Cheap Brain Implants! (But Read the Fine Print in your EULA…)

Oh yes. New story. For the call for the Mundane SF issue of Interzone, because while I don’t think SF needs to be Mundane, it’s after all just a set of constraints. I learnt stuff from full tonal writing fugues, I learned stuff from composing using serialist procedures, I learned stuff composing with twelve-sided dice, and I learned stuff when (badly) arranging Thelonious Monk songs for chamber orchestra and jazz quintet. So I’m sure I can learn something from writing a little Mundane SF.

(And though I have a few potentially Mundane works, I’ve got nothing really appropriate under 5,000 words, though if I viciously cut at it, McWar might make it. Maybe I’ll try after I give this a go, since it needs a little cutting, editing, and work on the ending.)

The concept of this story — which I’m calling “Egg Hunt” at the moment, because of the “Easter Eggs” involved — is so weird I think I may just get pulled along and finish a draft this week. Maybe, maybe, since I have already written 1,500 and only had the idea about 4 five hours ago (and had classes for three of those hours). If I do finish it this week, that’ll leave me enough time for a little feedback from selected critters as well as some time for revision before the upload deadline, which is the end of the month.

It’s a tough thing to write, though: starts with a sex scene, and it has to, I think, for the story to work and to quirk. I am chuffed, though. When I told Lime about the idea for this story, in the context of advertising and sociobiological niches as the key to the killer app of sales products, she looked at me funny and called me brilliant. (In that extant niches being all taken up, the next point is to create new ones by manipulating sensory experience. Cheap, corporate-subsidized brain implants, but some provisions in the EULA that would make your hair stand on end.)

Has this been done before? How I’m doing it? I haven’t run into such a tale, but that doesn’t mean much, considering how much SF is out there. This does feel like a somewhat Strossian riff — something that’d be a throwaway in a book of his like Accelerando — akin to how he always gets around to mentioning spam as the monkeywrench to any technoidealist rhapsody, as he did during a discussion of David Brin’s Transparency panel at WorldCon in Japan.

Feel free to disagree. R-rated (and still slightly sketchy) excerpt of the opening below the cut. Comments welcome. Will probably password the post when I submit the story.

It happened when Victor came; every time he came, since that first night back from the clinic.

That time, Joanie was on top of him, grinding away, moaning loudly, her hands pressing down on his chest so that her breasts were squeezed together in front of her between her arms. He loved that, he loved all of it, but it was turning him on too quickly. He told her to slow down, but she only smiled wickedly and kept going, harder, until he lost control. Just before he came, she squeezed, clenching the muscles inside her, and he shut his eyes and cried out as the first spasm passed through him. That was when a loud, peppy jingle exploded inside his head.

It was so loud that he stopped spasming altogether. He felt like his skull would shatter and drop away in pieces. Women’s voices, about ten of them, gleefully singing the backup vocals to a doo-wop song, the kind that doodles up and down, cute, saccharine. Over top, a husky, sexy woman’s voice bellowed: “Things, oh baby, things, do me baby, go better, baby, with Coke!”

Victor opened his eyes, wondering if some kind of alarm had gone off. He saw not Joanie’s sweaty, beautiful naked form astride him, but a Coke bottle, curved like a woman, with big red boobs — a white swoosh across one of them, and boobs was the word, not anything so human as breasts. The hands on the ends of her bubbly, liquid black arms traced patterns in his chest hair, and her sticky fluid legs straddled him. Its cartoon face caricatured Joanie’s concerned expression. The bottle blinked its long-lashed eyes and said, “Honey, what’s wrong?”

gordsellar: Your host on this site. I'm an SF writer, homebrewer, and expat teaching at a university in South Korea. My policies for commenters on this site can be read here.

View Comments (3)

  • Nice beginning. It makes me think of a rather perverse, corporate takeover of some of the imagery in Philip K. Dick's "Electric Ant," mixed, at least visually, with an episode of Cowboy Bebop where they're bombarded with 3d ads). But those didn't have the perversity to have a sex partner morph into a coke bottle - I really like that. As you noted in your previous post, I also pay little attention to internet ads (don't most people? How the hell do they make money? Or so I think before recalling a conversation with a friend who said he's happy we were born in a generation that grew up with books, pre-internet, which may (or may not) have given us skills that people born after 1985 may not have - but I digress)- so the outcome of the brain implants carries with it the possiblility of both horror and comedy. It looks like something you could have a lot of fun with; I look forward to reading more...

  • Gack! A story by PKD that I don't know! And from the summary I read, it's VERY relevant to this idea. Thanks! (Now to try hunt it down.)

    Yeah, the brain-implants/brain-spam thing surely isn't a new idea, and I think I even saw Stross riff on it directly. I'm hoping the details -- the quasi-legality of EULAs, advertising, Pavlovian effects (you'll never guess what he "hallucinates" when he drinks a Coke -- or, no, you probably can guess) all come together to sketch this in a scary/funny way.

    Thanks, Bulgasari!

  • By the way -- I'm suspicious of the idea that yougn people will have fewer coping skills for information overload, etc. I think they'll have more -- they'll be growing up as natives in that country that is still a little foreign to us. Maybe they'll be even better at blocking out ads, or insisting that they become entertainment, or something. Maybe not, though. I suspect it depends only a little on how we "educate" them, and a lot on how much we instill values of being critical of things. (Since education rarely involves teaching critical thinking in a direct way, I consider them relatively separate.)

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