Thursday, August 17, 2017

8/17/17

Disposable World
By David K Scholes


“Re-user!” the young uniformed enforcer yelled out accusingly as others watched on.

How embarrassing. The flyer backpack was only just past its mandated use by date and I thought I could get away with a few small repairs. But no, it wasn’t to be! Was the young whippersnapper actually going to arrest me?

No – instead he let me off with a severe reprimand and some more demerit points on my already heavily scarred citizen resume.

I thought I remembered a time when the whole focus was on sustainability. When someone would be more likely to have yelled out “tosser” if you threw something away other than in a waste disposal bin.

Waste disposal bin – you never saw any these days – where were they? I had my suspicions that they were still around, just buried somewhere beneath all the disposed-of items.

How things change.

* * *

The man flew down onto the old style road, then put his flyer into auto-land car mode and let it run automatically into the monstrous disintegration tunnel. With obvious consequences. He seemed to be enjoying it. The flyer didn’t look that old but I guess it was probably somewhere just past the mandated 3 years.

How did we get to be like this? I wondered.

Was there anything now that wasn’t disposable?

Of course the discovery in deep space of a new addition to the periodic table changed all that. The previously unknown Asimovium had been located on certain meteoroids and offered a seemingly unlimited source of energy. Far beyond even fusion energy. For a time.

Sadly by the time our supply of Asimovium started to dry up, we were locked in to an irreversible course of planned quick obsolescence.

* * *

It was very confronting and I’m sure not at all the way that these things are normally done. I entered my own dwelling only to be confronted by myself. A double of some kind.

“Sir,” said a late model droid entering my dwelling moments afterwards. “Sir, there’s been a dreadful mistake, we need you to come with us.”

It turned out that my replacement had taken up station prior to my disposal date. Both the replacement and supervising droid couldn’t have been more apologetic.

“Clone 19 came here too early,” the droid continued.

What did the 19 mean? I wondered.

Then I twigged to what should have been obvious – I was clone 18 – with a 3 year life span. For some reason, despite all the evidence to the contrary, I had started to think of myself as an original uncloned human. Especially since the memories were passed on.

* * *

“Planetary energy reserves just dipped below minimum subsistence,” said the advanced AI looking down on the blue green world.

“We have a suitable replacement in stock and easily accessible sir,” offered another only slightly less advanced AI. “Though this world wasn’t due to be replaced for another millennium.”

“Do it, log it,” replied the senior AI.
“And the existing life forms?” asked the subordinate.

“The usual procedure,” offered his boss.

The planet size starship moved on – its occupants not giving either the replaced world or its replacement a second thought.

Deep in its vast memory, the starship’s computer made a minor entry.

Earth World replaced.

Existing life forms cloned prior to disposal.

Cycle continues.


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The author is a science fiction writer with eight published collections of short stories and two science fiction novellas (all on Amazon). He has been a regular contributor to the Antipodean SF, Beam Me Up Pod Cast, and Farther Stars Than These sites. He has also been published on 365 Tomorrows, Bewildering Stories, the WiFiles and the former Golden Visions magazine.

Thursday, August 10, 2017

8/10/17

Marriage
By Ken Poyner


“You have to let me out.”
He looked at the view screen to see what appeared to be a woman in her fifties, dressed in a night robe, hair still tussled from her sleep cycle. Her arms hung disinterested at her side, and she was staring up at where she seemed to think the room’s primary observation camera would be.
He elected to say nothing, to not begin again the same tired argument.
He sat down at the small breakfast table and began to consider what of the offerings this morning he would select. For twenty-seven years his wife had made the breakfast choices for both of them; but, these last three weeks, her chair at the table remained empty, and he was learning to make choices for himself. There was some hint of conspiracy in the process, a scent of power, a twinge of the sensational. He reviewed the holographic representations and become lost in the thought of option leading to option.
The lights on the room monitor flickered, bringing him back. It was telling him that the woman in the room had activated the shower. In no time at all she would be dressed and made-up and smooth enough for one whole day.
He returned to the licentious holograms of breakfast items.

~~~~

Today he would finish the area containment system. Power supply was his specialty, so his plan was to outfit the house with a dampening system: a thin wall of interference that would shut down power to any machine attempting to get outside. One moment, the machine would be happily striding towards the door; the next, it would be little more than a static work of art, ready for the transport cart to carry it back in. A manual reset, a moment or two of diagnostic, and it would be as right as rain – until it wandered outside again.
If it works in the house, it might work around the grounds. The domestic machines could roam the yard, work in the garden, play tennis on the court out back. They could not independently leave, or through trickery be stolen. Beyond the grounds, they would be inert.
Do not think of it as a limitation. Think of it as a safety net. Empowerment.
The science of it is not so much a problem as the placement of units. He has everything drawn out, and the mathematics predicts a proper overlap. But he wants to visually sight everything himself, and then test every wall, window and door with an excess housecleaning machine.

