Wow, we soared past 300 copies sold and are almost to 300 readers!  Amazing.  So much loving all the support.  You are all amazing and awesome and so many other good adjectives!

For some interesting developments in modern science that contributes to the overall content of some of After Man’s backstory, I leave you with this article, from the New York Times.

Scientists Talk Privately About Creating a Synthetic Human Genome  

Scientists are now contemplating the fabrication of a human genome, meaning they would use chemicals to manufacture all the DNA contained in human chromosomes.  The prospect is spurring both intrigue and concern in the life sciences community because it might be possible, such as through cloning, to use a synthetic genome to create human beings without biological parents.  While the project is still in the idea phase, and also involves efforts to improve DNA synthesis in general, it was discussed at a closed-door meeting on Tuesday at Harvard Medical School in Boston. The nearly 150 attendees were told not to contact the news media or to post on Twitter during the meeting.  Organizers said the project could have a big scientific payoff and would be a follow-up to the original Human Genome Project, which was aimed at reading the sequence of the three billion chemical letters in the DNA blueprint of human life. The new project, by contrast, would involve not reading, but rather writing the human genome — synthesizing all three billion units from chemicals.  But such an attempt would raise numerous ethical issues. Could scientists create humans with certain kinds of traits, perhaps people born and bred to be soldiers? Or might it be possible to make copies of specific people?  “Would it be O.K., for example, to sequence and then synthesize Einstein’s genome?” Drew Endy, a bioengineer at Stanford, and Laurie Zoloth, a bioethicist at Northwestern University, wrote in an essay criticizing the proposed project. “If so how many Einstein genomes should be made and installed in cells, and who would get to make them?”  Dr. Endy, though invited, said he deliberately did not attend the meeting at Harvard because it was not being opened to enough people and was not giving enough thought to the ethical implications of the work.

George Church, a professor of genetics at Harvard Medical School and an organizer of the proposed project, said there had been a misunderstanding. The project was not aimed at creating people, just cells, and would not be restricted to human genomes, he said. Rather it would aim to improve the ability to synthesize DNA in general, which could be applied to various animals, plants and microbes.  “They’re painting a picture which I don’t think represents the project,” Dr. Church said in an interview.  He said the meeting was closed to the news media, and people were asked not to tweet because the project organizers, in an attempt to be transparent, had submitted a paper to a scientific journal. They were therefore not supposed to discuss the idea publicly before publication. He and other organizers said ethical aspects have been amply discussed since the beginning.  The project was initially called HGP2: The Human Genome Synthesis Project, with HGP referring to the Human Genome Project. An invitation to the meeting at Harvard said that the primary goal “would be to synthesize a complete human genome in a cell line within a period of 10 years.”

But by the time the meeting was held, the name had been changed to “HGP-Write: Testing Large Synthetic Genomes in Cells.”  The project does not yet have funding, Dr. Church said, though various companies and foundations would be invited to contribute, and some have indicated interest. The federal government will also be asked. A spokeswoman for the National Institutes of Health declined to comment, saying the project was in too early a stage.  Besides Dr. Church, the organizers include Jef Boeke, director of the institute for systems genetics at NYU Langone Medical Center, and Andrew Hessel, a self-described futurist who works at the Bay Area software company Autodesk and who first proposed such a project in 2012.  Scientists and companies can now change the DNA in cells, for example, by adding foreign genes or changing the letters in the existing genes. This technique is routinely used to make drugs, such as insulin for diabetes, inside genetically modified cells, as well as to make genetically modified crops. And scientists are now debating the ethics of new technology that might allow genetic changes to be made in embryos.  But synthesizing a gene, or an entire genome, would provide the opportunity to make even more extensive changes in DNA.  

For instance, companies are now using organisms like yeast to make complex chemicals, like flavorings and fragrances. That requires adding not just one gene to the yeast, like to make insulin, but numerous genes in order to create an entire chemical production process within the cell. With that much tinkering needed, it can be easier to synthesize the DNA from scratch.  Right now, synthesizing DNA is difficult and error-prone. Existing techniques can reliably make strands that are only about 200 base pairs long, with the base pairs being the chemical units in DNA. A single gene can be hundreds or thousands of base pairs long. To synthesize one of those, multiple 200-unit segments have to be spliced together.  But the cost and capabilities are rapidly improving. Dr. Endy of Stanford, who is a co-founder of a DNA synthesis company called Gen9, said the cost of synthesizing genes has plummeted from $4 per base pair in 2003 to 3 cents now. But even at that rate, the cost for three billion letters would be $90 million. He said if costs continued to decline at the same pace, that figure could reach $100,000 in 20 years.

