Nov 28, 2014

NOVEMBER 24: BRINGING UP MIKE by Mark Duncan Blog Tour


Bringing Up Mike
by Mark Duncan
~~~~~~~~~~~~~

BLURB:
  
What happens when Joe, a teen prodigy makes drastic changes to his life and attends high school incognito with Mike, an artificial intelligence? His plans take an unexpected turn when he buys a neglected former racehorse.

Bringing Up Mike is a tapestry of intertwined stories over the course of a school year: A teen genius who has grown up too fast, a neglected former racehorse, a bereaved couple morning the death of their son, a girl struggling to attend college, and a former mobster determined to be top dog.

Bringing Up Mike is about people given a second chance at happiness and success and how they become better people and mature.


Enjoy an Excerpt:

Martha walked to the barn, the shotgun stock tucked firmly against her side, then stopped fifteen feet from the back of the horse trailer.

“Any reason why I shouldn’t shoot you trespassers?”

Three men who were struggling to get the stallion into the trailer froze. The fourth, a big burly man, stood in front of Martha, the horse directly behind him.

“This isn’t what you think. We’re retrieving our lost stallion,” said Sly.

“At dawn? Without asking permission?”

“It didn’t seem polite to wake you up so early.”

“Seems to me you sold him for four thousand dollars.”

“It was a joke to teach the kid a lesson. That horse is worth twenty thousand, I knew the contract wasn’t valid, because he’s a minor.”

“There’s no way I’d let that stallion go back to someone who starved him.”

“He had plenty of pasture! Once he learned not to bite the hand that fed him, he’d get his grain.”

As they talked, Sly edged closer to Martha, then tried to grab her shotgun. Martha pivoted, pointed the gun at the wheel on the horse trailer, and shot.

There was a CRACK-BANG as a burst of birdshot exploded the tire. Startled and frightened, Comanche reared up and dragged Reuben and Sam, who had wrapped lead ropes around their hands. Martha threw herself flat on the ground, followed by the crack of a bullet that stopped Sly in mid-step.


KIRKUS REVIEW A boy and his AI friend find adventure in Duncan’s sci-fi debut.
Secretive young prodigy Joe Lawrence moves to Tennessee to quietly attend high school where not too many questions will be asked. He’s accompanied by the disembodied voice of Mike, a self-aware computer program with the emotional maturity of a small boy. Joe and Mike move in with George and Martha, a good-natured couple recovering from the death of their teenage son, Marvin. Presenting Mike as a handicapped friend and computer genius telecommuting to aid him in his everyday life, clever Joe soon becomes a real friend to George and Martha, filling the void in their lives and helping rekindle their love of life. After Joe purchases a rundown former racehorse from ex-mobster Sly, now in the witness protection program, Joe and Mike help the neglected horse while aggravating Sly by getting the better of him in the bargain; they also become involved with Sly’s smart and focused stepdaughter, Sue. As they help heal George and Martha, evade Sly’s revenge and aid Sue in her struggle with the school principal over her newspaper, Joe and Mike undergo a curious metamorphosis as human and AI. Mike was supposed to be the one being tested and trained to grow up—but Joe finds himself growing up, too. The clean, clear text trusts readers to fill in some blanks, and Mike is a prominent but not physical presence throughout the story. The characters are a little old-fashioned and broad but eminently likable and sweet.

Warmly human sci-fi for the YA set.

AUTHOR Bio and Links:

Mark Duncan grew up in Pasadena, not far from Caltech. In high school he spent Friday and Saturday nights at the Stanford Artificial Intelligence Lab (SAIL) and subsequently was a member of the Homebrew Computer Club. He received his BSEE from UC Berkeley. He has worked or consulted for numerous startups in Silicon Valley. He lives in Menlo Park, near Stanford and has written extensively on emerging technology topics. He enjoys photography, movies, theater, fine dining and has visited all 50 states and much of Europe. He is the author of Bringing Up Mike, www.askmarpublishing.com, mark@askmarpublishing.com

Book and Author Links
Buy Links
Coffee Books and Arts - Interview of Mark Duncan

Where did you grow up?

I grew up in Southern California in Pasadena, but moved to Northern California the summer before I started 8th grade. In Pasadena, I attended a YMCA in downtown Pasadena that was close to Caltech.

This why you did  choose Pasadena and Stanford University as locations in the novel?
After moving to the San Francisco Peninsula, during my last year of high school, I had access to the Stanford Artificial Intelligence Laboratory on Friday and Saturday nights. Currently, I live in Menlo Park, a few miles from the university.
How did you get into writing?
I love reading and movies. On two occasions, I wrote screenplays for movies that were never produced. Subsequently, I started doing electronic book publishing of out-of-print books, and republished Write and Error by Jack Woodford, and The Craft of Fiction by Will Knott—two great books on how to write novels. They provided me with the inspiration to write a novel.
Do you have strange writing habits?

