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Aug 2017 11

By Blogbot

Cory Doctorow reads an excerpt from his “optimistic disaster novel” Walkaway at the Buena Vista Branch Library in Burbank, CA on Thursday, August 10, 2017.

For more on Cory and Walkaway, read our interview here.

[..]

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Oct 2015 19

By Blogbot

This Wednesday, October 21st on SuicideGirls Radio, hosts Moxi Suicide, Nicole Powers and Bradley Suicide will be joined by sultry songstress Shana Halligan, who’ll be talking about her gorgeous new album Back To Me, which was released last Friday.

You can listen – and watch – the world’s leading BYOB radio show live on Wednesday nights from 8 til 9 PM at our state-of-the-art all digital home: TradioV.com.

If you have questions for the SG Radio crew or our guests, you can call in during the live broadcast at: 1-855-TRV-inLA (1-855-878-4652)

For updates on all things SG Radio-related, like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

**UPDATE**

ICYMI: Last week’s show feat. Shana Halligan can be viewed here or via the player below.

About Shana Halligan

Back To Me is the new album from sultry songstress Shana Halligan. Smart and sexy, the 13-track album challenges pre-conceived notions of pop music, as Shana mixes her trip-hop background with downtempo, electronic-charged modern jazz. (Check out the album in its entirety here.)

“This album is about love, loss, finding my way to happiness and peace, finding strength, owning and accepting my passion, my humanness, feeling weak, and feeling strong again,” says Shana. “Eroticism, vulnerability, fear, and the deepest gratitude I can imagine. Connection, expression and art. Saying goodbye to anyone who thought I couldn’t make it and not being afraid to let go, to just be me and all that comes with it.”

During and since her time as the lead singer/songwriter of Bitter:Sweet, Shana Halligan has sold more than 500,000 records and has accumulated over 70 album credits to her name. Other releases from Shana Halligan include her solo debut EP Paper Butterfly and 2012 album Richmond Parade.

She’s also collaborated with many major acts, including writing and recording with Serj Tankian of System Of A Down and Thievery Corporation (co-writing and performing their biggest hit in recent years “Depth Of My Soul”), and has performed at several celebrated venues across the nation, including the Hollywood Bowl, the Royal Albert Hall (London), the Bowery Ballroom (NYC) and the Hotel Cafe (L.A.). Outside of her own music, Halligan also writes for other artists and is developing a TV project that combines her love for music and passion for cooking.

Next month, Shana will perform a Back To Me release show presented by KCRW at The Hotel Café in Hollywood on Thursday, November 12, marking the first time the songstress will perform the album live. Look for Shana to tour in 2016.

For more info check out Shana’s website, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Soundcloud.

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Oct 2012 26

A very special super spooky story written by Robert Ropars for SuicideGirls feat. Gogo, Radeo, Milloux, Spliff, Tita, Moxi, and Bradley.


[Gogo in The Twelth]

A black sedan drove slowly down a long, gravel driveway. A group of models was being driven from Chicago’s O’Hare airport to a remote farmhouse ninety minutes southwest of the city. The seven passengers were Suicide Girls: Gogo, Radeo, Milloux, Spliff, Tita, Moxi, and Bradley.

It was late October, and even though it was only dinner time, the sun was already near the horizon about to set. A long summer drought had left the various Autumn Blaze maples lining the long driveway nearly stripped bare of their foliage. A chilly wind blew some of their multicolored leaves across their view, illuminated by the limo’s headlights as they drifted past like spirits.

In the back, the Suicide Girls had now begun to gather their things. Gogo finished a cigarette and flicked it out the window while exhaling. Her breath turned into a smoky whistle as she saw the ancient farmhouse coming into view as the last trees were passed and they turned to approach the front porch.

“So that’s the Bellingham estate?” Gogo looked at Milloux and smiled. “How the hell did you find this place?”

Milloux smiled at her and replied, “I was in Chicago earlier this year and was looking up haunted places for our shoot. This one was remote enough for us, but not too far to get to.”

Radeo looked up from her phone as she finished a text message. “What happened here? You still haven’t told us.”

Milloux smiled and her eyes sparkled as she remembered what she’d read and the plan for the shoot. “No way! Let’s get in and settled first. I’ll share the story soon enough. The owners are letting us stay all night for our Halloween shoot…but they are sure we’ll never make it.”

