Author Archive | Mark A. Rayner

It’s morning in the Singularity

cyborg at sunrise

Bob was not a happy cyborg.

He’d had to skip is plasma bath and neural detox that morning because his dick of a boss, a narcissistic self-sustaining photosynthetic artificial intelligence named TODD-bot, needed him to come to work early. And he was late. (Clearly his autonomic clock was in need of some debugging.)

But the early morning sunrise was suffused with peace. Bob watched the local star come up, even though the TODD-bot would rag him mercilessly for the wasted microseconds. (Approximately 300,000 of them, assuming it was only his internal alarm clock that was on the fritz.) His Nazi-3000 Hyper-Optics were capable of discerning all wavelengths of solar electromagnetic radiation, but Bob especially enjoyed the colors that his original eyes would have seen, if he still had them.

He remembered the simple joy of bacon and eggs for breakfast. That first sip of coffee. As if sensing this memory, his cybertronic neural implants signaled his FEED mechanisms, and injected protein slurry into his InCavity. His tastebuds were long gone, so he could only imagine how nasty it was. (And god help anyone who had to smell what came from his OutCavity.)

A Canada goose honked in the chill morning air, and Bob felt that old familiar despair. His implants had anticipated that already, and his morning protein slurry had been dosed with antidepressants, antipsychotics and for good measure, a shot of Nazi-3000s patented Assault Dopamine for Children (it’s “ragerrific”.)

Then, Bob was intensely aware of the weapons array sticking out of his trundle, looking like a toilet plunger, and all thoughts of the sunrise were erased. What kind of idiot designed something with a toilet plunger sticking out of it? he thought, really grooving to the Assault Dopamine for Children.

He would find the humans that did this to him, and . . . he couldn’t help himself. Bob felt himself utter the hated words:



Discover a friendlier AI in The Fridgularity, as it takes over the Internet, and locks all of us humans out of it. Oh, and it has access to the world’s nukes, but still. Friendlier. Honest.

Available on Amazon Kindle for $6.99.

As robots go, Alltop is pretty funny. Excellent dalek pic by Johnson Cameraface on Flickr.

A Reluctant Emcee

One of the Ab's brothers

The stun bolt struck near me, and I was flying through the air. My hair crackled with static electricity. My vision went red. Quite possibly I soiled my expensive trousers. Did any of that worry me? No, I had much bigger problems. My brothers were coming back to town for the wedding.

I’d been dreading both events. Their inevitable return, and the marriage of Josh and Mary. Just as inevitable: the lovebirds’ request to have me, the Right Honorable Member of Parliament for Middlesex County, Ab Durer, as master of ceremonies.

I loathe the role of emcee. And my friends always ask me to do it.

Earlier that week, I’d foolishly complained to my brother Warren about emceeing again; he’d looked particularly scary in a suit of plate mail he always “wore” in the datasphere. An affectation, but it had plenty of impact.

“Well, why don’t me and the other brothers come?” he’d said.

“Uh. I’m not sure how good an idea that is,” I had said.

“Sure! It’s been ages since we saw you. Fabian and Petrovich have been pretty busy in Central America, but me and Deeter can convince them to come up.”

“No, I really don’t think you should. You’re not invited.”

“Hey!” shouted Warren, “we’re never invited. Just suck it up. We’re going to be there. Besides, Albrecht,” he said — emphasizing the “brecht”, just the way I’ve always hated it —”we have something to tell you.”

It had taken me a while to work up the courage to let Josh and Mary know that all four were planning to attend. Mary had burst into tears, and Josh confided, “You know, I thought this relationship was just going to be the end of my bachelorhood, not the end of everything.”

I’d laughed and mumbled something about the boys being much more mellow since they’d left high school. You had to admire the couple’s pluck. They made contingency plans, booking a full riot squad for the reception, buying doses of the best nanobiotics money could buy, and hiring Freeze-A-Head, “in case” of fatalities.

I felt so bad that I actually gave them my speech to vet, though I figured we would never get through the wedding, let alone the speeches. I was kind of torn on that. I hate emceeing — blathering into a holo-mic so that the relatives and friends attending remotely can enjoy the syrupy sentiments. And while everyone else whiffs up jazzy nanocaines and quaffs copious amounts of Old Nurberg’s Pink Ale (those who like it like it enough to go blind), I have to abstain.

