So. My novel. To friends and family, I’m notoriously miserable at summarizing things (especially with this book, because there are about ten different plot lines that all eventually coalesce), but I’ll try my best.
Here’s where each strand of plot begins.
The second civil war in North America has turned cold, leaving the continent somewhat nebulously divided. Chicago is a mafia-run city-state. Canada has subsumed portions of the western U.S., down into Los Angeles. Texas has finally seceded and become the Lone Star Republic. A militant Mormon group has declared Utah independent. The United States government, acceleratingly oppressive, still holds power in most of the U.S., especially in the east.
All sides have been experimenting with new military technology, particularly the U.S. A machinery and appliance company with extremely strong ties to the government has been running tests on some experimental new war machines sporting artificial intelligence. One of these tests involves a neural implant that allows a pilot to wirelessly interface with the tank and communicate with the AI.
During a field test involving sweeping out suburban ruins for resistance fighters, one of these tanks has an existential crisis and kicks out her pilot, severing their wireless connection. On his way back to report the incident to his superiors in Indianapolis, he stops in a diner where he meets a couple of cloned waitresses. Before he can eat his meal, the tank suddenly shows up out of nowhere and aggressively pursues him, flattening the diner in the process.
Another of these experimental AI machines is a biped model that’s intended to ultimately be a nearly indestructible weapon that can run indefinitely. The general chosen to test one of the two existent prototypes of this model ends up falling in love with the AI.
Due to an increase in genetic manipulation, the U.S. government has instated a kind of eugenics program that forces unmodified individuals to mate with each other, through the use of implants that effectively prohibit intercourse with others, but force intercourse during the woman’s most fertile time of the month. Unsurprisingly, there were plenty of middle-aged male volunteers for the program, and nearly all the draftees were women.
Two of the characters have these implants. One of them works for the Department of Information, effectively the propaganda arm of the government. The other works for a news organization that’s covertly owned by the Department of Information, screening news items for potentially subversive material. The former is a pompous asshole with a hardon for authority. The latter is a reluctant participant who does the work because it was one of the only jobs she could get. On the day the book begins, she receives a cryptic message in between the story items for the evening news.
In a New Mexican desert, during a demonstration to U.S. military research heads (which has become the only way to really make big money anymore), a hive of a hundred thousand robotic insects suddenly becomes unresponsive and takes off into the sky to the east. The small company that developed them pursues.
A seemingly contagious insomnia is sweeping across the country. Many suspect it’s linked somehow to yawning, but nobody really knows what’s causing it. Bioterrorism is suspected, but nobody can provide any evidence for the theory. While afflicted with this insomnia, a sleeper assassin is activated and sent on a mission.
A company called Meme offers the service of cloning individuals, rapidly developing the clones to an approximate specified age, applying any desired genetic modifications, and rewriting a map of one’s neural pattern onto the clone. You may not be able to live forever, but your ideas can. An elderly gentleman who anticipates the end of his life sells all his belongings and has himself cloned and killed. His clone is inadvertently double-written with both his neural pattern and the neural pattern of a recently-deceased supergenius with the same first name and a very similar surname, which had been stored in their computer system. Said clone wakes up extremely confused.
And that’s just the first morning. Throughout the book, the threads interweave in various ways that I won’t presently delve into as I don’t want to spoil anything for anyone who might actually want to read this if I ever get it published (or, failing that, if I ever self-publish it).