The girls looked at each other and then the house with nervous smiles. Gogo smiled the broadest, excited at the idea of a scary photo shoot for Halloween. The others were anxious to stretch their legs after the long drive as soon as the limo parked. As the driver got their luggage to the aged porch, Tita and Moxi wandered over to a large tire swing hung from the maple closest to the house, the others ascended the creaky front porch steps.

Around the house was an outhouse, a large well, a silo that towered over them, a decrepit barn and behind all of these things a cornfield stretching to the horizon. As the sun set, it cast everything in bright oranges and reds and soon all would be in darkness. A security light on the barn had already come on illuminating a small area in front of it and two porch lights on either side of the door had also come on in the decreasing light.

As Gogo and Radeo walked over to a very old porch swing that rattled and drifted in a slight breeze, Milloux entered a code for the lock on the front door. The owner had added security after kids had broken in recently, and had set up a temporary number for their visit. The light turned green and she held the door for the driver who brought their things to the foot of a grand staircase. The house smelled dusty and moldy and Milloux pressed a light switch so everyone could see.

As the lights came on, a thunderous crash erupted from the porch. Milloux and the driver rushed out, the other girls stood and laughed at Gogo and Radeo. One end of the porch swing had come loose and they’d crashed. Moxi and Milloux shook their heads, helped them up, and one by one entered the creepy old house.

Milloux took care of the driver and confirmed that he would be back in the morning at 10 AM sharp. He smiled, said goodbye, got in the car, and started back down the long driveway. Bradley and Moxi watched from the front room windows as his tail lights faded from sight. Milloux closed the front door and they heard a loud metallic noise followed by some beeps.

“What was that?” asked Spliff.

Milloux smiled at Spliff who looked a bit jumpy already. “That was the front door locking.”

The others stared at her with a mixture of apprehension and fear. The girls looked down the main hallway to the back of the house, up the stairwell, at the faded and torn wallpaper and frowned at several creepy old portraits lining the wall that led to the second floor.

“Relax, the driver will be back in the morning and we’re shooting all night. Let’s get unpacked and meet in the main room in an hour ok? I brought stuff to eat and we can get our drink on. And I’ll tell you the terrible horror of Edward Bellingham and the ghosts some say still haunt this home. MMUUAAHH HAHA HA!”

“You are such an asshole!” Bradley punched Milloux in the arm and each girl grabbed their bags. Slowly they began to make their way up the creaky wood stairs. Reaching the top landing, they spread out and paired up in various bedrooms. Milloux insisted on being on her own and Moxi watched her carefully placing covered items on the bed. She was going to ask what they were, but knew Milloux had planned a night of fun and games.

Outside, the temperature continued to drop and the wind picked up. The creaking of the trees and the house around them sent shivers up and down most of their spines. Milloux was giddy with anticipation at the night ahead. She had planned that this would be a scarefest of a shoot they would all remember.

***

An hour later, the girls were gathered in the downstairs front room, a large crackling fire was burning, they’d finished eating and the girls were enjoying drinks, smoking, or sipping tea. Milloux stood and all eyes turned to her.

“Ok ladies, we’re going to have so much fun tonight. I’m so excited to be shooting all of you and we have this haunted house as the perfect backdrop. But before we get started, let me tell you the story of the house.”

Lifting her tablet, she began to read from notes she’d prepared for the trip.

“Edward Bellingham came to America with a wife and two girls, Emma and Eliza, in 1832. He had made a decent amount of money in London and sought a new life here in the Midwest. He had this place built and ran a successful farm for many years, but the period before the Civil War brought a new opportunity.

“Many slaves escaped and fled northward, most using the Underground Railroad. There was a hefty bounty for returning slaves to the South, and Bellingham devised a twisted plan. He got word out that his home was a stop on the path to freedom. But those who came down the long driveway to his farmhouse soon regretted the decision.”

Milloux paused dramatically letting her gaze cross the room. All eyes were on her.

“Edward had a tunnel built between the basement of this home and the barn we saw outside. He had his wife bring them food and clothes while he contacted members of the Klan to arrange his bounty. For a few years he managed to convince his wife that the men who took the former slaves away were helping smuggle them north. She discovered the truth one night when she overheard him talking to one of the smugglers and they had a bitter fight.

“As their girls held each other in terror in one of the rooms, the fight raged into the night until Edward lost control. He hit her so hard she fell down the stairs and her neck broke killing her right there.”

