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:

Ex-ter-min-ate!

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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.

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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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La dolce vita

Dinosaur in shopping cart

It wasn’t always so easy. There used to be an anger in him. An emptiness that nothing could fill … nothing material anyway.

He fell through time and space, and into a kind of dream. And it seemed as though ages passed him by, the stars streaming through the sky as though he watched them in time lapse photography. A billion billion tiny wisps of light circling the sky and flaring out.

And when it all stopped, when the spinning ended, he was filled.

Though the cart was still empty.

Alltop has no idea what the fuck just happened there. Photo by mugley on Flickr.

Alexandra Leaving – a short history

This song is based on a poem by the Greek poet, Constantine P. Cavafy. His source material was a story from Plutarch about Mark Anthony, as he watched his allies and supporters leave Alexandra before his enemy Octavian attacked the city. The original poem is called “The god forsakes Antony,” and is a meditation on the vagaries of fate. It’s a beautiful and poetic warning that casts Anthony in a tragic light and encourages him to accept his end in a manly way. And there’s no doubt: he’s losing Alexandra, but he’s losing his life too. [Poem here.] Mark Anthony was a larger-than-life guy, and he came to a larger-than-life end.

Cohen kicks it up a notch, of course, and retools this legend for the 21st century. He makes this about personal relationships, and how we should face their endings.

My favourite line is: “Do not choose a coward’s explanation that hides behind the cause and the effect.”

Co-written by Sharon Robinson, who sings it beautifully here:

Alexandra Leaving

Suddenly the night has grown colder
The god of love preparing to depart
Alexandra hoisted on his shoulder,
They slip between the sentries of the heart

Upheld by the simplicities of pleasure
They gain the light, they formlessly entwine
And radiant beyond your widest measure
They fall among the voices and the wine

It’s not a trick, your senses all deceiving
A fitful dream, the morning will exhaust
Say goodbye to Alexandra leaving
Then say goodbye to Alexandra lost

Even though she sleeps upon your satin
Even though she wakes you with a kiss
Do not say the moment was imagined
Do not stoop to strategies like this

As someone long prepared for this to happen
Go firmly to the window, drink it in
Exquisite music Alexandra laughing
Your first commitments tangible again

And you who had the honor of her evening,
And by the honor had your own restored
Say goodbye to Alexandra leaving
Alexandra leaving with her Lord

Even though she sleeps upon your satin
Even though she wakes you with a kiss
Do not say the moment was imagined
Do not stoop to strategies like this

As someone long prepared for the occasion
In full command of every plan you wrecked
Do not choose a coward’s explanation
that hides behind the cause and the effect

And you who were bewildered by a meaning
Whose code was broken, crucifix uncrossed
Say goodbye to Alexandra leaving
Then say goodbye to Alexandra lost

Say goodbye to Alexandra leaving
Then say goodbye to Alexandra lost

Songwriters: Leonard Cohen / Sharon Robinson
Alexandra Leaving lyrics © Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC