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!
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
“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
“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
“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
“Biocomputation has blossomed this year,” said
Velma. “The Durban-Krush mitochondrial protocols have solved our input/output
“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
“Like Harry’s sense of empathy?” I suggested.
Velma laughed. “I’m waiting for him to code me
into the slime mold with him.”