Pravic

A New Grammar for Science Fiction

Science Fiction is no longer a novelty.

We do not want to read Science Fiction because it is set in the future. Science Fiction must offer some deeper, truer view of ourselves and our place in the cosmos.

 

Rudy Rucker, guys!

Lastly from the fiction department, a selection from the indomitable Rudy Rucker's creepy-as-fuck story "My Office Mate." This one can't be missed.

There's a doozy of a tale by our gregarious editor David Gill in issue two, but it's so damn short an excerpt isn't really an option. Needless to say, its brevity is directly proportional to its effectiveness.

In a bit, we'll treat you to a few choice lines of prose from the non-fiction pieces in issue 2. For now, enjoy, pine for more, and order your copy!
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Although my office mate is a very brilliant man, he’s a thumb-fingered klutz. For firmly held reasons of principle, he wanted to tweak the settings of his lovely new machine to make it use a reverse Polish notation command-line interface—this had to do with the massive digital archiving project that he was forever working on. The new machine demurred at adopting reverse Polish. Harry downloaded some freeware patches, intending to teach his device a lesson. You can guess how that worked out.

The techs took Harry’s dead sandwich back to their lair, wiped its memory and reinstalled the operating system. Once again its peppy screen shone atop his desk. But now Harry sulked, not wanting to use it.

“This is about my soul,” he told me. “I’ve spent, what, thirty years creating a software replica of myself. Everything I’ve written: my email, my photos, and a lot of my conversations—and, yes, I’m taping this, Fletcher. A rich compost of Harry data. It’s ready to germinate, ready to come to life. But these brittle machines thwart my immortality at every turn.”

“You’d just be modeling yourself as a super chatbot, Harry. In the real world, we all die.” I paused, thinking about Harry’s attractive woman friend of many years. “It’s a shame you never married Velma. You two could have had kids. Biology is the easy path to self-replication.”

“You’re not married either,” said Harry glaring at me. “And Velma says what you said too.” As if reaching a momentous decision, he snatched the shapely sandwich computer off his desk and put it on mine. “Very well then! I’ll make my desk into a stink farm!”
Sure enough, when I came into the office on Monday, I found Harry’s desk encumbered with a small biological laboratory. Harry and his woman friend Velma were leaning over it, fitting a data cable into a socket in the side of a Petri dish that sat beneath a bell jar.

“Hi Fletch,” said Velma brightly. She was a terminally cheerful genomics professor with curly hair. “Harry wants me to help him reproduce as a slime mold.”

“How romantic,” I said. “Do you think it can work?”

“Biocomputation has blossomed this year,” said Velma. “The Durban-Krush mitochondrial protocols have solved our input/output problems.”

“A cell’s as much of a universal computer as any of our department’s junk-boxes,” put in Harry. “And just look at this! My entire database is flowing into these slime mold cells. They like reverse Polish. I’m overwriting their junk DNA.”

“We prefer to speak of sequences that code for obsolete or unactivated functional activity,” said Velma, making a playful professor face.

“Like Harry’s sense of empathy?” I suggested.

Velma laughed. “I’m waiting for him to code me into the slime mold with him.”