Seed Money is a look at the near future—one in which aging has been arrested, poverty eliminated, governments reorganized and more. Yet, with all of these great advancements, we still suffer at our own self interests that have caused over population and the decimation of our atmosphere. Some innovators look to solve the problem, and other exacerbate it. The story is narrated by an entrepreneur and takes a look at how she navigates, become embroiled in, and comes to terms with the machinations of the self-serving.
Whether or not you usually read sci-fi, Seed Money will keep you interested until the very end. Greg Stodghill gave it five stars on Amazon and said, “I was surprised to go from thinking I was visiting the future to realizing it was all too NOW.”
Though the story spans 2014 – 2062, the plot is not farfetched—it’s easy to buy into the advancements and setting and truly care about the characters and our planet.
What Inspired You to Write Your Book?
I have been a nonfiction writer for many years—my first book came out in 1992. While I’ve always had an interest in writing fiction, life simply got in the way. Today I have more time, and apparently a more active imagination, so it was time to put pen to paper and capture some of it for you to read.
I enjoy sci-fi and fantasy, but they have to be stories to which I can relate, and they have to display some sign of hope. An apocalyptic future is too dark for me, so while Seed Money has a dark underbelly, it also has a good dose of optimism. Though sometimes you have to look hard to find it.
I chose a narrative style because I want you, as the reader, to be able to become a part of my story—whether you are a man or a woman. I hope you can relate to the narrator’s challenges and struggles, both on a personal and global level.
I hope the people in this book will become your friends and your enemies—and you’ll come away indignant and hopeful, in the same way I did when I wrote it.
How Did You Come up With Your Characters?
Most of my characters—both in Seed Money and in Glyphs—are based at least in part on people I know. Sometimes the resemblance is blatant and sometimes it’s more obscure. I create characters as I need them and think of people I know with the traits the character requires—sweet, sexy, obnoxious, strong-willed, evil, self-centered—or perhaps, as some psychologists assert, they are all variations of me. That’s entirely possible.
CARLO C. AUGOSTINO
Another brisk morning, the dogs and I rush in the door in search of warmth. There’s a glowing comm from Jack with the contact name of the transportation lobbyist who works with the Science & Technology division advisors to Congress. Another associate, owns and manages a pod-manufacturing plant, and is also expecting my call.
Well, that’s good news.
I run through the morning routine before rejoining Sindah.
Sindah: Comm Debra Watson.
It’s early, but she’s on the east coast and answers immediately; Sindah displays her head and shoulders. She’s running to a meeting, but would be glad to speak with me next week. I fire off a comm request for Monday morning and disconnect. She accepts it right away, no doubt from her lens while rushing to the meeting.
Sindah: Comm Paul Moore.
Expecting to leave a recorded comm, Paul Moore is apparently not two hours ahead and is not quite as pleasant, but he does agree to speak with me on Monday as well. Sindah deploys a comm request to him as well. He does not accept it right away. Too busy to talk and also apparently too busy to touch the invitation I know is displayed on his screen or lens.
Hmmm. I’ll be lucky to get five minutes with this guy.
Though I desperately want the information these two might provide before I get much further into the business plan, I’m just going have to wait it out until next week. It’s not like I have to stop working entirely, just be cognizant of the topics on which I believe they might be able to contribute.
I decide to reread what I’ve completed so far.
Ugh. It’s not much.
On days like today I miss having a keyboard—not that Sindah couldn’t display one. It’s just not the same without the clickity-clack and snappy tactile feedback of the keys. I enjoyed the delay between thoughts and pressing keys; each micro-pause posturing as a thought-organizing opportunity. Sindah and I continue the review-and-edit banter for the next few hours as I flesh out the business plan with some of Daria’s digiNotes from the meeting on marketing and promotion. Unfortunately, the further I get into it, the more questions I create and the fewer answers I have. Organization is severely lacking.
Daria comms and as I answer I move her image from my lens to Sindah alongside the business-plan draft. Daria tells me she spoke today with a couple of VCs—in very general terms—in order to vet interest in what might be an upcoming offering. It’s good she’s eager to move forward on the project. I’ve found if I cannot engage Daria, Jack, or both, the idea is likely not worth pursuing and will end up on the bottom half of my scorecard.
