System Shutdown

System Shutdown

January 1st

Dear Diary,

In an attempt to embrace change and personal growth, I’ve decided to challenge myself, and so my next project will be an edgy cyberpunk novel. This will allow me to plumb the darkest depths of cynicism, as well as the steep cliffs of optimism by which one must escape. Accordingly, I have delved into the technology of tomorrow, studying it while it is just a looming threat, and have also fixed on a number of social ills that I plan on putting front and center in my worldbuilding. I am virtually quivering with excitement! Virtually? Ha ha!

A book about a game about a genre.

In order to leaven the darkness with a touch of whimsy, I have decided to code-name this project Mirrorball. Though, now that I write it, this may be a bit retro-techno, with sinister undertones, and far too close to serve as a working title. I shall just have to learn to enjoy the subtle frisson this name evokes within me. Can you say “Hello, world!” Mirrorball? I knew you could!

And more good news! The realtor’s sign is gone from the house next door. I eagerly await the arrival of my new neighbors!

Techno-Inspiration: Google Time Crystals, of course!

January 7th

Dear Diary,

I have been writing night and day on Mirrorball! I can admit to you, dearest Diary, that Mirrorball was a greater challenge than I’d anticipated. My first three or four days were sluggish, as I struggled with the tone while introducing our protagonist, the ex-military drifter who goes by the handle of Switchblade. I vacillated throughout the entire first chapter about whether to reveal his name was actually Gordon, but decided against it. To all those who meet him, Switchblade is an enigma, a dark presence carrying the spark of hope carefully hidden from view. Oh, and a smartgun. That’s also hidden from view, in a cyberarm quick-deploy system.

Military hardware in civilian spaces is not just a lovely dream anymore.

My newest neighbors are due to arrive any time. The movers have been busy for days, unloading what may be the most astonishing amount of possessions into the house next door. I have noted a variety of boxes, crates, and old trunks, ranging in size from large to colossal. From my writing room I watched the movers fill the room directly across the driveway with a number of these, but they hung rich, heavy velvet curtains across the windows before they began unpacking it.

If this were a cyberpunk world, I would suspect my neighbors to be black-market cyber-aug dealers, and I imagine they would be setting up a makeshift operating theater in the basement while deploying swarms of nano-drones into the environment for security. How would Switchblade deal with such criminals?

Techno-Inspiration: Spot, the robotic terror dog. So cute!

January 14th

Dear Diary,

The dark future that is the world of Mirrorball continues to consume my days. I find that I must set aside time from writing to tend to you, my faithful diary! And so another week has passed, and I have much to relate. As far as Mirrorball is concerned, the story has gotten well on its way! The evil corporate raider, Steinway, aided by his company’s, bio-nanite technologies, is hacking the physiology of his competition, leading to a variety of sudden deaths and radical mental degradation. This is why Switchblade has become entangled with the street poet Hotwire, who was unknowingly spreading Steinway’s nanites among the poor corporate wage-slaves. Hotwire provides a certain “for the people” viewpoint, though Switchblade has thus far rebuffed her views on social justice beyond not killing her immediately. Character arc, baby!

Oh, and I’ve introduced the AR techno-prophet Vox to the story. Dare I reveal who Vox is, even to you, dear Diary? I shall remain coy, for now!

On a hopefully-unrelated topic, my new neighbors are set to arrive any day now!

Techno-Inspiration: Vantablack paint and all of its competitors.  It’s like the human soul in a bottle.

January 21st

Dear Diary,

What a difference a week can make!

Switchblade and Hotwire have discovered the Feedback Loop, which is backing up corporate data into lab-grown animals as living DNA drives controlled by bio-nanites. It seemed unlikely that Switchblade wouldn’t just incinerate the entire living data bank, but Hotwire managed to talk him down. It was a close thing, though, since it was really hard to come up with a reason he’d accept. That man is grim!

James, Josie, and their four children.

And on the subject of DNA, my new neighbors are as close to a lab-grown nuclear family as I have ever encountered, assuming that the lab was churning out not just tall, attractive people with perfect teeth and skin, but who also possess an abundance of musical and dance skills, alongside the willingness to display all of the above. It seems that Josie and James are the leaders of a family of performers, and they and their four children tour the country with a wholesome revue of heartwarming and uplifting performances. They are billed as the Amazing Five, and much of their home is now a practice space.

