Short Story Time: Talking Heads

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Studying behavior can be fun!  We can do thought experiments, like hard-assed physicists when they bend the universe to fit the speed of light, or put their heads inside a proton in order to get to know quarks and gluons better.

Our thought experiments take the form of short stories, generally known as science fiction.  Enjoy!

 

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Walter looked upon two graceful women in shimmering, semi-transparent robes.  They revealed enough to excite.

“He’s reacting well, like an alpha male of his time,” the older one said.  “Welcome to the future, Walter.  Not many heads made it from your era.  Yvette will be your guide for now.  I’ll be going.”  She gave instructions to the young woman and left.

Walter winced in pain.  The young lady stroked his temple and neck so gently he immediately felt at peace.

“Walter, go slowly.”  She continued stroking, and he looked her over.  She was twenty, curvaceous, and perfectly formed.  She was tall, and nothing about her calmed him.

He had a body!  He had signed up for freezing his head for centuries, until the future could cure his disease.  Now here he was!  Could he talk?

Talk he did.  As he warmed up, he asked Yvette many questions, and she answered him patiently, lovingly.

The body was built of his own cells.  They made improvements, and he would live a normal life.  His former profession was making “movies,” but there was still a need for storytellers.  He would have to learn new techniques.

He could walk now.  There were no cities, no tall building, no monorails.  These had all been deemed dangerous to the environment, Yvette explained.  Terrans lived in harmony with nature.  Machines were only found on Luna and Mars.

We colonized space? Walter asked.

“Of course.  We have also perfected our bodies and our society.  We learned how to alter DNA directly, no need for random pairings.  Every child is carefully engineered, and improved.”

No falling in love, no husband and wife?

“Wife?” she laughed.  “A concept males used to subjugate females for a million years.  No, the husband is history.”

I’m a man, I have deep feelings.  You are someone that I could easily fall in love with.

“You will find that we are all, as you would say, desirable.  Humanity is all female.  How old am I?” she demanded.  Walter shared his thoughts.  “I’m 50, my mentor over 90.”

I’m surrounded by millions of beautiful women?

“Yes, you are.  And according to history, you were quite randy, weren’t you?”

Walter confessed the truth.  But he remembered the 1960’s well, and hoped this future was as sexually enlightened.  He was looking forward to making many new friends.  Yvette laughed.

“I’m sure you are.  But the only way you can experience sexual stimulation will be through a deep brain stimulator we have implanted.  Here is your special button that only you can access,” pointing to his groin.  “We also removed your sex organs.”

Walter held onto a tree, looking at his lap.  The world spun, even as Yvette continued.  “Now, let me show you where you’ll be living for the rest of your life.”

 

Show me the science

On the last two Funday Fridays I noted how science, the process of learning, could be fun by using thought experiments.  I declared that there are professional science fiction writers who regularly use this exercise to entertain us.  But exactly where in their science fiction is the ‘science’ part?

It’s in the stretch!  For instance, take a story that has humans floating around in outer space.  One of the things the writer has to account for is how the people will deal with vast distances – time and space itself.  Everything they do will take a long long time to execute, whether it’s going from point A to point B, or even painting a room.  How do these fundamental changes impact other ‘laws’ of behavior?  How does it impact relationships?

Or, taking the same scenario, what does the fact that everyone is going to be living in super-close proximity to each other mean to their mental health?  After all, they aren’t going to be building huge barns for every person.

Then again, if the story has them acting just as if they are still on Earth, then the fact that they are floating in space is irrelevant.  And it’s a poor writer who doesn’t take advantage of that fact.

What about robots and our bodies?  What happens when I take my brain and put it into a machine – a perfect, strong, large, machine?  Did I mention my machine is always connected to the internet?  And that it never sleeps, or needs to be plugged in?  What happens?  Will I become power-mad and try to take over the world?  Will I lose my capacity to love another human, forgetting my wife?  Or will I become a better lover, being able to wait patiently for eons to service her every whim, like a refrigerator?

And what happens when you bring dinosaurs to life, or introduce a space-based killer virus, or build a house that folds into multiple higher dimensions?  So many possibilities, and all of them really explore our behavior.  Not science as technology, not even science as knowledge, but science as a way to learn more about ourselves.

Science.  Fun.  Who knew?

Lunar Comedy

There are a lot of people out there who believe that the future of the human species relies on getting us to live in places far, far away. Not just in Hawaii, but on the Moon, or Mars. Or even further away than than.

The Moon seems like a good place to start, though, because it’s so close. Close is relative. It’s not as close to me as Florida, but it’s the closest thing that is not Earth. So let’s pick on the Moon for now, as being the next best place for people to live.

What should we call people who live on the Moon for their entire lives? Mooners? Moonies? Lunars? Lunies? Lunarians? For now, I’ll call them Loonites. No reason, except that it sounds funny for now.

Funny. That’s a hot topic. Funny wasn’t always hot. There was a time, not so long ago, before television, where funny was something that people saw once in a blue moon. Only the richest people could afford live funny time, in the form of a court jester.

Being a court jester wasn’t an easy job, either. If you were a court jester, you had an incredibly tough audience of one person, the King. If the King liked you, you had a good night’s sleep on a full stomach. If you had a bad day and the King didn’t like you, there was a good chance you’d be dead!

Nowadays it’s not as tough to be a comedian, but sometimes it feels that way. The difference is that comedy is the King, and comedians have become Kings in their own right. The best of them can make millions of dollars a year. In many ways, we can consider today’s society a society of comedy.

Which brings us back to the Moon. Lunites are going to be very busy. They will be working hard to survive, mining minerals for the people on Earth, working solar energy farms sending electricity back to the home planet, and continually digging new tunnels in order to expand their cramped living conditions. What will the Lunites do for fun?

It’s a good question. We don’t know. We do know that there were people just like the Lunites, living in the Boston area a few hundred years ago. They didn’t do much for fun because they were busy trying to survive for many decades. The Pilgrims were a pretty “grim” people for quite a few years. If you read some of the things they considered funny, you probably wouldn’t even crack a smile.

My guess is that the Lunites are going to be even busier than the Pilgrims. They won’t have as much free time, let alone time to spend having fun. They will have to spend more years making sure they can survive, because of several things. First, they won’t have other natives to help them, like the native Indians helped the first Pilgrims. Second, their mother country isn’t a few thousand kilometers away to keep sending more people or food. The Lunites’s mother country will be almost half a million kilometers away. Thirdly, the Moon won’t be full of resources that the Lunites can harvest easily. Vital things like water and air are going to have to be pulled by force from the Lunar soil. The Pilgrims were able to easily breathe the air, find a nearby fresh-water stream, and hunt fish and birds for food.

So, what will the Lunites do for fun? I don’t think they will do very much. I think they will be known as a very boring and busy people for many generations. Earth people will make fun of them for being different, and this will start a process where the Lunites truly become a society different from Earth.

These are my thoughts. What are yours?