The two VCs are currently funding other transportation projects in the commercial sector, so there’s a basis for interest. Daria comms attachments about marketing and positioning of projects, borrowed from incubation projects on which she has worked in the past. A cursory review piques my interest as I discover information I can use to add depth to the first two sections. I drag Daria’s documents to the draft while she explains the content. Sindah captures our conversation as a stream for addition to the draft as well.
Interestingly, Daria deduced from her conversation with the VCs, Armadillo would be the second effort for addressing pod docking and storage issues. The first venture has been stalled with an incubator for more than a year—a highly unusual occurrence. There’s a story there, but Daria has no details on why it hasn’t yet been acquired by a manager.
On a free area I spin up Google.
Google: Pod-docking, sustainability, project.
Google begins trying to ferret out any available information on the other startup and the cause for the stall. Surely there were stories or leaks about the mired project. I let that churn for a bit, nothing relevant popped up right away, which is also a highly unusual occurrence, but not unheard of. Even the all-powerful Google may not violate the privacy of others—companies or people. I’ll sort through these search results later to see if I can find a company or project name, even if the details aren’t for the public’s eyes.
The globalNet technically is the world’s storage bin intended for every bit of text, digital image, video, document, still, and stream in the world, but if a company or person has identified the content as private and met the guidelines of that which may be classified as private, Google may not return the content in search results. So says privacy acts from governments on every continent. There’s also the matter of a number of countries not agreeing all content should be digitized, no matter what Google says.
This doesn’t necessarily mean access to the content is impossible to gain, it just means it becomes exponentially more difficult. Private doesn’t mean gone for good. For one, the person who marked it private has access, but private does mean that no one else, no company, and no government can compel you to produce documents, even—or especially—during a court proceeding. This would be considered self-incrimination. Sometimes the content is still available in a modified format because it contains information about another party as well—if that party doesn’t agree it is private, the information would be available in a redacted format. Your information kept private, their information displayed.
When Google did not immediately show obvious matches at the top of the returned list I got just a tinge of excitement—I love a good story—but the sensation was wholly unjustified. With the unintended effect of nurturing my mounting interest, Google’s spider continued to crawl but I did not quickly see relevant results. I had seen Google choke only rarely. I mentioned it to Daria who was already fading in the disconnection. She frowned as Sindah dissolves her image.
I wrap up the week in my usual 16-hour days, and learn loads about transportation pods, transportation lines, pod docks, pod plug-ins and add-ons, pod patents, and the approval processes for the various ownership divisions. Unfortunately, I also add even more questions without answers—or even useful content—to my business plan.
Every now and then, I coax Google into producing useful search results, some reaching far back into archaic archives. I learn about early visionaries who designed, created, and lobbied for adoption of a better, cleaner approach to micro and mass transit and the one engineer who actually had a concept and a plan.
Carlo C. Augostino.
Of course, the pod system was constructed within my since-extended lifetime, so I easily recall opening day at Union Station with all the celebration it warranted. What I hadn’t realized is the pod system was actually a 50-year overnight success.
The first pod concept was introduced to potential investors in the early 90s, and centrally located Denver was the designer’s choice of cities. Augostino had been working on the concept since 1985, according to scanned and archived copies of brochures distributed at the capital-raising meetings. Oddly there was no information on what the inventor had been doing between 1998 and 2025—even with privacy requested, Google can usually find lingering traces of everyone—or so I thought. The first mention Google finds of him is about ten years before the simultaneous deployment of major-city canopies along with the opening of his design for the pod-transportation system between Seattle and Denver canopies. Hard to believe Augostino had been twiddling his thumbs over dusty, 42-year-old blueprints until that day.
Between 1990 and the early part of 1998, Carlo Augostino engineer, and inventor of the Personal Overhead Delivery System (PODS), could be found at every city council meeting, state-government assembly, and political rally held within a 200-mile radius of Denver.
Oh, of course, PODS, not pods. I wonder how many people know that. It’s an acronym, not a description.
Augostino was abrasive and outspoken—news articles, letters to the editor, and editorials littered the archives with chronicled criticisms of his nasty, hateful, and very often, threatening approach. There were brawls and melees with Augostino consistently having made the first shove, tossed out the first insult, or thrown the first punch.
Maybe he was in jail…
No, Google could have easily found that. Arrest records cannot be deemed private, no matter who you are or what justification you provide—much to the dismay of the uber-rich and uber-famous.