~~~~

Now the woman can leave the room. She pads about mornings in her slippers and housecoat, and at the same time each day goes for her shower, selects her day’s make-up and outfit.
He has his breakfast as she assembles herself. Truth is, she takes as long as she has to take so as to ensure that he is done with his breakfast before she comes out. She primps and preens, and sometimes simply waits. She will be glad when he has finished the yard perimeter dampening system. Then as he eats ever and ever more slowly, she can walk about the grounds, exchange data with the ducks and the one unintelligent fox.
The fox has lenses that can pick up the slightest motion, and has storage for days of observations, but he is programmed to understand none of it. So he stands, and watches. She loves to pick through the stray clips of his memory. It is through him she can see the outside.

~~~~

“You have to let me out.”
They look at the view screen to see what appears to be a man in his seventies. Thin hair barely lays unkempt across his thinly skinned skull. His arms hang disinterested at his side. He is looking up at what he seems to think is the room’s primary observation camera.
Of course they can let him out. The house system was replaced with a grounds system, and the grounds system has been upgraded. But it is traditional. A rite. A ritual. There is something right about rituals. They bring constancy, a conformity that creates a degree of comfort that steadily sinks past the chemistry, or circuitry, of the brain. The soul of a creation is the sum of its learned expectations. Let it learn.
In a few moments, they will hear the observation control panel alarm, telling them that this man has moved into the maintenance area and is grooming, and preparing to discharge yesterday’s stale battery, replacing it now that today’s fresh one has come on-line.
Satisfied, she will go out for her stroll along the grounds, exchanging soft binary impressions of the lake and the imaginary weather with the ducks. Each time a new machine is selected, she loads again the memories of when her husband was flesh and blood and had to one day lie down and stop. Simply stop. It has become so much of a process that only its repetition has meaning. Stopping itself has no soul.
She will download yesterday’s images, and perhaps those from the day before, from the fox, and this husband will gingerly select the representation for what could be his last, languorous, unnecessary breakfast.


- - -
Ken’s collections of short fiction, “Constant Animals” and “Avenging Cartography”, and his latest collections of poetry, “Victims of a Failed Civics” and “The Book of Robot”, can be obtained from Barking Moose Press, www.barkingmoosepress.com. He often serves as bewildering eye-candy at his wife’s power lifting affairs.

Thursday, August 3, 2017

8/3/17

Dreadfall
By Peter Magliocco


It clings to me with imprint fine
any regal hand leaves
across my trespassed flesh
feeling fingertips beating time
into the soft skin age betrays
scaling planets in dreadfall space.

There is no Muse left for me
to draw the face of time on:
only the small daily plunge
of sentient being unmasked
by death's timeless orbit
round our devolving remnants

Vying to break old gravity's pull,
to become something beyond flotsam
in once human form again.
There is no end to falling back
from the lift-off critical second
thrusting our svelte rocket upwards
before the inevitable pull of Sisyphus

Tales flesh back
into that burning pall
of an unknown graven home.


- - -
Peter Magliocco writes from Las Vegas, Nevada, where he occasionally edits the lit-zine ART:MAG. His recent sci-fi novel SPLANX was published by Cosmic Egg Books. A new ebook of his speculative novel, The Burgher of Virtual Eden, is available in all the usual places.


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