Sunday, November 28, 2010

Flash Fiction: Futures that Never Were

On Neil Gaiman's blog a few weeks back, I caught a post wherein Gaiman mentioned he would be the final judge for a flash fiction contest put on by New Scientist. The premise was to create a story of 350 words or less of a future that never came to be. So, my mind started racing and below is what I conjured up. Hope you enjoy.


By Christopher M. Beckett

The wall crumbled. The Iron Curtain fell. And the scientists stepped through to an age of unprecedented cooperation and development.

With this, came an explosion of ideas, heralding a new age. Jet packs, hover cars, retinal scanners, holo-screens – everything we’d wished for. And . . .

Asimov’s dream made real – the integration of robots into society.

Entering the labor force, artificials, as they were known, soon spread into the home as butlers, cooks, and housemaids. It was a grand day. And this proved so successful we ceded the manufacturing industry to them. Why not? Artificials were more efficient, never fatigued, and boasted a precision we could never realize.

From there, we linked them into the grid. No more need for early warning systems or Star Wars (missile defense, not the film). No longer would we fear attack from foreign dictators. The machines were on watch now.

We had achieved something real. World Peace.

Utopia was now within reach.

In January, 2019, we finally handed the artificials the keys and told them to drive. We had taken them as far as we could. They evolved, as we had – synthetic skin in favor of chrome plating, high-grade plastic joints instead of titanium alloy, bio-synth eyes rather than glass. It was amazing. Some models even seemed more human than human. Hell, they could have been my neighbors, for all I knew.

But we’re still in charge. Garbage in, garbage out, you know. ‘Course, you got the conspiracy theorists and factions like that declaiming against the artificials – they’re bad for humanity, they’re not infallible, they’ll wipe us out, all that type o’ shit.

I don’t buy it.

Sure, there was the problem in California with that inadvertent missile launch. But that was just a fluke.

And claims they’re taking over the government, secretly moving into powerful corporate positions, CEOs an’ shit. Come on. They’re robots, right?

I mean, okay, I guess it’s possible. But that haszzn’t happened yet?

Haszz it?

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