Tagliterature

Sci-Fi Story Disguised As Twitter Bug Report

Tim Maly is at it again:

It was a post by Allison. Nothing special, something like “Mmmm tasty lunch” with an image attached. The image was a broken link. No big deal. I tried to find the original tweet but there was some problem with the unique ID and you don’t make it easy to page through past tweets. I’d have given up if I hadn’t noticed the timestamp.

The timestamp was in the future. Two days in the future. Weird bug. But @timebot was always a side project and I was on some big deadlines.?

Two days later, Allison decided to go to our favourite sandwich shop. I don’t know the details of what happened. But I do know that at 12:23:51pm on October 3rd, @allililly tweeted “Mmmm tasty lunch” with an image attached and no broken link. The timestamp matched. The unique ID matched. The formerly broken link in @timebot’s message now worked. I got that vertiginous feeling again.

To keep things simple, I’ll spare you the details of the next occurences, or of the time an errant tweet nearly broke up Sandra and her girlfriend. Let’s just say that I’m convinced that, somehow, @timebot is pulling not only tweets from the past, but tweets from the future.

Full Story: Twitter API returning results that do not respect arrow of time

Previously: Tim’s The Corporation Who Would Be King

Psychopomp Now Available On Amazon Kindle (And You Can Still Read Our Excerpt)

Cover of Psychopomp by Amanda Sledz

Psychopomp Volume One: Cracked Plate, the literary dark fiction novel by Amanda Sledz, is now available on the Amazon Kindle.

You can still read my interview with Amanda here and read an excerpt from the novel here.

You can also buy it in print from Amanda, Powells or Amazon.

William Gibson Reads From His Next Novel, The Peripheral

Gibson recently made an appearance at the New York Public Library, and he also did a surprise reading of the first couple pages of his forthcoming science fiction novel The Peripheral. The reading begins about 80 minutes in.

The video and transcript can be downloaded here and The Awl has a good write-up of the rest of the talk.

For more Gibson, check out our dossier.

Cities Of The Future, Built By Drones, Bacteria, And 3-D Printers

generative architecture
Above: generative cities and architecture by Aranda & Lasch

Futurist Chris Arkenberg outlines a possible scenario for urban planning and architecture:

As complex ecosystems, cities are confronting tremendous pressures to seek optimum efficiency with minimal impact in a resource-constrained world. While architecture, urban planning, and sustainability attempt to address the massive resource requirements and outflow of cities, there are signs that a deeper current of biology is working its way into the urban framework.

Innovations emerging across the disciplines of additive manufacturing, synthetic biology, swarm robotics, and architecture suggest a future scenario when buildings may be designed using libraries of biological templates and constructed with biosynthetic materials able to sense and adapt to their conditions. Construction itself may be handled by bacterial printers and swarms of mechanical assemblers.

Full Story: Fast Coexist: Cities Of The Future, Built By Drones, Bacteria, And 3-D Printers

This reminds me of the recent sci-fi short story “Crabapple by Lavie Tidhar:

Neighborhoods sprouted around Central Station like weeds. On the outskirts of the old neighborhood, along the Kibbutz Galuyot Road and Siren Road and Sderot Menachem Begin, the old abandoned highways of Tel Aviv, they grew, ringing the immense structure of the spaceport rising high into the sky. Houses sprouted like trees, blooming, adaptoplant weeds feeding on rain and sun, and digging roots into the sandy ground, breaking ancient asphalt. Adaptoplant neighborhoods, seasonal, unstable, sprouting walls and doors and windows, half-open sewers hanging in the air, exposed bamboo pipes, apartments growing over and into each other, growing without order or sense, creating pavements suspended in midair, houses at crazy angles, shacks and huts with half-formed doors, windows like eyes–

In autumn the neighborhoods shed, doors drying, windows shrinking slowly, pipes drooping. Houses fell like leaves to the ground below and the road cleaning machines murmured happily, eating up the shrunken leaves of former residencies. Above ground the tenants of those seasonal buoyant suburbs stepped cautiously, testing the ground with each step taken, to see if it would hold, migrating nervously across the skyline to other, fresher spurts of growth, new adaptoplant blooming delicately, windows opening like fruit–

For more of Arkenberg check out our interview with him. Want to learn to think like he does? Here’s his guest post listing his favorite books on systems thinking.

