Hover over the bold words to see the real science behind the stories.
Volunteer firefighter Scott Lynch's next book, The Republic Of Thieves, will hit shelves in October.
Pickle-jar technology hasn't moved an inch in nearly three hundred years, and the cap on the jar in my hands won't move either. The kids find it hilarious, and their fingers fly above the table as they sketch ghostly images for my benefit. My visual augments display their bright illusions in the air around me—there's the framework of an unlikely Rube Goldberg device, along with a caricature of me caught in the grip of a huge anthropomorphic pickle jar about to twist my head off.
I grin and fire back with a double nod of my head, the signal for the house's backbone computer to upload the week's chore schedule to their visual augments. While they flick their eyes over the words of Parental Writ (invisible to me), I finally manage to pop the jar open. A satisfying scent of brine and mustard fills the air.
Dinner is classic American comfort food from my childhood: tomato salad, garlic naan, flash-fried wasabi chicken. The pickled cucumbers, bell peppers, and okra are from our garden, laid down in rows beside the solar tarps.
The backbone comp banishes the light sketches and seals the family's network connections behind emergency-only courtesy walls. The outside world goes away for the day's big formal meal, and the assorted information scrolls and data overlays behind everyone's eyes begin to unroll gibberish. For those networked since toddlerhood, total disconnection is anything but restful, so the backbone comp temporarily supplies meaningless data that can be ignored. Enwombed in soothing white information, I smile and pass the pickle jar around.
Nancy Kress lives in Seattle. Her book After the Fall, Before the Fall, During The Fall won the 2012 Nebula for Best Novella
The monitor alarm woke me at 5 a.m.: problem in a desalinization plant supplying fresh water to New York. The robocrew couldn't repair it, and I couldn't fix it remotely. Groggily, cursing the AI that is always promised but never quite arrives, I boarded the maglev train.
It was crowded with people going to the floating-pavilion beaches over lower Manhattan, with all its crafts, hologram entertainments, musicians, specialty cooks, sex workers, and VR parlors. The three-day workweek gave everybody so much free time that half of all jobs are leisure-related—no other way to create full employment. My grandfather hated the Uniform Wage Act, which enforces equal wages for everybody so that even the CEO of Asteroid Mining makes the same salary as I do. I used to tell Grandpa, "Would a revolution have been better? Because that's what we'd have got if we didn't restructure the economy and curtail population growth." He could never see it, but the new system works.
The desalinization plant contained only bots: operations bots, cleaning bots, repair bots, security bots, all built atom-by-atom with nanotech. I was the first human on-site in three months. After I found and fixed the software problem, I stopped at a black-market place to buy my daughter a genemod pupcat. Technically illegal—but so cute! When it barked, its implanted software translated the bark into words: "Pet me!" Half a week's salary, but Cassie will love it. After all, what's money for?
This was a great post. Really loved some of those photos too. Canadian author Bennett R. Coles paints a fascinating and daunting image of the future in his writing. He writes sci fi military fiction and you can easily draw a lot of comparisons between his stories and todays wars. His latest novel 'Casualties of War' paints a picture of a how the veterans of future colony wars might deal with their homecoming to Earth.
"With a colonial rebellion put down, the veterans of Expeditionary Force 15 can return to Earth. But the welcome they may have expected isn’t waiting for them. The State is on a witch-hunt for someone to blame for the recent war. The Astral Force has placed incompetents in charge of developing a new super-weapon. Families and friends have no concept of what happened amongst the stars. And subtle forces from the colonies are secretly at work. Finding themselves in a world that is in some ways just as hostile as the colonial battlegrounds, the veterans must hold close to each other amongst the chaos of a peace no-one thinks will hold, combatting enemies from without and, most of all, from within."
My interlink node malfunctioned today for the first time, forcing me to leave my avatar floating helplessly in orbit around Phobos while the Narrbots (Nano Replicator and Repair Bots) are busy fixing my link. I hope its automated systems keep it safe. Being offnet is something most people never get to experience. I don't know how our ancestors remained sane with nothing to do but to think!
I use my own eyes to look out my incubator. That too is a first, and the world seems very surreal and lonely. My avatar's visual acuity is much greater than my real eyes. What a limited experience our ancestors must have lived. The real world looks dead compared to the vibrancy and life of the virtual world we all live in. I miss it very much already. I think when my link is re-established, the first thing I will do is land and walk in the Gardens of Eden.
I can't even tell how long I've been offnet! How did they keep time in the old days?
Oh good, my interlink is back! Boy, do I have a story to tell my friends!
Today's magic is tomorrow's technology.
Very beautiful picture I love such things it makes me feel much more rewarding. thank you.
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The post seems to be missing the review of the Ian McDonald book. Would love to have this digitally.