The second issue of the Sci Phi journal, wherein philosophy and science fiction meet, have a beer and argue into the wee hours about such conundrums as the ethics of creating wildly implausible backstories to explain various flavors of Klingon brow ridges*, features another fine set of stories and essays and is available now for your reading and musing pleasure, here and here.
Here I’ll look at a couple of the stories, Later, I’ll review an essay or 2.**
Ghosts, by Peter Sean Bradley, is the kind of twisted and darkly humorous story that’s right up my alley. To tell much of it would be to give away the punchline, as it were. The story starts by describing a scene wherein certain people are doing their best to enjoy the ambient social and moral chaos: the narrator is attending the wedding of a dear aunt of his, and runs through a brief history of their relationship which is depressingly realistic:
After my mother and her father had split up, Jennie and I remained good friends throughout the nightmare years of Junior and Senior high school.
And they had been nightmare years as both of our fathers and mothers moved in and out of relationships and marriages and our custody schedules and homes were constantly changing.
Yea, this is reality for many of the kids I know. The determination and force used by the putative adults involved to deny the emotional reality of their behaviors on their children knows few bounds.
Anyway, this is a happy time, despite his son showing up with a foot growing out of his forehead: Jennie is getting married – to a strip mall. It’s all downhill, uphill and all around from there. Good, well-written story.
Another couple stories address the possible downsides of submitting to our AI overlords once the Singularity has come to pass. In the First Step, Emmanuel A. Mateo-Morales tells of a transhuman who has created heaven on earth – all that remains is to hand it over to the AI and ‘people’ it. There are some narrow minded primitives that object – imagine! And a friend, after a fashion, who would warn him. The chief philosophical issue here is gravity: do ideas tend to play themselves out over time, despite how our temperament might irrationally oppose them? We may not feel like being hopeless mass murderers for reasons of taste – but are we inexorably driven there by our nihilism?
The Quantum Process by David Hallquist tackles a different question – when we obtain immortality by duplicating our consciousness, what does that look like from the now-redundant backup’s point of view?
All in all, a fun read and a noble project. I’m even now putting together a list of friends who might be interested in a little mental exercise that’s none-the-less fun. Go, make disciples!
* I just made that up. I think.
** In case any of my three regular readers are wondering: the implicitly promised second half of the review of issue #1 turned into an interminable and stiffly-worded essay full of excruciating detail on what the Matrix trilogy is really trying to tell us that I submitted for publication in a moment of foolishness. I’ll post it here once it’s clear whatever tiny chance it may have had is most sincerely dead.