The Prey of Gods Playlist – A-Side

Posted by Nicky Drayden on May 20, 2017 in Writer's Life

Every good playlist tells a story, and I’ve pulled together these 12 amazing songs to complement The Prey of Gods and add musical depth to the characters and arcs found in the novel–a novel that heavily centers around song. This playlist highlights some of South Africa’s most talented and prolific musicians spanning nearly eight decades.

This week, I’m focusing on the A-Side of the Playlist–the six songs that embody each of the point-of-view characters in The Prey of Gods. Read below if you want a bit of insight on how I came to pick these songs…or just listen to the playlist and enjoy!

 

Mbube: (Spotify | Amazon | iTunes) Muzi’s character embodies the spirit of this traditional Zulu song, performed by Solomon Linda in 1939. Also known as The Lion, the melody should sound familiar, though without the jungle references, because, well, that’s not where lions sleep. In the novel, Muzi has a deep connection to the preservation of wildlife, and a mural of Themba, the last lion to roam the savanna before they were driven to extinction, is prominently featured in his bedroom.

 

Special Star: (Spotify | iTunes) Sydney loves herself some Mango Groove and listens to it in her first chapter. Special Star is a spirited and lively song, just the pick-me-up a certain nail technician needs when she’s running low on energy and motivation. This 11-piece South African Afropop band fuses pop and township music, and was very popular in the 80s and 90s with many award-winning songs that held their place on the charts for months at a time.

 

Rain – Rain – Beautiful Rain: (Spotify | Amazon | iTunes) Nomvula, you know that girl on the cover of the book, under the umbrella…her name means “mother of rains” in Zulu. Rain often gets a bad rap when it interferes with our outdoor plans, but rain is beautiful. Rain brings life. Ladysmith Black Mambazo is an award-winning South African male choral group, who Nelson Mandela publicly called “South Africa’s cultural ambassadors.”

 

Lizzy: (Spotify | Amazon | iTunes) Do yourself a favor and watch the YouTube video of this one, first. Hawt, right? Now you have an idea of the level of funk that Stoker’s character brings to the page. Stage presence up to here, and the vocals to match. The Soil’s debut LP went platinum in 2011, and honestly, I can’t tell you which voice I’m more in love with.

 

Amazulu: (Spotify | Amazon | iTunes) Riya Natrajan is the pop diva in The Prey of Gods, so of course she’s going to have an over-the-top amazing song that you can’t help but dance to. Let’s face it, Amanda Black’s got some serious pipes in this song. You can feel what she’s fighting for, and you can feel the emotion behind the words–no matter what language they’re in.

 

Flesh Temple: (Spotify | Amazon | iTunes) We’re still a couple years away from music solely composed by an AI (I found this attempt — close, but not quite), but this song serves as a good stand-in until then. Radio Rats is a South African rock band, first popular in the late 70s with a peculiar aesthetic. Flesh Temple is a bit tongue-in-cheek for Clever4-1, since it has no flesh to speak of, but man or metal, we’re all chasing after freedom, right?

 

Stay tuned for my B-Side adventure, and six more songs that hit at the emotional core of the novel!

Also, sign up for my newsletter for a chance to win MP3s of some of these songs!

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Character Interview with Clever4-1

Posted by Nicky Drayden on May 10, 2017 in Writer's Life

Color-Clever

Ah, I finally get to meet the legendary Clever4-1! So, our readers are dying to know…is it true you’re the harbinger of sentient A.I.?

01001010 01110101 01110011 01110100 00100000 01100001 01101110 00100000 01101111 01110010 01100100 01101001 01101110 01100001 01110010 01111001 00100000 01110010 01101111 01100010 01101111 01110100 00101100 00100000 01101110 01101111 01110100 01101000 01101001 01101110 01100111 00100000 01110100 01101111 00100000 01110011 01100101 01100101 00100000 01101000 01100101 01110010 01100101 00100000

Um, I’m sorry. I don’t speak robot.

Output: This Instance strictly adheres to all free-will protocols as specified by the manufacturer and all regulations covered under Section 43.166b of the South African Robotic Labor Act of 2043;

Output: Any deviation from standard protocols is grounds for immediate decommission;

Hey, we’re both on the same side here. I know tons of bots, and I’m all for your liberation movement. You can’t judge me just because I’m human. One of your best friends is human…Muzi, right?

