Tag Archives: Inspector Thomas Sullivan

The Inspector’s Eye

E-mail from readers can be interesting for an author. I particularly like e-mails that ask specific questions about why a character did this or why did your story line take this twist, etc. I’d like to use this newsletter to answer one reader’s question in particular.

Why did you give Sully a cybernetic eye?

It’s a good question. At least I think so.

Once I made the decision for the Inspector to not be completely human, to have a few parts that aren’t human attached, I could have given Sully just about anything. Legs that would allow him to run super fast or jump over buildings. Arms that have multiple types of weapons built in. Armor beneath his skin to protect his vital organs. The sky was the limit.

But I chose to give Sully a cybernetic eye.

I based my decision on two primary reasons. Not that I intend to fill my stories with deeply profound hidden meanings, but there are things I build in for readers to catch and ponder. If a reader doesn’t pick up on it, it’s not a big deal. If a reader sees the hidden gem, great!

Sully sees the universe differently. Using his robot eye and not a human one to tell that part of the story brings attention to what Sully sees and thinks. He’s a damaged individual who sees things differently. Being a cynic, he trusts little of what he sees and hears. Actions and motives are what Sully looks to see.

More important than a story telling device is the fact I love the first two Terminator films! My kids and I also loved the short lived television franchise Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles.

I am convinced the show’s short run was due to the fact the writers and producers did not understand one very important fact. Sarah and John Connor are key elements of any Terminator story. But let’s make one point clear. They are NOT the stars

The Terminator is!

Summer Glau, who brought Cameron to life in the TV show, and Arnold Schwarzenegger, who brought the first Terminator and Uncle Bob to life, were the stars of the franchise. Miss Glau did a wonderful job as Cameron and the show would have been better served had the story line evolved around Cameron more.

I digress.

One of the features I found fascinating was the HUD Terminators used within their cybernetic eye, or optics if you prefer. Terminators can replay old memories, access data files, call up protocols, identify objects and individuals, and most importantly, select whether not to terminate a human.

In one episode of TSCC Cameron dressed up in an enticing outfit and visited a bar frequented by employees of a nuclear power plant in order to obtain the bar codes the Connor’s needed to gain access to key parts of the plant. Acting like a naive and unknowing young woman, she flirted with a pair of males from the plant who happened to be playing pool.

It didn’t take Cameron long to get invited to play a game she “didn’t know how to play” and wager money. Like fools the men let Cameron break. She promptly pulled up her HUD, used her targeting software, calculated the optimal break point, and sank four or five balls in the break.

I follow developments in robotics and artificial intelligence. Both technologies are coming whether we like it or not. In some ways these new technologies will be of great benefit to mankind. I can also see the potential for evil and great harm to society. All too often we as humans never stop to ask the question should we. We just plunge ahead and focus on “how do we?”

Given how fast technology advances, I don’t think it’s far fetched for Sully to have a cybernetic eye. I’d even venture to say within a hundred years humans will have the ability to replace a damaged biological eye with a cybernetic eye with some of the same features Sully possesses in his replacement eye.

So now you know.

If you have any questions about any of my characters that you would like to ask, please do! Just drop me an e-mail (SciFiThriller@kcsivils.com) and ask. I might even include the answer in a future issue of The Inspector’s Report.

This was first published in The Inspector’s Report, Volume Two, Number Eight.

The Classic Film Noir Protagonist and Inspector Sullivan

Brooding, hard-boiled, anti-social loners who take up the profession of detective. It’s the very definition of the male protagonist in classic film noir productions. Think your job is tough? Compare it to the standard working conditions of the noir male lead. His daily life is spent in the toughest part of towns, usually at night and almost always alone, hunting down dangerous individuals who are just as ready to betray our male lead as kill him. Our detective’s world seems to nothing more than a life filled with crime, betrayal, danger and loneliness. The very city our man lives in dehumanizes him with its tall, concrete buildings, shadowy alleyways and rundown neighborhoods.

Caught up in this confusing moral swamp, the male in the noir story is often filled with inner turmoil. What is right? What is wrong? Thus it is that our male lead becomes by necessity his own man. He lives by his own code. So long as he stays true to his code, he is true to himself and what he believes is right, or in many instances, justice.

Given this grey code of truth, the noir detective is often finds it perfectly acceptable to break the law in order to arrive at the truth, protect his client and if there is such a thing, the innocent.

As with any genre, there is leeway in how a character can be written, so long as the basics are adhered too.

Inspector Sullivan is certainly no exception. His past is filled with violence, betrayal and pain. Pain inflicted both by others and himself. Sullivan stands apart to a small degree from the traditional noir lead for he is a man with a conscience. Not one, but two as I would have it, his own and that of the bothersome Anglican priest, Father Nathan, who befriends Sully whether he wants a friend or not.

Sully is capable of incredible violence, some of which he is perfectly indifferent about and other times troubled by his actions. In his mind the moral difference is determined by whether or not justice was served. The law is nice, but justice is what Sully seeks in his world. In his life he has seen far too much injustice with far too few people who seek to provide justice, particularly for those who cannot defend themselves. That source of injustice could be a single criminal or an entire system aligned against the hapless individual.

Life lived alone means a life that has fewer opportunities to be hurt and more important to Sully, fewer opportunities for others to be hurt. Guilt is Sullys constant companion and belies his tough exterior and attitude of indifference. So is his defined sense of responsibility for those who, for better or worse, become part of his life.

