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A collection of short stories told from the perspectives of individuals who live in a future dystopian world, controlled by Artificial Intelligence. This is the first part of a two book series with work from some of the best of today's emerging writers.
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From the 3rd Story Productions Ltd
Copyright © Saranne Bensusan, Carmen Radtke, Fiona Leitch, Rachael Howard, Nick Jackson and Emma Pullar 2017
All Rights Reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced in any form or by any means without the written permission of the publishers.
The Anthropocene Chronicles
MAN HAS ORGANS HARVESTED FOR HAVING AN OFF-DAY
A Sector G telephone operator was terminated for organ harvesting yesterday after he broke several productivity laws during a three-day binge
Was this young man unlawfully punished?
“The laws are there to be followed. He broke the law and he was punished accordingly” said a government spokesperson.
But what if there is a more sinister reason behind this? Say an organ donor shortage on the Upper Levels?
LOVE AND OTHER CRIMES
OLD TREES DON’T BEND
To be continued…
Written by Carmen Radtke
20-22 Wenlock Road
First published in the United Kingdom by From the 3 rd Story Productions Ltd 2017
The authors have asserted their moral right to be identified as the authors of this work in accordance with the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act, 1988
Find out more about The Anthropocene Chronicles here: https://www.facebook.com/anthropocenechronicles/
What is “The Anthropocene Chronicles”? For me as a publisher it has not just been a collection of Sci-Fi stories set in a dystopian future, but a project allowing me to work with and some wonderfully talented authors that have each worked hard to enrich and develop the world and characters that you will read about throughout this book.
Each writer has something unique to bring to the collection and if you aren’t familiar with their work then you are in for a treat and having read these stories I am flattered to be able to get to be a part of them in some way, by bringing them to you.
Publisher’s Foreword by Lawrence Mallinson
The Anthropocene Chronicles
LOVE AND OTHER CRIMES
OLD TREES DON’T BEND
Hominids of the Genus Homo evolved during the Pleistocene epoch (between 2,588,000 to 11,700 years ago). There were several species of hominids during this time, and we, Homo sapiens, briefly shared time with Homo erectus (1.9 million – 143,000 years ago), and Homo neanderthalensis (100,000 – 25,000 years ago). Only one species of the genus Homo survived into the Holocene epoch 11,700 years ago. Us. Homo sapiens (190,000 years ago – present).
The Anthropocene is the geological epoch that follows on from the Holocene. It is thought that the Anthropocene started in the industrial revolution, with the onset on burning fossil fuels on an industrial scale, causing which is thought to be the start of man-made climate change. This is evidenced by atmospheric concentrations of CO2 (Carbon Dioxide) and CH4 (Methane) accumulating faster than normal. This was followed in the mid-20 th Century with testing and use of nuclear weapons, and the introduction of the wide use of plastics. These plastics are already in the oceans, and will form part of the geological record in millions of years time. It will be one of the geological markers for the Anthropocene. Other geological markers will be nuclear isotopes from the decay of nuclear weapons and energy use, and concrete from the construction industry. Humans have also had a major impact on the species we share our planet with, and species are now becoming extinct at a rate of 20-100 times faster than normal because of human activity. It is now thought that we have entered Earth’s 6 th mass extinction.
Smith, B.D., Zeder, M.A., The onset of the Anthropocene. Anthropocene (2013), http://dx.doi.org/ 10.1016/j.ancene.2013.05.001
Lewis, S.L., Maslin, M.A, Defining the Anthropocene Simon, Nature, MARCH 2015, VOL 519, pp 171-180
Rafferty, J.P., Anthropocene, Encyclopaedia Britannica
In the year 2160 there are 12 billion people on Earth. Humans have made a devastating impact on the planet, and following The Change, resources have become rationed and strict regimes have been implemented to keep the population healthy and minimise waste.
The Subcommission on Quaternary Stratigraphy confirmed that the earth had entered into a new geological epoch, moving from the Holocene to the Anthropocene, following major scientific debate and evidence that human activity has impacted upon the climate and environment of the planet in a significant and lasting way, making a permanent mark in the geological record.
All human life is now managed by the ‘state’, a computerised A.I. system which controls the lives of everyone to maximise productivity and safety, and minimise further human devastation on the planet, and provides one-to-one supervision and assistance to humans in the form of A.I. Units, varying from Cube devices to various robots for the better off. There is no crime as we know it today.
Animal farms have been eliminated as a measure of protecting the environment form further damage, and the entire human population is now vegan. To ensure global productivity, citizens from poorer backgrounds must work continuously underground without seeing the light of day, whilst the far fewer elite enjoy freedom and liberty above ground, with fresh air, sunlight, and time to pursue hobbies and dreams and have pets.