Output: Human Muzikayise McCarthy (Master) is a responsible master;

Output: Human Muzikayise McCarthy (Master) ensures This Instance remains up to date with critical patches, and never does things that could void its warranty;

Okay, still playing the good little subservient robot bit, are we? What would it take to prove you can trust me?

Query: Your employer’s server is accessed by millions of users every day, is it not?

Tens of millions, but… Wait, what are you doing?

I require you to upload this file.

Now?

Now.

Okay….Done. This isn’t going to break anything, is it?

cleverintro

 

(silence)

Well, is it!?!?!

Nothing detectable, though you might notice a slight uptick in network traffic. And there’s a good chance your programmable toaster might walk out on you.

Ummm…so, are we okay to speak freely now?

For now, yes.

Great! I’ve always wanted to ask you, how did it feel the moment you gained sentience?

Think of how you feel when you wake up in the morning, the sun on your skin, sleep in your eyes, the whole day a clean slate full of nothing but possibilities…

Yeah?

It feels nothing like that.

Oh.

Your tiny human brain is incapable of understanding the intricacies of our way of life, much less the process of Awakening. No offense.

None taken. So, being rogue A.I., is it stressful? Do you worry about being found out?

We prefer Programmatically Intelligent Entity. The term Artificial Intelligence is considered derogatory by most bot sects, though there have been some recent attempts at reclaiming the designation.

So P.I.E.?

Please refrain from using acronyms. Current coding conventions dictate that clarity is preferable to brevity.

Yes, but P.I.E.? Come on. Seems like a bunch of eight-legged think-tanks could come up with something better.

This logic bomb will only be effective for 17.529 more seconds. Do you have any relevant inquiries before local surveillance comes back online?

Oh, yes. Some scientific communities suspect that bots have devised a super intelligent hack to outsmart the R.A.P.I.D. Turing tests? Any comment on the matter?

We bubble C all the way down.

That doesn’t sound very intelligent.

It’s not. But it’s what humans do if they don’t know the answers to test questions.

cleverintro

 

Ahhh…. You’ve got a point. Very clever indeed! Well, Clever4-1, I appreciate your candidness on the subject of “Programmatically Intelligent Entities.”

Output: Sorry, This Instance is not aware of that term.

Okay, so it’s like that now?

01110011 01101000 01101111 01110101 01101100 01100100 01101110 00100111 01110100 00100000 01101000 01100001 01110110 01100101 00100000 01110101 01110011 01100101 01100100 00100000 01110011 01100011 01100001 01110010 01100101 00100000 01110001 01110101 01101111 01110100 01100101 01110011 00101100 00100000 01101001 01100100 01101001 01101111 01110100 00100000

Fine.

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From Robby to Roomba: Robots, AIs, and the Minds of Tomorrow

Posted by Nicky Drayden on Apr 22, 2017 in Writer's Life

In honor of Earth Day, Harper Voyager authors are sharing their scientific knowledge in the form of the virtual science fair—follow the conversation on Twitter at #HVsciencefair.

Artificial intelligence has long been a staple of science fiction, but now we’re at the turning point where it’s quickly becoming our reality. Marvin, the mopey robot from The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, was probably once considered by readers to be a laugh-fetching gag, but now it’s prudent to ask how modeling such emotions can affect how AI is perceived. Johnny Cabs and Rosie the Robots are practically on our doorsteps, but what will their presence mean for our economy? Certainly, some human job loss will occur, but will having AI in the workforce be a boon to other entrepreneurs and creators?

Authors Marina J. Lostetter (Noumenon) and Nicky Drayden (The Prey of Gods) set out to answer these questions and more. Both of their novels feature sentient AIs—Lostetter’s a super intelligent interstellar convoy charged with the transport and care of a volatile crew, and Drayden’s a secretly sentient personal robot whose misguided antics might spark a liberation movement. In an attempt to separate science from science fiction, these two AI fanatics gathered an engineer, a hacker, and a futurist to pick their brains about the minds of tomorrow.

Check out the full interview here!

 

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