“you got two options. Wallow in guilt like a hero, or do something.”
October 20, 2020 6:04 PM   Subscribe

Two short speculative stories featuring computers with consciousness. "Batteries For Your Doombot5000 Are Not Included" by Merc Fenn Wolfmoor (published this year) is a light sf/f story about an ex-supervillain who gets a second chance at talking with a woman she had a crush on. "Applied Cenotaphics in the Long, Long Longitudes" by Vajra Chandrasekera (audio) is "an RFC 9481-compatible full personalytic profile recorded in Binara-Unduvap 2561 (Sep-Dec 2018 in the Christian calendar) at R. Satka's home and studio in the New City in the Autonomous Territory of Vilacem. The interview interprets itself in real time as each interviewer asks their questions...Since Satka's death, this interview is her primary being-in-the-world, and retains executive authority over her estate."
posted by brainwane (4 comments total) 11 users marked this as a favorite
Applied Cenotaphics is always worth rereading. Thank you for sharing these.
posted by VelveteenBabbitt at 8:09 AM on October 21, 2020

I'm so glad to share these. And I have now re-found a thread from a few years ago where multiple MeFites mentioned nominating "Applied Cenotaphics" for the Hugo Award.

Chandrasekera is such an observant, challenging writer -- I mean "challenging" as in "I have to make some effort to read the work, and it's worth it" rather than just "trolly" or "abstruse" the way some people might mean "challenging" as a sort of euphemism. And (thank you so much, Chandrasekera) he has a clear, well-organized list of his past publications on his website for easy browsing and clicking!

I love his nonfiction even better than his fiction, and quoted his blog post "Excisions" in a speech I gave a few years ago. The whole post is short and so good, but the bit I hold closest to my heart is near the end:
So reading widely as a practice—not for show and not for points, but as a long-term strategic arrangement between you and your bookshelf—is a kind of portal fantasy. It's a door into a another world, a better one. Not the kind that you can build; but a parallel that we can't touch, a world a knight's-move away that splintered away from this one in the apocalyptic centuries of murder and pillage that we refer to with genteel euphemisms like “colonialism”. But it's not about nostalgia for this never-was, either; it's an algiatric strategy to remember and to be remembered, to resist the sly elision that, under cover of euphemisms, quietly becomes excision. And I'm not just talking about how histories are written: there is something worse still in those swollen absences in your own mind where there should be a history that you should have known but that you never learned, or worse, that you could never learn. The wounds you didn't know you carried. To read widely is to try to learn, using only your sense of touch in the dark, where your scars are.
posted by brainwane at 8:31 AM on October 21, 2020

I liked the doombot story, about the super villain searching for her lost girlfriend. It was really sweet. (Crush is not nearly a strong enough word for the woman she was in a relationship with.)
posted by Margalo Epps at 7:26 PM on October 26, 2020

Margalo Epps: Ah, I see, I think I misread a paragraph:
Mickie nodded. She should have told Claire to stay back at their lair, but no, Claire—Chain Lightning to everyone else—just had to take on The TechnoSorcerer on her own. Well, not entirely. Mickie had sent the Doombots with her girlfriend, and an hour later, she lost contact with all other 'bots and the woman she—liked. A lot.
I had read this too fast and thought there was a separate woman who was Mickie's girlfriend at the time of the battle; of course you're right!
posted by brainwane at 7:40 PM on October 26, 2020

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