Tactical Awareness: 100 100-word stories about the uneasy sense of living in the Uncanny Valley
TACTICAL AWARENESS is a collection of one hundred SF short stories, each of them one hundred words long.
I wrote it to get rid of a mood by condensing it and writing it down: the fascinated, uneasy sense of having relocated into the Uncanny Valley without quite meaning to, and the landscape does listen, and didn't we use to have winters? As catharsis it proved an utter failure, but I think it works as a (partial!) commonplace book of things we're doing we probably, by and large, should not.
I can't tell my son how every rich city first envied, and then bought, the ubiquitous automated gun networks the military developed to make occupations safe for the occupiers.
I could explain that the guns were taught, he has lived all of his life with machines that learn, but how could I explain that they were taught in a place where kids are seen as potential security threats?
All I can do is hold him tight when he mourns his classmates, and tell him his teachers are right, he should never run when there's a security alarm.
The Black Ships
They are painted white to help cool down the containers, but everybody calls them the Black Ships, just like everybody knows their flags are meaningless. The money for the retrofitted container ships is American and European, and the reason they anchor near the coast of every war and disaster is that they will take passengers for free, but not to either place.
Nobody knows where they take them. But they know what they are running from, and when the containers are nearly full they push their children aboard however they can, and remain on the rafts watching them leave.
The Lotus Clause
They didn't take my car; they made it forget my hand. For years it had opened to my touch, and only mine.
I sat on the curb and cried.
One day, months later, the bus ignored my face and demanded cash,. The people behind me looked away, embarrassed.
Now I'm standing at the front door of a house that's asking who I am.
Only the street cameras know me, but they couldn't care less. I take my gun and try to make them.
But the gun lies inert in the unrecognized palm of my hand.
The two of you are covering the door, guns steady. Only somebody desperate robs a store in an CrowdCop zone of Austin, but this situation is what you downloaded the app for: be close to a crime, respond quickly, protect lives, make a buck.
Somebody runs through the door, and you almost shoot before seeing it's a fleeing woman, but the other man has already fired. The woman falls. It takes five seconds for your phone to beep: you know what for, but the other man takes one second too long to realize.
This time you shoot first.
They say the last whale wasn't harpooned: when she knew herself the last, she sang one last song and let herself drown. The last whaler sold a single copy of that song.
Having lost them, we still had recordings, and eventually reconstructed their language. Not one of things but of flowing seas and growing fear. Understanding broke our hearts.
The last song was, appropriately, translated last. I had bought and kept it secret, so I would be the first to know its meaning. After I did I destroyed it and told no-one.
It was a command: Hide.
This week (and next due to the nature of different release dates for the direct market and the book market) marks the release of the first collection of SHADE THE CHANGING GIRL v.1: Earth Girl Made Easy, which compiles issues 1-6 (previously). It’s a heavy load to recreate a character that giants before you have written. Steve Ditko is a master of the strange. His mind a merry-go-round of experimentation.
My latest Locus column is “Be the First One to Not Do Something that No One Else Has Ever Not Thought of Doing Before,” and it’s about science fiction’s addiction to certain harmful fallacies, like the idea that you can sideline the actual capabilities and constraints of computers in order to advance the plot of […]
Today on John Scalzi’s Whatever blog, Steven R Boyett (author of the classic fantasy novel Ariel) writes about Fata Morgana, the new alternate history/WWII novel he’s just published with Ken Mitchroney.
Just because English has become the common global tongue doesn’t mean it’s the easiest language to write—even for native speakers. If you’re looking to improve your written communication skills, especially on your smartphone, take a look at Ginger Page.Ginger is a cross-platform app that offers corrections for phrasing as well as grammar. It’s powered by […]
The current web development landscape is rife with buzzwords and technology that gets abandoned almost as soon as it’s made. If you’ve never written a line of code before, it can be hard to figure out what’s coming, what’s here to stay, or how to get ahead.This Beginner Web Development Bundle is a great place […]
The Fader Stealth Quadcopter from TRNDlabs packs incredible flight performance into a package small enough to land on your phone screen, and it’s available now in the Boing Boing Store.The Fader’s six-axis gyroscope module gives it perfect balance in the air. This makes the onboard 720p HD camera all the better for shooting amazing flight […]