Strange things may happen when one hangs out one’s shingle as a futurist. Take, for example, this email, which I received this morning. The date in the header is from ten years in the future.
The end-cap was shaped like a five-petalled rose, stretching from the searing heat of the central sun-line, into a great metal embrace that hugged the patchwork green of farmland and the compact conurbations of Ross Cylinder’s inner skin.
The sun-line used vast magnets to haul plasma, heated to incandescence by an array of mirrors outside of the Cylinder, from one end-cap to the other, providing light and heat and all the right sorts of radiation to its inhabitants.
The fliers huddled in a jump-off area within the end-cap, just inside the micro-gee mark. It was close enough to the sun-line for it to be quite balmy.
“I’m going to run through the safety stuff,” said a race official. Somebody groaned. She ignored the sound. “Wings to ride the thermals outwards,” she said. “Electromagnets to pull you back in towards the sun-line. If you touch the sun-line, you’ll get burned.” At this, somebody else made a sizzling sound with their lips. “Please pay attention,” she snapped. Continue reading
Ray shanked the shot, and his ball splashed into a nearby water hazard, startling a pair of ducks that were paddling around on it. He swore loudly, and pulled out his phone.
Two swipes of his finger, and the super-conducting magnets buried beneath the course fished his ball out of the water for him and rolled it back along the ground to his feet. The scorecard automatically docked him a penalty stroke. He picked up the damp ball and wiped it dry on his pants leg. Continue reading
Stop me if you’ve heard this one.
In a time and place far distant from our own, there lived a certain young Prince of the Realm named Edward, and his brother Eddie. The usual transgressions of youth landed Eddie, rather than Edward, in the stockade, with a certain knight of the court assigned the delicate task of inflicting corporal punishment.
“C’mon Mike,” said Edward. “You know darned well that I broke the window. I should be in there.”
“Consider, your Highness,” said Sir Michael. “If I were to hit you with this, it would likely leave scars on your tender hide. Your take-away, such as it is, is to consider with care the harm inflicted on your brother, and to desist in the future from such actions.” Sir Michael was rather better-spoken than he looked. In fact, he was enrolled in a correspondence business course, a fact that he tried to hide from his knightly brethren.
“So you’re hitting my brother instead?” said Edward. He’d understood approximately half of what Sir Michael had said, although he grasped the general gist.
“You have to admit, Eddie is better built for it.” Which was truth, indeed. Not much could harm Eddie. Continue reading
When Danaë was very young, she tried to play with the doorman’s son.
The doorman was helping Danaë’s father with their heavy luggage. His son, perhaps a few years older than her, sat on a chair near the door, dressed in a smart brown suit. Danaë animated an image of her teddy bear, and mentally flipped it over to the boy, who didn’t respond at all.
She realized that he had no brain-ware, and therefore no way to see the bear, so she forwarded the image to the local environment instead. A ghostly, translucent bear danced its way across the sidewalk, drawn on the air by a trillion fluorescing nanites. The boy smiled at her. Then Danaë’s father grabbed her by the arm and pulled her indoors. Continue reading
Line 10: PROGRAM begins. A hexagonal pod in some run-down kapuseru hoteru, two meters by one meter by one meter, with a microwave oven at one end and a tiny TV at the other. Another cell in a hotel honeycombed with them, filled with strays, the unemployed, lesser traveling businessmen, worker bees, one single hornet. GOTO 20.
Line 20: Cars and motorbikes wage war for the marginal turf of the narrow street, shadowed by razor-sharp towers taller than infinity, lit by neon and quantum dots, shadowed once more by fog and sulfur compounds, lit yet again by the barest hint of sun behind stratus clouds. The sidewalk is still dark from the recent rain. If there is a folded paper note in my left jacket pocket, GOTO 100. Otherwise fold my umbrella and GOTO 150 for food. Continue reading
Raul was pre-breathing oxygen. He still had twenty minutes left before we could shove him out the airlock. He kept dropping the mask away from his mouth and looking out the view port though. A decade of training, and steely nerves only get you so far.
“Come on, come on, you need to focus,” I told him.
“Do you blame me?”
“You can look all you want when you’re out there.”
“I need a stiff drink,” he said.
“Yeah, that will go over well in the history books,” I said. “Why don’t you bring the bottle with you while you’re at it? Maybe they’d like to share?” I heard a couple of quiet chuckles. So much for cutting the tension. Continue reading