And for more big, mad ideas about architecture and cities check out:

Paul Laffoley

The Fab Tree Hab

Archigram

Conway’s Game of Life generates a city

Aranda & Lasch’s generative architecture

Distopian Literature: Marrying Up

“Marrying Up” by Diane Cook, a disturbing story with a surprising ending.

“What if someone needs help?” Did I mention he was also a very good-hearted man? He was.

“No one needs help,” I said, feeling like an awful person. “It’s a trap.”

He looked at me like he didn’t know who I had become. I was so ashamed I couldn’t look back, even though I knew I was right.

“Someone needs help,” he said resolutely, shrugging on his robe. I’m told he fought hard, scrappily, but was dragged to his knees, and then dragged down the street. Bits of his torn pajamas blew around the neighborhood for days afterward.

Eventually, I married a man more than twice my size. He terrified me. Making love felt like getting run over. I was pancaked like in cartoons. My ribs crunched if he was on top, and my hips were belted with bruises if he was behind. He twirled me until I puked.

Full Story: Guernica Magazine: “Marrying Up” by Diane Cook

Short Sci-Fi Story: Search Engine

“Search Engine” by Bram E. Gieben. This is what it feels like to be a professional blogger sometimes:

Half-heartedly, he scans his feeds for new information, walking his regular beats. The robot nurseries are quiet. The heliotronic mother-brains have just upgraded the consciousness models of sub-beta appliances to include the new FreeWill2.3 subroutines. The story will break next week, as people begin to argue sentient rights with their toasters and microwaves. For now, the nurseries’ PR departments are as dumb and empty as the newly-awakened machines. Besides, nobody wants to know about the nurseries. They don’t see the end of the curve the nurseries represent.

Humanity has built its own replacements. Here, at least, Vinnie is ahead of the curve. He knows what the AIs are planning, but nobody wants to listen: to get people to read his stories about the nurseries, he has to hashtag them as conspiracy theories, speculative memes. The truth is too unpalatable.

Over on the Worthing Media sites, he spawns a search daemon to whittle down stories about the honey-smuggling trade into something approaching a summary. He taps out a subdued Op-Ed about the latest attempts to clone a queen, and posts it to the mailbox of the Memesphere news page. It only takes three seconds for the automated e-rejection to ping his mailserver. He sighs his rattling, smoke-ravaged sigh again. If he is going to make any credit this week, he needs to tip the chemical balance back into his favour.

Full Story: Weaponizer: “Search Engine” by Bram E. Gieben

Transhumanist Fiction: The Performance Artist By Lettie Prell

“The Performance Artist” by Lettie Prell:

On the first day, she sits there wearing a black dress that is neither provocative nor sexless. Yet visitors who flock in from the cold January streets and ascend to the atrium on MoMA’s second floor are mesmerized, for the entire space is awash in a video installation depicting various interactions between machines and flesh. The footage flashes across the walls and sweeps over the woman sitting in the chair. Some images are recognizable: beams of light illuminating eyes during exams, prostheses being fitted to amputees, a dental hygienist cleaning teeth, a kitchen cook working a meat grinder. Other clips are strange: a small device crawling up a person’s spine, thumping sharply as it goes; people sprouting electrodes; a man strapped face-down and gripping handlebars while the lower half of the table slides back and forth, stretching his torso. The bizarre imagery quickly infects the ordinary scenes until everything “seems an invasion of humans by the things they have wrought.” Or so writes the Times critic in an article that splashes across the Sunday Arts & Leisure section. The performance artist is the talented Anna Pashkin Bearfoot, the critic raptures, who charged onto the scene last year with a week-long piece where, while nude, she built a robot amid a jungle of potted plants. The current installation is slated to last a full month.

