All posts filed under: Fiction

The Data Doesn’t Lie

“Imagine all we could do with the data we collected!” Debbie remembered hearing at one of their early project meetings. She had kept her cool, as she always did, yes, trying to imagine all the information one could obtain by comparing itself to that of a million others. They would probably be able to forecast health events, like a heart attack or a stroke, before they happen, and it would save lives and a lot of money in emergency services and hospital costs. They would probably be able to predict the outcome of marriages, saving people from the grief of breaking up, and even act as some kind of matchmaker assistant. But neither she nor her fellow team members could have thought it would end up telling people who they were. They had controlled the questions, at first, to give (or rather sell) vital information to users, all derived from statistics also gathered from everyone. They saw it happening gradually, as users signed up on the system and volunteered their data gathered every day from …

#dystopiasf: Networking at Sunbucks

They had to take the stroller down the stairs every time they went out. Their landlord had said there were complaints that it was in the way when they left it parked in the lobby. So they kept it in front of their door, on the landing, not blocking anyone’s way but their own. It was a minor inconvenience added to what seemed to Jane like a bucketful of issues, what they called the price to pay for living in the city. Jane and Tim loved a lazy Sunday morning stroll, even if it meant going up and down a very steep hill. A neighbor walked by, and Jane noticed that he and Tim nodded at each other. “You know him?” she asked her husband. “He lives next door to us, in the next building.” “He’s disconnected,” she said. “My phone tagged him as unknown. What’s his name?” “I don’t know,” said Tim. “I’ve only seen him on the street.” There were still many disconnected people in San Francisco, as they had been warned before …

#dystopiasf – Mirror Oh Mirror

Giselle had downloaded the Mir-O-Mirror App in the comfort of her home, and after trying it she was convinced she should get the bathroom extension hanger, so she could use her device without fear of having it immersed in water. The delivery robot didn’t mind how she looked when it came to her door the same day. She remembered the days of human delivery, when she would quickly change into male clothes before answering the door. Robots had been programmed, by order of the Supreme Court, not to record personal information of people while inside their homes, so whether Giselle was really an alias for John Gillespie didn’t even register in the robot’s mind, nor was it recorded – other than for quality assurance purposes – at amazing dot com headquarters. “I didn’t check the installation option,” she said to the robot, “but would you be available to install it?” “Sorry I am not an installer robot,” said the robot. “But I can put an order in for one. One second.” She saw the neighbors …

#dystopiasf – We’re Pregnant

“Congrats!” “Congrats!” The messages kept pouring in, now that the news of Jennifer’s pregnancy were out. The Health and Happiness network had asked permission to tell all her and Josh’s friends, and perhaps that was a bit overreaching for the number of people she had never heard of who automatically had clicked the “Send Congrats!” button. Even the amount of the donations was making her uncomfortable. She had no idea how much those baby things cost, but she also had no idea formed in her head of an actual baby in her arms needing the gifts. “Congrats!” “Congrats!” She called her mother. Her parents were part of the D group, the Disconnected, who still talked on a phone that had a coil wire going to the wall in their kitchen. The MyLifeHH App had reminded her that she should contact her D group on her own, but had conveniently queued up their phone numbers for her to call, in order of importance. “That is so lovely!” her mother had said on the phone. She shouted …

#dystopiasf – a new experience

On his way to his San Francisco home, on board the corporate bus, Tim’s Mylifewatch gave him its usual summary guidance for an optimal health and happiness. It always took the opportunity for the down time on the bus, as data showed most employees were least productive during their commute. “Bring flowers to Jennifer,” the first message said. “A bouquet of flowers, selected for her optimal happiness, will be delivered at your home when you arrive, so you can give them to her,” the details indicated. “Open your e-mail for a confidential message.” Wondering what the motive for flowers was, he pulled out his tablet from his bag. He was aware that he had not yet checked his e-mail, nearly 20 minutes after departure, and worried that it could be detected as a sign of something wrong in him, something to worry about. “Our constant data analysis designed to provide you with optimal health and happiness has shown that you are ready for a life experience,” the message started. “In order to proceed with the …

The Earthquake Kit

A brochure came in the mail about making an earthquake kit, and we considered it, figured that we could buy one that had all the necessities like bags you pooped in so it wouldn’t stink the place after a while, and I guessed I could use my USB-charged bicycle light as a flashlight, so the next item was water, and canned food, but we’re vegetarians, and inclined to eat healthy, so we had to make our own version of it. There would be beans and lentils and dehydrated vegetables, and let’s not forget a bit of curry powder of course. Wine, there had to be bottles of wine, because considering how pathetic the situation could be, you know, with no internet, no electricity, no cell phones, and as in The Road, nasty hooligans roaming the earth wanting your shopping cart, we might as well have something to enjoy for a couple of weeks before we die. The problem, we quickly figured out, we would raid the earthquake kit whenever we needed, or more likely, whenever …

A Work of Art, a novel in progress

A Work of Art is a novel that has been in various stages of preparation for many years. I’ll be frank to say that I’m easily discouraged by people’s questions about what I do and whether I have published, because it is the same as asking a computer programmer whether he’s sold his software to millions. I did write software many years ago, and some of it got on widely distributed products, but frankly it didn’t have such a long life. There was pleasure and income in writing it, but also in knowing at least one user (sometimes happy!). Now I write this novel without seeing the need for getting an actual book out. I’ll be happy to have one reader passing by the Internet, perhaps leaving a comment about it. Why should anyone read Draft 3 of this novel, you wonder? I just think it would be encouraging. I’m not looking at producing the next To Kill a Mockingbird, and I’m not looking at having an Internet sensation. What it means is that should …