J. Craig Venter, the genetic scientist, synthesized a bacterial genomeconsisting of about a million base pairs. The synthetic genome was inserted into a cell and took control of that cell. While his first synthetic genome was mainly a copy of an existing genome, Dr. Venter and colleagues this year synthesized a more original bacterial genome, about 500,000 base pairs long.  Dr. Boeke is leading an international consortium that is synthesizing the genome of yeast, which consists of about 12 million base pairs. The scientists are making changes, such as deleting stretches of DNA that do not have any function, in an attempt to make a more streamlined and stable genome.  But the human genome is more than 200 times as large as that of yeast and it is not clear if such a synthesis would be feasible.

Jeremy Minshull, chief executive of DNA2.0, a DNA synthesis company, questioned if the effort would be worth it.  “Our ability to understand what to build is so far behind what we can build,” said Dr. Minshull, who was invited to the meeting at Harvard but did not attend. “I just don’t think that being able to make more and more and more and cheaper and cheaper and cheaper is going to get us the understanding we need.”


200 readers!  Special thanks to N. Turner for being the 200th reader to support After Man on its way to publication.

Greetings supporters and fans.  

One week left.  That’s it.  At 1200 PST on 16 May 2016, the Geek and Sundry Hard Science Contest will end and the top three books will be published.  As of the writing of this post, After Man is in second place.  Additionally, After Man just sold its 200th copy late last night, placing it less than fifty copies from the Quill publication option.  The authors have indicated that this is a good goal to start out, but he intends on pushing After Man to the full publication contract, either through the aforementioned contest or through selling 750 copies.

The authors also highly recommend the other books currently competing in the competition, including Pocket Escrow by Tal Klein, The Pirates of Montana by Erin S. Evan, and We Clocked the T-Rex by Ronald Valle, as well as many more.  Go peruse and find many other books that deserve publication.  Invite your friends to Inkshares.  Grow this community.  There are plenty of readers out there to make this a strong, viable, long-lasting community where readers choose what gets published instead of a small team of jaded editors.

As promised, the authors have unearthed a news article regarding some of the characters in After Man.

Nancy Portman Named Director Rockefeller Center for Genetics and Fertility 

New York City, 9 May 2584: The Board of the Council for Rockefeller Center for Genetics and Fertility (RCGF) is very pleased to announce the appointment of the Genetic division’s department chair, Nancy Portman as its new Director.

Nancy Portman has a high-level understanding and experience in the genetics and research sector. Her career, while a short one, includes working as the vice-director of both divisions of the RCGF as well as an internship in Washington City’s Center of Genetic Development and Research.  Since returning to New York from Washington City in 2581 Dr. Portman took a position at the RCGF as a geneticist and quickly rose to the directorship of that division while at the same time completing her Ph.D.

As Director, Dr. Portman is looking forward to not only working with the highly skilled RCGF staff, but also with the larger community of genetics and fertility clinics worldwide.

Dr. Portman will start in the new position on the 1st of June.

The RCGF Board also acknowledges the outstanding work and commitment by Dr. Rebecca Adler who, as department director of the Fertility division of the RCGF for the past year after arriving herself in 2581 after her own internship in Washington City, had been the other finalist the board considered for the position of Director.  Dr. Adler was unavailable for comment, however the RCGF’s publicity department released a statement from her congratulating her longtime friend and counterpart on her selection.

After some recent discussions, I felt the need to post this to the project page and send it as an update.

