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Another technology story, but this one touches on another thing I try to look at in my writing – the idea that as much as media, technology and communication change, we’re all still people trying to do and say the same things. Joking around with friends, flirting, having meaningful conversations, miscommunication… whether they’re in person, over the phone or on Snapchat, it’s still how we interact.

Social media tends to get a bad rap. We constantly hear how each Snap or text deteriorates our ability to have real, meaningful conversations. But the truth is, they’re just the new medium we use to be social.

Our Facebook accounts, Twitter feeds and even our text messages are all mediums we use to connect socially. Our phone’s contact list is on equal footing with our friend lists and follower counts. They’re all the latest tools that we use to communicate the yada, yada, yada of our lives.

Humans are hardwired to be social. We’re constantly looking for the newest way to connect with our friends and family members. Currently it comes in the form of tweets and texts. During the Seinfeld era it was the face-to-face pop-in. In the 50s it was the telephone. Every generation creates a new way to communicate with each other and at the same time people from the previous generation decide the new way will ruin humanity’s ability to communicate.

Read “From Seinfeld to Snapchat” on Backchannel/Medium

I found this simultaneously interesting, kind of cool, and slightly disgusting. Not disgusting in the “foodborne illnesses leaping from reheated tray of food to reheated tray of food on a cruise ship out at sea” sense, but in the sense that this ship is running to give us more of an online, interconnected, networked and logged experience than a change to escape from it.

It’s something I’ve thought about a lot and tried to touch on in my own fiction, but the real world seems to be catching up with the sci-fi and doing things I hadn’t even thought of – for better or for worse.

I wish Mr. Pierce would have asked a couple of questions about this – whether or not making our experiences more online and digital and shareable is a good thing – but he focused entirely on the technology (and why the people running the cruise think it will attract millenials):

You wear an NFC-enabled wristband that lets you into your room, lets you pay for drinks, and lets you book meals and entertainment just by tapping your wrist. You can check in before you ever get to the ship and track your luggage as it makes its journey to your room. Company CIO Bill Martin told me that Royal Caribbean never loses luggage, so it didn’t need a system like this one – but waiting for luggage made customers nervous, and a tracker brings peace of mind. Oh, and there’s Wi-Fi. More Wi-Fi than has ever existed on a cruise ship before, at a price anyone can afford. (Think $15 a day, not $1 a minute.) You can Instagram your cruise to your heart’s content.

Not that I blame him. It is pretty cool.

Read “I spent a weekend on a cruise ship staffed by robot bartenders” on The Verge

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The end of the world from the inside of a corporate office.

When the sky turned red and space rocks started falling from above, and the seas all rose and hurricanes started buffeting the shores, and the forests were consumed with flames and all the nuclear missiles started counting down, there wasn’t really anywhere to run. Instead we all laid on our backs on the conference table and looked at the ceiling.

“How many ceiling tiles do you think there are?” asked Sheila, from accounting.

“I don’t know,” said Jim. He turned his head. “Do you mean here, or in the whole building? Or in the whole world?”

Read “Meeting” on Medium

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A story about doorways.

One day Joey opened her closet and found another universe inside, a void specked with white and blue stars, with spinning planets and shooting comets, stretched out where her shoes and skirts should have been. She closed the door.

She stood there with her hand on the knob. The door looked the same as any other day. The knob felt the same to her fingertips. She put her ear to the wood and couldn’t hear a sound.

Read “Closet” on Medium

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New story on Medium about OUTER SPACE!! (andfeelingsoflonelinessanddissolution)

“You stink,” he said, and started to walk away.

I stopped him with a hand on his chest, I think. It was somewhere in what I’d call the upper torso region. “Woah,” I said, “I do not stink. If I smell like anything, it’s your ship.”

“You smell like the Earth,” he said. “You haven’t been through the Cleansing.”

“The Cleansing,” I echoed. “Is that like a bath or something?”

He scratched something on the top of his head. “You’re really the one your planet sent to travel with us?”

Read “The Ritual” on Medium.

Commute” is a piece of interactive fiction I wrote to test out the capabilities of Twine, a program for writing interactive stories. I only scratched the surface – there are some spectacular games out there, like “KING OF BEES IN FANTASY LAND” and “Depression Quest,” and many more – that tell really great stories and play with the form and capabilities of interactive fiction. I don’t think this story does anything big with the form, but I’m happy with the way it came out.

You wake up.

Maybe that’s a little charitable. Your cell phone alarm goes off, and you have that panicked moment before you open your eyes where you realize that, yes, it is Monday morning. Whatever was left of your weekend energy drains out of you, and you feel like a limp piece of meat lying on a serving board. Well, tangled on a serving board, in wonderful, warm blankets. So soft. So comfy.

You roll over and squint at your cell phone. You have just enough time to shower, make coffee, eat a bagel, and get out to your car.

Read/Play “Commute”