Life Ever After
By Carla Grauls
I picked this up for free at some point as an Audible Original, and I thought it would work for the Machinery Bingo square. It’s short, less than 2 hours, and I wanted to “get it over with” to move on to other things. At first, I thought it was all going to be some spoken word commentary on society or something like that. The opening does feel very spoken word. But then we move into the main part of the story.
We have two characters, one female and one male. We never learn their names. We only witness the story through the two of them meeting in the waiting room, waiting to get a “procedure” done. We hear only their voices and background noise. The procedure is an “upgrade” for humanity, to make individuals more productive, and theoretically happier.
This makes you think about what makes a human, well, human. As we get more technologically advanced, when will people stop being people? Computers are in every aspect of our lives, for the most part. We rely on technology for probably more parts of our lives than is really good for us. They joke about having technology and computers implanted in our brains, but is that really all that far off? It’s no longer a fun “imagine if,” but more an “imagine when.” It’s no longer fiction, but a goal. It may be decades down the line, but someone is probably working on it right now.
It also asks some thought provoking questions. If you could live forever, would you? Would you want to see the world around you change, more than you would in your normal life span? And if you could have an AI assist you, directly into your brain, even, would you? Would you want something influencing your every action to have the best outcome? If given the option, would you erase all painful or bad memories, or would you keep them, because those make up some of who you are. To some, these are appealing theoretical situations. And to others, it’s the making of a horror story.
To end on a lighter note, when literally everything is a robot and has a voice, you can get lovely quotes like this:
“Fuck you, trash can!”
(This fulfills the 2021 CBR13 Bingo square of “Machinery”)