What this Book is NOT:

First, this is not a book meant to answer all the questions.  This world the story takes place in is a complicated place where everything has changed owing to the cataclysmic event.  As a result, everything you know about society, religion, politics, genders, gender roles, and much more has changed.  Second, this book is not "women can’t go on without men."  Having lived for 500 years without them, clearly they can.  This book is an exploration of that idea: what would it be like if you take the most basic form of diversity and remove it?  And then what might happen if you reintroduce it?  How would society react?  Third, this is not an anti-feminist diatribe.  It is also not a Complementarian manifesto.  The idea here is NOT to declare one gender is better than the other, or that they can only exist together if they exist in a specific mold.  The idea behind it is to explore what would happen if such an event were to occur, not pass judgment on you or anyone else for how they view or believe on this subject.  Finally, this book is not going to tell you what to believe or accept about it.  This will have a lot of ambiguity in it ON PURPOSE.  This is not to avoid conflict, but to avoid "leading the witness."  The narrative is going to have a lot of opportunities to make small and big statements throughout.  Places where we can hit you right in the face with something just because we want to.  We won’t be doing that.  The idea here is to create a setting where all of these preconceived notions we carry into our interactions with each other have all fundamentally been altered or vanished.  We all are going to approach this story with differing world views and beliefs.  That is fine.  The goal of this story is to take you as you are and, on the other end, leave you where you choose to be after contemplating the ideas and possibilities herein.  

So, how did you like Chapter 3?  I’ve received some great feedback, all in the form of "you’re killing me!" emails or messages:-)

But this update is not about me.  I’m taking a short step out of the world of After Man to help a friend and very good author get his book successfully through the preorder stage and on to full publication production.  Find out more below.

A God in the Shed by JF Dubeau

There’s a project that’s nearing its funding goal that I’d like to bring your attention to. It still needs a little over 180 pre-orders to get full funding on Inkshares. I think it’s worth your attention and I hope you’ll agree. Check it out:


A God in the Shed by J-F Dubeau is a Fantasy/Horror story set in the forgettably small village of St-Ferdinand, in the Eastern Townships of Quebec. The villagers have been hiding terrible secret for generations, but when their mysterious captive escapes but gets inadvertently trapped in the McKenzy’s backyard shed, it’s up to the Venus and her friends to figure out how to dispose of this terrible and malevolent burden; an Old God of hate and death.

You can find out more about this dark and beautiful, read sample chapters, reviews and pre-order you copy of A God in the Shed by visiting: www.inkshares.com/books/a-god-in-the-shed

You can listen to the prologue as read by Ageless author Paul Inman here: youtu.be/XJw5oZhqtXo

Need more incentive?

  • Each pre-order enters you into the ‘I want to kill a reader’ raffle. The winner will have his name and likeness used in the book as a minor character that gets killed off. The author will work with the winner to find the appropriate means of demise to satisfy both the winner and the story.
  • Each physical copy of A God in the Shed will be signed and numbered as an exclusive first edition item.
  • Free, exclusive A God in the Shed bookmarks will be included with the physical copies and mailed to eBook supporters.
  • Orders of three or more copies guarantees your name to appear in the Patrons list printed at the end of the book.
  • You get to enjoy the satisfaction and pride at having supported both art and literature.

As an update today (not the only one but just a short note) have you seen Rogue One’s new trailer?!?! Go see it now.  It looks great.

https://youtu.be/Wji-BZ0oCwg

Matrilineal Societies: The backbone of reproduction in an all female world.

In this first post discussing the science, culture, anthropology and more from the world of After Man’s earth, we’re going to focus on a unique method of reproduction and child rearing that was adopted worldwide in a response to the sudden loss of all men and a drastic contraction of society after the events of the late 21st century.

Begin Entry

What is a Matrilineal society?  According to Brittanica, it is a "group adhering to a kinship system in which ancestral descent is traced through maternal instead of paternal lines (the latter being termed patrilineage or patriliny). Every society incorporates some basic components in its system of reckoning kinship: family, marriage, postmarital residence, rules that prohibit sexual relations (and therefore marriage) between certain categories of kin, descent, and the terms used to label kin. A lineage is a group of individuals who trace descent from a common ancestor; thus, in a matrilineage, individuals are related as kin through the female line of descent." (http://www.britannica.com/topic/matrilineal-society) 

In the world of After Man, this form of society became the dominant method around which all means of reproduction were determined after the initial rapid adoption of artificial insemination on a worldwide scale to prevent the loss of the species.  Vast swaths of society were lost before emergency methods could be used to spread this technology around the world.  Centers for fertilization were placed on ships and sailed around the world and eventually major city centers became the gravitational centers of habitation and survival.  Inside these major city centers, smaller societies were encouraged based on the concept of matrilineal societies seen in Earth’s cultures around the world, most notably the Mosuo people of western China (http://www.mosuoproject.org/matri.htm).  This enabled various cultures and ethnicity groups to preserve their unique past while ensuring the optimal setting for support through child-birth and rearing.

