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.
I’ve used the same fountain pen and Fisher Space Pen for years: I used to constantly lose disposable pens, costing me scads of money every year. The two refillable pens I own now cost enough that I’m always a little paranoid about their whereabouts, so I’ve yet to lose them. Filling the fountain pen costs […]
A couple of years ago, I was asked if I’d like to review the reMarkable tablet. If you’re unfamiliar with it, the reMarkable is an E Ink slate and pen solution that provides a digital note taking and sketching solution that feels eerily close to writing on paper. I was excited to take it for […]
The Clarion Science Fiction and Fantasy writing workshop is open to applications for the 2019 session
The Clarion Workshop, hosted at the University of California San Diego at La Jolla, is an annual, six-week, intensive writing workshop for aspiring science fiction and fantasy writers (I'm a graduate of Clarion, a frequent instructor, and a member of the board of the Clarion Foundation, a nonprofit that administers the election); the 2019 workshop […]
For the true audio enthusiast, there’s a lot of difference between putting on some songs “for background music” and a true listening experience. For the latter, there’s nothing like a pair of sturdy headphones and the powerful speakers that come with them. And the wireless variety doesn’t get much more powerful than the TREBLAB Z2 […]
Digital or analog, there’s a path of least resistance for any project. Finding that path is what the Agile methodology is all about, which is why proficiency in it is a must for any project management position – and the paycheck that comes with it. And the quickest path to learning Agile? The Agile Project […]
Everybody’s flown a paper airplane. But what if you could fly on a paper airplane? Until we invent shrink-ray technology, the PowerUp X FPV Video Paper Airplane Kit will have to do – but it’s as fun as that sounds and more. The original version of this creative toy added drone tech to the old, […]