All the girls turned to follow Milloux’s finger pointing to the bottom of the stairs. The lights flickered briefly and everyone shifted nervously for a moment until they returned to normal.

“But that wasn’t the worst of his crimes. He kept up his smuggling business until one day a beautiful 15-year old Creole girl knocked on the front door. She had long since lost track of her family, and was trying to find a safe haven. The wealthy widower convinced her that staying as his house maid and nanny was her best option. It wasn’t a hard decision for her.”

The girls stared at Milloux dreading what was next in the story.

“Edward patiently let the girl, her name was Marie, get settled into her life as nanny to his daughters. He seemed like the perfect guardian with only one rule that she never enter his bedroom. One day he was out tending to the fall harvest and Marie was tidying up. For some reason we may never know, curiosity got the better of her and she entered his room.

“At first, nothing seemed out of place or particularly interesting. Then she saw the box on his desk. Made of wood, it had strange symbols carved on it. Opening it she backed away in terror and screamed. Inside was a skull with empty eyes that stared at her. Turning she ran into Edward who was standing behind her. Enraged, he grabbed her and said, ‘I told you never to come in here. You’ve upset my wife!’

“Edward choked her until she passed out and dragged her limp body to the basement. There it’s said he chained her to a wall standing up. She awoke and realized he was building a wall and he ignored her pleas and screams as he positioned brick after brick. When he finished, he could barely hear the sounds of her screams and chains. Even to this day, people hear the rattling of chains and the sounds of scratching if they linger too long in the basement.”

Gogo lit a cigarette and exhaling looked at Milloux with a combination of dread and anticipation. “What happened to his daughters?”

Milloux had an evil twinkle in her eye because she had saved the worst part for last.

“He began to have headaches and nightmares and stopped sleeping. He slowly fell into a pit of despair and became convinced his daughters were communicating with their mom’s and Marie’s spirits. They missed her and cried all the time. He knew they hated him and were plotting against him.”

Milloux paused and took a drink.

“And?” Spliff was on the edge of the tattered couch close to slipping off and falling on the ancient pine floor boards.

“Some say he tied them to scarecrow posts in the cornfield so crows could feast on them. Some say he locked them in the silo and filled it while they screamed for help choking on the dust. But some say there was plenty of room in the basement for two little girls. Nobody knows for sure, but it’s said their spirits still linger here.

“Edward slowly went insane alone with the sounds of the four women his only company. Finally, one night he ran screaming into the night and fell down the well outside to his death.”

Milloux put down her tablet computer and sat by Bradley on a chair and played with her hair.

“Wow…you really are full of shit!”

Milloux looked at Tita in surprise.

“What the hell are you talking about?”

Tita looked at the others and then back at her.

“You made at least half of that up. Total bullshit.”

Bang! Upstairs, a door had slammed shut and the girls jumped and screamed in unison. Some looked really nervous while others laughed, though some of them nervously so.

“Girls it was just the wind. It’s an old place and full of gaps for the wind to get through.” Moxi did her best to reassure herself as much as the others. Then they heard a sound. Faint at first, it sounded like girls crying faintly on the second floor. Their eyes widened and they shivered. It stopped almost as suddenly as it had begun.

“That was the wind right?” Tita had a look of confusion and fear now doubting herself about Milloux’s story.

“Well I have a brand new app for us to try out some ghost hunting and seems like the spirits are ready to play.”

An app? For ghosts?” Radeo eyed Milloux skeptically.

“Girls listen. Phones and tablets have cameras, compasses, gyroscopes, decibel meters, magnetometers, and all kinds of other sensors. We’ve all watched ghost hunter shows right?”

Most nodded remembered various reality series featuring people using all manner of gadgets to detect the paranormal.

“This app called ‘Ghostdar’ just pulls all of that together to measure changes in electromagnetic energy and such to sense when spirits may be near and how strong. Let’s try it out.”

Milloux lifted the tablet, launched the app and her face was illuminated in a green glow. Holding it up, she focused the rear camera on the stairwell and moved it up and down and then held it above her focused on the ceiling. The others ducked down to look and they saw the ceiling with an infrared view, a moving radar animation over it and all manner of numbers cycling around the screen.

“Seriously? That’s crap…”

Before Moxi could finish her thought, two green lights appeared above them and began to move around the upper area. Their eyes were wide and no one spoke.