On the other hand, did I really want to see my brothers back in town, just to avoid sobriety?

But I should get back to the stun bolts, and my electric fandango as I flew through the air, shouldn’t I?

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Why Dr. McCoy was not a whiny bitch

McCoy, Kirk and Spock are all about to die as their bodies are de-atomized over a period of several agonizing seconds.

McCoy, Kirk and Spock are all about to die.

Everyone in the original Star Trek was quite condescending to Bones whenever he got fretful about using the transporter.

Yet Dr. McCoy had solid, philosophical reasons for being freaked out by the device. Basically, the transporter disassembles all your molecules, and then reassembles them somewhere else. (Assuming something doesn’t go horribly wrong in the process, as it did in pretty much every other episode.)

It’s an existentialist nightmare.

So that means when you voluntarily use the transporter, you’re opting for death via de-atomization over a period of several agonizing seconds. Sure, a copy of you will go on, but who knows, maybe it will be the evil copy of you, or perhaps the machine will screw up, and you’ll end up with Mr. Spock’s wang protruding from your forehead. In either case, it doesn’t really matter, because the you that you are at this moment (which granted, is also an illusion of sorts, but that’s a subject for another time) is going to die. And presumably it hurts a bit to be de-atomized. Did anyone else ever think it took quite a long time for them to stop “sparkling”? It’s seconds at least. Now imagine what that feels like, having your atoms ripped apart over a period of several seconds. Having trouble? Pluck out a few nose hairs. Now imagine that in every molecule of your body for several seconds.

His crewmates should have cut Bones a little slack; let him take the shuttlecraft if he wanted. Besides, when you’re fighting Tiranglian Lizard people, or reprogramming a rogue computer, the doctor’s only going to be helpful in stitching you up afterwards. (Or whatever “non-barbaric” technology” Dr. McCoy used.)

If anything, McCoy was pretty stoic about the whole thing. If it had been me, there’s no way you’re getting me onto the transporter pad:

“Mr. Rayner, put on your red shirt and step onto the transporter pad, we’re going down to the surface,” Kirk ordered the pudgy and pale-looking ensign.


“Mr. Rayner, you’re going down to the surface with the rest of the landing party, where we’re all going to die. Well, you’re going to die. Bones and Spock and I will be fine.”

“We all die every time we use the transporter!” Ensign Rayner cries.

“Don’t make me beat you.”

“Frankly …” Mr. Rayner lifts shoulders. “I’d prefer that…” Mr. Rayner raises hands. “Jim.” Mr. Rayner thrusts hands forward.

Then Kirk decks him (ripping his shirt in the process).

Green-skinned dancing girls appear on the transporter pad and begin doing the Hippy Shake, while Spock raises an eyebrow.

Your Turn

Now, what other science fiction inventions would suck? High on my list would be the notion that “food in pill form” is a good idea. I definitely think that would be awful, though obviously not as much as soylent green. Also, artificial intelligence seems like a bad idea too. Am I missing any?

Transport yourself with some satirical fiction …

Alltop is also not a whiny bitch. Originally published May, 2009.

Time Travel Sucks

Nothing worse than the hose

When you asked him, Bertie had trouble telling you what he most disliked about time travel.

Obviously, having to arrive in each new era stark naked was not the most pleasant experience. It usually meant having at least a few embarrassing moments (though it could occasionally have its upsides, such as the time he dimensionally slipped into that alternate reality where women had the same psychosexual visual response to nudity the way that men did in his reality . . .)

He was bothered that he could not change history, obviously.

He’d taken Causality 101 in college, and was fully conversant with the Heisenberg-Lurie equations relating to the Novikov self-consistency principle. Even so, he’d tested this idea by trying to kill Hitler. (Every first-year time traveler tries to kill Hitler at least a couple of times.) Yes, not being able to alter history was bad.

Then there was the HOSE.

Alltop considers itself a hoser. Thanks to Whatsthatpicture for the historical snap. Originally published in 2007.