Yes, I’ve been radio silent – thanks for working with me. I’ve been heads-down on Cinderellavator and this gives me an opportunity for a Beta Testing Sneak Preview of the upcoming project. Beta testing is a valuable part of any writer’s process, because it gives you insight on how your project might be received by your readers.
And it gives me the chance to tell you about Cinderellavator! So let me set up the clip below: In Cinderellavator, I’m having the protag break from the main story to talk about this stuff as though you were one of her best friends and she was narrating some background information on nanotech and gray goo. Imagine one sixth grader eighty or a hundred years from now explaining to another sixth grader right now in 2022 what nanotech is and you’ll get a sense of what the voice is supposed to be. This is a middle-grade (Grades 5-8) story so I’m keeping the narrative simple, but accurate. Take a look:
Let’s pause again and talk about some other stuff happening in the background. You know how icebergs are, like, ten percent above the waterline and everything else is below the surface? That’s what life was like for me and Jennifer. We thought we understood what was going on with Dad, Grandma and TaiPanSol, but we were wrong. There was so much happening below the surface.
Here’s the deal, remember that Section Six place in Singapore? Uncle Paul had been traveling back and forth there, looking in on Grandma’s secret lair. Inside that freeport, Grandma stored art, antiques, and extra cash. She also stored something there we would find out about later: the ‘gray goo.’
What’s gray goo? Okay, so here’s where I nerd out. Nanotech is all around us, teeny tiny machines that do different jobs larger machines or tools can’t get to. It can do whatever you program it to do, go places, copy itself, do a job, destroy itself when finished.
Nanotech is why we have cool tech like my programmable facemask and all those cancer treatments. It’s the reason we have supersmart artificial intelligences that fit in supersmall, pocket-sized spaces. It’s also the reason we were able to push back on all the ‘climate change’ fear from eighty years ago.
That’s actually something I should talk more about. Did you know they expected global warming to flood all the coasts all over the world? They did, but it never happened.
Nanotech captured carbon at the source with the carbon sponges and thin-film solar CO2 converters. Someone else created an algae bioreactor to start removing CO2 from the atmosphere, which was about four hundred times as efficient as trees.
So yeah, things looked grim there for a while but it got better. Humans solved the problem, go us! You’d think all this cool ‘save the world’ tech would make everyone calm down, right? Wrong.
Nanotech and bioengineering have done a lot for us, but it’s important to remember how deadly it can be in the wrong hands. Like nuclear power, or heck, even fire. Nobody’s going to pass on turning new discoveries into some kind of weapon. Kind of a shame.
The point is, that’s where we get things like nanowars, or those spooky shows on TV where people get killed with nanotech traps. Mom and Dad never let me watch stuff like that, but I still hear about it.
Some nano is so dangerous that it’s banned by all countries. Think about that for a second, you can’t get world governments to agree on anything, but they saw some nanotech out there and nope’d out. Freaky.
That’s where Grandma comes into the story. She bought some nanotech company working on a way to break down dangerous chemicals into safe materials. Their plan, I guess, was to get rid of all toxic and nuclear waste.
Downside was, they screwed up. The nanotech, which looked like a bucket of gray goo, ate whatever it was poured on, and then copied itself to eat more. Over and over again, millions or billions of little molecular-sized machines ate and converted toxic waste into more machines or other elements. It just didn’t have an ‘off switch.’
Sometimes you’ll read a news article about this, scientists panicking over ‘rogue nanotech.’ They’re afraid of seeing stuff like Grandma’s gray goo growing and eating until it takes over the entire world.
I don’t know what to say about that, or what happens when one company buys another company. It’s boring, anyway. The main thing you should know is, Grandma’s company took possession of this dangerous ‘gray goo,’ but they didn’t know what to do with it. The nanotech was too valuable to destroy, and too dangerous to store in a normal facility.
Uncle Paul traveled back and forth to Section Six, making sure the gray goo was nice and safe, in addition to everything else he did for Grandma.
Thanks for reading! I apologize in advance if you have some questions on story details that I can’t get into because it reveals too much of the plot. I’m calling the WIP ‘Cinderellavator’ right now but will likely change the name to make sure no one makes comparisons to ‘Cinder,’ which I haven’t read but the name may confuse people.
Suggestions? What are some other significant features about nanotech that are blatantly unique and kids would enjoy reading about? I want this novel to make a case for being hopeful about the future, being curious about STEM, and I’ll likely need every chapter in this story to be interesting, emotionally compelling, and fun to read. What do you think? Please tell me in the Reddit thread I created. Dying to hear your feedback.