“Sad.”

The app spoke a word that also appeared on the screen before fading away.

Gogo exhaled smoke and said, “What was that?”

“The app analyzes the energy of the spirits and tries to translate their attempts to communicate. Sometimes you get lucky and words come through.”

As they spoke, the lights faded away. They waited a few more minutes and nothing else appeared. Milloux brought the app down and when it was eye level she jumped and let out a gasp. Several of the others screamed, having moved behind her, they all saw the ghost at the same moment. Standing at the bottom of the stairs was a woman with her neck bent to one side. She said nothing, slowly turned and drifted down the hall passing out of sight. Her strong red radar contact however continued on behind the wall and stopped before the kitchen.

They were all shaking as they heard the sound of metal and then wood creaking. The radar contact faded to green and vanished.

“Dark.”

The app spoke aloud again. Then they heard something, faint at first, then louder the sound of chains rattling from the basement. Milloux lowered the tablet and swept the floor and in the far corner of the house a red contact appeared.

“It’s Marie! The spirits want us to find her. Maybe if we find her, she can move on. Come on girls!”

“No fucking way!” Bradley looked at the others and back at Milloux. “No fucking way I’m going down there.”

Milloux scowled at her. “That’s fine. You can stay up here by yourself and keep an eye on things.”

Bradley scowled at her.

“We’ll all be together that’s the key. I’ve got the app and it has built-in video and sound recorders. Let’s go.”

Milloux led the way to and down the hall toward the kitchen screen held in front of her. She paused when she realized that the door to the basement was opened a few inches. She continued with the girls close behind and the floor boards creaked as did the walls around them and trees outside in the chilly October night.

Milloux reached out and pulled the door fully open. The hinges were extremely rusty and it was very noisy. Seeing a light switch to her left, she flicked it on and they saw a long wooden staircase, the steps open to the space behind them leading into darkness. It appeared that another light was on further onward, but the darkness fought against the light pools making it hard to see clearly. The lights flickered and they could now more clearly hear the sound of chains and something else that sounded like scratching.

Slowly, the nervous and giggling group started down the dusty, creaky stairs. The wind that howled above and the roof that rattled began to be muffled by the basement walls. Milloux reached the bottom and turned and as they gathered behind her, the saw a large red contact in the far corner currently in darkness.

“Ok girls, let’s get…”

Bang! The door at the top of the stairs slammed shut and they screamed as they spun around. Milloux held the tablet up, but didn’t see any ghost contacts above them.

“It’s ok, stupid drafty hous…”

At that moment, before Milloux could finish her thought there was a crackling sound like static electricity and the lights flickered. The basement was a big space filled in every direction with boxes, furniture, and all manner of debris. There were walkways through the mounds leading to the far wall and two lights hung flickering along the path.

“Let’s keep going. That’s got to be Marie back there.”

“Ok I’m going to try and speak to the spirits so everyone be quiet. Marie? We mean you know harm. We are here as friends and want to do some photos here.”

“Are you sure this is a good idea?” Moxi asked through chattering teeth. Whether the cold, the fear or both caused the rattling even she was unsure.

They were now halfway towards the back wall. The rattling and scratching sounds were louder and now they heard a woman weeping.

“Trapped.”

The girls stopped.

“It’s her?” Gogo asked as the word faded.

“It has to be. She’s trapped and we can free her. Isn’t this exciting?”

Before anyone could respond, a floor board creaked upstairs sending a small shower of dust downward.

“Oh my god, what the fuck?” Spliff adjusted her glasses as she and the others looked up at the wood boards above. Milloux held up the tablet, and now a large red contact was above them slowly moving through the house. It faded to green and disappeared quickly.

“Spirits of this house, we are here as friends. We want to help you and learn from you.”

Only silence. Milloux got them moving again and now they were nearly three quarters of the way to the back wall. The red light ahead of them faded and the sounds of weeping, scratching and rattling ceased. Milloux scanned the back area and found no more contacts.

“Wreath…”

“Why the hell did it say that?” Moxi asked.

“Sometimes the words aren’t clear to the app I think.”

“You think?” Gogo was getting angry and scared at the same time.

“Wreath…”

“Why did it say it again?” Radeo was now terrified and the repeated odd word wasn’t helping matters.

Milloux looked concerned for the first time and wasn’t sure what to do.

