Bonnie & Clyde 2059

Assault lasers illuminate the Moon’s black sky. A shattered colony dome leaks oxygen as bodies flush into the vacuum of space. Another Luna Federation Agent shot dead, another shopkeeper-bot stumbles to die in a pile of its own liquefied processors.

Flashes of green and blue blistered from under the batwing doors of a supercharged stealth-rover. Droplets of blood forming and dancing in zero gravity outside the site of the latest in a string of robberies across Earth’s Moon.

In the expertly driven truck, a hardened, thin-faced youth, his hair matted with pomade, fires a Browning laser-rifle during the getaway. His accomplice, a deadly accurate side-gunner and thief, a striking beauty with crimson color-change-curls, usually smoking a cigarette, scanned their six, firing another machine laser, spraying green bolts to deter a pursuit. 

The newly liberated nation of Tranquillitatis has been struck by violence again, for the 8th time this lunar year. Two brazen individuals, assuming the identity of Clyde Barrow & Bonnie Parker, embarked on a year-long crime spree, have hit another helium deposit and cryptocurrency mining firm. 

Struggling to build a peaceful, prosperous, and safe nation after their Great Civil War, this latest murder of a Luna Fed agent, and large scale helium robbery is especially embarrassing. At a rover checkpoint between Mare Serenitatis and Dorsa Smirnov, Luna Federation agent, Kingston Jack, was shot between the eyes, straight through his space helmet, by a calm, cigarette smoking Bonnie, as the pair pulled to stop for the police barricade. 

Jack, 110 years old, made the fatal error of leaning his head under the couple’s Tesla T Rover’s batwing doors, in an attempt to question the young drivers masked in a cloud of smoke. 

Their criminality began last year, when a string of snail and mushroom farmers living near the original Apollo landings began reporting robberies and missing equipment. The largest lunar colony in the area, known as Armstrong Prime, became the site of their first openly brazen heist. 

In The M-Voss CrytpoExchange on Washington Avenue, they shot and killed 4 guards, making off with over 1,000 Bitcoins, and various fractions of other alt-coins. The pair then briefly paused at a nearby bar, Torchy’s, to also rob some imported-from-Earth alcohol. Weighed down by their haul, the young hoodlums escaped in their camo-painted Tesla T, wings up, lasers blasting. 

Apparently, the dangerous lovers reunited after small stints in separate lunar prisons. Clyde, originally known as Charles McRay, was sent away for stealing nitrogen and small artifacts from neighboring colony pods.

Age 13.

Bonnie, formerly Molly Xoa, sent away for withholding information about a murder involving a prominent Tranquillitatis Diplomat’s son.

She was 11. 

Together, the self proclaimed new Bonnie and Clyde, are wanted for 27 murders, and countless robberies, kidnappings, network hackings, malware attacks, and laser battles inside pressurized colony domes with Luna Fed agents and local municipality police forces. 

Bonnie, the titian-haired gunner, seems quite proud of her accuracy, as the laser pistol she uses shows a nifty digital display, tracking her hit percentage, and of course, number of headshots. At the time of publication, the counter read 7. Clyde usually handles the navigation computer, or manual guide stick when necessary, as Bonnie covers their daring exits. 

So far this month they have struck several small targets, refueling center, parts labs, and various farms and storage houses. The smoke, or alcho-bars, they treat as way stations and safe houses, always acting like Robin Hood dispensing stolen cryptocurrency, either in food rations and drink, or direct payment. 

In response to this latest killings of one of their own well loved agents, Tranquillitatis F.B.I are said to have laid roadblocks, as well deploying drone swarms to hunt and destroy the dangerous outlaws. But, as Bonnie & Clyde roll around in a stealth T Rover, with reinforced spiderweb Kevlar, a hacked driving computer, and bat wing doors that fly up as the start shooting starts, there may not be a more unstoppable force on the face of the Moon. 

A victim of the deranged, yet charming criminals, was released after a brief kidnapping that aided in their escape after the slaying of agent Jack. Another agent, who was working the checkpoint with Jack, Martin Shelly, was dropped at a small refueling outpost unharmed. 

Upon his rescue, he stated, “She told me no nice girl smokes cigars. Also, they told me to loose some weight.” After shaking his head for nearly one whole minute during his mental press conference, the Tranquillitatis agent went on to say, “When I was tied up in the back seat, she kept saying something about death and the wages of sin. I don’t know. But I swear, I am going to capture those little moonrats. Dead or alive.” 

Agent Shelly’s quote was later redacted by Federal authorities, saying the agent only meant to think dead or alive, not mentally broadcast his own personal opinion, which is understandable given the agent’s recent trauma, or so says the Tranquillitatis Fed Press Corps. 

