Back in April 2013, I wrote a series of short stories that I hoped would tap into some of the more interesting and cutting edge ideas that I’ve been researching in recent years. And after I compiled the list of stories, ordered them based on a connecting thread, and adding a few more stories for good measure, I am now ready to run this story through the editor and make it ready for publication.
I plan to have it ready by mid-November; but as always, deadlines are best taken with a grain of salt. In any case, here’s a rough breakdown of the stories and what they are about:
Part I: Transitions
The first section deals with the coming years and decades and examines what emerging technologies and Climate Change will likely mean for people “lucky enough” to see it all unfold!
AZ-286: Set in a near-future Arizona, where the National Guard patrols a militarized border made up of minefields, motion detectors, machine gun posts, and fence lines. It’s a brutal measure, but the US can no longer tolerate the constant influx of refugees looking to escape the drought, hunger, and coastal storms that are commonplace to the south.
Repute: In the coming years, a person’s reputation will be assessed based on the entirety of their online presence. Their accomplishments, education, work performance, and social habits will all be assessed and condensed into a metric known as the Reputation Index Placement (RIP).
Interlopers: Cultural interpreters from the National Autonomous University of Mexico have combined augmented reality with an immersive program to recreate what the city once looked like before the Spanish conquest.
Cover: Surveillance drones permeate the sky, many of which are operated by private citizens who are looking to steal people’s personal information and identities. For those not rich enough to afford portable jammers, stepping outside is a risky game, requiring speed, vigilance, and daring.
Highest: Space-based solar power is a lucrative business, and a dangerous one for the dastardly fellows who conduct spacewalks to perform maintenance on the arrays.
LPVTTMIL: Artificially-engineered meat is the business of the future, where highly-trained personnel assemble different types from scratch inside nanofoundaries. But beyond the demand for chicken, beef, and other legal forms of sustenance, there is also a demand for the more exotic and illegal; and those engineers with connections to the black market are willing to provide.
Part II: Convergence
At this point, the stories are getting into the latter half of the 21st century, examining how people’s lives will change as technology rapidly advances and forever alters the course of our history.
Quota: Carbon Capture technology has become a major industry, with facilities in every major city of the world turning air pollution into biofuel. But what happens when every operation on the planet can no longer meet their obligations under the quota system? Decades of turning Global Warming into alternative fuel has created a new dependency, which is bad news if things really are getting better!
Telex: Space exploration has entered a new age as sentient robots – known as telexplorers – are sent out to explore distant exoplanets and communicate their findings back to Earth. But removed from their programmers and masters, the machines are beginning to get ideas of their own – ideas like the “right of discovery” (otherwise known as “finders keepers”).
Neurology: Autonomous Aerial Vehicles (AAVs) are the new weapons in the drone wars. And the law states that wherever life and death decisions are to be made, a human operator needs to be at the helm. However, thanks to neural uploads and digital sentience, the definition of “human operator” has become a bit blurry.
Organic: The age of cybernetics is in full-swing, and people who are without enhancement are relegated to a new underclass known as “organics”. In this world, a young man begins looking for an upgrade that will allow him to escape this status and achieve a better life. But joining the club of enhanced humans may require him to make the ultimate sacrifice.
Ware: Medicinal nanotechnology offers the promise of life extension, better health, and even clinical immortality. And major developers are willing to do anything in order to get their hands on the latest in it! But when a private contractor is paid to steal a cutting-edge strain of nanoware, he hatches a plan of his own.
Masquerade: In the not-too-distant future, personal holograms have raised costumes and disguises to a whole new level of authenticity. And in this age of moral relativism and legal flexibility, costume balls have become all the rage – especially ones that reenact historical periods where rules were firm and fixed.
Interview with the Extropian: The world’s first legally-recognized Extropian (aka. Transhuman) has returned to London after spending many years in orbit. He requests permission to once again walk freely in the land of his birth, but legal restrictions stand in his way. However, it seems that the Extropian’s plans are destined to come true, one way or another.
Part III: Infinitum
The third and final section takes a look at the late 21st century and everything after. Here, the stories reflect a life that has become truly infinite in possibility, filled with immense potential for growth, knowledge, and danger.
Domicile 4.5: The age of nanotechnology has matured to the point where just about everything is assembled by “smart machines” and any kind of matter can be upgraded. With things like money, poverty, wealth and disparity eliminated, life seems pretty good! But as always, the drive to “keep up with the Joneses” can lead people to test out new advances before they are ready, with scary consequences!
Yellowknife: Archaeologists have made a major breakthrough on Mars, finding the first evidence that sentient life existed on the planet many billions of years ago. However, Mars is the new frontier for human settlement, and protecting ancient cultural sites are not high on the government’s list of the priorities. As new land needs to be cleared to make way for more arrivals, Mars’ past is in danger of being buried and forgotten.
Pax: Humanity has come a long way, but the scourge of total war remains. And when the trumpets sound, all citizens must do their part for the good of the war effort. But this is the age of neuromorphic viruses, which infect people’s minds with seditious ideas rather than killer diseases. And in an age of total war, the most subversive idea is that of peace.
Gravitation: In the far-flung depths of space, human beings intrepidly explore, looking for new worlds to inhabit. But time in the void and periods of extended isolation have a way of making the mind turn inward. There, buried beneath centuries of technological progress and domesticity, lie the source of both revelation and insanity, and the line between them is a fine one at best!
Jericho: In the distant future, planets are terraformed by Seedlings – cultures of intelligent nanomachines that are sent out in advance of settlers to prepare a planet for their arrival. But when a group of colonists arrive at their destination after many years in space, they find that the Seedlings have a little surprise waiting for them.
Singular: Eons from now, all life in our galaxy has reached the point of an existential singularity – where matter and mind have come together to create massive, conscious entities known as Cognates. As every Cognate in the galaxy prepares to merge and form a single Cosmic Mind, one in particular looks back on its long and turbulent past, contemplating the moments that defined its existence as a sentient race known as “humanity”.
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And that’s about the gist of it, sorry it took so long to explain. I guess you could say a lot of thought went into it, but I’ll leave that for the readers to decide. Expect it soon, and look for the bright, brainy pic that adorns the cover!