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The International Writers Magazine
: Dreamscapes Fiction about the Future

Life 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 humans.

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 the universe.
Bohr had told Einstein the same thing. Einstein had proved Bohr wrong.

© Rev Antonio Hernandez Feb 2005

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