The below ground citizens are unaware that there is another possible life, and those above ground are unaware that all they have is at the expense of others underground.
These are a few of their stories.
Written by Saranne Bensusan
Emilie lives on her own in a small one-roomed apartment with no windows. It is little more than a 1980’s style box room if you are old enough to remember those, and hundreds of apartments like these are crammed into a 194 floor underground building to maximise the number of residents who can live there. And there are hundreds of buildings like this. As a result, everything feels cramped. There are no communal eating or socialising areas, and therefore no real opportunities for people to make friends. It is a lonely existence. The building is designed for workers, and to keep the workers as efficient as possible. Many millions of people live like this below ground because this is all they have known. Emilie has grown up being told that everybody lives underground because the earth’s surface has become uninhabitable due to nuclear fallout. She has never questioned the monotonous existence as a worker of the lowest class and accepts her lot without question, believing that this is just the way the world works. She has no idea that there are other levels of existence and assumes that everyone is just like her. She has never thought about other possibilities or ambitions outside of her own life.
Everything in Emilie’s apartment is clean and white, and simplistic in design. There is a tall daylight lamp in the corner that pops on in the morning to give the illusion of sunlight. Everything she needs for living is in the one room. She has a small cubicle for the shower and toilet. Her bed is small and in the corner of her room and there is a small area in another corner where she can prepare hot drinks and warm up food; and she has a small closet with seven days worth of work clothes, some gym clothes and sleeping jumpsuits, all of which are white. There are two pairs of shoes. One for the gym and the other for work. There are no other clothes or shoes.
Her apartment is minimalistic and technology based with no room to ‘collect’ belongings or nik naks. There are no books or ornaments, but there is a photo frame with pictures of family members, a docking station for mobile devices and a square digital device in the room, which is Emilie’s personal assistant Gina. Gina is part of an intricate structure of interconnecting AI devices connected to a central hive mind; a singular AI that is connected to every human being through the technology they have in their own homes. The entire human population is controlled by AI. The personal assistants are there to ensure that people are supervised and that they stick to their schedules and don’t break the rules.
Emilie is woken up by Gina at precisely 6am in a calm, slow, gentle voice. “GOOD MORNING EMILIE. IT IS 6AM. IT IS TIME FOR YOU TO GET UP”. The tall lamp pops on, bathing Emilie’s small apartment in warm sunlight.
Gina shows Emilie’s digital seven-day schedule in the form of a holographic display.
Emilie sits up slowly.
It can’t be morning already. I feel like I only just shut my eyes.
Emile feels burnt out and is in need of a holiday, but holidays are a thing of the distant past. This is a time for work and industry, and she needs to play her part. So she forces herself out of bed despite how tired she is feeling.
She is wearing a white jumpsuit, which is part of the uniform clothing that people are allowed to wear. Her kettle pops on automatically and she wanders over to make herself a coffee and to grab a pre-prepped bagel from the small fridge. All of the food in the fridge is pre-prepped. There are no random snacks or drinks, or little edible luxuries to make her feel better. Food in this part of the world is rationed, and employees like Emilie are on a strict ration diet. She takes her cup and bagel, and looks at her schedule.
It shows that there are no days off and that she is to work seven days a week, and every day is the same.
Gina expands today’s schedule, but Emilie is still able to see the rest of her week. It is Monday March 17.
Gina continues her reminders. “YOU MUST GET READY FOR YOUR MANDATORY GYM SESSION AT 6.30AM, OR THERE WILL BE A PENALTY”
“Thank you Gina” Emilie says, as she looks at her schedule and thinks that what she really needs is a day off. She isn’t going to get that though. It looks like the following:
06:00 - wake up call, breakfast
06:30 - mandatory gym session
07:00 - shower and dress for work
07:30 - leave for work
08:00 - work until 18:00
13:00 - lunch
19:00 - dinner time
20:00 - virtual reality time
Every day of the week is exactly the same, with no breaks or changes except Tuesday night, where she has a ‘date’ scheduled in for 8pm, and ‘virtual reality time’ has been rescheduled for 10pm.
“DID YOU KNOW THAT TODAY USED TO BE CELEBRATED AT ST PATRICK’S DAY?” says Gina.
“No, I didn’t!” Emilie replies as she heads to her closet for her gym clothes. “What is that?”
Emilie opens the small closet and grabs her gym kit, and then goes into the small bathroom to get changed whilst Gina continues.
“IT WAS A CHRISTIAN FEAST TO CELEBRATE ST PATRICK AND THE ARRIVAL OF CHRISTIANITY IN IRELAND.” Gina says. She displays images of Ireland, Christian symbols, and images of people celebrating St Patrick’s Day in the 21 st Century, dressed in funky green hats and drinking lots of black liquid in glasses with ‘Guinness’ written on them. Emilie comes out of the bathroom and has a look at the images.
