Letter from the post-work dystopian future

Joel Johnson's short sf story "Hello and Goodbye in Portuguese" is a series of letters between a brother and sister on either side of the post-work divide: the have, and the have-not.

It's a very resonant piece of precarity fiction, a power-chord played across the strings of the anxiety over an economy where corporations have eliminated the need for most humans, and aspirations for a world where technology can make poverty and power-games obsolete.

A bunch of us got together and built this nice camp rig up in New Hampshire that is holding steady for now. Karen sprang for takeout yesterday and used the drone's camera as it flew out to us and we all looked at the stream. The harvester line is about to cross over I-93. They're leaving the trees up, of course. It honestly doesn't look that different behind the line than in front of it. Just more manicured, somehow. I can't imagine how many calories they can possibly be getting from a bunch of second-growth scrub floor, but they're going to pick up what they can all the same. The harvest will be here in a week or so; I guess I'll get to see how they work up close when they cross over our camp! I still get tickled at seeing new bots. Dumb, I guess.

We've got the standard three-sisters garden going up here and it's working well enough, but it's so fucking hot already. July is going to be tough. I know they're saying they're not abandoning us, but come on. They ran out of careers two months ago and we're still 87 years from a North American cross-over? We're not all going to make it. None of the new algae farms around Greenland are even producing, from what I've read. (Well, they are, but it's just as much bacteria than anything else. Why are we in a rush to collect all this cum and shit if we don't give it time to break down! Basic aquaponics, fam.)

I should have worked harder. They said we were all going to get over eventually, and it sounded a lot like a hymn, but I sang along anyway. And I know there are a lot of very smart people working their asses off trying to buy us some time. But I still feel like this is my fault. I just never thought there would come a point where they'd have to leave anyone behind. (At least not in the U.S.!) How hard is it to make another tanker of Soylent, right?

I truly, genuinely hope you are well. Please don't ice me out!

Hello and Goodbye in Portuguese [Joel Johnson/The Awl]

(Image: Hooverville, Berenice Abbott)