Jury Service, by Charles Stross and Cory Doctorow
Here's another hot new story, thanks to Rich Horton's short-fiction
cheat-sheet [note 1] -- and it's a live one, folks.
Starts out as an unholy threeway with Ken MacLeod, Bruce Sterling, &
Vernor Vinge. Then, add Spinrad! Forward! Rucker! Drexler!
Post-Singularity millenial weirdness! Is this a new movement? In JS,
Stross & Doctorow are clearly the kitchen-sinkists... How many did I
Here are some (pretty much spoiler-free) samples. Those with
hyper-delicate sensibilities may wish to proceed direct to the story now
-- but really, these amount to blurbs, aperitifs, hors d'oeuvres [note
Welcome to the fractured future, at the dusk of the twenty-first
Earth has a population of roughly a billion hominids. For the most part,
they are happy with their lot, living in a preserve at the bottom of a
gravity well. Those who are unhappy have emigrated, joining one or
another of the swarming densethinker clades that fog the inner solar
system with a dust of molecular machinery so thick that it obscures the
sun. Except for the solitary lighthouse beam that perpetually tracks the
Earth in its orbit, the system from outside resembles a spherical
fogbank radiating in the infrared spectrum; a matrioshka brain, nested
Dyson orbitals built from the dismantled bones of moons and planets.
"Blrrrt. Greetings, tech-juror Rogers. I am a guidance iffrit from the
People's Magical Libyan Jamahiriya. Show me to representatives of the
People's Revolutionary Command Councils and I am required to intercede
for you. Polish me and I will install translation leeches in your
Broca's area, then assist you in memorizing the Qur'an and hadiths.
Release me and I will grant your deepest wish."
"A fractional-dimensional parasitic turd-gobbler from outer space?" Huw
says. "Have I got that right?"
"You pukes had better listen up right now! We are about to begin the
most dangerous part of the proceedings! Are those of you who believe in
physical resurrection all backed up to off-site storage? And are those
of you who don't all up to date on your life insurance policies? Because
if not, you're too fucking late, haa haa! It is time to open the box!"
"...As you can see, the genome of the said item is chimeric and shows
signs of crude tampering, but it's largely derived from drosophila, mus
musculus, and a twentieth-century situationist artist or politician or
something called Dan Quayle.... A self-propagating teleology meme.
Goal-seeking Neat Ideas are the most dangerous kind..."
Indeed. You'll not see another story like this in 2002. [note 3] Not to
I haven't read much of Doctorow's stuff -- is the rest anything like
this? Ah, here's a biblio: http://www.craphound.com/fic/listing.html
[draws blank on most] Ah, "I Love Paree", Asimov's, December 2000 --
which is online! http://www.craphound.com/fic/paree.html
-- and it's a *terrific* story [note 4], and is fully compatible with
Stross's own full-bore tekno weirdouts. Good job, guys!
ws.prodigy.com -- and I see I'm *way* behind on my SCI FICTION reading.
2) Hey, I'm a *lot* better at pulling blurbs than E. Datlow! With all
due respect... Note lame attempt to have it both ways in the
3) Sorry, couldn't resist.
4) Ah, I see Rich Horton liked this one, too [sidebar,
http://www.craphound.com/fic/paree.html ]. What excellent taste you
Excerpts copyright 2002 by Charles Stross, Cory Doctorow and SCIFI.COM
Enjoy! -- Pete Tillman
Read more of my reviews: