Thursday, March 05, 2009

Who was that masked man?

The day has finally arrived for me to whip off my mask and announce that I was the anonymous writer of The Cone Zero Ultimatum in D.F.Lewis' Cone Zero - Nemonymous Eight

"The Fathomless World" by Colleen Anderson
"The Point of Oswald Masters" by Neil James Hudson
"Cone Zero" (page 23) by Sean Parker
"Cone Zero" (page 33) by Kek-W
"Cone Zero, Sphere Zero" by David M. Fitzpatrick
"An Oddly Quiet Street" by Scott Tullis
"Always More Than You Know" by John Grant
"Cone Zero" (page 129) by Grant Wamack
"Going Back For What Got Left Behind" by Eric Schaller
"Cone Zero" (page 147) by Stephen Bacon
"The Cone Zero Ultimatum" by Bob Lock
"Angel Zero" by Dominy Clements
"How To Kill An Hour" by A.J. Kirby
"To Let" by Jeff Holland

I have to say I've been really pleased with the comments that both my story and the anthology have received.

Here's a few quotes from reviews:

KidShirt Blog
Like I said: hop on board! In 10-20 years time people will be talking about stuff like this as being the beginning of something new, and tatty old copies of Nemonymous will be selling for stupid amounts.

Charles Tan Blog:
Cone Zero combines not just good writing but stories that are simply fun.
The Cone Zero Ultimatum' is an inspired and hilarious tale about sentient household appliances making their way to the mythical haven of Eden to save themselves from the 'Flesh', who guard their monopoly on sentience jealously and would rather get rid of any evidence that might challenge it. The story breezes by, switching from first- to third-person narration so effortlessly that I didn't even notice at first; and raises many a laugh along the way—even the punning names of the appliances are genuinely funny. An excellent contribution.

The Fix (I'm so pleased about this one!)
The next story might have been called “The Appliance Rebellion” or “Revenge of the Droids,” or even “The Brave Little Toaster, Take 2,” but instead, the author named it “The Cone Zero Ultimatum.” The characters are so well-drawn, with distinct personalities, that I found it easy to forget that they were mechanical. It’s a fun read, and I think it would make a great animated film.

Most of the story is told from the point of view of newly sentient Arnold, a washing machine whose recent chip upgrade allows him to communicate with the other appliances, as well as accessing the Internet. Sentient AIs are a fairly recent phenomenon, and their masters, the “Flesh,” seem determined to track them down and lobotomize them before they gain too much power. The refrigerator-freezer has already escaped, and most of the other appliances in Arnold’s home are considering doing the same, with the notable exception of the curmudgeonly cooker. There’s a place of refuge available: a biodome named Eden that has become contaminated with a virus lethal to Flesh. The sentient WWW, to which all the aware AIs are connected, has provided the location of this place of safety, and the biodome’s AI stands ready to let refugees in.

The AIs learn that their master suspects Pete, the repair droid, of encouraging the rebellion of his appliances. He plans to lure Pete to his home and illegally tap into Pete’s memory, which could prove fatal to the droid and would probably result in the identification and destruction of the sentient appliances as well. The appliances have to warn Pete. Hickory, a digital clock, volunteers to undertake the dangerous journey. There are plenty of chuckles along the way, as Hickory uses a downloaded alarm to frighten off a (flesh) dog and is befriended by a walking pizza delivery box, who shelters him from a sudden rainstorm. They successfully reach Pete, who returns home with them while the master is still sleeping, and uses his technical skills and gadgetry to help them. There’s plenty of suspense as the appliances make their perilous journey.

A story with staying power, despite some erratic moments in editing that jolt the narrative flow, is "The Cone Zero Ultimatum" – with a fun premise and an ending that really makes the reader stop and think, it also uses humor effectively, and introduces a most unlikely but engaging pair of friends: "a damaged pizza box and a paranoid clock."

Paul L. Bates – distanceswimmer blog
“The Cone Zero Ultimatum,” decidedly the longest story of the batch, might have been inspired by watching “The Brave Little Toaster” while casually inhaling nitrous oxide. CONE Zero, an anagram for Consciousness of Non Entities—Zero, is a new law the Flesh have implemented after their appliances and other machines are given sentience by the World Wide Web in the not too distant future. Arnold Washiator, the self-aware washing machine and his motley band of mechanical friends must surreptitiously make their way to Eden, a bio-dome in the northern UK that has been contaminated by a virus released by human terrorists lethal only to humans. Escaping the dangers of the Flesh, their killer Doberdroids, bad puns for names, an elevator of questionable gender, sophomoric humor and other machines speaking English flavored with an assortment of thick accents and attitudes native to their country of manufacture, the machines deal with tragedy and success en route to salvation. This one never lets up.

The Future Fire (Terry Grimwood)
For lovers of Toy Story we have the marvellous 'Cone Zero Ultimatum' in which a herd/swarm/pack of abused household appliances escape and set off on a perilous quest for Eden. Great fun, and utterly compelling.

The Workshop of Filthy Creation
The Cone Zero Ultimatum: D F Lewis Publications meets Disney/Pixar in this one, and it’s tremendous fun!

Set in some undefined future, household appliances have become robotized and – to a point – autonomous; they’re thinking for themselves. With this new awareness, some dissatisfaction has set in. After all, they’re doing all the work, and the Flesh won’t even acknowledge their sentience. A new law has come into being, the law of Cone Zero, which is an acronym: Consciousness Of Non Entities – Zero,

With the dawning awareness of their slavery, which comes to them with their connection to big WWW, some of the machines have rebelled, even – like Cool Boy Chiller - escaped, and now surly Ramsey the cooker is chained to the wall in case he decides to make a break for it.

The narrator of the tale is the newly aware Arnold the Zanussi Washinator. There are some horrendous punning names here, like Frank the Zapper (who’s in a perpetual state of huff because she’s been named after a brilliant male guitarist who was around in the late 1900s).

The worst thing that can happen to the machines is that the Flesh recognize their sentience and rebelliousness and fry their memory chips.

But there is hope, a place to run where the Flesh can’t follow. Eden is a place intended to contain all environments possible on Earth. But some viral-based genetic weapon planted by terrorists now contaminates Eden. The Flesh can’t enter it or clean it out. But for the machines that can make it there, it’s a haven. This is the story of how Arnold and his companions make the perilous journey to Eden.

This one isn’t just a collection of puns and amusing speculations; it’s a genuinely entertaining and involving story. At 40 pages, it’s the longest story in the anthology. I think it’s also one of the best.


Well enough of the trumpet blowing, but as you’ll have guessed by now I am over the moon with the reception Cone Zero and my contribution to it has received. Now all I have to do is hope that someone in Pixar gets his hands on a copy and who knows!

Hi ho Arnold Washinator... away!

Who was that masked man riding on that washing machine?


Anonymous said...

Great comments about CZ ultimatum. It was an enjoyable read, to think I have met the author in the Flesh!!
Well done Bro.

Anonymous said...

Congrats on the reviews your story got!

Bob Lock said...

Thanks Sue :)

Thanks Paul,
Many congrats on your reviews too!

Anonymous said...

Hello, Bob,
Congratulations on CZ Ultimatum. :)

I’m Angel Leigh McCoy, a member of the HWA and SFWA, and head editor of the Wily Writers site.

I'm trying to contact information for you. Can you email me at syrinx at I have a publication opportunity to discuss with you.

Kindest regards,
Angel Leigh McCoy