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The C.D.P.S.
Book Three
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ISBN-10: 1-77115-051-3
Genre: Science Fiction/Fantasy/SF
eBook Length: 327 Pages
Published: January 2013

From inside the flap

Since the Antarctic Counter-revolution the situation on Earth has greatly eased and previously uninhabitable lands are being reclaimed.

But a handful of rebel robots have escaped and are making life difficult for the settlers, so a militia force is sent out to Mount Titan to deal with the rebels.

However, once more, the future of the Earth is in the hands of a few humans and robots whose own existence will depend on the stability of the Betelgeuse system.

The C.D.P.S. (Excerpt)



This time, Bowman Docherty knew he was awake when, to his dismay, he discovered he was pulling on his trousers. If he was dreaming he reasoned, dressing himself was the last thing he would do; particularly the pulling on of his trousers bit. Usually, in his dreams, they would be going firmly in the other direction.

But here was a thought: perhaps this was the last thing he was doing and he had missed the rest of the dream. Bowman stopped for a moment to consider this; it would be truly awful, he thought, to have missed the best bit.

But no, he remembered the alarm going off; Bowman was definitely awake, he was definitely dressing himself, and this was definitely not a dream. He sighed and continued to pull on his grey trousers; and vaguely he wondered what his dreams had been about. He hoped they had been good.

Bowman Docherty was fortyish, plumpish, and baldish; he was typically middle class and was most definitely conservative, though those who knew him well might say he had suppressed roguish tendencies. His dress sense was as drab and as bland as his life was humdrum and rutted, and it was only his dreams that gave him any sense of hope at all. There was no Mrs. Docherty to prod him awake, only the alarm, which had a disgustingly shrill scream that speared his dreams like a skewer (if there had been a Mrs. Bowman then this is exactly how Bowman imagined she would sound); Bowman by default, like it or not, was married to his work. And what a day at work this was going to be, he remembered as he got into his grey socks and grey shirt, what a day this was going to be.

He began to dress faster.

* * *

Bowman Docherty worked for the council at the Department of Intrinsic Commonsense, or DIC, and had the rank of Complete DIC which meant he was one rank above a Half and one rank below a Total, which was the system used to denote hierarchy within the department.

Before he joined DIC, Bowman worked for the Joined Up Thinking Society where he was an Advocate of Reason, Sense and Efficiency, and used to sign himself Bowman Docherty, ARSE, JUTS, which was probably the reason he had no friends to speak of (or a wife to nag him, for that matter). While in JUTS Bowman managed in a very narrow slice of time to be both anonymous and notorious, surfacing briefly from his private sea of obscurity into a brief flash of infamy when he published a report on what he saw to be a blatant case of unreasonable inefficiency, total nonsense, and isolated thought process.

During an in-depth research project, he found a factory - a multinational - which employed 10 men and brought in robot machinery costing billions; it could afford to pay its men X amount of money and sold its products for X amount of cash to a global market. In his assessment of that research, he argued that 10 men working for the same X amount of money, but without robot machinery costing billions, could sell its product less widely for the same X amount of cash if it kept its market purely local. His conclusion therefore was that productivity and profit could be maintained easily by using several small local units without expensive robot machinery, rather than using one single global factory with enormous capital expenditure; it should scale down its centralized production and build localized units to meet several distributed local markets rather than a single global one; the greatest benefit of which would be less unemployment.

Bowman was removed from JUTS shortly after his report was published and was replaced by a robot costing billions.

* * *

At breakfast Bowman made himself tea and toast, and spread the toast with a liberal layer of peanut butter topped with a mound of baked beans; an unusual combination, but as he had no-one to advise him otherwise, he was unaware of the culinary offence he was committing. Most households would have at least one DRU (domestic robotic unit) to prepare breakfast for him. Whether or not the DRU would have complied with a request for toast spread with peanut butter and topped with baked beans would depend on how much the owner had paid for the robot’s taste persona set; the dearer it was, the more likely that it would completely flip at the idea. That Bowman had no DRU was due partly to his aversion to machines that cost the earth when he could do it himself for nothing, but mostly because at his previous employment he had been replaced with one costing billions when they had paid him practically nothing at all.

After breakfast Bowman Docherty set off for work at his new office, a council annex in one of those shiny plascrete blocks at the edge of town, not far from where the city dome arched back down to earth and buried its edge into the soil.

As a Complete DIC, Bowman had as part of his remit the authority to examine government departments that were thought to be operating outside the boundaries of commonsense - it was a huge caseload and one that would probably never be completed in his lifetime. He had recently identified a local government office that was particularly bad and in blatant contravention of Intrinsic Commonsense guidelines; and he wanted to make an example of it - today he was planning to expose it publicly. After his experience at JUTS he was determined to make this one stick, although he still felt strongly that he had been misunderstood with his local versus national employment strategy, and secretly he still wanted to pursue that idea.

