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Diabolus [Kindle Edition]

Travis Hill

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Book Description

Salvatore Antonelli, a disgraced ex-bishop, and Benito Castillo, a young tech-priest fresh out of Seminary, are tasked by the Vatican to confront DAMON-1, a nuclear capable AI that claims to be Satan incarnate, returned to the physical world to bring about Armageddon.

The two clergy must battle to restore DAMON and purge Satan from the enslaved AI's core. The bishop is forced to play a deadly game with billions of lives in the balance, while the young priest must confront Satan's digital persona within the network.

The eternal conflict between good and evil, fought in the space between time, brings humanity and their AI creations to the dawn of a new age, and to the brink of annihilation.

"The Exorcist" meets "Skynet" meets "The Matrix" in this thought-provoking new science fiction thriller by Travis Hill.

66,000 word novel
200 pages (est.)
Teen+ appropriate

Product Description

About the Author

I'm an author from Boise, Idaho. I live with my superhero wife and five completely worthless but loveable cats. I write adult stories for adult readers. My mailing list: Writes: Science Fiction / Fantasy / Horror / Adult Fiction / Drama / Humor / Whatever I Feel Like Favorite Team: Chicago Blackhawks Favorite Band(s): DevilDriver / Killswitch Engage Favorite activity: Trying to convince my wife that I need a ninja sword. I mean, they wouldn't sell the things on TV if they weren't invaluable weapons for when gangs of ninja suddenly crash through your living room windows, swords drawn.

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 589 KB
  • Print Length: 217 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 1499698534
  • Simultaneous Device Usage: Unlimited
  • Publisher: Travis Hill; 1st edition (19 Jun. 2014)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B00K2FC2ZO
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 4.8 out of 5 stars  4 reviews
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Futuristic tale that asks deep questions and somehow combines science and faith (not Religion - Faith) into an action novel 23 Aug. 2014
By Heather G - Published on
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
In the very beginning of Travis Hill’s “Diabolus” are two pages filled with time measurements, what they are called and what they mean. Included with this informative forward is the admonishment to bookmark these pages if your e-reader supports it. Word of advice: Do it. Bookmark those pages, you are going to want to refer to them later – often; they really do convey just how FAST some of the these interactions take place, even if they span numerous pages of action.

Do machines have souls? Can an Artificial Intelligence, created by man, have a soul? What if that AI, that Silicone Persona, is a free thinking, free willed, knowledge seeking entity that ponders the deeper mysteries of life and even dying; does that give it, THEM, a soul? Hard to imagine… yet Travis Hill imagines all this and more in this stunningly deep novel.

In “Diablolus” the future is just as technologically advanced as some of us hope it will be. Artificial Intelligence, AI’s, have been created and implemented worldwide. These machines, while fairly new to the scene with the oldest one having only served just shy of 50 years, have been fully integrated in the daily lives of humans. They control everything, from communications to records, travel to weapons management. Every major organization on the planet, and quite a few minor ones, have an AI in their employ; even The Vatican has joined the 22nd century with its own AI, Brother Aggelo. All of this makes life much easier and stream lined, but it sets the stage for an epic battle that proves almost as ironic as it is dangerous.

When disgraced Father Salvatore Antonelli is called back into service by the Church, restored to his former title of Bishop and sent to meet with the new Pontiff, he has no idea what God, nor man, has in store for him. Years earlier he has been on the forefront of bringing the young back into the fold of the church, albeit by shady methods and deception proposed and endorsed by the former Pope. En exorcist by trade and title, the pair set out to dupe the world using technology as their tool. Their lies were unearthed, as lies often are, sending the Holy man into disgrace and shame. Now, recalled and forgiven, he is paired with newly Frocked Father (Doctor) Benito Castillo to face off against an aged AI that has seemingly gone insane, claiming to be Satan, returned. Unfortunately, disabling this AI is not just a matter of pulling the plug, as this is DAMON, one of the most powerful AI’s on the planet, fully nuclear capable and in control of NATO’s web.