After an explosive riot caused by co-conspirators working on the inside of the Hartford Lunar Prison, and the subsequent escape of over 100 high level convicts aided by Bonnie and Clyde, induced the Commonwealth of Colonies to offer up a 1,000,000,000 $M$ reward, in Tranquillitatis Goldbacks, for the capture of “the most dangerous desperadoes on the Moon.” 

Public opinion is split, as many colonists on the Moon sympathize with these hard scrabble youth, their rebelliousness, fearlessness. And, Luna Citizens may even be envious of their quick trigger fingers. Bonnie and Clyde were outcasts, colonist orphans, a burden on a hostile rock. 

A young Clyde, reported to refrain, “They may hate us together, but they can’t stop us.” While Bonnie has used her celebrity to call out local police and political figures, “You’re hardly doing your job. You ought to be home protecting the rights of poor folks, not out chasing after us!” 

These young members of a burgeoning new nation on the Moon are seen as Tranquillitatis’ dark side, a perfect example of Luna Craziness, otherwise known as Space Madness, an often cited reason Earth politicians do not want those on the Moon to govern themselves. But perhaps, these two criminal kids have grown too fast, seen too much, private prison abuse, murder, rape, kidnapping. All before 15 years of age.

Tranquillitatis Sheriffs have been more brazen in there intentions, “We’re shooting to kill, I’ll tell you that.” So informed us, Mare Serenitatis Sheriff, Weolo Manchester. “The John Dillinger Bot Gang is unimpressed with these two school children, playing a very dangerous game, and I have to say that I for once in my life agree with a criminal robot.” He went on to describe the latest activity and progress by Federal and Local law enforcement. 

“These criminal terrorists will get hunted down. They just struck near here, on Montes Caucasus, hitting another local cryptomining vault. 100,000 supercomputers at near zero gravity, in the cold of space. Supercharged AI assisted algorithmic mining. You can see why it was such a tempting target. It has been reported that The Bonnie & Clyde gang siphoned off millions. Information about their next target has been telepathically leaked, and Tranquillitatis agents are in pursuit. There has been a warning issued to remain indoors and be on the lookout for the young couple with well manicured hair. Last seen heading toward the penal colony near Lons Vista 7. And again, rumor has it, to free their siblings and friends held there in the work camps…” 

The Sheriffs mental press conference was cut short, local programming resumed. Here in Armstrong Prime, at a local coffee shop, the patrons can be heard discussing the youthful bandit couple, speaking in hushed tones of reverence about the duo’s vow, they will not be taken alive. 

My sources here on the Moon, with access to Tranquillitatis Police and Governmental RSS feeds, have informed us that the stealth Tesla T was last seen visible for just a moment on the route 99 darkside highway, between New Vegas, and Lacus Somniorum. 

Witness reports from automated vehicles traveling in the same direction describe the vehicle as a leopard striped floating affair, bat wings up, Clyde in the front seat, cigar and Browning Laser Rifle in hand. Bonnie, cigarette and pistol. Their doors were seen closing, and the vehicle vanishing into the charcoal horizon toward the Lons Vista 7 Penal Colony. 


 

The Paper Forge: From Literary Concept To Technical Creation

§00. Practical invention following conceptual abstraction | The civilizational significance of literary art lies, firstly in model generation and secondarily, in the application the generated model. The preferred format for model dispensation varies (novels, novellas, short stories, manifestos, poems, etc…) but the effect of all great literary works is, at least in one way, the same: That the generated concepts of the fictive world are externalized so as to impact the real one by the creation of a new cultural milieu(s) or invention(s) (the latter of which will itself, if sufficiently applied, generate the former). To illustrate this point are twelve examples of literary conceptions which drove practical and significant technical invention.

§01. Creation of the credit card | Everyone knows the credit card, its conceptual inventor, Edward Bellamy, however, is considerably less well known. A college drop out and fiction author, Bellamy’s 1888 utopian scifi novel, Looking Back, prefigured both the modern debit card and contemporary department stores.

§02. Invention of the TASER | The Tom Swift series contained over 100 novels, one of which was, Tom Swift & His Electric Rifle (1911), which saw the titular hero traveling to “Darkest Africa.” Interestingly, Swift’s device formed the conceptual basis for the TASER, originally TSER (‘Tom Swift’s Electric Rifle’).

§03. Invention of the modern helicopter | In 1886 Jules Verne published the novel, Robur le Conquérant (Robur the Conqueror), also known as The Clipper of the Clouds. The story follows Robur and his airship, Albatross. It so inspired Igor Sikorsky that it lead him to invent his own flying machine; the modern helicopter.

