the topic, so I’ll just point out a few:

James May: “The Death of Science Fiction”

Larry Correia: “Why I Don’t Like Social Justice Warriors”

Sarah Hoyt: “In the World of the Red Queen” (has she read my book?? 🙂 )

“Dave of Cydonia”: “Why Social Justice Warriors Suck, Part 2”

Peter Darbyshire: “War is Coming to Sci-Fi and Fantasy Fandom” (a good overview of recent controversies)

Jeb Kinnison (me!):
#Gamergate Explained
Social Justice Warriors, Jihadists, and Neo-Nazis: Constructed Identities
YA Dystopias vs Heinlein et al: Social Justice Warriors Strike Again

On the latest skirmish, “Sad Puppies 3” by Brad Torgerson — another effort to leaven the Hugo Award nominations with non-PC candidates, I wrote elsewhere:

Controversy! I’m on the side of good story-telling and mind-expanding entertainment no matter what the political perspective or level of accessibility. I guess I have to start paying attention… to quote Brad:

“I’ll say it again: the Hugos (and the Nebulas too) have lost cachet, because at the same time SF/F has exploded popularly — with larger-than-life, exciting, entertaining franchises and products — the voting body of ‘fandom’ have tended to go in the opposite direction: niche, academic, overtly to the Left in ideology and flavor, and ultimately lacking what might best be called visceral, gut-level, swashbuckling fun. The kind of child-like enjoyment that comes easily and naturally when you don’t have to crawl so far into your brain (or your navel) that you lose sight of the forest for the trees.”

“The Man in the High Castle” – Pilot Episode

The Man in the High Castle - Amazon Studios

The Man in the High Castle – Amazon Studios

Philip K. Dick’s Man in the High Castle is one of his best books, apparently having been written in less haste and under fewer drugs than some of his others. It’s an alternative history set in the US of a 1962 where the Axis powers won WWII and the pacifist US succumbed and is partitioned, with the West Coast ruled by the Japanese Empire and the East Coast under a Nazi puppet state a la Vichy France. But like all his books, much more is going on here than just an alternative history story; reality is slippery and no one is quite what they seem, and this history may not be real, either.

It is not really science fiction — there’s no scientific explanation for what is going on, or portals between multiverses, although some characters can “see” other realities in foggy San Francisco. The delicacy and ferocity of Japanese culture is examined, the I Ching functions as a kind of Greek chorus pronouncing on the plot, and there’s a shadowy author who has written a book describing a world where Roosevelt wasn’t assassinated and the Allies win the war. The author points out what all historians know — the conquerors are affected by the conquered and absorb some of their culture.

Most of Dick’s novels and stories have been made into movies by now:

Although Dick spent most of his career as a writer in near-poverty,[6] eleven popular films based on his works have been produced, including Blade Runner, Total Recall, A Scanner Darkly, Minority Report, Paycheck, Next, Screamers, The Adjustment Bureau and Impostor. In 2005, Time magazine named Ubik one of the hundred greatest English-language novels published since 1923.[7] In 2007, Dick became the first science fiction writer to be included in The Library of America series.

He is now seen as marketable by Hollywood financiers. His estate’s commercial success is a bit tragic, since he died largely unrecognized in 1982.

Now we have a miniseries of Man in the High Castle, partly produced by Ridley Scott (another magic name in Hollywood) and financed by Amazon Studios. I watched the pilot and highly recommend it for its high production values and good acting. Because the complexity of the novel would be hard for film viewers to follow, it’s been simplified a bit, but the essence of the novel appears intact. This is the kind of production SyFy would mount if it weren’t run by science fiction illiterates.

