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Unnamed Novel, Chapter Three

Hello, Oort Cloud. This won't make sense if you read it without the first two chapters, also blogged here.

-Chapter 3-

I try to close my eyes and sleep, but my mind and stomach are spinning too fast for me to settle. The headache begins to throb in earnest. I need a cigarette.

I pull out my computer, trading one addiction for another, and log on to my hard disk.

Mail. Three rejections from three different print mags for three different articles. I asked for money. I think that was the problem.

A confirmation note from Matt, assuring me he’s talked to the Ones In Charge, and that they say we’re good to go for the launch party. Then assurances of drugs.

A message from Uncle Hercule.

Up until last month, Uncle Hercule was a name that sometimes appeared on cards. I had perhaps one badly smudged memory of him; I was two when we moved to Hull.

We stayed with him for two weeks this summer, in Paris. He was nervous, all the time. I think the riots changed him; He could have been like that before.

I decided I wanted to get to know him better, and we took a few walks, navigating the pools of silence that collected around the street police. His voice was calm, but his eyes were all over the place, flicking to every window, open door, and alley.

There’s a big picture of André Tmira hanging in Uncle Hercule’s living room. It’s the famous one, André framed by the Arc de Triomphe, lurching towards the camera with his arms straight out in front of him like a zombie. Hands upturned, grasping or praying, the blood just starting to peek through the front of his dress shirt. I don’t think Uncle Hercule would like Toronto very much. Not right now.

Uncle Hercule apologises in crisp schoolteacher French, sorry for not having contacted me sooner. I smell subtext, and I realise that I’d promised to mail him when we left France. Hard cringe. Coffee tells me that I need to pee.

The bathroom is as empty as everywhere else. Alice’s towel dries on a bar behind me. I finish and wash my hands slowly, examining my face in the mirror. I look like crap. My mind wanders.

What’s in this medicine cabinet? It opens with an embarrassing squeak. A tube of toothpaste clatters into the sink. Better than tampons.

Three bottles of Ritalin, one of Modafonil. Orange, plastic. Different names on the prescription labels. None of them are Alice’s. I squeeze toothpaste onto my finger.

I grope for the air-mattress, pull out my computer and open aGni. Someone is LifeCasting something on a floor below me. There’s a camera recording live video in the building opposite. I try to find Alice’s window, and give up.

The news feeds are alive in blind, cephalopodic frenzy.

8.21.19 Tokyo/ HOANG Andrea

SID A#002$44AOMV%CA// PERS. INDEX 442,964 (++ POPULAR)

The International Data Police Agency has arrested Katayama Hiroshi, a noted Japanese AI researcher and robotics pioneer. Katayama, 46, has been charged with the possession and dissemination of large amounts of child pornography.

Thousands of gigabytes of information on off-network drives, as well as a large quantity of printed physical media, were seized from Katayama’s home early Thursday morning. Katayama has also been charged with several less serious counts of withholding data under the 2015 Information Obstruction act.

The IDPA cited a slow response from the Japanese Police force as the reason for its intercession. The agency has performed four other such international operations this year, overriding Police jurisdictions in Germany, France, and the United Kingdom.

{LIVE}

I wait for a few seconds. The helicopter has returned, and its searchlight passes over the window, tinting it further.

{~CONT’D}

In a press conference {OCCURING}, the IDPA has stated that apprehending Katayama forms the “first step,” in an attempt to break up a massive international child porn ring.

Katayama has released no public statement.

{-30-...}

aGni tells me that I’ve seen Katayama Hiroshi before: I watched an interview with him on BoingBoing 4. He was building a robot.

KH: The theme of this project is “alternate modes.” We have endeavoured to create a machine that the users find attractive without relating it to human appearance. We hope that this will discourage negative psychological connotations equating the process to prostitution.

KH: Of course, a popular product is our aim.

KH: Many have shown interest, both on the institutional and personal level.

KH: Perhaps in some ways. We have tried to create, not necessarily a “new woman,” so much as an alternate mode, a new path to sexuality.

KH: Yes, in time, but we have tried to avoid the complications that arise from the association of a female body to sexual activity.

KH: The machine is intended to be a sexual object, yes.

KH: No, I do not see any problem with this. The intent of the project was to create an appliance. The machine is just that-- it has no opinions on the matter. Perhaps you could ask it? (laughs)

(pneumatic relaxation in background, innumerable soft white plastic tentacles knit and unknit over shuddering masses of smooth jellied servo-musculature-- an orifice, visible near the bottom of the frame, weeps slow tears of lubricant)

KH: Of course, regularly. It is in many ways far superior to a human being.

I sleep, and dream of fish.

Back after some contemplation

I like the shift into the media's blind, cephalopodic frenzy, as you put it. And, wow, that brings to mind some disturbing images (squidlike tentacles of information thrashing around pops in my head). Indeed, that is an apt(and interesting) description of the modern aggregated media swarm.Back to the shift. Your first parts (1,2) had a distinct nightime,dopey,wonderful feeling to them, like when fatigue suddenly gives way to focus. That being so, when I read the shift into the frenzy, I got the feeling of morning approaching, sunlight. I like your style of writing, I usually read your work, then think about it for a while, then read it again. This segment wasn't exactly "gripping", but it seems like a bridge to the rest of the story, and in that it succeeded. I am trying to make the connection between the child porn and the roboticist. Are we to infer that the porn and robots have a connection, "sex with robots"? If so, there are obvious ethical and societal(digital rights+ sex with robots) plots that could be followed...I guess I'll have to wait and see...thanks for entertaining me!-Alpha