(I promise I will keep spamming to a minimum, but here is a section from the beginning of my book, so you can see if you like it).
An excerpt from the start of Peddling Doomsday
The printer was flashing a blue light, which made a change from the red light it usually flashed when refusing to work. However, it was still refusing to work. Deirdre looked around for assistance. But in the open-plan office, sixteen people were suddenly talking on the phone or staring at their computers to avoid having to face the fiendish machinations of the printer. Deirdre sighed to herself, and went through the usual routine to get a printout. She pressed each button in turn, turned it off and slapped the top twice. Then she unplugged it, slapped it again, plugged it back in and turned it on. What she refused to do was think happy thoughts while she did this, despite the written instructions on the wall telling her to do so. Deirdre found that small, unobserved rebellions caused less trouble.
The printer had arrived three months ago. Deirdre’s boss’s boss, Dove, marched into the office in his leather trousers, a printer-laden minion struggling behind him. Dove had stated this was the absolute latest in artificially intelligent technology. This printer would eliminate the need for excuses. This printer would not simply print when they pressed a button, but would anticipate, adapt and evolve to create the perfect printing experience.
‘In time,’ Dove had said, swaying on his hips, face shiny with the excitement of his own importance. ‘In time you’ll see this as the most vital member of our little team.’ The reality was that the printer simply would not print when they pressed a button; it took a good twenty minutes of cajoling, resetting and violence. Whenever Sarah, Deirdre’s boss, tried to persuade Dove the printer needed fixing, his argument was,
‘It’s a highly sophisticated machine, Sarah, it requires highly sophisticated usership. You need to take a step into the technology of tomorrow. I’ll book you onto a seminar.’ Seminars were how Dove battered dissent out of his employees, their will broken by tedium; trodden into submission by PowerPoint presentations and flipcharts.
‘But it doesn’t work,’ Sarah had persisted.
‘It knows you’re complaining about it. Try asking it nicely while thinking happy thoughts. Negativity is the enemy of success!’
Deirdre’s office was at Stronk and Lowry, the backwater branch of a corporate advertising agency, and happy thoughts weren’t easy to come by. However, Deirdre’s colleagues all tried, and then blamed themselves when the ink refused to flow.
‘I think I’m thinking happy thoughts, but what do happy thoughts, you know, feel like?’ said John, a creative, his quirky hat perched to hide his balding head. Deirdre didn’t have an answer and shrugged.
When Deirdre had discussed the printer with Henry, her erstwhile boyfriend, he was convinced artificial intelligence hadn’t been invented yet.
‘And definitely not artificial sulking, why would they bother?’
‘What about psychic artificial intelligence that senses negative thoughts?’ Deirdre had asked, and Henry gave her a look. Together they Googled the make of printer and discovered it was a perfectly normal, cheap printer that happened to not work very well. Erstwhile Henry found this incredibly funny and had fallen off the sofa with laughter. Office insanity had been bearable when she could use it to make Henry laugh. Now there was no one to laugh with, and Deirdre kept her head low and pretended that foolish things were a natural part of working life. She let her inner mockery wither.
Wherever possible, workers in the office did their work-printing at home and brought it in the next day, meaning printing costs at Stronk and Lowry had dramatically decreased. This was seen as a win by management and the one-printer-system spread throughout the branches.
Deirdre gave the machine a kick, it whirred indignantly and then deposited the letter she was printing at a diagonal. She shrugged, that would have to do. Mission accomplished, she got herself a chocolate Hobnob. They had been her dad’s favorites, and she sucked on it as he would have done. As she passed, she picked a few cigarette butts out of the peace plant growing on the window sill of the kitchen, and returned to Sarah’s office to chop the letter straight.