Watch the Pilot Episode at Amazon Prime Streaming

Review by Jim Henley

For more on pop culture:

“Game of Thrones” and the Problem of PowerThe Lessons of Walter White
“Blue Valentine”
“Mad Men”
The Morality of Glamour
“Mockingjay” Propaganda Posters
“Big Bang Theory” — Aspergers and Emotional/Social Intelligence
Real-Life “Hunger Games”: Soft Oppression Destroys the Poor
Reading “50 Shades of Grey” Gives You Anorexia and an Abusive Partner!
YA Dystopias vs Heinlein et al: Social Justice Warriors Strike Again
“Raising Arizona” — Dream of a Family
Coen Brothers: 30 Years of Great Movies

“Red Queen”: UK Amazon Review, 5 Stars

Red Queen: The Substrate Wars

Red Queen: The Substrate Wars

One of the odd things about Amazon’s Anglophone sites is a kind of review imperialism; for example, the UK’s site features UK customer reviews, then includes US reviews separately, for the good reason that there aren’t enough UK reviews for most books to be useful. But on the US site, UK customer reviews aren’t visible. Why? Because of individual country laws, the sites are separate, but all English-language reviews should be equally useful and visible. Ditto for Australia and Canada, and even India; and on those other country sites, there’s much less reason to write a review, because it will be seen by far fewer people.

So while I’m happy to see this nice review come in over at the UK site, the US customers won’t see it!

5 out of 5 stars
A frightening view of what could already be happening
By Mr. Victor Botterill on 12 Jan. 2015

This is a fast moving book and it took me a while to tune into the characters. However, they are all very different and because a variety of opinions are expressed, it means that the central message behind a straightforward plot soon begins to emerge. The story literally starts with a bang.

Like all good science fiction there is an inbuilt theme which reflects the society we are living in and what could in fact happen in the future. Try to explain the story to someone else and it would sound far fetched, but clever “technical” descriptions of the physics and technology involved makes reading the tale believable. This book ends where another story will begin.

The Notes on Politics at the end are very useful and although the action is set in America, it is apparent as you read these notes that they accurately reflect what is already happening in the United Kingdom. This is a real wake-up call. Thoroughly recommended, though you may find it difficult to put down.

5 Minutes with Jeb Kinnison

Red Queen: The Substrate Wars

Red Queen: The Substrate Wars

[An interview prepared for Chris Pavesic’s literary blog.]

This is a chance to learn a bit more about Jeb Kinnison, whose novel Red Queen: The Substrate Wars, was published in December 2014.

About the Author

I started writing when I took writing classes at MIT and Harvard, then worked with a writing group in Cambridge. After receiving rejection notices from some of the top magazines of the day (e.g., The New Yorker), I focused on my career in computer science and financial management – because paying the rent was important. I have returned to writing in retirement.

What I love most about writing is the creation of a new world, and the unexpected things your characters do after you’ve created them. It sounds trite, but they have their own ideas about what they should do, and it helps to be a little bit schizophrenic yourself so that they can exist as subprocesses in your head.

The toughest thing about writing is re-entering the real world after an extended period of living inside a fictional one. I cut myself off from most social activities to get the story out, so I can write a novel in three months but lose track of friends and family a bit. It’s hard to make small talk when the fate of the (fictional) world hangs in the balance!

The writer I most admire? That’s tough because different writers have different goals. If your goal is highly accessible and entertaining stories, J. K. Rowling wins the prize for our age. For extremely adult, intricate fiction of ideas that is also full of humor and fascinating characters (some of them spaceship AIs!), I’d have to pick the late Iain Banks.

My fiction is informed by my diverse background and multiple careers. I went to MIT and dropped out of a Ph.D. computer science program; I was a researcher at a famous think tank (Bolt Beranek and Newman) where the ‘@’ for email addresses was invented and half the work of designing the early Internet was done down the hall; worked at the Smithsonian Center for Short-Lived Phenomena for a summer writing up oil spills, earthquakes, and volcanos; did IT work for Electromagnetic Launch Research, which built the first practical railguns; developed a subdivision in British Columbia, which involved working with logging crews, pipelayers, and roadbuilders; was chief writer for a political campaign that failed; managed the family office for a Stanford professor and managed about a quarter of a billion dollars of his assets; wrote two popular books on attachment theory and its application to mate seeking and marriage.

Favorite Novels: Aside from Iain Banks and J. K. Rowling, I should mention Robert Heinlein as a strong influence, especially his juveniles, which were almost pure adolescent wish-fulfillment; e.g., Citizen of the Galaxy (where a poor slave boy finds his way to outer space, then discovers he must take his place as a long-lost heir with barely enough time to crack a ring of slavers being run by his own family’s companies.)