As an example, the city of New York, famous for its boroughs, became one of three major metropolitan centers around which the surviving species in North America were moved to along Washington City and San Francisco.  Other cities eventually were able to establish smaller centers for reproductive services and adopted a similar system of encouraging these smaller societies inside the cities to form.  These societies vary based on culture or ethnicity, however they all share a few common elements.  First, each shares the responsibility of child-rearing among all of the members of the society.  Second, all members of the society must provide as least one egg or carry one child to term.  This is a legal obligation of all citizens of the cities.  Third, each society occupies a communal structure that includes schools, hospitals, stores as well as libraries and other centers for communal activity and is maintained by the members of that society with service support from the city when needed. 

Not all members of each city belong to a society but all make use of them for child-care and support during child birth.  All members of a city are required at the very minimum to work a period of 2 years in service to a society of their choice in varying capacity from administrative duties to educational roles to actual child-care.  Those that choose to bear a child to term either for her own requirement or to bring another woman’s child to term for her are considered to have fulfilled that obligatory service.  Those who choose to fulfill their obligatory service in either of these ways are guaranteed the time necessary away from their chosen careers without loss of pay or position.  Some women choose to join in service to that society in a full-time capacity.  In those instances, their position in another career is guaranteed to them to return to up to a minimum period of five years.

Some women who wish to remain in a professional position outside of a society choose to volunteer to be surrogate mothers for other women who wish to only give the minimum service to a society.  These women have their obligatory service waived permanently and receive guaranteed time away from their profession for all medical needs and for the period of birth and recovery up to one year after birth.  As these women will most likely carry multiple children to term throughout their careers, they work flexible hours in their profession but receive full pay for their time spent caring for their bodies during and after pregnancy.

Societies like these dominate all of the major population centers across the world.  The largest of these are New York City, Washington City, San Francisco, Berlin, Frankfurt, Paris, Amsterdam, London, Madrid, Rome, Moscow, Tokyo, Seoul, Hong Kong, Beijing, Dubai, New Delhi, Cairo, Cape Town, Accra, Rio de Janeiro, Buenos Aires, Mexico City, and Sydney with smaller cities spread out across the continents, more so in North America, Europe, and east Asia.

End Entry

Please stay tuned for more information about the world of After Man.  A portal/wiki will be created soon as a reference for this data.  If you are interested in contributing to the studies of what this world looks like after such an event occurs, contact me via email.  Be sure to share this project around so we can keep the momentum up and get this novel in your hands sooner!

tiny.cc/aftermannovel

Today’s the day!  It begins.  Preorders for After Man have begun as has the Geek and Sundry Hard Science contest!  I find it amusing and small worldish that this novel is appearing in this contest because of my experience meeting Geek and Sundry’s founder at Dragoncon in 2012.  Maybe I’ll share it in a future update.  I doubt she remembers it.

Sometime here over the coming few days, I’m going to start posting Casey Adler’s personal logs from her investigations.  These will contain clues that will be revealed later in the story as she investigates the epidemic of violent crime you see being hinted at in Chapter One.  I’ll also be posting case files and other pertinent records to help you, the reader sleuths see if you can solve the mysteries to come.  (Spoiler: there’s a suspected murder coming!)

As early followers, I’ll let you in on a recruiter bonus I’m offering to people who bring in the most people to preorder After Man.  The top two recruiters will each be given an opportunity to help craft part of this story.  Number One will get to help create a character who plays a pivotal role in the sequel and who makes an appearing in the denouement of this book.  They also will get to have an exclusive interview with myself and my awesome wife who helped me form this idea into a story.  Any questions allowed, spoilers abound.  Number Two will get to help create the setting for the final sequence of this book.  I’ll give you a few pointers on what is going to happen and you get to help create the setting.

So, what are you waiting for?  Get your copy preordered then get that referral link and get going!

Kzjvovfi Brian Guthrie · Author · added over 6 years ago
It begins tomorrow!