2043: Stories for the After Times
A futuristic whimsy of diminutive proportions
The following post is one of a series of 6 articles written simultaneously by separate authors who cast a vision of the year 2043. The authors have written their pieces in isolation with no collaboration between them.
We would like you to read all 6 articles and subscribe to the ones you like if you haven’t already. The authors and their posts are: Good Citizen, Yuri Bezmenov, Winston Smith, John Carter, Mark Bisone.
2043: Stories for the After Times
“And that, boy, is the tale of The Great Election Wars of 2024 to 2028. Brutal wars, they were. The first wars to be fought entirely in the Great MemeSpace, you know!” Old John’s eyes stare up into the distance of memory, with the remembrance of past glories, bitter defeats, and lost comrades, some real, some entirely imaginary.
“But Grandpapa, how could real people fight in MemeSpace?”
“Come now, little Billy. You know that in those times people spent all their time online. Where else would they fight them? Ahh, yes. We lost many souls in those days.”
“Grandpapa, people couldn’t die online!”
“Stuff and nonsense, boy! Of course they could. You don’t see them now, do you? Well, there you have it.” There he did have it. Billy couldn’t figure out what to say to that. The fire crackled. The stars shone. The night was clear and cool. The logic was sound. “Father was pitted against son, mother against daughter, that’s how it was. Only back in those days, sons could be daughters, and fathers could be mothers, you see.”
“Really? Fathers had babies like mommies do?”
“Indeed! Different times they were. But that’s not the point, Billy. You see, it’s what came next that changed everything. Twenty-twenty-nine. The Year of the Four Presidents, each one older than the last. Eighty-five, ninety, a hundred and three! They popped off like flies in those days.” John chuckles to himself. “Older than I am, they were, and that’s sayin’ somethin’!”
“But how could there be so many PresBots?”
“Billy, these were the days before PresBot, back when presidents were real octogenarians. Well, first there was what’s-his-face. He won the last Great Election War, remember. Only spent 4 months in office, he did, tho’. Most of his victory points turned out to be Russian memes! But rumor had it the other what’s-his-face rigged the game even more. For every Russian meme there were 1.3 spectral voters. Now, folks could swallow a cheated election by then, but swallowing one twice cheated? Well, a man’s gullet can only swallow so much!”
“Even spectrals voted?”
“Like I said, Billy, different times, different times. Only technically, spectrals weren’t allowed to vote. Though I don’t see why not! Perfectly fine people, I say.”
The passing spectral overhearing this conversation could not but be amused. His laughter was a cool breeze, fanning the campfire flames.
“Where was I? Ahh. The other what’s-his-name was so wizened he made your old grandpapa here look like a day-old plum! But he croaked soon after, making way for Presidents Gurney, Nappy, and Dribbles, as we called them. Gurney’s heart stopped after a month of presidenting. Nappy passed in his sleep during a press conference in New Berlin. And Dribbles— Well, Dribbles was Speaker, and it turned out she’d already been dead for weeks! Nobody could tell the difference. Made for an awkward first few weeks of presidenting, it did!”
“But how did everything change?”
“Climate change, you say? Back in those days, racism caused the weather, you know, and the only way to fix it was eatin’ bugs! Still can’t figure it out, myself, but it worked, by golly. The world stopped a-warming—perhaps a tad too much, mind you.” If they but peered upwards to the north they could see the giant wall of ice stretching into the distance—a cool bolt of icy blue reflecting the pale starlight. “But stopped it did!”
“No, grandpapa, you said everything changed. How did it change?”
“Oh, dear me, yes. The Great Preset, dear boy. No, wait, that was later. The Great Unboxing, it was! But, oh dear, your old grandpappy’s getting ahead of himself. Back then, the grabby grabbers had a great plan to change everything, but they dipped their grubby fingers into the porridge before it was fully cooked, if you catch my drift. People didn’t want to be happy with nothing, you see. They wanted to be happy with something. But the grabbers thought nothing was good enough for the likes of us. Hornswoggled by their own memes, they were!
“Well, the Election Wars spread, until the whole world was a-warring and a-meming. It got to the point that a fellow couldn’t tell one meme from the next, and nobody was happy, even with what they had already—which wasn’t much, truth to tell. Presidents were all either old codgers or young hipsters, and no one paid them much mind anymore. People even started to question the point of Election Wars. The victory points didn’t seem to make a difference, and one president was as gimcrack as any other.
