Hel’s Bet is a fast-paced alternate history of the present. The heroes of Hel’s Bet steal the prototype American space shuttle Enterprise, smuggle it into Russia, and blast into space on an embezzled Energia rocket. NASA launches a mission to hunt them down. The crew think they are launching Channel Zilch – a pirate video space station – but once in orbit the real agenda emerges: to kickstart the Singularity.
Heloise Chin is the hardware tech and brains behind the mission. Hel has engineered herself to be The Pinup Grrrl for the Geek Rapture. She dresses like a centerfold for Wired magazine, runs multiple streams of consciousness, and toys with young men’s psyches. She calls it testosterone surfing. Hel bets her life to midwife the Singularity because she loves her disabled brother.
Heloise broadcasts her singular image to hype her message, an upgraded Pascal’s Wager, Hel’s Bet: “Work for the Singularity to increase your odds of living indefinitely. Don’t bother if you have a taste for dirt.”
HB features a shootout between robots and Russian gangsters, a clandestine Singularity group called The Choir Invisible, and Merzifon Karabuk – a billionaire Turkish Trekkie. The crew’s nemesis is head of NASA security, a washed-out astronaut with a Green Beret complex and a streak of cannibalism.
The first 22 chapters of the novel are available in PDF format. I especially like the quote in the preface from Singularity Institute for Artificial Intelligence Research Fellow Eleizer Yudkowsky:
"Someday… an awful lot of people are going to look back and kick themselves and say, ‘What on Earth was I doing? Why was I sitting around watching television while the fate of all humankind hung in the balance and almost no one was doing anything?’”
– Eliezer Yudkowsky, Research Fellow,
The Singularity Institute for Artificial Intelligence
10% of royalties from Hel’s Bet will be donated to the Singularity Institute for Artificial Intelligence, with 5% earmarked for the OpenCog open source AGI project (opencog.org).