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The things you find…

March 23, 2009

I was surfing the contents of my own harddrive, as I am prone to do every so often, and rediscovered an old story of mine.  It was so old the byline was S. Winfield Baker rather than Scott W. Baker.  I don’t remember submitting it anywhere and I have no record of sending it out, but I had gone to the trouble of typing “Disposable Manuscript” at the top.

It was a story set in a world where people choose to save themselves as computer programs before they die, that signalling the end of their “fleshtime” but not their lifetime since they live forever as programs.  The idea was that exciting memories would be hot commodities for the program-people since they can’t do exciting stuff.  Even if they could, they lacked the adrenaline to truly enjoy thrills.  Memories of thrills from their fleshtime were the closest they could get.  These memories end up no more than computer files and can be transferred to others.  If someone in storage had real money (useless inside the program), they could pay flesh people to do what they wanted to remember in exchange for the right to acquire that memory.  I’m not sure it took that many words to describe the setting in the story.

Anyway, I had put the story away as not SF enough.  Can you believe it?  Sure the guy doing the stunt is a real person and doing stuff that is (kind of) feasible in present society, but the story falls apart without the speculative elements.

It’s a better story than I ever gave it credit for being.  I don’t think it’s pro-calibur, but I’ll probably brush it up and circulate it through some semi-pro zines.  I may Critter it first.  Some of the techniques were clever.  I wonder if I did them intentionally.

  • The story is a memory that is interrupted a few times by program-people chatting in text-like format.
  • The story is told in first person, the flesh person being the POV character.
  • It’s really supposed to be the memory roughly as perceived by the program-person.  The sensory events are good but need more tastes and smells.
  • The POV character is part of a clever little subculture.

It’s not brilliant, but it’s cute.  A little disturbing, too.  It might have more meaning in it than some of my better stories.  Death, as a theme, often plays well.  This story gives a reasonable first person account of dying since the memory is transferred to someone else.  The explanation of why everyone can’t do that needs a lot more strength, but otherwise I was pleasantly surprised by this old story.  We’ll see what comes of it.

-Oso

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