“Maybe we should…”

Behind and above them, the door at the top of the stairs slowly creaked open. They heard a single footstep, then another on the creaky steps. A heavy, unseen set of feet slowly descended into the basement. At the same time, the lights began to flicker and with a pop went out leaving them in darkness save for the tablet glow.

The girls stood frozen in terror, momentarily blinded as their eyes adjusted to the sudden inky blackness. Slowly, Milloux raised the tablet to the stairs. Their eyes widened as they saw a bright red contact over a man who stood staring at them in old fashioned clothes. His eyes were completely black.

“Wreath…”

“Who the fuck is that and why does it keep saying ‘Wreath?’” Radeo was shaking and her words were uneven.

“It’s Edward. And it’s not getting the word right maybe.” She paused and said, “Is that you Edward? We mean you no harm. What are you trying to tell us?”

The man’s right hand lifted and he pointed at them and disappeared. The radar beeped and a large red contact appeared behind them. Milloux and the girls spun around and as the tablet focus its infrared view they saw Edward right behind them, empty black eye sockets gaping and his hands came up quickly towards them.

“Wrath.”

As the app translated the spirit’s voice, Milloux dropped it. The tablet shattered on the cold stone floor. Darkness and panic were followed by screams and silence.

THE END


Robert Ropars is a Chicago based horror author, liberal/progressive, Doctor Who fanatic and bullying surTHRIVEor. You can get more of him on Kindle and Nook. For more, visit his WordPress Library.

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Jun 2012 15

by Steven-Elliot Altman (SG Member: Steven_Altman)

Our Fiction Friday serialized novel, The Killswitch Review, finished last Friday. You can therefore read the complete Killswitch Review online.

The Killswitch Review is a futuristic murder mystery with killer sociopolitical commentary (and some of the best sex scenes we’ve ever read!). Written by bestselling sci-fi author Steven-Elliot Altman (with Diane DeKelb-Rittenhouse), it offers a terrifying postmodern vision in the tradition of Blade Runner and Brave New World.

The Complete Killswitch Review

Fiction Friday: The Killswitch Review – Chapter One
Fiction Friday: The Killswitch Review – Chapter One, Part Two
Fiction Friday: The Killswitch Review – Chapter One, Part Three
Fiction Friday: The Killswitch Review – Chapter One, Part Four
Fiction Friday: The Killswitch Review – Chapter Two, Part One
Fiction Friday: The Killswitch Review – Chapter Two, Part Two
Fiction Friday: The Killswitch Review – Chapter Two, Part Three
Fiction Friday: The Killswitch Review – Chapter Three, Part One
Fiction Friday: The Killswitch Review – Chapter Three, Part Two
Fiction Friday: The Killswitch Review – Chapter Three, Part Three
Fiction Friday: The Killswitch Review – Chapter Four, Part One
Fiction Friday: The Killswitch Review – Chapter Four, Part Two
Fiction Friday: The Killswitch Review – Chapter Four, Part Three
Fiction Friday: The Killswitch Review – Chapter Five, Part One
Fiction Friday: The Killswitch Review – Chapter Five, Part Two
Fiction Friday: The Killswitch Review – Chapter Five, Part Three
Fiction Friday: The Killswitch Review – Chapter Six, Part One
Fiction Friday: The Killswitch Review – Chapter Six, Part Two
Fiction Friday: The Killswitch Review – Chapter Six, Part Three
Fiction Friday: The Killswitch Review – Chapter Seven, Part One
Fiction Friday: The Killswitch Review – Chapter Seven, Part Two
Fiction Friday: The Killswitch Review – Chapter Seven, Part Three
Fiction Friday: The Killswitch Review – Chapter Seven, Part Four
Fiction Friday: The Killswitch Review – Chapter Seven, Part Five
Fiction Friday: The Killswitch Review – Chapter Eight, Part One
Fiction Friday: The Killswitch Review – Chapter Eight, Part Two
Fiction Friday: The Killswitch Review – Chapter Eight, Part Three
Fiction Friday: The Killswitch Review – Chapter Nine, Part One
Fiction Friday: The Killswitch Review – Chapter Nine, Part Two
Fiction Friday: The Killswitch Review – Chapter Nine, Part Three
Fiction Friday: The Killswitch Review – Chapter Nine, Part Four
Fiction Friday: The Killswitch Review – Chapter Nine, Part Five
Fiction Friday: The Killswitch Review – Chapter Ten, Part One
Fiction Friday: The Killswitch Review – Chapter Ten, Part Two
Fiction Friday: The Killswitch Review – Chapter Ten, Part Three
Fiction Friday: The Killswitch Review – Chapter Eleven, Part One
Fiction Friday: The Killswitch Review – Chapter Eleven, Part Two
Fiction Friday: The Killswitch Review – Chapter Eleven, Part Three
Fiction Friday: The Killswitch Review – Chapter Eleven, Part Four
Fiction Friday: The Killswitch Review – Chapter Eleven, Part Five
Fiction Friday: The Killswitch Review – The Final Installment