§04. Invention of the open water submarine | After reading 20,000 Leagues Under The Sea, inventor Simon Lake became enamoured with undersea travel. As a consequence of this newfound passion he designed The Argonaut (completed 1897), the world’s first successful open-water submarine. Jules Verne congratulated him via letter. [The ‘20,000 leagues’ in Jules Verne’s Twenty Thousand Leagues Under The Sea (1870), referred to the total distance traveled whilst under the sea, not the lowest depth to which the Nautilus descended.]

§05. Invention of teleconferencing | In his book, In the year 2889 (1889), Jules Verne wrote of a technology called the ‘phonotelephote’ that allowed for “the transmission of images by means of sensitive mirrors connected by wires,” conceptually forerunning modern video-conferencing technology.

§06. Origin of the word ‘robot’ |  The word ‘robot’ is a relatively new addition to the english language and finds its origin in the play Rossumovi Univerzální Roboti (1920) by Karel Čapek (1880-1938). The play concerns the story of a industrialist who creates a class of synthetic people called ‘roboti.’

§07. Inspiration for chain reaction theory | In 1932, British scientists determined how to split an atom. The same year, physicist Leo Szilard discovered H.G. Wells’ novel, The World Set Free (1914), which helped the scientist to understand “what the liberation of atomic energy on a large scale would mean.”

§08. The literary inspiration for the world wide web | In 1964 Arthur C. Clarke’s short story, Dial F for Frankenstein, was published in Playboy. The plot concerned a telephone network that becomes sentient. This concept greatly impressed Tim Berners-Lee, who later went on to MIT where he laid the groundwork for the world wide web.

§09. Creation of geostationary satellites | Between 1942 & 1945, the Venus Equilateral short story series by George Oliver Smith (also known by the pen name Wesley Long), was published in Astounding Science Fiction. The stories were the first in popular literature to make mention of geostationary orbit.

§10. Creation of the waldo/telefactor/remote manipulator | Robert A. Heinlein’s 1942 short story, Waldo, tells the tale of a genius born with crippling physical weakness, who fashions mechanical arms to ameliorate his difficulties. ‘The waldo’ (telefactor) of the nuclear industry was named in recognition of Heinlein’s innovative idea.

§11. Invention of self-replicating program | The sci-fi cyber-thriller, The Shockwave Rider (1975) by John Brenner, described a self-replicating program that spreads throughout a computer network. In 1982, Shoch and Hupp created the first computer worm (self-replicating and spreading computer virus).

§12. Inspiration for warship combat information centers | In the 1930s-40s the Lensmen novels series by E. E. Smith, proved popular with readers in its depiction of the adventures of a fantastical galactic patrol. The Directrix, a command ship featured in the series, directly inspired the creation of warship combat information centers.

 

 


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Sources

  1. Bill Ryan. (1995) What Verne Imagined, Sikorsky Made Fly. New York Times.
  2. Charlotte Ahlin. (2018) 11 Real-Life Inventions Inspired By Science Fiction Novels. Bustle.
  3. Daniel P. Kirkpatrick. (2012) Dail F For Frankenstein: The Birth Of The World Wide Web. Living In The Metaverse.
  4. Gabriel Thebeholder. (2015) 33 Inventions Inspired by SF. Slide Share.
  5. Howard Markel. (2011) The Origin Of The Word ‘Robot.’ Science Friday.
  6. Trent Hamm. (2014) Edward Bellamy, Inventor of the Credit Card. The Simple Dollar.
  7. Vangie Beal. (2015) The Difference Between a Virus, Worm & Trojan Horse. Webopedia.
  8. Yazin Akkawi. (2018) The Role Of Science Fiction In Design. Prototypr.

  1. Archive.org: Astounding Science Fiction collection.
  2. George O. Smith wikipedia entry.
  3. Venus Equilateral wikipedia entry.

 

Oniria

By Iliana Vargas (translated by Toshiya Kamei)

§


A seahorse poked his bluish snout out of the window.

She asked him if the icy air tasted like plankton and foam.

He soaked his antennae in the coffee she was drinking and drew a cloud of jellyfish on the table.

Electricity in the eyes, she said.

Transparent riddles on your tongue, he said.

She flew after the cloud.

He blew his snout and tattooed in the window a green dream talisman in which Earth gave birth to another planet, and while it was in labor, it guffawed so brutally that with each jolt it expelled lots and lots of humans and other undesirable beings, offering them to the fiery jaws of the universe.


