Archive for the ‘science fiction’ Category

Phoenix – episode 3

Friday, March 26th, 2010

This is the third and final episode of “Phoenix,”  a short story about an improved kind of life insurance.  If you haven’t read episode 1, start here.

(video on – metallic cylindrical interior)

Frank here.  So here I am in the itravel pod on Olympus Station, Mars orbit, which is home, heading out to Prince Rupert BC.  Who the heck was Prince Rupert, anyhow?  This system’s running slower than ever.  I’ve been sitting doing dick for five minutes, bored out of my skull, listening to Eleanor Rigby on their crappy sound system.  Okay. here we go, I’m finally getting a tingle…a-a-a-and…must be there!

Welcome to Prince Rupert, Canada’s Pacific Rim deep-water port. (more…)

Phoenix – episode 2

Friday, March 19th, 2010

This is the second episode of “Phoenix,”  a short fiction about an improved kind of life insurance.  If you haven’t read episode 1, start here.

That was my first taste of problems involved with using my life insurance policy.  I didn’t think they were all that bad, considering the alternative.  It was only after I died a second time that I felt a tiny bit concerned, because it was so stupid.  Even now, now that the pattern is obvious, I have trouble understanding how I could have done it.  Back then, I couldn’t begin to understand.  My log entry after I saw the evidence is pure confusion – just screaming question marks.

I’d survived a year and a half since the volcano.  By that time I had lots of experience and was diving safely.  In fact I was getting bored, and looking at other sports.  Anyway, this is what happened, as well as I’ve been able to reconstruct it.  I needed the cruiser for a date with a girl on some other station so I asked Dad well in advance and he agreed.  Fine.  Eight o’clock Friday night I climbed in and the fuel-oxygen was down to zip.  Almost.  The spare tank was empty too.  How could Dad let that happen?  I was probably late, probably frustrated.  I drove that thing into a station and traded in the spare.  The attendant was pretty young – I saw him at the inquest later – didn’t know much.  He gave me a tank with the wrong fitting.  And I didn’t notice. (more…)

Phoenix – episode 1

Friday, March 12th, 2010

“Phoenix” is a short story about a young guy who found freedom in a life insurance policy.  Here is the first of three episodes.

This is Frank Forster speaking on January 7, 2092.  This is a confidential message for Frank Forster.

Frank…if anybody’s around, save this for another time.   You’re going to have to make a decision, and you don’t need anybody’s advice except your own.

You’re probably wondering why there’s no video.  I turned it off.  I’ll explain why later.  Just keep listening, Frank, I need you to hear this through to the end without any interruption.  Arrange that, okay?  I don’t want somebody like Georg dropping in for a cold one in the middle of this.  Not that Georg will, ‘cause he’s dead.  I assume you heard.  God, I hope you did – I’m not trying to be brutal.  Yeah, Georg’s dead, permanently…yeah, permanently…and that’s a lot of what this message is about, so pay attention, hamhead!   Oops, sorry, sorry, I, uh…Frank, I’m not trying to offend you.  I don’t want you to stop listening.  Don’t stop listening.  Understand that I have strong feelings.  You will understand, if you just listen to this.  So, if I start to get abusive, just go with it, okay?  Do that for me.  Shit, do it for yourself.  I don’t want to edit this, I’d mess it up.  So some parts may be a bit raw, so what?  I care about you, Frank, so no bullshit.  You’re my future – all the future I’ve got.

I’m going to ask you to do something you won’t like.  It’s about life insurance, Frank.  I’m going to ask you to cancel your policy. (more…)

Forking – episode 4

Monday, November 16th, 2009

This is the fourth and last episode of Forking, a short story in the ‘philosophy fiction’ genre.  If you haven’t yet read Episode 1, start here.

Forking 4 composite 3Roger Beethey shows up late, with a blonde.  Elliot gives him a pleading look.  “Relax,” says Beethey.

“You said it would be a skeleton crew,” Elliot complains, gesturing to a clump of technicians.

“It is.”  Beethey nudges the blonde.  “This is Sylvan.  He’ll do your faces.”

The Elliots exchange glances, and stand up.  “This isn’t a game,” one says angrily. 