In short, they are the perfect models of what the characters of Mirrorball should not be. Except for the attractive part. And perhaps the teeth.

Techno-Inspiration: Myoelectric prosthetic limbs. Cyberlimbs, yo! Because who would want a meat-limb when a soulless chrome replacement is available?

January 28th

Dear Diary,

The social messages of Mirrorball has now taken center stage, as it were. Animal rights? Check! Mindcrimes? Check! Evolving sexual mores? Check, and examined in detail that would make me blush, were I not a street-hardened word-warrior, toiling thanklessly just to afford my next neuro-fix. Just kidding! I was blushing the whole time! I have leavened this heady mix of progressive ideals with a dizzying array of graphic violence.

And speaking of whipsnap reversals, my writing times are now in disarray. My early writing session need now take place in the basement, near the washing machine, which drowns out the cheery sounds of Josie and James leading their four children in vocal lessons in their kitchen, which they accomplish while working together to prepare a nutritious breakfast for the family. After a meal typified by impromptu verses and poetry, the entire family works together to clear and clean the dishes, sweep (and sometimes mop) in choreographed splendor, and dash off to their various rooms to hone their individual skills.

As you can imagine, dear diary, this is is not the bleak hopeless environment I require to craft Mirrorball. So the soulless hum of the washing machine has become my early-morning muse, and Mirrorball has slowed as a result.

Techno-Inspiration: Ion drives, because they offer the promise of getting far away from your neighbors, and eventual escape into the silent void of interstellar space, where you can write without being interrupted continuously.

February 9th

Dear Diary,

Little has happened in Mirrorball of late. Switchblade had only yesterday completed his stealth mission to the launch facility, and Hotwire has just started to hack the servers of the spore farm. Vox has not yet inspired the first love-in.

One reason for this drastic slowdown has to be the oldest child among the Amazing Five, Jacob, whose practice space is the room right across from my writing room. It is here that he practices his skills on a one-man-band sort of contraption, with which he plays every instrument on an astonishing repertoire of songs, with titles such as Jolly Good!, and I’m a Big Boy Now. But he’s just so charming and friendly in person that my annoyance is tempered considerably. Still, humming the tune of Jolly Good! as Switchblade is threatening to throw a thug into a flesh processor is disconcerting.

Techno-Inspiration: Sound canceling headphones.

February 24th

Dear Diary. Dear, dear, Diary.

Tap dancing. Puppetry. We’re All Happy, sung in the round. These are the things that drift through my mind as I write. Switchblade’s cynicism has become brittle and forced. Hotwire’s anger has cooled. Their aberrant desires have become decidedly more wholesome. Even Vox has faded a bit. He keeps speaking in rhyming couplets that need to be excised at once.

I must confront my neighbors, and insist they respect my boundaries. After all, Mirrorball is art, too!

Techno-Inspiration: Flamethrowers. Oh, and smartbombs launched by drones.

March 16th

Dear, neglected Diary,

I must apologize, Dear Diary, for not telling you of how things have been going, of late. Checking back on my last entry, I remember that I had meant to deliver a stern ultimatum to my neighbors. This didn’t go as planned. I was immediately welcomed by the entire family, given tea and cookies, and regaled with a personal performance by each of them. The Amazing Five are, I admit, aptly – if not precisely – named. I left both charmed and frustrated, vowing to return the next day.

And return I did, to be hustled into the practice space of their youngest, where Josiah and Ji-ji did the most astounding international juggling routine. I had never known yodeling to be so entrancing! They also convinced me to join them in singing Boo-Dilly-Boo-Boo, the big finale number I’ve listened to them rehearsing for weeks. I wasn’t bad, if I say so myself.

Needless to say, I have found it difficult to ask the Amazing Five to change their routines, given how wonderful their gifts have proven to be. Why, when compared to my half-finished book, it is hardly a comparison at all! So I have taken to writing in the off moments when the Amazing Five isn’t practicing.

Techno-Inspiration: Electric toothbrushes. Amazing results are possible with consistent use.