This book, is in a word: amazing. Not only is it fast paced, but it is incredibly philosophical, even theological. Hill broaches questions and theorizes situations with the aplomb of a Biblical master. It is thought provoking and fascinating.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An Imaginative Cyber Punk Sci-Fi Novel 25 Aug. 2014
By L. Clifford - Published on
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Right from the start "Diabolus" caught my attention with its imaginative plot and it very easily kept my attention until the very end. Travis Hill has crafted a multi-layered novel that bridges religion with technology, science fiction with fantasy and emotionally charged drama with thrilling action. One of the things I was worried about when I first came across the novel was that it would be too steeped in religion to the point that it felt "preachy" instead of entertaining, but the author manages to find a delicate balance where the religious aspect of the plot is toned down to where it only enhances the story and the overall science fiction elements are kicked into high gear.

The novel is well-written with a lush and vivid storytelling style that draws readers into Salvatore Antonelli and Benito Castillo's efforts to defeat the AI entity that claims to be the reincarnation of Satan himself. It has a well-paced plot that keeps the momentum up throughout, adding dimension and layers to the story as it builds towards the confrontational climax between the ex-Bishop, priest and DAMON. The story is authentic and yet fantastical, bridging the gap between realism and science fiction fantasy in a wonderful way.

Overall, this was a very entertaining novel that was well worth the read.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Interesting but complicated 30 Jun. 2014
By Peter R. Divergilio - Published on
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Mostly well written peek into a possible future involving Catholicism, supercomputers, and Human interreaction - some parts seemed a bit abstruse and complicated, but I'm old, so your mileage may vary!
1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fantastic Read! 17 Nov. 2014
By Will Marck - Published on
Format:Kindle Edition
Ok, the first thing I want to say, is this is a damn good book. Now, it may seem like I'm being tough on the book at times. I just always try to point out what I think readers will like and what they won't, regardless of how much I enjoyed it. I also want to point out that it would be best to get this book and hammer it out in one sitting. I was unable to do that, so I'd really like to go back and read it one more time when I get a chance (hah, time, what's that?). It's like one of those movies you watch multiple times and keep catching different things. It took me about 2 to 3 hours to read it, I can't be sure, it was broken up over multiple sessions, mostly due to my wife's Ackley-like interruptions.

So, let's start with the synopsis. It starts out giving a list of all these different measurements of time down to units so small they are impossible to fathom. I figured this was probably pretty important to the story, so I skimmed over it. My bad Travis, I'm dumb sometimes, and terrible about reading intros. I'm fairly familiar with the prefixes of measurements, so I winged it. I know when I was 15 and finally got lucky for the first time, ol' girl says it was a zeptosecond, but I know it was an attosecond at least, and I stand by that. Joking aside, it may be a good idea to bookmark it if you get confused, although, on my kindle I can hold down the word and it gives the definition.

The story starts out in May of 2101, so it's not too far into the future. A bishop of the Catholic church is pretty much exiled from the community. He had been chosen by the pope for an important assignment. With technology becoming more prevalent, and the church unwilling to adapt with the times, their membership numbers were way down. The bishop was sent around on what seemed to be healing tours, performing exorcisms to heal those unable to be cured by medicine and new technologies. He was successful and church attendance numbers were way up. He became a hero or celebrity of sorts and the church began adapting new AI (artificial intelligence) technologies. What the public didn't know, was the sick were actually being healed by other means (medicine or procedures) and it was made to look like it was the exorcism that cured them. Think Benny Hinn, sans the right hooks to the faces of ailing elderly people.

Well, this catches up to them, as some 'gotcha' special news team exposes them for what they are, and to save face the church banishes this guy, where he lives his life in shame, labeled a false prophet. Then we are introduced to another young priest in the church who is a specialist in AI. Essentially, the whole world is now run by these AI to carry out mundane tasks, but over time people have become dependent on them, and they are self-aware beings tapped into large networks running governments, etc. I may be oversimplifying this a lot.

The pope and the computer scientist priest guy go in search of the exiled bishop, because there is some big trouble brewing. Apparently, an older AI has been taken over, and it now claims to be possessed by Satan. Oh, and it only wishes to speak to the exiled bishop. I don't want to give too much away, but they go meet the AI claiming to be Satan, there are debates and nuclear bombings, while they try to figure out how to flip the power switch on this thing (shut it down or exorcise the virtual demon). There are a few twists and the end.

Ok, I hate to say, 'things I didn't like about the story', so I'll say, 'things I would've done differently'. First off, I like to think I'm decently intelligent, and I'm a bit of a tech nerd, but some of the jargon in this book was over my head. I think it would feel that way to a lot of people, especially non-techies. Which is fine, it's one of the things I liked about it too. Honestly, this book felt a lot like when I watched the move Primer for the first time. I think you have to damn near be a savant to follow it completely on the first run.