Impossibly, I have a vague memory of my next-door neighbor inviting me to and me attending a potential investors’ meeting for a mass-transportation system shortly after I had bought my first retail business in Denver. I think that would have been 1994, and very close to the time Augostino had trundled out his concept for a mass-transit system servicing Colorado’s ski resorts. It seems implausible I had been invited to a meeting for an early version of today’s pods. It borders on devastating I may have passed up the opportunity to get in on the ground floor of what today is likely the most-profitable business in the U.S.—or maybe the world, but as I recall, what was presented that day was half-baked, enormously capital intensive, and a long way from being a solution. I sort of remember telling my neighbor as much—and knowing me, I was probably not very nice about it. It’s a character flaw to be sure: what I think is usually branded on my forehead, no guessing required.
Like it or not.
I haven’t spoken to Mary Claire in more than 30 years and I have no idea if she’s still around, but curiosity consistently gets the best of me, so why let now be an exception? I tap Sindah and put Google’s spiders onto another quest.
Google: Contact information, Mary Claire, accountant, Denver.
A recent image of Mary Claire crystalizes. I stare at it for a moment considering my options.
What I could possibly learn?
Ahh, fuck it.
Sindah: Comm Mary Claire.
Sindah connects to Mary Claire who I cannot say is overly excited to hear from me. She does seem willing, however, to answer my questions about the investor meeting, which, she corrects me, was held in 1995.
She also confirms the PODS of that meeting and today’s pods are one and the same and Carlo Augostino is the inventor. She denies any involvement beyond those early investor meetings saying that when Augostino couldn’t gain buy-in for his plan, he eventually gave up the insurmountable battles with legislators, petitions, and business-stifling processes and stomped off none too quietly. She has not heard from him or her $30,000 since.
Things are slightly more complex, exacerbated by the mess I’ve created within Sindah’s expanse. I’ll spend eight hours cleaning my desk so I can write a one-sentence note and this mess is calling my name. I run my finger the full length of the eleven-feet screen, about four inches from the top edge to create a timeline. Sindah provides labels as I talk myself through what I’ve learned thus far. Together we sort through the growing collection of documents, stills, and streams strewn to every corner of Sindah’s delicate surface.
I tap the line not quite at the left point. 1985: Augostino begins work on mass-transit concept, PODS. I touch the line to the right of the first point. 1995: Investor meeting. I move far to the right. 2035: Canopies erected over major cities and Augostino’s first pod-transportation line connects Denver to Seattle. I tap at 2025, Augostino’s first appearance in search results since 1998.
I drag documents to the line creating smaller labels, such as the digiNotes and streams from the meetings with the engineers. When they exist, Sindah reads from the metatags, and places everything in the sequence. Staring at the timeline helps me think through events in a more linear fashion instead of the jumble of thoughts normally bouncing off each other in my cranium.
I add the GRRE since pod regulations fall within the domain of the Science & Technology division that was established by that restructuring. I also add the Privacy Act at 1974 and the updates that were done in 2016 and 2028. Since Google seems to be balking at some of my requests for information, I want to see if there is an association between what I cannot find and what has been blocked as a result of these updates.
I also add a glowing overlay from 1998 to 2025 as the dates for which I cannot find evidence Carlo Augostino was alive and well—and kicking and screaming, as was his way.
The business plan draft is already several hundred pages, but with the first section—business concept—nearly complete, I’m hopeful I’ll wrap it up in time for a giftmas bow. I drag the updated draft to the farthest point on the right end of the line and release.
I decide to hold off additional work on the marketplace, though I have collected quite a lot of information I expect will be useful when I pull that section together. I’m sure the comms this week with Jack’s associates will add color to what I’ve learned about pods and related products and services as a commodity.
I’d like to get with Jack in mid-November to have him check my work on the financial section; he will need at least a couple of weeks to review it all. If I wait much longer than that, I run the risk of encroaching on his holiday season and that would not make him happy—or me.
I continue the process of organizing and stop long enough to page through the images Google has found of Augostino in the 90s. I re-read the articles and captions hoping for a clue as to where this man was hiding out for 27 years, but nothing jumps out at me. I tap the old, non-tagged photos to add tags of my own. Sindah turns on her magnetic personality and snaps the documents into place as I drag them near the timeline; collapsing them so only the label is visible.