April 5th

Dear Diary,

The Amazing Five have completed their backyard stage, and often practice their entire show out in the warming spring air. I have taken to acting as an audience of sorts, cheering and clapping as needed. It never gets old!

Last night Josie invited me to stay for dinner, and I accepted at once. It was quite rousing, with preparation, setting the table, the actual meal, and cleanup a non-stop sing-a-thon. I never knew how invigorating the life of the stage can be!

Techno-Inspiration: Karaoke machines. Never going to give you up. Never gonna let you down.

May 10th

Dear Diary,

I’ve learned to juggle! Jenny taught me, and we’ve been working on a small two-person routine. She’s better than me, of course, so we’ve agreed to leave the knives and flaming objects to her, mostly. But still, juggling!

Techno-Inspiration: The hand-held beanbag. Truly inspiring.

June 1st

Dear Diary,

I’ve finally mastered the basics of tap dancing, and can keep up with Ji-ji and Josiah nearly step for step! I’m like a seventh Amazing Five!

Inspiration: Salad spinners.

June 21st

Dear Diary,

The Amazing Five have started their North American tour! I’m so happy for them!

Inspiration: The Amazing Five!

July 5th

Oh dear! Dear Diary, I’ve forgotten all about you!

No, that’s not right. I’ve been meaning to write in you, but have always put it off. I apologize!

Perhaps worse yet, I’ve entirely neglected Mirrorball. Consulting your pages, dearest Diary, I see that I haven’t written a thing since some time in March. I can’t believe it! Is it possible that Mirrorball has died of the neglect I’ve shown it? As I write this, I struggle to remember where the excitement of the idea lay. It was edgy, I guess. And fast-paced. But I’m having a hard time recalling what all the fuss was about, really.

Inspir- oh, what’s the use?

July 6th

Dear Diary,

I have re-read the last few pages of Mirrorball, and consulted my notes, and I believe I have picked up the threads I’d forgotten about. Time to be a professional about this and grind out a finish. Onward!

Inspiration: You, dearest diary! A friend, born of woodpulp and dreams. A faithful companion of paper and ink.

July 7th

Dear Diary,

Sigh. I’ve written just two anemic pages since yesterday. Where has the thrill gone? I must soldier on.

Techno-Inspiration: Bagel slicers. Is that a technology, really? I guess. Neanderthals didn’t have them, after all.

July 9th

Dear Diary,

Today was actually productive. No, scratch that. Enjoyable. I actually enjoyed writing Mirrorball again. Well, that’s a relief! I hope the enthusiasm stays intact, because I’m exhausted!

Techno-Inspiration: Human powered flight vehicles. Like Icarus, only with caution and space-age materials. But still tiring, I’ll bet.

July 16th

Dear Diary,

Strap in, dear Diary, because I’ve been on a tear all week! I write around twelve pages in most of my early writing session, then, after a bit of juggling and tap practice, come back and write ten more in the evening! Switchblade and Hotwire are now homing in on the charming but evil Steinway by hacking the communications protocol of the nanites they were infected with in the book’s beginning. Watch out, Steinway, we’re all coming for you!

Techno-Inspiration: Ramjets and scramjets. We’re talking about eyeball-crushing velocity, here!

August 1st

Carbon black nanopaints are like catnip for the surface of my soul, if catnip absorbed 99.99% of all light.

Dear Diary,

I’ve neglected you again. I know. But Mirrorball is done, at long last! I admit, there were times I despaired! And I finished not a day too soon, as the Amazing Five are due back tomorrow before beginning the European leg of their tour in September. I can’t wait to tell them I’ve finished Mirrorball, and to show them the set of chainsaws I’ve bought to add into our juggling routine!

Techno-Inspiration: Chainsaws, obviously.

August 3rd

Dear Diary,

Woe! My delightful neighbors, the Amazing Five, have decided that life of the road is the only way to live, and so they are moving out of the house next door, to begin their perpetual world tour! While I will miss them, with their tumbling and fire-breathing, the exotic instruments and non-stop singing, I can certainly understand their decision. If I could tour the world as a writer, I would. Maybe. In any case, I shall certainly keep in touch with them, and I’ll always have the rain-soaked, gritty world of Mirrorball to remember them by.

Techno-Inspiration: The handwritten letter to a distant friend.

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