The Amazing, Unfolding World of Machine Civilization Series by Clayton Barnett

This post is part of a virtual book tour organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. Clayton Barnett will be awarding a $25 Amazon or Barnes and Noble GC to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour. Click on the tour banner to see the other stops on the tour.

by Clayton Barnett

A history beginning in our near future, these stories are set in a world where the US dollar has been displaced as the world’s reserve currency, prompting its economic and political collapse, with a few areas able to hold onto civilization.

At the same time, across the Pacific, under a resurgent economy brought about by the implementation of new technology and deregulation, three Japanese companies produce breakthroughs in both artificial intelligence and robotics.  These newly made people exhibit an odd interest in the goings-on of the former United States.

To-date, my chronicling of this interest of theirs has led to stories that populate five novels, which I would like to share with everyone now!


The Fourth Law - In the near future, 23-year-old apprentice nurse Lily Barrett lives in a shattered time.  Following its economic collapse, the US has devolved into a group of a few barely functional smaller states and vast swathes of barbarian badlands.  His sister has been missing for years, and her father, after earning the opprobrium of most of the world for running a state terror organization, presumed dead.

Two things keep her going: her live-in job at a small, Catholic orphanage in the city of Waxahachie, Republic of Texas, and Ai, her odd but dear friend, whom she met online; a young woman who only shows herself to Lily as a rendered CG image.

Troubled by her past, haunted by her name, and facing an uncertain future, Lily seems only a quiet, simple life.  But, that past and her present conspire against her.


Echoes of Family Lost - Alive!  After four years believing her older sister lost and presumed dead in the horrible Breakup of the United States, Lily Barrett gets word from her dear friend, Ai – and Ai’s family of Machine Civilization – that Callie Barrett is very likely alive… but over 900 miles away in Knoxville.

Using the resources of her and Ai’s family, Lily puts together a search party to go find Callie:  old, broken, and burnt Orloff – an expert in surviving in the Badlands, Ai’s little sister, Fausta – her machine mind controlling a Combat Android to protect her friend, all together in a cart pulled by their sturdy pony, Clyde.

It’s almost a thousand miles to go, with something very odd trying to limit their ability to communicate over distance and even to cross bridges.  A chance meeting along the way in Huntsville, former Alabama, wrecks their plans, and puts all of their lives in danger.


Cursed Hearts - Even with San Diego occupied by the Mexican Army, Katarina Sosabowski pursues her MBA at UCSD, and is happy to welcome and put up her visiting step-cousin from Japan, Christopher Dennou, for a night so he can complete his enrollment the following day.

But a minor earthquake brings a major surprise:  Chris’s younger sister, Maya, murders their mother and escapes Neuroi Institute, the research facility that created them.

While Chris and ‘Cat’ grow closer to one another, Maya inexorably crosses an ocean and half a continent to take back her brother, killing anyone who gets in her way.


Friend and Ally - Model 5 is a prototype designed to fit seemlessly into human society.  A meeting in Tokyo derails Nichole’s planned training as she is dispatched to Portland, former Oregon; the last working deep water port on the West Coast of the imploding US.

There, under her cover as a Graduate Engineering Student, she is to do her utmost to nurture the people and politics of the City-State into a Friend and Ally of the Japanese Empire.  But from the first day in her new home, all of Nichole’s plans go awry.

Beset by those who want this small lamp of Western Civilization snuffed out, Nichole must find within herself the courage and ability to protect her new friends, at whatever consequence to herself.


Foes and Rivals - After residing nearly a year in Portland, Nichole’s life seems to finally settle down: with her classes, friends, and lover.  But troubling rumors about secret deals between the City’s master and the savage horsemen to the east reach her ears.

With her own skills augmented by her friends and allies, she sets plans into motion she hopes will thwart those in opposition to her dream of a peaceful future.

Once again denied a quiet, normal life, Nichole is faced to make hard, dangerous choices that will jeopardize her, her friends, and the survival of the City itself.


The Fourth Law






“LILY! You’re not a wolf! Wake up!”

She groggily sat up from her bed. Huh?

“It’s three in the morning... you need to help your kids!” Ai shouted at her from her phone.

The kids!

She flung the cover aside and pushed her glasses onto her face. Now she could hear the siren. What was it this time? Tornado, airstrike, barbarians... the last was almost a year ago when they lost Texarkana. Wait. She shook her head to try to wake up. This time, she’d an unimpeachable information source.

“Ai. Status.” She said into the darkness.

“A fission weapon was detonated outside San Francisco about ten minutes ago; the weather pattern indicates fallout will travel north of you, into parts of former Kansas and Oklahoma. But, winds do change...”

“Right.” She started pulling her clothes on. “Wake up the Fitzhughs; I’ll be there in a minute.”

She walked from her bedroom through her main room, glancing at the monitors. She suddenly bit hard on her lower lip. On the monitors, Ai stood at attention in a Texas Field Forces uniform. For some unknown reason, she forgot to render her pants. Striped green and white panties? Lily worried about her friend sometimes.


One time engineer, some time pharmacy technician, full time husband and father, Clayton Barnett stumbled into writing a traditional novel November 2014 during National Novel Writing Month. Liking the results, he edited what would become “The Fourth Law” and set about teaching himself self-publishing. In the following four years he has produced four more novels as well as a children’s early reader, all in what is now called Machine Civilization.

Clayton Barnett lives in central Ohio with his wife, two daughters, and two dogs.

Find him at his website

Buy all the books in this series on Amazon or Smashwords. Echos of Family Lost and The Fourth Law are only 99c!

Q & A with the Author

When and Why did you begin writing?

Having addressed the basics of this question before, I shall try to build upon those answers.

I both love and hate deadlines.  I hate them as I am by nature rather lazy; I love them as they motivate me to do things I never thought I could:  write and learn to code a visual novel in months… create a 53k word novel in less than twenty-five days… things that just a few years ago were impossible are now the norm.  The best deadlines are those external to me:  promising to have a book out by a certain date, for example.  I neither want to look stupid nor disappoint my fans, so when I’m in full-on writing mode, all except my faith and family disappear to me.

Once I began writing, just a little over four years ago, it has become a matter that these stories just flow into my mind.  Some of them are just a scene but some are an entire story arc.  I am, frankly, compelled to write them down.  Also, my wife says “you’re much less of an asshole when you write.”  I’m sure there’s a compliment hidden in there somewhere…

What inspired this book or series?

For my first novel, “The Fourth Law,” the combination of a comment by Prof. Glenn Reynolds (UTenn College of Law) about artificial intelligence, a picture of Hatsune Miku, and the external deadline of National Novel Writing Month 2014 was my initial inspiration.  As that first drew to a close, I had already seen enough to tell another story.  After that, “Echoes of Family Lost,” I wrote many shorts, trying to learn about the world that was becoming Machine Civilization.  It’s an ongoing voyage of exploration for me.

[For the last three questions, I’ve broken them out into Lily’s stories (T4L and EFL), Cursed Hearts, and Nichole’s saga (F&A and F&R)]

Are you at all like your main characters?

L:  with Lily’s immediate family loosely based upon mine, many of the characters, primary and secondary, have reflections of my Catholic faith in them.  They are also well-nigh fanatic in loyalty to family and friends, as I am.  Several of them have pain in their pasts, including having to re-start their lives over.  Been there, done that.

CH:  a little of Cat’s protectiveness of her step-cousin, Chris… otherwise, this horror/romance story was something of an experiment of mine, to see just how far I could go.  Becoming almost a shut-in for a month after I finished it told me “probably a little too far.”

N:  Nichole is a very open, curious person who enjoys meeting others… the polar opposite of me!  Again, loyalty to friends is important to her, but beyond that, no.  These two novels were another trip into the unknown for me.

Who is your favorite character in your series and why?