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Jun 2012 13

by Blogbot

For the best part of a decade Rapture of The Nerds was essentially a two part trilogy, which, like a threesome without a third person, though fun, lacked its defining and completing part. A veritable Crosby and Stills, awaiting a Nash (and with no hope of being joined by a bonus Young), Cory Doctorow and Charles Stross’ jointly-penned post-singularity novellas Jury Service (2002) and Appeals Court (2004) languished, with fans resigning themselves to the fact that they may remain, for all eternity, a duo. But now, thanks in part to a rather random April Fools joke, a third installment of the adventures of an uploaded and rather curmudgeonly consciousness called Huw is about to be unleashed. For many a geek, the completion of the triptych is as miraculous as the father and son being joined by the holy ghost. But since sci-fi fans don’t put much weight in blind faith when it comes to trinities, the good Dr. Doctorow offered up this excerpt to SG by way of empirical proof of the September 4th third coming of Huw. – NP, SG Ed.

THE RAPTURE OF THE NERDS

by Cory Doctorow and Charles Stross

Welcome to the fractured future, at the dusk of the twenty-first century.

Earth has a population of roughly a billion hominids. For the most part, they are happy with their lot, living in a preserve at the bottom of a gravity well. Those who are unhappy have emigrated, joining one or another of the swarming densethinker clades that fog the inner solar system with a dust of molecular machinery so thick that it obscures the sun.

The splintery metaconsciousness of the solar-system has largely sworn off its pre-post-human cousins dirtside, but its minds sometimes wander…and when that happens, it casually spams Earth’s networks with plans for cataclysmically disruptive technologies that emulsify whole industries, cultures, and spiritual systems. A sane species would ignore these get-evolved-quick schemes, but there’s always someone who’ll take a bite from the forbidden apple.

So until the overminds bore of stirring Earth’s anthill, there’s Tech Jury Service: random humans, selected arbitrarily, charged with assessing dozens of new inventions and ruling on whether to let them loose. Young Huw, a technophobic, misanthropic Welshman, has been selected for the latest jury, a task he does his best to perform despite an itchy technovirus, the apathy of the proletariat, and a couple of truly awful moments on bathroom floors…

***

“I hope you enjoy the facilities here,” says the gorilla with a wink. “Nothing but the best for our expert witnesses—we have hot and cold running everything.”

It’s a far cry from jury duty accommodation in a crappy backpacker’s hostel in dusty Tripoli. Huw dials her time right up (sinfully extravagant: it’s the same kind of costly acceleration that got her into trouble when 639,219 called her on it) and orders the whirlpool-equipped hot tub with champagne to appear in the bathroom. Then she climbs in to marinate for subjective hours (a handful of seconds in everyone else’s reference frame) and to unkink for the first time in ages. After all, it’s not as if she’s consuming real resources here. And she needs to relax, recenter her emotions the natural way, and do some serious plotting.

Of course, the sim is far too realistic. A virtual champagne bath should somehow manage to keep the champagne drinking-temp cold while still feeling warm to the touch. And it shouldn’t be sticky and hot and flat; it should feel like champagne does when it hits your tongue—icy and bubbly and fizzy. And when Huw’s nonbladder feels uncomfortably full and relaxed in the hot liquid and she lets a surreptitious stream loose, it should be magicked away, not instantly blended in with the vintage Veuve to make an instant tubworth of piss-mimosa.

