Thursday, July 14, 2011

Entry #1

The Singularity of Orlando T. Baker
by Katherine Tomlinson


“They” had been predicting the advent of smarter-than-human intelligence for nearly 60 years before a computer lab in Bangalore achieved the goal with an AI that named itself “Ajay.”

When the Singularity finally arrived, it was almost too late for Orlando T. Baker, who was suffering from stage IVB pancreatic cancer and had been given to understand that there was no stage V.

Orlando’s doctors had told him all they could do was manage his pain and ease his dying.

Orlando’s response had been “fuck that,” and he’d immediately contacted Dr. Devakumar Sharma in Bangalore.

After literally signing his life away, Orlando was prepped for a procedure that was not unlike the process of cryogenic preservation in the 20th century.

His heart was stopped so his consciousness could be decanted like fine wine into a complex neural matrix cloud where it merged with an infinitude of information, creating a web of connections to a cyber-cosmos.

Orlando awoke to eternity with the cataclysmic shock of the Big Bang to find that everything that was singular and unique about his personality had become irrelevant, subsumed in the hyper-hive-mind of the galaxy.

Trapped between zero and one, he could see but had no eyes. He could reach but could not touch. He could process but could not think as an onslaught of input assaulted him in every direction.

In a time so brief no human could measure it, Orlando T. Baker’s hopes for a transhuman afterlife evaporated, along with his sanity.

31 comments:

Aimee Laine said...

... with an AI that named itself “Ajay."
That right there foreshadowed a lot for me. 'singularity' would mean no uniqueness. :)

Jade L Blackwater said...

Since I only get to read one story before I get to work today, this was a great place to start!

Love some of your lines like creating a web of connections to a cyber-cosmos

I admit though, my anticipations of the ending were a bit more grandiose... I was ready to meet a new iteration of the divine consciousness, ready to create new worlds! (especially with he could see but had no eyes. He could reach but could not touch.)

And with that, I'd best get back to the mundane.

Joni said...

Nice to get some solid sci-fi to kick things off.

Interesting concept and excellent execution. Very nice piece.

Precie said...

A great contest opener. "caught between zero and one..."--the very thought makes me shudder.

strugglingwriter said...

Love this bit " was suffering from stage IVB pancreatic cancer and had been given to understand that there was no stage V." Also, the title is spot on and drew me to this story.

Donna D said...

As one who is considering having my brain frozen when I die and then thawed out when they discover a cure for what killed me, I really loved your story! It has made me realize I may have to re-think my plan!

Mikki said...

Very nice piece. I found the concept frightening and intriguing in equal measure. What I liked best, however, was your ability to convey Orlando's character in so few words. His "fuck that" comment was a gem.

Thanks for sharing!

Aniket said...

Echo to Precie. Caught between 0 and 1 is a gem of a line. Says so much in so few words. I've only just started watching Futurama. This sucks all the fun out of it. :)

Nothing like good science fiction to start the contest.

pegjet said...

His heart was stopped so his consciousness could be decanted like fine wine into a complex neural matrix cloud...

That phrase is one of those that makes a writer say, "I wish I'd written it."

I liked where this took me.

fairyhedgehog said...

This has a wonderful classic sci fi feel about it!

Catrina said...

Orlando's a feisty bugger, isn't he?

Really strong writing here. Many excellent lines (as mentioned above).

Well done!

Peter Dudley said...

I echo all the comments. Between 0 and 1, the decanting... it's an interesting concept, trading one unknown (death) for another, and having that other be not what you expect. This reminds me of the movie "Being John Malkovich." Well done.

Katherine Tomlinson said...

Thanks so much everyone. I don't write a lot of science fiction so I was very pleased when the story popped into my head as I stared at Jason's photo prompt.

bluesugarpoet said...

Love the creepy word pictures you've crafted! ~Jana

Dottie (Tink's Place) said...

Hi Kathleen!

Excellent prose to create singular perfection. Love the line 'he had been given to understand there was no stage V... his response had been "fuck that"' and he did and was.

Loved it!

Dottie :)

JaneyV said...

Katherine, what a great start to the contest. I too enjoyed the rich language and the stunning line depicting what it feels like to be stuck in a digital hell. Well done.

Old Kitty said...

Orlando T Baker! I love that name and I feel really sorry for him - all he wanted to do was live!! Lovely story, thank you for sharing. Take care
x

Richard Levangie said...

Katherine...

I really enjoyed your story. Several terrific turns of phrase, fascinating concept, self-contained. Nicely rendered!

Chris Allinotte said...

This, unlike the poor bugger of the title, is absolutely unique. Great balance of detail and flow.

Scribblers Inc said...

For the non-Hindi speakers here, Ajay actually means the 'unbeatable' or perhaps 'immortal'. Just so you know! :)

Grand start to the proceedings!

Mithun.
#72

B. Nagel said...

Thank you Mithun. I knew I was missing something.

As mentioned above, this has a very 'classic sci-fi' feel to it. Well executed!

Katherine Tomlinson said...

Yes, thanks Mithun--I had seen "Ajay" translated as "unconquerable" but "immortal?" That's fantastic.
Thank you for telling me that.
And again, everyone, thank you so much for your generous feedback.

Col Bury said...

Don't know where I've just been, but it was amazing!

Amid the profound writing, I just loved the contrast of Orlando's reaction (that's just me though).

Top work, Katherine.

Regards,
Col

Jodi MacArthur said...

Really enjoyed this sci fi twist!

chm1880 said...

Quite good. Amazing how Orlando still becomes irrelevant.

Catvibe said...

Very excellent. Trapped between 0 and 1 would be a very bad place to be. :-) Nicely done.

Aerin said...

I've been reading mish-moshedly so I finally come to yours, Katherine - I really liked this. It reminded me of the STNG episode where Picard's consciousness is sucked out into the void.

Yes, yes, I AM a sci-fi geek, thank you.

So I know what I'm talking about when I say this is very good sci-fi.

Katherine Tomlinson said...

Thank you all so much...And Aerin, I too belong to that tribe and don't fly my geek flag nearly often enough.
So this was fun. I appreciate the feedback.

Four Dinners said...

Having read this for the umpteenth time I now regret not voting for it in my 'readers choice'...

I've just realised it sounds like me first thing in the morning!

Soz...didn't mean to sound facetious...it's just me...

The more I read this the more I go 'WOW!'

Cracking bit of writing in my humble opinion.

4D x

jason evans said...

That was seriously inventive. And the implications of being swallowed in this world--huge. Great writing!

Congrats on Forties Club!

Katherine Tomlinson said...

@Jason--thanks for the feedback. Honored to be in the 40s club.
Best...