L:  I’ve something of a personal interest in Lily and Fausta’s guide across the Badlands from Texas toward Knoxville, Orloff.  Older and badly injured at some point in the past to the point of having much of his skin burned and his left arm a cybernetic replacement.  He is also willing to kill without remorse to protect his two charges.  And to slap a three-year-old boy who runs his mouth just once too often.  Odd, complex man; I have a couple of those writing exercises I mentioned where I have attempted to get to know him better.

CH:  Anton Alvarez, Cat’s ex-boyfriend.  Mexican national but of a nearly pure-blood Spanish caste.  His father the Generalissimo is in charge of occupied San Diego.  A brash, headstrong, arrogant young man who, sharing the same loss that Chris experiences, comes to call his rival for Cat’s affection, ‘brother.’ 

N:  the clever, playful, and resourceful owner of Zom’s Pub at the north end of Portland State who calls himself Nike.  Very mysterious – to the point the final chapters of “Foes and Rivals” take on an almost mystical element – he’s been assigned a complicated task in a delicate time.  I was so taken with him that one of my writing exercises with him and a character from “Cursed Hearts” ran to over eleven thousand words!

Who is your least favorite character in your series and why? 

L:  Wayne Wright, a newspaper reporter for the local rag in Waxahachie.  While I can tolerate old-school, ‘up through the ranks’ reporters, I’ve nothing but contempt for modern ‘journalists,’ who only regurgitate those press releases that further their prog agenda.
“All righty!  On behalf of the good folks of Waxahachie, I’d like to extend our best Texan Hospitality to you!” Wayne said.
Creep.  That was for your readers and advertisers.
Seeing that as the end of the interview, Carol strode over to Ai and looked at the camera, saying, “And remember that St. Edward’s Home for Children always accepts donations of food and clothing from our community!”
“I’ll just edit that out,” Wayne murmured.
“A good Christian wouldn’t,” retorted Carol.  He winced at that.

CH:  Chris and Maya’s mother, Chief Researcher of Neuroi Institute Junka Sato.  In pursuit of her research, she has created a Hell on earth preying on the bodies and souls of young adults.
“Dammit!” Cat clenched his hands enough to hurt.  “Body snatching, murder, demons!  Has it occurred to you for just a second that Maya, not your mother, has the moral high ground here?!”
Maya?!  But… Mother…
Chris thought very fast.  He grew still.
“Hey…?” Cat shook his hands with hers.  He looked up; a smile of loss.
“What family doesn’t have its ups and downs?”

N:  Lee Sanchez Johnson, mayor.  To his credit, he is clever and unscrupulous to hold what remains of the city of Portland together during the economic and social chaos of the Breakup, but his long-term plans with the horsemen of the Nation could lead to the undoing of everything and the death of his daughter and son.
“To answer your question, father?” Teresa cut in.  “Everything.  Everything of yours will be mine:  the office, the power, and, it appears, all of your stupid mistakes!”
No one moved.
“Had Group Leader Brown himself said that to me, I’d have him shot for treason,” he whispered.  “Mind your words, my daughter!”
“It is precisely because I am ‘your daughter’ that I cannot!” she hissed right back.  “That, in your hand, is a demand from them that we surrender unconditionally!  If we do, you, me, and little brother are up against the wall, and this city becomes an abattoir!”
“I’m not an idiot, you know,” he said, taking another short drink from his glass.  “I’ve seen what you’ve been doing these past few months…”
He set the glass down and looked to Nichole.
“Both of you.  You, who I can have shot as a foreign spy.”
Nichole fed off of Teresa’s boldness.  More boldness!
“Just try.”


Clayton Barnett will be awarding a $25 Amazon/BN GC to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour.

a Rafflecopter giveaway


  1. Thank you so much for taking time to bring to our attention another great read. I enjoy these tours and finding out about many terrific books.

  2. Who is your favorite literary character? Bernie Wallace BWallace1980(at)hotmail(d0t)com

    1. Same as his real-world counterpart: Sulla in McCullough's Masters of Rome series.


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