The International Writers Magazine: Dreamscapes Fiction about
with the Bradstones
Rev. Dr. Antonio Hernández
Dedicated to Philip Kindred Dick
There wasn't much time left to get
Addy to school, and her mother raced to see that the books were
organized in her case, as Addy finished preparing her lunch. The
day was crisp and clear, a happy season for the Bradstone Family.
With just Leonard, Marge and their daughter, Addy, they lead a quiet
life, a peaceful life.
They felt fulfilled
and somehow expansive, contented yet excited about life, about the future.
Leonard would joke that the trouble with the future is that it isn't
what it used to be, quoting the poet Valéry. Marge would laugh
and retort the same thing: "What the hell did it used to be, honey?"
It was always a much enjoyed exchange in the Bradstone household.
After all, the Bradstones were robots.
Leonard wasn't helped by two things: he had a rather ancient recall
ability, and Margie wasn't too happy about it, for some illogical reason.
Leonard often regaled Marge and Addy about the day when cell phone technology
was all the rage. He bemused the family with horror stories of the day
when fiction was anti-droid, beginning with the paranoid stories of
a man named Dick, and ultimately ending with the introduction of ASIMO.
ASIMO was the first true robot. Built by the Sony Corporation of Japan,
made available commercially in the year 2004, it was named after another
tech-paranoid writer called Asimov. Leonard liked to scare Addy by reciting
passages from Asimov's best-remembered novel, I, Robot.
"Are you trying your best to give Addy nightmares?" Marge
would demand. But Leonard and Addy just laughed. Those silly times of
anti-tech feelings were long gone. No evil genius or alien race ever
designed human replicates, no company ever produced a robot with a sensitive
or psychopathic personality. In fact, wars virtually ended and society
matured, considerably, when robots finally walked the streets.
Thinking of the "color lines", the wicked separation of the
brown-skinned humans from the pale in the middle of the 20th century,
Leonard happily realized that there was no "tech line" and
there never would be. Though Asimov, Dick, Curry, Reynaldo, Mannisch
and others worked very hard in the 20th and twenty-first centuries to
establish it, there would never be one. Not ever.
The Bradstones knew all about the great mathematician Norbert Wiener,
a man not unlike themselves. They were mildly interested in his decrepit
science of Cybernetics, because it addressed the failure in communications,
resulting from a closed system's prime directing unit. But in the 20th
century, Leonard said, people in their lack of attention invented "cyborg"
stories. The cyborg, standing for "cybernetic organism", was
another terror tactic, this time to scare humans with tales of how they
would become "roboticized", or made partially synthetic. The
cyborg was always evil in those days.
It amused the entire family that the human who invented the first more
or less robotic organ, Dr. Robert Jarvik, had people lined up around
the park, all waiting for one of his artificial hearts. Leonard, much
to Marge's irritation, repeatedly recounted tales of the first integrations
of robotic parts into human anatomy. He always laughed when he said,
"Now, many humans are more tech than we are!"
Tetrabots had eradicated human diseases. Leonard said it was payback
for the 20th century humans who first created then eradicated computer
viruses, and had dared to dream of mere nanobots in the same breath.
Humans lived to be well over a century nowadays, and people in their
middle age could not be distinguished from centenarians. They often
went out of their way to thank any robot they knew, because many were
like Leonard, with ancient recall.
Marge, who was of a religious bent, would joke, "Who knew that
the Messiah would be a robot?", and Leonard would snort and laugh
uproariously. But they acknowledged that most humans grew sagely and
wise, very quickly, thanks to the near-absolute guarantee that they
would live to see an age of at least 115. What generation would want
to literally live through an entire hundred-years war, even if war was
only an ungainly theory? It generated food for thought very early among
Leonard was familiar with a novel from the middle of the 20th century.
That century was Leonard's favorite, for it saw the dawn of almost everything
important. The novel, written by psychologist B.F. Skinner and entitled
Walden Two, essentially considered the psychological differences
between utopianists. The character who builds the utopian city-state
is contrasted with the professor, an indifferent former classmate of
his. The novel ends with the shock of the professor returning to live
in Walden Two, the utopian town.
It struck Leonard that utopianism is the engine that drives humans.
It always has been, and it always would be. Aside from "utopia"
in its strictest sense, Leonard viewed it more as an idyll, an Elysian
Field or paradise-on-earth. Each and every human had a utopia, longingly
visualized and in some cases dangerously realized to some degree. Leonard
wondered in whose utopia he was now living. Marge would have dismissed
his metaphysical ruminating out of hand; there are no utopias, only
Bohr had told Einstein the same thing. Einstein had proved Bohr wrong.
© Rev Antonio Hernandez Feb 2005
ideas and fiction in Futures
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