The Science-Fiction Writer

Every single industrial sector run by humans — anything involving hands or brains, was annihilated by the near-singularity. This happened very early on, too. Much earlier than we all anticipated. But I think — and maybe it’s just me, and I am biased, obviously — I think, that science fiction writers got the shittiest end of the stick. Though it took a bit longer for us to feel the pain.

It was great at first, when the robots took my day job, which included debugging code ten and a half hours a day, four days a week. I took my neo-welfare paycheck and caught up on all the things I had always wanted to do. Twelve years in Manhattan and I had only been to Central Park three or four times. The sun and allergens got to my eyes quickly, though, and I settled back into my basement studio.

I spent most of my mornings and nights on my real passion, writing science-fiction. This awesome vacation period was shared by many others, this renaissance for the unemployable. Things went bananas for the better part of three decades. All these people were becoming artists and lounging around and partying all day. I even had time to patch things up with my brother, too.

It was in this societal whirlwind that I landed a few legit book deals with a few of my stories, which led to more and more exposure. And then the writer-director-musician-magician of “Hey Computer!” even cited my second book as a partial inspiration for her film. I wasn’t invited to the Oscars for it, though. But who cares? It was kind of a shitty movie, anyway. Not even really technically a movie to begin with. Anyway, still a bonkers thing I never thought would happen to me. And I had my own fans. It was great to be a part of everything.

When the near-singularity started to take off more dramatically, though, things got fucked up. I’d spend the better part of a year researching some fictional technology and writing a story around it, only to see that very same technology get developed in real life. All of my efforts were getting poured into what fast became regular day-to-day fiction, which draws a very different readership. Every futuristic concept I breached turned into old news before I could even get the first editorial rejection back.

I even came up with a radical nanomedicine approach that could be used to communicate with animals, only to see the scientific concept behind it get published by some intelligent computer hours before my story made it to print. (I was snubbed for the Nobel since I didn’t actually carry out the necessary experiments, but neither did the computer, I maintain.) And wow, did I find out my cats

were assholes. That’s beside the point. At least at this time I still held the attention of a small group of dedicated readers. But my convention table was noticeably thinner those last few years.

The end came almost without warning, around the time people began opting into quantum computing language for 100% of their personal communication. Nobody liked English anymore. Sure, Quant is way more efficient. You have fewer fights with your mother-in-law, that’s for sure. Or at least, better ones. I’ll give the techno-worshippers that. But I missed the clunky, inexact-and-therefore-inspiring nature of my native tongue. I’m a nostalgic person. What can I say?

So, one morning I took it up with the Uppers. I asked if I could go back in time, to a place where people still read books. I didn’t even need internet OR computers to do my work. I would write stuff with those wooden tools or quills or whatever it is they were called.

They said, politely, that Albert Einstein was still right. Time travel was (is) not possible. My calculations say it probably is, but they have 0.1% more computing power than me, so who am I to argue?

But they offered me, what is, we all agreed, the next best thing. An entire holographic universe to myself — where nearly-real (but ultimately computer-generated) people live. And they speak English, too! And they will be primed to read my work and have things to say about it to each other.

I don’t even have to use physical tools to write. (I actually don’t even remember what it feels like to have a body.)

Well, I have to get back to constructing some plot twists, now. I hope you tune in next time for more of my stories!