However, the sheer number of government departments who were in direct contravention of commonsense guidelines was making his head spin and was certainly a cause worth fighting for. He felt he had to make a start somewhere, and the Department for Social Housing and Lawns with Rotary Driers was the somewhere he had decided that start should be.

Bowman took the electric walkway to work, wearing his walkway license with its clear plastic panel cleaned correctly pinned to his left lapel, stepping confidently across to the middle lane where the pavement plates moved faster and, as convention demanded, he could avoid eye contact with anyone travelling on the same ribbon. He would glare unashamedly, however, at anyone travelling on the outer ribbons which moved slower, unable to understand why anyone would not want to be at work as quickly as possible, and would express his disapproval at this lack of enthusiasm by tutting at regular twenty-second intervals and a sad shake of his head. He knew that some outside travelers were unlicensed and he kept a sharp eye out for them, too.

The weather beneath the dome that morning was preset to be mild with occasional gusts of a fresh southerly wind carrying a salty hint of the sea, but no rain. So, on spying a woman riding on a slower plate carrying an umbrella, he put in an extra mid-interval tut in order to express his disgust at someone who couldn’t be bothered to keep up with published weather patterns. He felt a small shake of the head might be in order too, for this crime, so he gave her one. Everyone should carry a little weather book.

If anyone travelling on the outer ribbon was curious as to what the peculiar middle-aged man (plumpish and baldish) travelling on the fast ribbon was tutting and shaking his head at, they didn’t show it, as convention also dictated that the slower moving plates should avoid eye contact with absolutely everyone, which made Bowman’s disapproving shakes and tuts pointless; but it kept him happy.

Between shakes and tuts Bowman thought too about his current case, where he had uncovered a blatant lack of commonsense, and he smiled wickedly to himself relishing the forthcoming expose; for the casual onlooker who might be sneaking an impolite glance at him (and many were), it managed to add a completely new dimension to his apparent insanity and won him a few tuts and head-shakes of his own when his back was turned.

His particular beef in this case was that the Department for Social Housing and Lawns with Rotary Driers would not cooperate or talk to any of the other departments within the Social Housing sector, due, it seems, to their belief that lawns with rotary driers were somehow superior to all others. The Department for Social Housing and Lawns with Normal Washing Lines were particularly upset by its attitude - though they in turn would not talk to any social housing department that didn’t have a lawn at all (Bowman was saving that one for later) - and had asked the Department for Intrinsic Commonsense to intervene.

Bowman thought that he might contact the graphics department where he worked and have them design a holographic projection; ever since he found out that there was a graphics department he’d wanted to do that. He would project it onto the inside of the dome where everyone would see it. He thought going home tonight would be a good time to do it, as everybody would be studiously avoiding eye contact and it would give them something new to look at. This evening’s weather was scheduled to be clear so it seemed to be a golden opportunity.

Yes, it would be a very good time, he decided. He looked up at the dome that covered the city, protecting it from the blistering sun, and he sheltered his eyes with his hand and tried to imagine what it would look like with a projected image on it. Yes, that would look very good, he thought. He nodded approvingly to himself, putting the nod in between a tut and a couple of shakes, judging the timing perfectly.

When he lowered his eyes he noticed to his disgust that ahead a couple of PRUs had jumped onto the outer ribbon of the walkway and were being carried forward. PRUs were professional robotic units, these two probably were on their way to the university where they would be teaching, and were a step up from the more mundane domestic robot, or DRU. Bowman watched distastefully as they travelled the short distance side by side without moving; as he watched, they fell gradually behind on their slower ribbon before suddenly stepping off at the university exit - he had been right. He gave an extra couple of shakes of his head, barely perceptible, just enough to satisfy his inner rage. What was the world coming to? Robots did not need to travel the walkway - they supposedly were tireless - and anyway these two had only travelled a few hundred yards. This was another case for DIC, he decided, and he made a mental note to add it to his caseload.

As he got nearer to his own exit, Bowman Docherty edged over the plates and got onto one of the slower ribbons, then onto the outer ribbon. It was important to do this correctly and to get the timing just right - not too soon and not too late. If it was too soon he would look foolish to those still on the walkway, and if it was too late he would run the risk of having to cut across travellers on the slower ribbon who were not getting off yet. Cutting across would get him noticed and might even earn some head-shakes, which would never do, particularly as he was exercising a monopoly on that activity this morning, and cutting across could even lose him his walkway license if he caused an accident.

He got it exactly right (he always did) and deftly stepped onto the non-moving part of the pavement, picking up his feet and walking smoothly away in one carefully coordinated movement. He must look really good to those left on the walkway, he thought.

Those left on the walkway (who may or may not have been sneaking impolite glances), might very probably have used the word ’good’, but then they would have also very probably followed it with the word ’riddance’.

Society in this time and age was very unforgiving.