“You’re right, it’s no game,” Beethey hisses.  “You chose us, a US major network, over your socialized Canadian TV, because you wanted the exposure.  Well if you want our exposure, you’ve got to get us our ratings.  The network doesn’t even know what it’s invested in, because of your paranoia about leaks.  They’ll be watching with interest, and if I don’t come up with a professional product” – he draws a line across his throat – “I’ll have to pull your stunt right after you. (more…)

Forking – episode 3

Tuesday, November 10th, 2009

This is Episode 3 of Forking, a short story in the ‘philosophy fiction’ genre.  If you haven’t yet read Episode 1, start here.

Forking 3 composite 3Getting into the Institute turned out to be easy.  Arriving in a crowd from the bus, he found the iid-controlled gate held open for him by a smiling girl.  Security at that boundary is given low priority.  The ‘free-campus’ tradition.  Half-hidden in a big armchair in a departmental Reading Room – not his own department’s – he checks the messages on his phone.  Nothing new that matters.  He re-reads Elliot’s reply to EB, agreeing to meet before class.  Elliot must be in his car by now, probably in slow traffic on the Expressway.

Elliot forwards another copy of Elliot’s message to EB, adding a note at the top.  “BTW, I hope it goes without saying that I take issue with Dalton.  I notified the board that he he’s a lightweight, unsuitable for that job.  Between us, he’s a dick-head!”  Elliot pictures EB’s reaction when he reads it.  He feels strangely exhilarated, and almost giggles.

With a few minutes to kill, Elliot wanders out of the Reading Room.  He notices the libertarian, Wade, coming down the corridor.  Wade nods to Elliot in passing.  Only since Elliot gained tenure – over Wade’s opposition, he is sure – does the old anarchist grant him even that much recognition.

A suitable target.  Elliot saunters after him. (more…)

Forking – episode 2

Tuesday, November 3rd, 2009

This is Episode 2 of Forking, a short story in the ‘philosophy fiction’ genre.  If you haven’t yet read Episode 1, start here.

Forking 2 composite5 flattenedInstead of the motel on Bridgeport, as the other Elliot wanted, he checks into the Verdmont for what remains of the night.  He owes himself that much.  He is a bit surprised that his iid still opens doors.  The other Elliot could have changed his code, which would have made his own implant useless.  But the surprise vanishes when he thinks of what he would have done in the other’s place.  Without a valid iid, he could hardly last a day in Waterloo without coming to the attention of the police.  He has to eat, to sleep somewhere, and although he knows that resourceful denizens of the city’s underbelly do so without an iid, he cannot.  He might, of course, approach the authorities for assistance, were it not that he fears publicity just as much as the other does.  As the other Elliot said last night, the stikists could ‘get mileage’ out of this.  That could set the itravel industry back ten years.

Although staggeringly tired, he is afraid he won’t be able to sleep.  Still bug-eyed after a mael-bath with deep massage, he tries to get sleep meds from room service but no go.  (more…)

Forking – episode 1

Monday, October 26th, 2009

“Forking” is the story of a man who is accidentally duplicated.  It is both thought experiment and short(ish) fiction.  The thought experiments of philosophers are often thin stuff, which fail to paint a coherent, credible picture.  Because readers’ imaginations are undernourished by the lack of detail, so are their philosophical conclusions about the possibilities being described.  Fiction invites readers into a more richly imagined world which can engage them on several levels – emotionally, aesthetically, intellectually, morally – as they are engaged in real life. If a story is well told, readers’ judgements about it should be close to what they would think if they were to live in the world it portrays.

Forking 1Finally an email from Dalton, on the last possible day.  With misgivings, Elliot opens it.  Nothing at all in the body, just Dalton’s signature and the animated IGo logo scrolling endlessly across the page.

Elliot opens the attachment – his own presentation – and starts flipping through it.   Dalton’s markup starts on the fourth slide. “DATA VOLUMES?  NOOOOO!!!!” in 60-point Arial.  Wincing, Elliot flips to the next slide.  A fat red X covers all five bullet points.  Next slide.  Another X.  The next slide has another note.  “FORGET DATA VOLUMES.  ENERGY IS MEANINGLESS.”

Elliot snorts, then closes his eyes.  He can feel pressure building behind them.  Energy is….   How could anyone say that?

Dalton sat on it for a week, more than a week, and now this is his feedback.  Who is this prick?  Just a flak, a lobbyist hired for the PR push the board insisted on.  Dalton impressed the board; he was the man. A dumb flak who can’t use the shift key.  (more…)