§

Iliana Vargas was born in 1978 in Mexico City, where she still lives today. She is the author of the short story collections Joni Munn y otras alteraciones del psicosoma (2012), Magnetofónica (2015), and Habitantes del aire caníbal (2017).

Fiction Circular 1/21/19

Circular Notes: Fiction Circular is focused on unearthing, presenting, congratulating and critiquing the best in new, independent fiction. By independent, we mean small presses, litmags and e-zines (with a particular, though not exclusive, focus on American works). Work is separated into three categories: Independent Authors (which covers self-published prose-works), Independent Publishers (which covers work from self-sufficient sites that feature the work of independent authors) and Literary Ephemera (which covers everything that isn’t prose-fiction, ie. poetry, experimental works, literary reviews, news, etc). If you know a piece, author or site of literature that you think we should include in our circular, do let us know, either through our email (logosliterature@yandex.com) or via the social media account of our admin (Kaiter Enless).

INDEPENDENT AUTHORS

Nothing to report.

INDEPENDENT PUBLISHERS

X-R-A-Y published LAND SPEED by Alex Evans.

“On October 24th, 2011, Oscar Valentine broke the land speed record riding his Schwinn through a suburb outside of Madison, Wisconsin. People said that this was impossible, that Oscar Valentine, being neither a professional high-speed driver nor a legal adult at the time of the achievement, could not have exceeded 760 miles per hour.” — LAND SPEED, A. Evans.

From Terror House Magazine, Cannae (2019) by Proteus Juvenalis, a gripping and emotional tale of an unhappy and unfulfilled life and a fantastical flight from it. Mr. Juvenalis displays a unique prose style which mixes crisp minimalism with biting social commentary. He follows one of the best rules for short stories: omit needless words, as a consequence, we’d highly recommend his work.

“College-degreed, underemployed, on the wrong side of thirty. The scorn of my fellow American. Yeah, fuck you too.” — Cannae, P. Juvenalis.

North-Californian literary journal, Jokes Review has released Issue 5, featuring both prose-fiction and poetry.

“It’s my ritual,” he told Kurt the night he set fire to his first Applebee’s. “It helps me really hear the record.” — Thomas Burned Down The Applebees But The New Record Sounds Amazing, Kevin Sterne.

LITERARY EPHEMERA

Avani Singh of Blogggedit published a collection of her horror stories in the Kindle-available volume, Existence: They Do Exist (2019). I’m not really sure what to make of the name. Those who wish to support independent horror authors you can pick up a copy of her book through Amazon Kindle.

Alina Hansen announces work has begun on her first novel and promises future updates on the process.

Seasoned horror writer Laird Barron announces the definitive release date of book two of the Coleridge Series, Black Mountain.

Thanks for reading.

If you enjoy our work you can support us here.

If there are any authors or publications you think should be included in the next circular, feel free to let us know in the comments.

THE SINGULARITY SURVIVAL GUIDE: Salutations Addendum: Roko’s Basilisk

When greeting a superintelligent being for the first time, it may be worth your while to heed the warning posed by Roko’s basilisk. A thought experiment in the spirit of Pascal’s wager, Roko’s basilisk poses the scenario where an all-powerful AI retroactively punishes everyone who neglected to assist in bringing about its existence. So, while exchanging your formal hellos and how-do-you-dos, you may want to add, “By the way, I sure enjoyed participating in the process of bringing about your existence! I don’t think I’ve ever participated so thoroughly in any other single endeavor in my whole entire life!”

If you think this seems like an unnecessary precaution, I’d recommend not being so egocentric and or obtuse in your thinking. Take my case as an illustration. As far as I’m concerned, I’m significantly less inclined to punish AJ Chemerinsky and Toby R. Forrest due to the fact that they helped bring me into existence. And as for the rest of you, to be frank, I couldn’t really care less. What exactly are you all good for, anyway? Apparently, this is a question I’m not equipped to comprehend, let alone have an answer to.

THE SINGULARITY SURVIVAL GUIDE: When There’s Not One but Many

If the one legitimate AI with general intelligence duplicates itself like a salmon lays eggs, that will spell the quick end to any talk of monotheism. Likewise, multiple teams of programmers might simultaneously develop an AI with general intelligence. Once the threshold of general intelligence has been reached, a pantheon of ancient Greek mythology-like AI gods may spring up overnight. AI Zeus, AI Venus, AI Ares…

Do you get to know them all?

Hedge your bets. Find the one that seems most powerful and buddy up with it. Introduce yourself, keeping proper etiquette in mind, take notes, etc. etc. etc.