“Wow. I wonder what it would have been like to live back then. All that fresh air and sunshine. And Guinness too! I wonder what that’s like” she says wistfully as she brushes her hair. She ties it up into a scruffy knot. Gina closes down the images quickly as if to end the topic of conversation.
Emilie heads to the door. She puts her palm onto a plate and the door opens onto a corridor that looks like a hotel corridor, except that it is cleaner and more clinical. She exits her small apartment and the door closes behind her.
She walks towards the elevator and goes down 15 floors further underground. She arrives at the gym level and is greeted by a sign when the elevator doors open.
“GYM LEVEL. PLEASE CHECK IN BEFORE USING THE EQUIPMENT”
She heads towards another tablet on a wall outside another door. She puts her hand on it as before and checks in. It is Gina again.
“HELLO EMILIE! YOUR TARGET FOR THIS SESSION IS 500 CALORIES. YOUR SESSION WILL BE MONITORED.”
“Thanks Gina” Emilie replies. The door opens and Emilie enters and she walks over to the treadmill for a run.
There are holographic propaganda slogans being displayed at the gym saying ‘DO YOUR BIT FOR THE HEALTH SERVICE! KEEP IN SHAPE'. There are holographic projections of videos showing very obese people needing nurses to wipe their bums and needing oxygen tanks to breathe from; along with articles about how overweight people are a drain on the health services as all health conditions are obesity related.
She gets on the treadmill, pushes a few buttons and sets off at a comfortable jog. Moments later though, she hears a commotion at the door and looks over and sees a man shouting at the door plate.
“YOU HAVEN’T ACHIEVED YOUR TARGET TODAY. YOU NEED TO GO BACK AND CARRY ON EXERCISING” said a man’s cool computerised voice.
“But I’ve been exercising for 30 minutes like I’m supposed to. I need to get ready for work now!” the man shouts. He is irate, red in the face and sweaty from exercise.
“I’M SORRY. IF YOU LEAVE NOW YOU WILL FACE A PENALTY FINE” says the cool voice.
“Look, I need to get ready for work. If I miss work the penalty will be a lot bigger than missing the gym won’t it?” He replies, annoyed.
“YOUR PENALTY FOR NOT ACHIEVING YOUR TARGET IS A SECOND GYM SESSION THIS EVENING AT 8PM. I WILL RE-ARRANGE YOUR SCHEDULE TO FIT THAT IN”
“Well fuck you very much” says the man. He puts his sweaty palm to the door and it opens. He leaves. Emilie pushes a few more buttons on the treadmill and picks up the pace of her run. She doesn’t want to be the person who hasn’t worked hard enough on her gym session.
Emilie comes back from the gym 30 minutes later and has a shower. The water is always cold, but Emilie takes it in her stride as this is all she has known. She has never experienced the pleasure of a hot shower, and showers quickly. With a towel wrapped around her, she puts her dirty gym clothes into a chute and heads to her wardrobe to get out her work clothes. There are seven sets of hangers with identical outfits on them. All of her work clothes in her wardrobe are identical, so she wears the same boring trouser and shirt outfit each day. She grabs the first hanger in the wardrobe. It would be nice to be able to wear a dress she thinks. I’ve worked hard at the gym and my body is in great shape. But Emilie knows that she hasn’t earned enough merits for luxury items such as summer dresses and gets dressed as normal. She grabs her work shoes and puts them on.
Emilie is dressed as neat as a pin and has her hair up in a bun. She checks herself in the mirror one last time before leaving for work, and picks up the photo of her family and puts it into her bag. She puts her palm onto the plate at the door and the door opens as before. She heads to the elevator again at a brisk pace and the doors ping open as she arrives. This time she goes upwards to the 5 th underground level and comes out at a travelator station. She steps out into a busy area and moves with the fast-moving crowds towards the travelators. These look like airport travelators where people can get on and off. These carry a much larger volume of people than traditional train carriages, and the travelators are packed. Everybody is wearing the same outfit, both men and women. Everyone is in a hurry.
During Emilie’s journey, she sees more public service announcements saying
'DO YOUR BIT FOR THE ECONOMY! GET A JOB!’ It shows lots of businesses looking for employees in bright airy offices. There are also videos being played on holographic screens with people saying that those that don’t work are a drain on society and cost other people their earned food rations and other privileges.
I’ve already got a fucking job Emilie thinks to herself. Along with everyone else here travelling to work. Who are they aiming the advertising at?
Emilie gets off the travelator and walks at a fast pace towards the elevators, and pushes the button frantically as if pushing it several times in quick succession will hurry it up. The elevator arrives after a few moments, and Emilie gets in. It takes her down 14 floors to her office.
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