I'm an accountant in real life, so my brain always goes to--how could it appeal to more people and make money? Can't help it, it's who I am. I think a lot of the philosophical diatribes and explanations could be pared down and made a lot shorter and simpler, to speed up the pace. Keep in mind, I don't think this was Mr. Hill's goal. I honestly got the feeling he wrote this book for himself, because it was the story he wanted to hear. Which I admired greatly about it. I think when authors do this, it creates an x factor that can't be explained, but it can be felt through the words. Ok, so for me and the masses to better understand the book, I'd have taken a scalpel to some of it.

Also, I found myself the entire time wondering what was happening on the outside while they battled the AI. I think it would have been really cool to have another pov with the pope or people on the outside. I mean, once this thing is nuking cities, there would be pandemonium. I also wanted the ol' Lucifer AI to do more than just bomb a couple of cities. Yeah, I'm sinister like that. I wanted him to be sly and a trickster, like Satan supposedly is (and he was, when speaking to the exiled bishop and other AI). But I don't know, maybe he goes through the network and alters shipments of food to poor African children, or crashes Wall Street and makes all the rich people go broke, and then rationalizes it, because of their greed. I mean, I love the nukes and all, I just like to see all the panicking and bedlam that would have been present. Oh, one last thing, maybe have him hack all the media stations and tell the public what is going on, and make them mistrust their governments, or their churches. Ok, I'm done.

Obviously, Mr. Hill is more well-versed in computers, AI, data structures, etc. than I am, so I wouldn't be able to argue on this. But I will bet your ass a giga-wad of cash, there are a lot of dudes in their mom's basements right now, playing WOW or whatever game is cool, who would dissect this thing just looking to poke holes in the story. It would probably be worth it for the entertainment value alone, but I may go suggest this book on a WOW forum and grab some popcorn and watch my troll handiwork. Seriously, these guys will debate robotic d*** implants on a cricket and how realistic the biotech is. If you're one of those guys, get the book. You will probably absolutely love it or absolutely hate it.

Ok, for the good stuff. I really enjoyed this book a lot. For one, because I'm one of those guys who likes to sit around and think about faith and science. I honestly think I could sit down with Mr. Hill, have a couple beers, and have a great conversation. The dialogue, ideas, and thoughts are well rationalized and very entertaining. It's so hard to find someone level headed who can think and create rational dialogue from two different points of view, without just spouting a bunch of talking points. Oh, I used to have imaginary friends too, then I grew up, flying spaghetti monster, you're stupid! Or, I don't care what the bible says about being fat, gays are causing tornadoes and goin' to hell! Ok, slightly exaggerated, but you get it.

This book isn't preachy, and honestly, if the writing weren't so tight and well thought out, the little monologues and in depth explanations would have turned me off from the book in the first few chapters. But, I found myself going down the rabbit hole of philosophical thought alongside the author, like a 23 click Wikipedia bender diagnosing a blister as cancer. It slows down the pace, but you don't realize it, so I never found myself rushing through to see the action. This novel will make you think, it's not one you can read while distracted.

More things I loved? Satan. Ok, wait, I mean uhhhh... I'm telling you, this Satan AI was scary as s*** for two reasons, a) the descriptions and b) because you keep thinking, could this really happen? I couldn't walk by a computer in the dark last night because I kept thinking some holographic demon was going to 86 my ass, or my walls were going to shoot fire with large booming noises.

Then, something remarkable happened today as I was still living in fear of the machines in my house. I was reading about the possessed AI and my wife interrupted to to rip my ass about something, and then banished me to the store, much like the Catholic bishop was banished from the church. When I got back and started reading again, Satan didn't seem nearly as scary. This gave me all kinds of new confidence as I flipped my desktop the bird. Ok, sidetracked, sorry about that.

If you like classic and futuristic sci-fi, robots, AI, etc. and are somewhat well versed in science and tech, or you love thinking about the future of religion and what it looks like, you have to read this book. I don't know that it's an original idea, but I had certainly never read anything like it. It was like the Matrix and Primer with a little Asimov and the Lawnmower Man thrown in. I don't want to spoil too much more, so just check it out, there is much more to the story. It's free for crying out loud! It's a bargain! Overall 4.8 out of 5.
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