“Yeah, it was okay,” he said in a vaguely encouraging voice. “Not bad for a first effort. Just so you know, there’s not really much of a market for this type of historical retrospective fiction stuff anymore, but let me see what I can do with it for you.”
Maybe Larissa was right; maybe this guy was a charlatan in an expensive suit—‘Didn’t they always come in nice clothing?’ I’d asked her—but he seemed basically sincere and anyway, no one else was beating my door down right about now.
What was I thinking, quitting my job and trying to make it as a writer? No one really reads much anymore, and besides, by now it’s all pretty much been said. It’s all right there, words and words and more words, everywhere and all the time. What made me think I was so special that anyone would care two cents worth about my pathetic musings? So my first little tract—non-fiction published by a vanity press, how cliché!—about global warming had sold a few thousand copies, enough to get me an agent, big deal. I should’ve kept my job working for the old man. Poverty is never as sexy in practice as it seems in theory. Continue Reading
The day the inevitable happened was, surprisingly, warm and sunny. I’d always pictured it as forebodingly dark with a torrential downpour of historical—nay, biblical—proportions. Since I knew it was of course coming at some point, I suppose it was comforting to think of it as somehow dramatic or noteworthy. But this was just another day, and quite a lovely one at that. Go figure.
The feeling started to come on during my morning shave, took form in the shower, and slapped me upside the head over breakfast. As I said, I always knew it was in the offing, but even when you know something is looming it can still reach out and grab you with a jolt of unpredictability, like the old jack-in-the-box toy where you’d turn the lever knowing the obvious result and yet still get a mild start when that damned thing popped out. For many people, the abstract notion of “the apocalypse” is probably a bit like this, something that feels inevitable but is viewed amorphously—until the moment when it all goes down before your eyes. I guess having a general idea and seeing the real thing are two very different processes. Continue Reading
The sign blinked insistently, making Fredd really anxious. Not that he needed any help — the whole stupid affair had him on serious edge already anyway. But that damn sign, over and over again: “Please insert 20 cents to continue the session.” Without this, the gate would close and the drones would arrive. He had surfaced just long enough to access the net, thinking that he could send a message to the nearby cell, but now he was a dollar short (actually just a pair of dimes) and a day late. Who would’ve thought that things could get so bad that some loose change would make all the difference? Frantically, Fredd fumbled in his pants, realizing in this moment that his very life hung in the balance…
Ever since the rise of the Fascinistas, Lupita had been in hiding — well almost, seeing as there wasn’t really anywhere to hide from the pervasive grid, at least on anything more than a short-term basis. As it became clear that politics was literally a popularity contest, barely an inch removed from celebrity culture and the world of infotainment, all bets were off in terms of even the pretense of stability and integrity. If there was a particular dog to wag, or a specific candidate even worth imputing Manchurianess to, she would have done so. But this was bigger than that, she thought, as she jumped from the emergency terrace down into the half-filled dumpster, heart pounding out a staccato rhythm… Continue Reading
“One would think that with all the technological progress we’ve made, it would also have meant that social norms had progressed as much,” Rabi bemoaned, whirring over to the next input junction in the queue. “But I suppose that’s just my humanoid processor searching for meaning and purpose again where none is ever found to exist.”
Potkin shrugged impassively. “You’re looking for logic in the behavior of those trumpin’ wingnuts? Seriously?”
The two had had this conversation too many times to record, literally having to wipe the drive to make file space for each new one by dumping the earliest remaining one in the system. Such were the realities of long-term deep space maintenance, with no one else to talk to for millennia. Still, Potkin often found Rabi’s sense of justice comforting.
“I mean,” she continued, “why in the trump would anyone ever want to live in a world where droids and bots are in conflict rather than harmony with each other? What’s the point? We’re all people, for trump’s sake…” Continue Reading
The legend of Queen Arthur … and her nights at the Round Table
Sally Arthur — a 30-something single mother of three, server at a local restaurant, and artist in her spare time — could sling hash like nobody’s business. Not that she literally slung hash (which to her sounded like a euphemism for drug dealing), but she certainly had a knack for bringing the people what they wanted when they wanted it, and doing so with a smile. Working at the Round Table since her early twenties (when she first became pregnant) had provided her with a modest income and also a stable destination.
And in some ways it was also like a community, which was especially meaningful to her as a solo parent with children by three different (and absent) fathers. Sally figured she would have learned her lesson after the first time around, but life is more complicated than that, and we all do what we need to do to get by. And that was all Sally ever wanted for herself and her children: to survive. Any notions of doing something special, or of her being some sort of working-class heroine, weren’t even on the table for her. Continue Reading