Favorite Movies: Magnolia, for its emotional honesty; Blade Runner; almost all Coen Bros. movies; and more recently, I approve of the Star Trek reboot by J. J. Abrams no matter what purists think!

Favorite Foods: I live on a simple, healthy, and most of all efficient diet of canned salmon from Costco, yogurts, vegetables, nuts, and chicken. The goal is to eat tasty, healthy, low-carb food without spending any more time than I have to preparing and cleaning up, so I can get back to work quickly.

Advice to aspiring authors: Keep writing. If your Plan B career is lucrative, specialize in that like I did, so you can save up enough money to go full-time later. While there are many young prodigies who write well, most lack the life experience needed to give their characters depth and diversity. As you get older your palette expands, and your fiction grows richer; so if you can’t live on fiction writing when you’re 21, do something else until you can, and you will have lost none of your abilities and gained much. You can also do nonfiction writing in your specialty to sharpen up skills before taking up fiction.

RED QUEEN: The Substrate Wars is a science fiction thriller set in the US of a not-too-distant future, when the Bill of Rights is ignored and the US is run by the Unity Party, combining the worst of Democrats and Republicans.

Red Queen is a story about young people searching for freedom and agency in a world dominated by bureaucrats, administrators, and propagandists. The world of Red Queen is a police state with its roots in today’s events: post-9/11 warrantless physical and electronic surveillance; the erosion of personal liberties for supposed security reasons, even when the government’s actions are shown to be ineffective or wrongheaded; and the rise of a penal-industrial complex that imprisons one in three black men, often for victimless crimes. When the next terrorist action occurs, there may be calls for even more restrictions on freedom and privacy. That’s where Red Queen begins.

Jeb Kinnison: The Long Bio
Jeb Kinnison’s Amazon author page

“Red Queen”: IndieReader Review, 4.5 Stars

Red Queen: The Substrate Wars

By Jeb Kinnison

star star star star star

IR Verdict: RED QUEEN is a tempered look at politics and science in the near future. It is a coming of age novel where the characters reach out beyond the safety of their university to take back their right to self-determination.

 Jan 07, 2015

“The idea of freedom and the right to self-determination are explored throughout the book as the students seek a refuge from the ubiquitous spying from Homeland Security.”

IR Sticker IR ApprovedAs a new school year ramps up on campus, Justin Smith began another day at the Artificial Life lab running ALife simulations on human evolution. The lab was a sanctuary from the political divisiveness on campus and, for that matter, across the nation. A nuclear terrorist attack in New York City some years ago resulted in a government crackdown on dissent as well as a depressed economy where educational grants were drying up except for those labs who “cooperated” with the government. However, Justin’s lab was soon to transform itself from a sanctuary to the center of resistance to the government. This transformation came about when another graduate student, Steve Duong, was investigating an anomaly in his quantum computer research that led to a discovery of a computer program so powerful that it could be weaponized,  tilting the balance of power even further into the hands of an already repressive government. The race to keep this mega weapon out of government hands leads Justin, Steve and a small cadre of students to secure the weapon and fight for their freedom from a tyrannical Dept. of Homeland Security.

RED QUEEN is the first book in The Substrate Wars series. On the surface, it is a tale of insurrection against a government that believes that the ends justify the means. Where this plot diverges from other of this type is that the government is not a fascist state nor the result of a coup but a duly elected government that uses the terrorist attack to stifle dissent and maintain order according to their politically correct philosophy. The prologue begins with a quote from Robert Heinlein, “There is nothing in this world so permanent as a temporary emergency”. This quote from 1950 eerily foreshadows life in the United States in the immediate future where there is only one political party with true power. The idea of freedom and the right to self-determination are explored throughout the book as the students seek a refuge from the ubiquitous spying from Homeland Security. The plot occasionally bogs down when discussing the physics behind quantum computing. The author attempts to work through this with footnotes and an appendix with “notes” on politics and science that are somewhat long and a bit too academic for this type of story. These are only minor drawbacks to an engrossing book about life in the near future that is neither perfect nor dystopian.

RED QUEEN is a tempered look at politics and science in the near future. It is a coming of age novel where the characters reach out beyond the safety of their university to take back their right to self-determination.


– See more at: