28 May 2015 ~ 1 Comment

D.E.M. – Deus Ex Machina

Guest post by: Lee Ness

DEM Cover.001My book D.E.M. started out as a short story prompted by a single piece of advice given to me over 20 years ago. When I first started managing people, our old Personnel manager took me to one side and said “Just remember, ‘No good turn goes unpunished.’” I thought it an odd piece of advice at the time. I was a young man of 24, just about to manage a section in a manufacturing plant with a dozen people or so. How right that piece of advice was. That isn’t to say that no-one should do a good turn, just that often these things have unintended consequences. It has stuck with me all these years and I am reminded of it often, when it comes true!

So, when I looked to write a short story, it sprung back to mind. The origins of the story were created as I drove to work and was listening to a sad piece on the radio about a missing boy. I was annoyed. There are lots of videos on YouTube that not only go viral and achieve millions of hits (‘Charlie bit my finger’ and ‘Fenton’ for example), but also have the potential to generate significant sums of money. Why don’t people use this for good intentions? If you were searching for a missing boy, what better way than to activate millions of people in the search? That’s where my story begins, with my protagonist, Rachel, going through the same thought process as I did. Fortunately for her, that’s where she had computer skills that I didn’t have. She manages to get the video viral and is able to post a reward with the advertising fees she gets from it. So far so good, but then the ‘No good turn goes unpunished’ kicks in. The law of unintended consequences as it is often known. What Rachel is aiming for is a groundswell of support, buoyed by a reward so that someone gives information that leads to the boy’s discovery. Instead, a vigilante steps in and Rachel is suddenly a target. That’s where the short story ends. I always like to resolve the main story but leave a cliffhanger to a different one, even if I never intend a follow up. I like to try and leave the reader satisfied but still with questions.

In this case, it was me that had the questions that I needed to answer. I loved the two characters too much to leave it there, so the short story became the first chapter. Cue my next little foible. I always loved the term Deus Ex Machina and what it meant (A god outside the machine – someone external that influences the scene). My vigilante was exactly that, but I wanted them to be an even greater personification of the term. So, all I needed was a theme, and it was handed to me on a plate.

Hacking is a very real threat right now, to business, to individuals and to governments. The US Department of Defence was hacked recently and everyone knows about Sony pictures along with the stories about governments hacking each other in one form or another. Once you start researching, it gets even scarier. I’ve tried to balance the amount of technical information in the book with maintaining reader’s interest. According to reviews, I’ve got it about right, enough to be credible but not too much to be overly technical to the layman. All the information in the book is based on real things though. Email really is easy to crack, people really are the weak link and Line X and Line Y protocols do exist but you’re unlikely to find anything about them on the internet.

I didn’t want to lose everyone in a technical manual though, so I’ve tried to keep the hacking and technical stuff in the background. I learned a lot from reading Matthew Reilly and Elmore Leonard and have tried to reflect their pace and dialogue as much as I can. I wanted to create a story that was relevant to society today and that was credible. It’s a book I’d want to read and I’ve intentionally stayed away from telling you, the reader, every thought, every piece of information about the characters and their history. You wouldn’t get that in real life, you’d work it out from your conversations, from how people talk and how they behave. You’re clever folks and I didn’t want to insult you.

I hope you enjoy it and when you hear in the news about the Cryptolocker virus, or that some country is hacking some other country, you’ll hopefully think of Rachel and her friends!

About the author:

leenessLee Ness writes both fiction and non-fiction books and non-fiction articles. He has an Honours Degree in Electronic Systems Engineering and a Masters Degree in Engineering Management.

He has written a historical fiction series set around the Olympics in Ancient Greece circa 440BC and a technological thriller called D.E.M. – Deus Ex Machina.

His first book The Sports Motivation Master Plan passes on the experience of many years coaching athletes in multiple sports. Lee is a UK Athletics Event Group Coach for and part of the National Coach Development Programme for Speed.

Lee’s articles appear in Athletics Weekly, on speedendurance.com and on stack.com. Lee is head coach at City of Salisbury Athletics and Running Club and was Wiltshire Sport Coach of the Year in 2014.

Contest Details:

To win an e-book copy of D.E.M. – Deus Ex Machina answer the following question in the comments below:

Which country is believed to be behind the hacking of Sony?
A) Russia
B) Israel
C) Korea

10 winners will be selected at random. 20 further selections will be sent the e-book of Lee’s historical fiction novel Hoplite – Part 1:Lysander
(Deadline for entries is Thursday, June 4th)

One Response to “D.E.M. – Deus Ex Machina”

  1. I would love a chance to read this book 🙂

    Which country is believed to be behind the hacking of Sony?

    C) Korea


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