Sindah displays another group of images of Augostino in the lower left, so I tap the one with the most resolution and try a new search.
Google: Match face, 1998 to 2025.
I slide the still to the top half, leaving room for search results. A series of stills and streams fan out directly below the photo. Facial recognition is not perfect, especially with old scanned or digital photos. The lack of resolution and metadata means Google’s guess is probably not much better than mine, but it does have the edge when it comes to processing speed.
I zoom each image one by one to a size teetering the line between large enough to view and pixelated. Three of the several dozen photos seem to be Augostino—two are from 1998 at city council meetings looking grim and angry, so that’s a fit. One is from 2002 surrounded by what seems to be unrelated story—some lobbyist making noise in Congress—and without a clue as to why Augostino might be in the photo. Maybe Augostino made his way from Denver to D.C. to try his luck in the east. A correction appearing in the next day’s edition identifies the man as lobbyist Alex Mirabella. Now the photo and article have a connection, but who is Alex Mirabella?
Google: Alex Mirabella.
Google churns at the new request. A full ten seconds later an icon representing tens of thousands of images, videos, and stills is displayed, each presumably an Alex Mirabella, but surely not all are my Alex Mirabella.
In the first hundred or so, I find an Alex Mirabella who looks an awful lot like Carlo Augostino, but later photos that might be the same man are clearer and of higher quality and those appear to be a younger man.
Augostino? Augostino’s son? Cousin? Both are Italian surnames…
My Alex Mirabella is apparently a pre-eminent lobbyist who worked tirelessly for many years to bring about sweeping changes in our government. Most notably, his name is synonymous with the Privacy Act, the Genderless Act, Term Limits for Congress, and the Government Reorganization and Realignment Effort, but also many others.
I know little to nothing about what a lobbyist does, but even for me, this seems like a lot of work and some major accomplishments for just one person.
…a man with a mission…
Continued staring at the photo from 2002 and others in the stack do not produce lit diodes over my head, so I drag the photo to my timeline. Sindah snaps it up and labels it Carlo Augostino/Alex Mirabella. Sometimes I think Sindah is responsible for my conspiracy tendencies.
Sindah: Add a question mark.
With a swipe along the top edge of the remaining photos, I direct Sindah to tag them for future searches, and store them underneath the question-marked photo. They no longer contribute to the mess I’ve made of Sindah’s surface.
I’m certain I hear Sindah sigh in relief.
Looking at the 2002 image on the timeline, I take a parting shot and this time notice a good-looking man standing behind and to the right of Mirabella/Augostino. He is not captioned. Since it’s an old newspaper photo formerly about two inches tall and now displayed on Sindah’s surface semi-transparently at eight or so inches, it’s blurry at best. The low resolution makes it insufficient quality and what little quality there is becomes completely lost as I zoom in. Without metatags, there’s no telling who this is. Zooming out, he looks vaguely familiar—like someone I spoke to recently. I draw a circle around the face and put to task Google’s facial recognition again.
That’s four times this week Google has fumbled with my request. I wonder if something is wrong with my hardware—or software. I ask Sindah for a self-diagnostics report. I’m sure it hurt her feelings. Nonetheless, she displays it immediately. Every process checks out at top performance.
I’m sorry, Sindah. It was for your own good.
Google spits up a few images that may or may not match the grainy floating head in the background of the photo.
I take my bleary eyes to bed. I don’t need to answer the question at this exact moment. I let Google off the hook—for now.
No response. Probably giving me the silent treatment.
At the end of the day, I’m just a small-business owner—sometimes that business is a software company, a magazine, a marketing company, or a book publisher. Sometimes I’m an author or an inventor. Sometimes I’m more than one of those at the same time. No matter how I earn my living, I write.
I think there are people who need to work for others and there are people who simply cannot. I fall into the category of the latter. I’ve had two “real jobs,” but I didn’t like them much and I could not bring myself to do them for very long. I need the freedom and responsibility of answering to myself and my own ethical values. I need the ability to be creative and, of course, I need the opportunity to pay proper homage to my natural introversion.
I’ve been a nonfiction writer for years, and this is my first foray into the fiction world. I enjoy how malleable it is and have just fired off book two to the proofreaders and am beginning book three with excitement and enthusiasm.
Have you read this book or others by this author? Tell us in the comments how you liked it!