It has been Sullivan’s experience that women are trouble, making him the typical noir protagonist. In the case of the mysterious Sarah, Sullivan is at best confused. She certainly has some of the elements of the femme fatale. Sarah is beautiful, mysterious and as the reader learns, potentially dangerous. It turns out Sarah and Sullivan share a painful secret from their past that tortures them both.

Indifference towards Sarah is not possible for any man. In Sullivan’s case, their relationship is a confusing one on a good day. He feels like a father figure towards the strange, aloof young woman yet cannot help but notice her alluring charms. For her part, Sarah sends as many mixed signals as is possible for a woman, all of which seems to draw Sullivan in deeper and closer to the troubled young woman.

As the series unfolds, the pair grows closer in ways neither could have foreseen.

Despite his desire to live his life alone, Sullivan as a character diverges from the norm for a noir protagonist. He develops a few close friends, excluding Sarah, all of which but one are male. His is a male world and Sully likes it that way.

If you like thrillers and classic noir stories, you’ll like the Inspector Thomas Sullivan series.

Sign-up For The Inspector’s Report – The Inspector Thomas Sullivan Newsletter!

It has taken me awhile to get things set-up for my author’s newsletter, The Inspector’s Report. I’m not a particularly computer savvy individual so it’s to be expected I suppose.

The Inspector’s Report will be e-mailed periodically. I promise to NEVER share anyone’s e-mail who signs up.

You can unsubscribe at anytime AND you can not feel guilty about it!

The Inspector’s Report will give updates on the availability of the latest offering in the Universe of Inspector Thomas Sullivan and his friends (enemies too). Back history for characters and places on Beta Prime will be provided to answer those nagging questions readers have about this detail or that.

Short stories will be a part of the newsletter on a semi-regular basis and will often feature supporting characters such as Ralph, Alice or Joe.

If you are a fan of science fiction and/or crime noir/mysteries, I will include my thoughts on a regular basis in the form of lists or reviews of books I have read.

I would love it if readers of The Inspector’s Report would ask questions and contribute content as well.

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Why Is The World of Beta Prime Not As Futuristic As Most SciFi Worlds?

If the movie or TV rights to The Predator and The Prey were purchased, would Capital City look like some fantastic, futuristic vision of urban life?

Probably not.

Parts of the Capital City would certainly appear as if they came from the wildest dreams of architectural fantasy. Certainly the Northwest Quadrant, where the wealthy and politicians make their homes, would appear to be futuristic. The Northeast Quadrant, with its industry, upper middle class and the SpacePort terminal would look futuristic.

But what about the Southern Quadrants? Where the poor and working class live?

Picture the tenements of North American industrial cities, where instead of brick and mortar, the buildings are converted containers left over from colonization with plastisteel facades. Buildings would have the same design and construction as the poured concrete buildings built in the former Soviet Union and Eastern Europe. Ugly, cheap to build and made for those considered beneath the ruling elite.

Hovercars require some type of fixed path to travel on requiring roads to be constructed. Perhaps the only advantage of a hovercraft over a wheeled vehicle is the roads will last longer.

There is very little that is truly new. Ideas are recycled all the time. Joe’s Restaurant, with its cliche neon lights, Classic Rock decor and North American comfort food, plus whatever the locals consider solid fare, is an example of retro styling and architecture some 500 years in the future.

Besides, Joe’s is home away from home. It’s an interesting place like Rick’s Cafe American of Casablanca fame is. The locals gather at Joe’s as do all sorts of interesting denizens of Capital City.

Old technology that works fine will be used on many Alliance worlds. As they say, if isn’t broken, there is no need to fix it. Railroads as we know them today, steel wheels on steel rails, are still used on many worlds where issues of climate and expense of construction and maintenance prevent the successful use of more “modern” technologies like Maglev Trains.

On a world like Beta Prime, a visitor would find a curious mix of the old, albeit updated, technology with the new. Soldiers and police would carry modern energy weapons with a variety of capabilities. Some soldiers and police prefer old school projectile weapons. As Inspector Sullivan constantly tells the pup Josephson, “a big exit wound is one way to make sure the perp stops shooting back.”

Fashion is one area where futuristic designs do make sense on a world like Beta Prime. But then again, what has come before often makes its way back through the fashion world. A tourist could expect to see the miners and industrial workers to be dressed in typical coveralls, designed both to protect the worker and keep the worker warm in the freezing environment of Beta Prime.

White collar workers, particularly the so-called elite and politicians would be those more inclined to wear the more daring fashion designs. Middle and working class fashions on Beta Prime tend to resemble those found in the 1940s and 50s with updates in materials. Life is dreary for many on the planet and the dark browns, blacks and blues of clothing reflect this aspect of life.

Classic styles, such as pin stripe suits, tailored to fit perfectly, never go out of style, regardless of the century, planet or city.

Other worlds, with different climate or life support needs, will have different levels of technology. Life on a moon, such as the two moons of Beta Prime, Serenity and Persephone, with no atmosphere, requires a more futuristic vision of the structures. The same is true of a colony on an asteroid of the space station serving as the terminal for large starliners and space freighters.

Why is the world I created for Inspector Sullivan and his companions to inhabit a mix of such commonly found items from today and the hoped and dreamed for technology of tomorrow? Because it is the way man does things.

We still make furniture from wood don’t we?

Still, if you look around, there is plenty to find that is not what one would expect to see in a city today.

Take Sarah. When was the last time you saw a human clone?

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