This short piece looks at a time in the not-too-distant future when the algorithms that analyze our shopping and voting habits determine more than those. Cameras see more and microphones hear more. The average citizen puts on a show for the public as well as their closest family members.
The consequences of non-conformity are not made clear, but they are dire enough, at least to the mind of the narrator, Ravi, that the risk is not worth it.
Ravi knows he cannot trust the news, but he knows how he must react to it. If his reactions are not what they should be, he knows the news will be tweaked until he reacts correctly.
When he reads an article about United World Software’s surveillance network helping the government capture Deacon, the leader of the radical Luddite terrorists, he has no way of knowing whether it’s true. He doesn’t even know if Deacon is a real person.
Just the same, he smiles and tells his wife they got Deacon.
She, in turn, smiles. “That’s great news. Thank God they’re watching.”
Does she mean it? Ravi doesn’t know. He can’t ask because they’re listening.
This is a bleak little tale. Ravi knows how he must act, and acts accordingly, but at the expense of any human intimacy. His spends his life not weighing things for what they are, but for how he must react. Does this require happiness or outrage? He can never catch his wife’s eye and chuckle, as if to says, “Aren’t they all a pack of stuffed shirts?”
According to his blurb, author Karl Lykken writes both stories and software. He lives in Texas.
The story can be read here.
Title: “True Enough Believers”
Author: Karl Lykken
First published: Daily Science Fiction September 17, 2018
©2018 Denise Longrie