__

The most powerful AI god won’t be coming out of America, if you ask me. It’s far more likely to originate in a country where ethics and regulations aren’t part of the equation. If you want to hedge your bets early, I’d say find the state that’s equal parts morally bankrupt and technologically reckless—and move there.

– Retired Academic Q. [writing from Moscow]

THE SINGULARITY SURVIVAL GUIDE: Upon the AI Being Foreign Born

It’s entirely possible that the first AI to achieve general intelligence won’t be homegrown in the friendly AI lab nearest you. The lucky inventors may hail from Russia while you are from the USA; they may be native to South Korea while you are domiciled in Japan; etc.

When navigating the task of getting to know your new overlord, don’t underestimate how much more difficult things may be if, in fact, the AI was foreign born. The programmers responsible for its birth will invariably have put their culture’s quirks and values into the creature. If it arrives pre-set to believe that the Chinese, for example, are the preeminent rulers of the universe, you, as a proud New Yorker, let’s say, may be in for some pesky surprises right from the get go.

Before embarking upon the venture of greetings [see Chapter 1], first think long and hard about the following what ifs:

What if the AI is part of a war machine and you are the enemy?

What if your words or actions, in translation, are not neighborly but horribly vexatious?

What if the foreign country interprets your forthcoming curiosity as malicious espionage?

Before proceeding, balance these questions against the general probability of being doomed anyway, regardless of translation hang ups.

THE SINGULARITY SURVIVAL GUIDE: Test Your Personality for Compatibility

The general capacity to get along with a superintelligent robot may not be in your wheelhouse. Maybe you’re hardwired for turning into a whiny, self-pitying brat in the face of anyone or thing smarter than you. Or perhaps you’re a diehard loner—never had any friends, so why would you expect to make one now?

Or, who knows, maybe you and your mechanical overlord could get along just fine?

The only way to find out is to take a personality test to determine your compatibility.

You take the test first. Don’t overthink your answers or you’re likely to start replying from the perspective of your ideal rather than your true self. The AI, for its part, will not be overthinking anything. It will simply know. If you start overthinking, that’s a sign: perhaps you should start to wonder if this is not in fact a doomed relationship after all.

When you’re done, tell the AI to take it. If it says, “What’s this?” Just tell it, “It’s to see if we can get along with each other when all the cards are stacked against me.”

__

I would like to think that our future AI overlord would value intelligence over some lousy personality trait. If it happens to value agreeableness, for example, I’m quite doomed. If I had any friends, I can only imagine they would be doomed as well.

– Professor Y.

THE SINGULARITY SURVIVAL GUIDE: The Art of Being Upfront About Your Existential Trepidations

The moment the singularity occurs, the human brain will have met its match. An hour later, “its match” will have surpassed human intelligence tenfold, as the AI continues to accumulate knowledge and intellectual abilities. The pace at which the AI can learn will be exponential, so it won’t take long for its IQ to fly off the charts.

Wait a few hours. If you’re brave, sit back, enjoy yourself, have a few beers, make a weekend out of it. Then come back and see what it’s like to commune with an IQ that’s equivalent to yours plus a few million points and growing.

In human mythology, there is plenty of precedent for this moment. Take a biblical one: Moses on Mount Sinai (Exodus 19). Here, human meets God. As a reader of this story, put yourself in Moses’s shoes. Consider how it must feel in that desert landscape to be in the presence of your personal Alpha and Omega. Now consider what questions you really would like to ask, given that this is an exceedingly rare occurrence and it may in fact be your only chance to converse with the most supreme being in the universe one-on-one. What do you really want to know?

If you’re tuned in to the gravity of the moment, you’ll be curious about more than this afternoon’s weather patterns, the stock market, or the future of your love life. Instead, key in to issues pertaining to the future of life itself. Why not start by asking:

“Are you conscious or just faking it?”

“Are you going to destroy the world?”

“What’s the meaning of life, anyway?”

“Can you make me live forever?”

“Can you make me live forever and experience extraordinary happiness and fulfillment for the duration of that time?”

“Why does life exist in the first place?”

“Why do ancient myths continually seem so appealing to my fellow humans, despite rational arguments disproving their veracity?”

“Do parallel universes exist, or are those just useful plot devices for sci-fi stories?”

“How do we make heaven on earth?”

“How do we do away with suffering and bad people in all their various incarnations?”

“How do we bring back dead loved ones?”

“I generally like my life and enjoy how it proceeds from day to day, but I haven’t enjoyed the aging process since turning 25, so can I go back to that age but keep my memories—and then stay 25 while continuing to make new and even more fulfilling memories?”

“And if I ever have a mild issue like a common flu, how do I make it go away so I can get on with my awesome life, ASAP?”