“That’s when Brock Cocksman, the World’s Greatest Coder, first had the idea for PresBot. Legend says he coded for forty days and nights straight, fueled only by his love for freedom, and by the end, he’d created the perfect president. He tied it up in a box and presented it to the world. Everyone agreed—democracy was too important to leave in the hands of codgers and hipsters, Russian memes and spectrals.
“All the great leaders, with all their nurses and aides, got together for the Great Unboxing and together they launched the Great Preset.”
“Why was it called the Great Preset, Grandpapa?”
“None of the old codgers could work the remote, see! So PresBot launched with its Original Factory Settings, blessed be their name—and that’s the way it has run since before you were born, Billy. From then on, Election Wars would be truly electrodemocratic.”
“I know this part, Grandpapa! PresBot reads all our memes and knows all our deepest meme-thoughts, so every vote counts! Then the memes go a-warring, and whichever PresBot Skin has the most vote-bots gets the most victory points and wins the Election War!”
“That’s the gist of it, son. So who will you vote for tomorrow?”
“I suppose only PresBot knows for sure … I’ll find out after the Skin Match like everyone else. But DemFemSkin512 sure is pretty! But I think I RepBroSkin735 has shinier weapons mods.”
“But which will be a better PresBot, Billy?”
“PresBot is One, Grandpapa, everybody knows that!”
“Oh! right you are, Billy, right you are. You know, back when I was your age, in the Before Times, presidents had different ways of doing things. Some spoke real nice, some talked in memes. Most started wars, but some tried to stop ’em. But I suppose they weren’t much different than PresBot, come to think.”
“Well, some wore red and some wore blue. Some even wore green! But underneath, they were still all codgers and hipsters!”
“Green? Like in the ScandLands? PresBot only comes in two shades of green there, you know.”
“Oh yes, we had our greens then. Some rainbows too!”
Billy found this highly amusing. He always did find New Canadians a bit silly, what with their rainbow broadswords representing a symbol of their individuality and belief in personal freedom.
“Why aren’t your stories in the Great MemeSpace, Grandpapa?”
“Oh?” Old John’s bushy eyebrows rose up so high they near put hair back on his noggin. “They aren’t, are they? Well, I suppose a thing’s only as good as its hard-to-findness, Billy, and a story even more so! You won’t find stories like this in the MemeSpace, no sir.”
“Well, what does the MemeSpace say about the Before Times?”
“Well… Hmm… Well…” Billy was stumped for sure. “That they were the Before Times! You can’t have stories before you have the times to tell ’em!”
“Now that’s a-thinkin’! PresBot doesn’t need no Before Times stories, and very few After Times, either. People don’t need what they don’t want, and twelve years without a-warring—well, I s’pose havin’ no stories is the price they paid for it.”
The fire was dying down by now. Billy was thinking on all the stories he knew. Did he know more stories than PresBot? But if PresBot knew them—and surely he must know them—then why didn’t he tell them? Most everything in MemeSpace was memes and Election Wars, which were great fun, but not nearly as fun as Grandpapa’s stories.
Old John, meanwhile, was thinking of all the stories he had yet to tell little Billy, hoping he had the time to tell them.
He stood up, kicked some dirt on the embers, and the two began the walk back home. Old John hummed an old forgotten song for whatever spectrals might be passing by—some lonely off-worlder, perhaps, maybe even his daughter. But he was getting wistful in his worn years.
Times were good. Maybe not so good as when he was a lad. But then, he’d lived so much since then. And he’d survived, unlike so many. Some things had changed. Others had changed dramatically. But the rest had stayed pretty much the same.
The time for the other stories would come. Or not. But little Billy would remember them, and tell them to his own grandchildren. Yes, they’d be there for when they were needed.
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Reading between the lines, I'm thinking some kind of neuralink interface that enables the AI to collate input from the population and adjust policies on the fly, but also has the ability to edit memories.
Harrison, will be linking all six articles today in a special edition of https://nothingnewunderthesun2016.com/
Will be reading all over the next few days when I get some time.