This is what comes of having too much compute-time at one’s disposal, Huw seethes. In constraint, there is discipline, the need to choose how much reality you’re going to import and model. Sitting on an Io’s worth of computronium has freed the Galactic Authority—and isn’t that an unimaginative corker of a name? — from having to choose. And with her own self simulated as hot and wide as she can be bothered with, she can feel every unpleasant sensation, each individual sticky bubble, each droplet clinging to her body as she hops out of the tub and into the six-jet steam-shower for a top-to-bottom rinse, and then grabs a towel —every fiber slightly stiff and plasticky, as if fresh out of the wrapper and never properly laundered to relax the fibers—and dries off. She discovers that she is hyperaware, hyperalert, feeling every grain of not-dust in the not-air individually as it collides with her not-skin.

Oh, oh, oh, enough, she wants to shout. What is the point of all this rubbish?

This is the thing that Huw has never wanted to admit: Her primary beef against the singularity has never been existential — it’s aesthetic. The power to be a being of pure thought, the unlimited, unconstrained world of imagination, and we build a world of animated gifs, stupid sight gags, lame van-art avatars, brain-dead “playful” environments, and brain-dead flame wars augmented by animated emoticons that allowed participants to express their hackneyed ad hominems, concern-trollery, and Godwin’s law violations through the media of cartoon animals and oversized animated genitals.

Whether or not sim-Huw is really Huw, whether or not uploading is a kind of death, whether or not posthumanity is immortal or just kidding itself, the single, inviolable fact remains: Human simspace is no more tasteful than the architectural train wreck that the Galactic Authority has erected. The people who live in it have all the aesthetic sense of a senile jackdaw. Huw is prepared to accept — for the sake of argument, mind — that uploading leaves your soul intact, but she is never going give one nanometer on the question of whether uploading leaves your taste intact. If the Turing test measured an AI’s capacity to conduct itself with a sense of real style, all of simspace would be revealed for a machine-sham. Give humanity a truly unlimited field, and it would fill it with Happy Meal toys and holographic, sport-star, collectible trading card game art.

There’s a whole gang of dirtside refuseniks who make this their primary objection to transcendence. They’re severe Bauhaus cosplayers, so immaculately and plainly turned out that they look more like illustrations than humans. Huw’s never felt any affinity for them — too cringeworthy, too like a Southern belle who comes down with the vapors at the sight of a fish knife laid where the dessert fork is meant to go. It always felt unserious to object to a major debate over human evolution with an argument about style.

But Huw appreciates their point, and has spent his and then her entire life complaining instead about the ineffable and undefinable humanness that is lost when someone departs for the cloud. She’s turned her back on her parents, refused to take their calls from beyond the grave, she’s shut herself up in her pottery with only the barest vestige of a social life, remade herself as someone who is both a defender of humanity and a misanthrope. All the while, she’s insisted — mostly to herself, because, as she now sees with glittering clarity, no one else gave a shit — that the source of her concerns all along has been metaphysical.

The reality that stares her in the face now, as she reclines on the impeccably rendered 20-million-count non-Egyptian noncotton nonsheets, is that it’s always been a perfectly normal, absolutely subjective, totally meaningless dispute over color schemes.

Now she’s got existential angst.

<#>

The Burj Khalifa’s in-room TV gets an infinity of channels, evidently cross-wired from the cable feed for Hilbert’s hotel. It uses some evolutionary computing system to generate new programs on the fly, every time you press the channel-up button. This isn’t nearly as banal as Huw imagined it might be when she read about it on the triangular-folded cardboard standup that materialized in her hand as she reached for the remote. That’s because — as the card explained — the Burj has enough computation to model captive versions of Huw at extremely high speed, and to tailor the programming by sharpening its teeth against these instances-in-a-bottle so that every press of the button brings up eye-catching, attention-snaring material: soft-core pornography that involves pottery, mostly.

Huw would like nothing better than to relax with the goggle-box and let her mind be lovingly swaddled in intellectual flannel, but her mind isn’t having any of it. The more broadly parallel she runs, the more meta-cognition she finds herself indulging in, so that even as she lies abed, propped up by a hill of pillows the size of a Celtic burial mound, her thoughts are doing something like this:

• Oh, that’s interesting, never thought of doing that sort of thing with glaze.• Too interesting, if you ask me, it’s not natural, that kind of interesting, they’ve got to be simulating gigaHuws to come up with that sort of realtime optimization.• There’ll be hordes of Huw-instances being subjected to much-less-interesting versions of this program and winking out of existence as soon as they get bored.• Hell, I could be one of those instances, my life dangling on a frayed thread of attention.• Every time I press the channel-up button, I execute thousands — millions? billions? — of copies of myself.• Why don’t I care more about them? It’s insane and profligate cruelty but here’s me blithely pressing channel-up.• Whoa, that’s interesting — she looks awfully like Bonnie, but with a bum that’s a little bit more like that girl I fancied in college.• I could die at any instant, just by losing attention and pressing channel up.• That’s wild, never noticed how those muscles — quadrati lumborum? — spring out when someone’s at the wheel, that bloke’s got QLs for days.• If I were really ethically opposed to this sort of thing, I’d be vomming in my mouth with rage at the thought of all those virtual people springing into existence and being snuffed out.• But I’m not, am I? Hypocrite, liar, poseur, mincing aesthete, that’s me, yeah? • So long as it’s interesting and stylish, I’ll forgive anything.• I’ve got as much existential introspection as a Mario sprite.

Enough, already, she tells herself, and cools herself down to a single thread, then slows that down, hunting for the sweet spot at the junction of stupidity and calm. Then finding it, she settles down and watches TV for a hundred subjective years, slaughtering invisible hordes of herself without a moment’s thought.

Satori.

***

The Rapture of The Nerds excerpt reprinted with the kind permission of Tor Books.

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by Steven-Elliot Altman (SG Member: Steven_Altman)

Our Fiction Friday serialized novel, The Killswitch Review, is a futuristic murder mystery with killer sociopolitical commentary (and some of the best sex scenes we’ve ever read!). Written by bestselling sci-fi author Steven-Elliot Altman (with Diane DeKelb-Rittenhouse), it offers a terrifying postmodern vision in the tradition of Blade Runner and Brave New World

By the year 2156, stem cell therapy has triumphed over aging and disease, extending the human lifespan indefinitely. But only for those who have achieved Conscientious Citizen Status. To combat overpopulation, the U.S. has sealed its borders, instituted compulsory contraception and a strict one child per couple policy for those who are permitted to breed, and made technology-assisted suicide readily available. But in a world where the old can remain vital forever, America’s youth have little hope of prosperity.

Jason Haggerty is an investigator for Black Buttons Inc, the government agency responsible for dispensing personal handheld Kevorkian devices, which afford the only legal form of suicide. An armed “Killswitch” monitors and records a citizen’s final moments — up to the point where they press a button and peacefully die. Post-press review agents — “button collectors” — are dispatched to review and judge these final recordings to rule out foul play.

When three teens stage an illegal public suicide, Haggerty suspects their deaths may have been murders. Now his race is on to uncover proof and prevent a nationwide epidemic of copycat suicides. Trouble is, for the first time in history, an entire generation might just decide they’re better off dead.

(Catch up with the previous installments of Killswitch – see links below – then read the finale after the jump…)

[..]

postimg
Jun 2012 01

by Steven-Elliot Altman (SG Member: Steven_Altman)

Our Fiction Friday serialized novel, The Killswitch Review, is a futuristic murder mystery with killer sociopolitical commentary (and some of the best sex scenes we’ve ever read!). Written by bestselling sci-fi author Steven-Elliot Altman (with Diane DeKelb-Rittenhouse), it offers a terrifying postmodern vision in the tradition of Blade Runner and Brave New World

By the year 2156, stem cell therapy has triumphed over aging and disease, extending the human lifespan indefinitely. But only for those who have achieved Conscientious Citizen Status. To combat overpopulation, the U.S. has sealed its borders, instituted compulsory contraception and a strict one child per couple policy for those who are permitted to breed, and made technology-assisted suicide readily available. But in a world where the old can remain vital forever, America’s youth have little hope of prosperity.

Jason Haggerty is an investigator for Black Buttons Inc, the government agency responsible for dispensing personal handheld Kevorkian devices, which afford the only legal form of suicide. An armed “Killswitch” monitors and records a citizen’s final moments — up to the point where they press a button and peacefully die. Post-press review agents — “button collectors” — are dispatched to review and judge these final recordings to rule out foul play.

When three teens stage an illegal public suicide, Haggerty suspects their deaths may have been murders. Now his race is on to uncover proof and prevent a nationwide epidemic of copycat suicides. Trouble is, for the first time in history, an entire generation might just decide they’re better off dead.

(Catch up with the previous installments of Killswitch – see links below – then continue reading after the jump…)

[..]

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