Can Machines Bring Peace by Floor Kist


Can Machines Bring Peace?

by Floor Kist


GENRE: Science Fiction



Can a machine bring peace? Or are humans built for war?

450 years after Earth was bombed back to the Stone Age, a young diplomat searches for lost human settlements. Kazimir Sakhalinsk narrowly escapes an exploration mission gone wrong and searches for ways to make future missions safer for his people. A festival introduces him to the Marvelous Thinking Machine.

A machine Kazimir believes can change everything

For his admiral it’s nothing more than a silly fairground gimmick. But Kazimir is convinced. Convinced enough to go against orders and build one of his own. Convinced enough to think he can bring peace. Convinced enough to think humanity is worth saving. What if he’s wrong?

He asks his hikikomori sister, a retired professor filling her empty days, the owner of the festival machine and the admiral’s daughter for help. Will that be enough?

Excerpt One:

Kazimir hears the beep-beep response to his beacon. The plane is overhead! His breath shortens as he peers through the night. Standard protocol states the plane will land at a safe landing zone within a kilometer radius of ground zero. If Kazimir can find the right direction, he may actually have a chance. There! The shape of the plane against a clouded moon is a beautiful sight. He is afraid to smile, but can’t help himself.

He follows it, stumbling over the thick roots of the trees. Quickly, he looks up.

There she is again. No. ‘That’s… that’s… black flag.’ That means the others are dead.

Standing against the tree, he retches. Cold sweat forms on his forehead and his back. He shouldn’t have left the settlement. He could have saved them. No. He would be dead too. Kazimir gags and coughs. He spits out the sour taste, and wipes his chin. ‘Yuck.’

He looks up, trying to control his breath. The twin rudders and the nose turret machine gun nozzle give the Ki-2 light bomber away. Kazimir has only seen it in the hangar of the Ryūjō. He remembers the pilot telling him about the 500-kilogram maximum bomb load. All headed towards the settlement.

The ground trembles with the explosion. Kazimir sees the red and yellow clouds grow against the dark sky. Seconds later, he hears the wheezing sound of the dropping bombs, followed by the roar of a thousand dragons. Sound travels at three hundred meters per second, so he must be about 300 meters away.

The hot blast wave that follows knocks him down. He hits his head on the root of the tree. ‘Stupid tree.’ He feels a sharp pain. Warm blood dribbles into his hair. Its metallic scent reaches his nose.

Sounds of the explosion die down.

AUTHOR Bio and Links:

Floor Kist lives in a Dutch town called Voorburg with his wife, two sons, two cats and their dog Monty. He is currently deputy-mayor for the Green Party and an AI researcher. He’s concerned about current divisive public and political debates. But he’s also interested in how AI can be used to resolve society’s big issues.

This is his first novel. He’s been carrying the idea about a story about AI bringing peace for a long time. The Covid-19 lockdown in the Netherlands suddenly gave him time to actually write it.

Author’s Website

Guest Post

Hi Gwyn, thank you so much for the opportunity to write a guest post for your site. I also remember when a show about your hometown was considered one of the top nighttime soap operas. Although, I still think of Bobby Ewing as the Man from Atlantis.

My own hometown is not as glamorous as the TV show. However, it has redeeming qualities. It is built upon a more than 2000-year-old Roman settlement. The canal they dug is still buried there. During an archeological excavation, the wooden embankment was unearthed. The wood looked new. In order to conserve it, they covered it up again. There is something mystical in connecting the past to the present.

I didn’t choose the Romans as a backstory for my novel “Can Machines Bring Peace? Hope in a Post-Apocalyptic Age”. I went with Japan. The Japanese Imperial family is the oldest existing hereditary royalty in the world. They have a mythical origin. Although my novel is set in the future, I wanted to connect this ancient history with the world of tomorrow.

It features an empress, not an emperor, to contrast with a traditionalistic setting. And although, my main character is a man, three strong women are just as involved- sometimes even more so. All of my characters try to find a place where they can be themselves, where they belong. And not surprisingly, they belong with each other. And they only achieve what they do because they work together.

At the end of the novel, the protagonists meet with the empress. And, I’m really happy with the way that turned out. Allow me to use that excerpt to finish this post, Gwyn. Somehow, I believe you may share this sentiment.

“The group is everything Empress Suiko hoped for. This young lady Sakhalinsk is endearing. And it is wonderful to see the pride in the group—not about their own accomplishments, but because of the others’. Now, she really wants to see the Thinking Machine. It will be good to leave the palace.

The Empress’ soft voice ends the silence: “Mr. Sakhalinsk, Miss Sakhalinsk, emeritus Professor Wakizaka, Mr. Tūmatarau, Miss Fujiwara, the Empire thanks you for your service. Our vision is one where all citizens live together in harmony. Whether they are born within the Empire or without. That all have access to education and work. That all be protected by the Empire, no matter where they live, no matter where they come from. The Empire is the last civilization on Earth. And it is our duty to restore the Earth without differences, without hatred and without wars.

We have introduced education for all, so that women in particular have an opportunity to choose their own path. We encouraged people from different cultures to join the Imperial Service, to share knowledge about how to live together. We are exploring the world to find others to share in our civilization.

To Our regret, not everyone supports this vision. We have come to realize how much people are set in their ways. How difficult it is for all of us to accept change. If only We could find examples of harmonious cooperation, where women and men work together as equals. Where different people from different backgrounds find a common goal and work together. We were struggling to find such an example.

And then, councilor MacFadden informed Us about a group of people working for the good of the Empire. Working for peace. Working together despite their differences, and succeeding because of them.

When We look at you, Mr. Sakhalinsk, We see caring and unselfish leadership bring together people for a common goal. Miss Sakhalinsk is an example of ingenuity and personal perseverance. Professor Wakizaka shows Us that a sharp mind can always be of service. Mr. Tūmatarau embodies Our hope that all skills can be put to good use. And Miss Fujiwara shows that despite privilege, it takes courage to work in the service of peace. Because you have not been working for your Empress, nor for the Empire, you are showing all of us a road to peace. Our vision has come a step closer, because five different people decided to work in harmony for a greater cause. This, We shall never forget. And you have the utmost gratitude of your Empress.

Councilor MacFadden, you did well to bring the achievements of these five special people to Our attention.

Mr. Sakhalinsk. Would you permit Us to visit the Thinking Machine?”

3 thoughts on “Can Machines Bring Peace by Floor Kist

  1. Anonymous says:

    Hi Gwyn, thank you for hosting my guest post. I hope you like it. And I’m happy to chat with the visitors on your site.
    -Floor Kist

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