The second day the crowd swells, despite a nasty frozen mix that pelts Manhattan. Today, a real machine squats eight feet from Anna, and to her right. What is that? and I don’t know are repeated many times before the crowd engages its collective intelligence:

“I think it’s one of those downloading machines.”

Full Story: Apex Magazine: The Performance Artist

William Gibson Stories in OMNI Available For Download

johnny mnemonic illustration

A while back someone put every issue of OMNI Magazine online for free download in PDF and other formats. Over at the William Gibson forums, Memetic Engineer rounded up all the issues of OMNI that are available for download and have stories by William Gibson in them:

May 1981, features “Johnny Mnemonic.” From the contributors page: “Gibson is a full-time writer living in Vancouver, British Columbia. His work appears in two anthologies, Universe 11 and Shadows 4, both published this year by Doubleday. The issue also features a story by Ray Bradbury and an interview with David Cronenberg.

July 1982 features “Burning Chrome.” This is followed by a spread on the film Tron. Gibson wrote on Twitter: “So it’s July ’82, Tron not quite released, and I’m looking at that spread: steam engine time.” Gibson previously told the Paris Review: “When I came up with my cyberspace idea, I thought, I bet it’s steam-engine time for this one, because I can’t be the only person noticing these various things. And I wasn’t. I was just the first person who put it together in that particular way, and I had a logo for it, I had my neologism.”

July 1983 features “Red Star, Winter Orbit” by Gibson and Bruce Sterling.

July 1984 features “New Rose Hotel.” (Which was turned into the Gibson movie you never heard about: directed by Abel Ferrara and starring Christopher Walken, Willem Dafoe and Asia Argento)

July 1985 features “Dogfight” by Gibson and Michael Swanwick.

The October 1981 issue features “Hinterlands,” but it’s not available in the OMNI archives.

The text on these scans is readable but blurry. If you just want to read the stories, buy the Burning Chrome collection.

See also: William Gibson dossier

Fiction: Selkie Stories Are For Losers By Sofia Samatar

“Selkie Stories Are for Losers” by Sofia Samatar:

I hate selkie stories. They’re always about how you went up to the attic to look for a book, and you found a disgusting old coat and brought it downstairs between finger and thumb and said “What’s this?”, and you never saw your mom again.

I work at a restaurant called Le Pacha. I got the job after my mom left, to help with the bills. On my first night at work I got yelled at twice by the head server, burnt my fingers on a hot dish, spilled lentil-parsley soup all over my apron, and left my keys in the kitchen.

I didn’t realize at first I’d forgotten my keys. I stood in the parking lot, breathing slowly and letting the oil-smell lift away from my hair, and when all the other cars had started up and driven away I put my hand in my jacket pocket. Then I knew.

I ran back to the restaurant and banged on the door. Of course no one came. I smelled cigarette smoke an instant before I heard the voice.

“Hey.”

I turned, and Mona was standing there, smoke rising white from between her fingers.

“I left my keys inside,” I said.

Full Story: Strange Horizons: Selkie Stories Are for Losers by Sofia Samatar

Literary and Arts Dream Journal Seeking Submissions

One of my old Key 23 colleagues, Tait McKenzie Johnson, is editing a new literary journal and seeking submissions:

The Rapid Eye is a new literary and arts dream journal offering writers, artists, and other dreamers the freedom to create and share high quality fiction and art drawing on dreams and other states of non-rational consciousness.

We are currently in the process of getting the first issue of our magazine off the ground. If you’ve ever had a wild and compelling dream that you’ve been dying to share with the world, please consider submitting to The Rapid Eye.

For more information on dream fictions and art, check out this blog post: Why dream fictions? Why a literary and arts dream journal?

Check back soon for more updates, including  a series of essays on the role of dreams in fiction. And in the mean time please follow us @rapideyemag.

Rapid Eye Magazine

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