I write in four- or five-day cycles to write a scene. I do background research, then gradually start to do more and more writing and less research. Working out the rough plot / outline for the novel took two months.( In Many answers I got it was more kind of feverish thing)
Why did you set the novel in Tennessee?
A semi-rural, religious, conservative setting provided an ideal setting for creating the maximum conflict.
Did you do any kind of research to determine the details of your characters’ lives / lifestyles?

It depends. Some characters are composites of people I already know well. Other’s like Martha’s father, Ed Alexander—who is a retired U.S. Army Colonel—I did considerable research to determine the Army bases he would have been assigned to. As much of the novel is situated in Tennessee, I needed to know when various produce was in season, and the dishes that might be consumed.
 
Did any real-life political incidents or maneuvering make it into the book?

Edward Snowden’s revelations about the NSA started being published while I was in the midst of writing the book. It caused me to change the plot to reflect how I saw the NSA would behave in the future, e.g. having a much more active internal Inspector General office.

How did you come up with the title? Names?

Dan Kaufman, Director of the Information Innovation Office of DARPA observed that the problem with today’s artificial intelligence systems is that sooner or later they tell you something stupid. He suggested that one avenue of solving this would be to have a baby AI that grows up with you, with which you would have a two-way conversation, correcting and educating it over time—like raising a child. Since Mike is the artificial intelligence in the novel, this resulted in the title, Bringing Up Mike. ( You Know! Suddeenly, It is hard for me not to think about
2001: A Space Odyssey by Arthur C. Clarke or The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy (Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy #1) by  
With respect to names, I tried to keep all the names unique; having two different women named Martha was confused editors and readers (LOL! how surprising) . 
In some cases, I used first and last names of people I have met over the years ( Nice solution! But, I hope these guys love this, As you know  most author claiming that the their story connection to reality is accidental). 
I have a preference for short, first names, since they are faster to type (LOL!  What a great idea!).
And specifically, What were the origins of Mike’s names?
Mike is named after the artificial intelligence computer in Robert Heinlein's The Moon is a Harsh Mistress.(OH! I loved this Book!)

Mike gets his last name from John McCarthy. John McCarthy was a computer scientist who coined the term “artificial intelligence” and helped establish the Stanford AI Laboratory in 1962. John’s parents were socialists, hence he was a red diaper baby. He loved to sing the song, “The Very Fat Man That Dilutes the Working Man’s Beer.” The scene were George holds up a cat sitting on his lap while talking to making a point is based on an anecdote told by his daughter, Susan McCarthy.

Mike uses the pseudonym Al Fansworth as the publisher of the Daily Rebel and as a student who attends classes at the high school. At Caltech, a long standing prank was the existence of an imaginary student, Alluvial Fansome, a 1950s elusive resident of Fleming House, one of the eight undergraduate Caltech houses. He was known to receive lots of mail and for throwing unforgettable parties despite never being seen. 
How is artificial intelligence like controlled nuclear fusion?
We’ve been working on both topics for fifty years without success.
Controlled nuclear fusion has always been ten years in the future. While tremendous advances have been made in artificial intelligence—we still lack the key breakthroughs that will result in consciousness. Bringing Up Mike examines the consequences of such an advance.
What was the most surprising things you learned in creating your books?

After a few chapters, the characters in the book started to come to life as real people. When confronted with a new situation, it became straightforward to see how they would behave. For example, when Sly and his hands are attempting to steal the stallion, Martha, having been brought up as a military brat, is the one who takes decisive action in stopping them.
Why the extensive discussion of slavery?
If an artificial intelligence can pass as human, is it right to treat it as property? As the adage goes, those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it. In the United States, we fought the Civil War over slavery. We should heed its lesson and not repeat the mistake.
Why did you address many of the issues facing young adults?
Raising a young artificial intelligence has many of the same issues. As it matures, it should have increasing discretion and options.
What is your favorite quote?
One that I coined is, 
“No one ever asked me if I wanted to be forged, said the sword.”
What do you think of “trailers” for books?

If you can create a book trailer that goes viral, it can be a wonderful means of publicity. It requires a great deal of skill and luck to create a viral video. I feel that many book trailers do not provide a good return on the time and money required to create them. (I think about this a lot ... and I have an idea ... I think YouTube isn't the only place to introduce trailers it should be on the TV too, then maybe it will ignite people interest..........And even though it is not appear here, I think that the cover of your book is very beautiful and it seems, that in this case it was important to you.)
What’s the worst job you’ve had?

The summer I graduated from high school, I worked for two weeks at McDonald’s before getting a better paying job. But while the job was menial, I met my first girlfriend there. (at least !)

Thank you mark It is nice to have you on my blog !
If you don't mind , I permit to myself to add few QAs  that I should ask and didn't, from Askmar publishing site.


THE AUTHOR WILL BE GIVING AWAY:
Mark will be awarding a $50 Amazon or B/N GC to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour, and a $25 Amazon or B/N GC to a randomly drawn host.
a Rafflecopter giveaway


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