Author: JT Velikovsky
They say, (well, Science says) the human brain is wired to love natural rural scenes.
So, call me an old-fashioned Utopian, but… these days, I always have my brain-computer interface re-design, re-sculpt, and re-paint, my realtime-vision of the city I live in.
Augmented Reality. It overlays perfectly-rendered three-dimensional graphics onto objects in the visible world. I can’t tell, they’re not the real thing. So–instead of concrete skyscrapers towering above me–I always see: giant redwoods. I mean truly gargantuan ones… Draped in lush green vines.
And instead of endless columns of cars clogging up the swarming city streets, I see miles of mammoths, migrating in millions as they trudge along a well-trod earthen track… (Sometimes, just for some variety, it `swaps’ vision of the mammoths out for giant ants, or other enormous prehistoric insects… I can watch those for hours… Sunlight glistening in rainbows on their shells as they amble along.)
And–the bustling city human crowds–for me–are all dressed in `caveman’ bear-skins, rather than their business suits… Their briefcases become old wooden clubs; their cell-phones are sea-shells. People no longer talk on a phone, but instead just listen to the sound of the ocean inside the shell… No-one texts a message, but instead I just see them tracing out a swirled shell-pattern, with their fingers. I like it that way.
The sounds I hear are all synthesized, too… No more inner-city engine-roars, screeching tires, car alarms, police-sirens… Just: serene animal sounds… The rumble and screech of the Jurassic jungle.
But–mostly, the soothing silence…? The whisper of the breeze in the tall trees. And that pungent smell of the ancient forest: fecund fresh earth, and moist fungi–instead of all those car-exhausts, rotting city rubbish, septic sewer-ooze.
A really funny thing… I really don’t miss all that Euclidean city geometry–and all of those strange, straight parallel-lines of brutalist buildings and byways… The square swathes of all those cement sidewalks.
All gone, for me!
I much prefer this new, ancient natural rural world… I feel at home.
They tell me that all the Dystopians instead have their realities `painted over’ with: bombed-out buildings, scorched landscapes. Mutant zombie critters roaming the ruins, instead of the people… (It’s not my thing…)
My own brain-interface even makes my sense of taste match that of the ancient past… So everything I eat tastes and smells like raw meat. But I do miss the ice-cream… And, burnt bacon.
I could ask my digital interface just to rewire my brain, so that I was equally-pleasured by the sights, sounds and smells of the actual city, as it is now… As, we had made it. All: parallel and perpendicular.
But–billions of years of biological evolution baked into a bipedal brain are not so easily undone.
And can we ever really believe all that we see, hear, taste, smell, and touch? Last count, we had eight senses, not just five. Some studies even suggest–with our technology upgrades–we have twenty-two senses(!)
You can alter the observer, or the observed. The perceiver, or the perceived. Or both.
I like to think that both me, and my environment, are: co-evolving. An emergent synthesis.
So, call me an old-fashioned Utopian…?
I’ll hear it.
Decoded as primeval guttural grunts, as we stroll in the ancient cities of tomorrow.
A tidy slice of future life, and a nice embroidery on desperate escapism.
Many thanks Jae! 🙂 (Great calls. I’m Aspie and a HSP – so, always looking to escape – into Art, or Imagination-or preferably a time-machine into the future? Pinker’s great book `Enlightenment Now’ (2018) empirically proves The Future is always better than the Past, so I for one can’t wait to get there. For now sci-fi usually does the trick, LOL 🙂
I really enjoyed how this story tested its reader (or myself at least). I found it very unique in the way it played out and just loved the final line… as we stroll in the ancient cities of tomorrow. Cool stuff.
Thanks Hari, you’re too kind! Recently, I’ve been reading loads of Yuval Noah Harari’s nonfiction (eg Sapiens, Homo Deus, & 21 Lessons), and been thinking (dreaming?) about: Utopias… If we can’t have ’em for real, then maybe in: AR (augmented reality)? hehe 🙂
BTW – your most recent timetravel story (`Forks’) from yesterday is terrific. Powerful stuff. (I recently watched “Predestination” and your `Forks’ packs a similar right hook 🙂
Anyway – really appreciate all the comments and feedback here!
(Am now patiently waiting for someone to: hate my story… LOL. This first one’s more `slice of life’ – so not a lot of `racy plot’ unfurls in it. But – it’s the double-edged sword of Utopian fiction… (obviously!) Not a whole lot of Threat/Danger/Problems!, for the most part, for fairly obvious reasons… 🙂 LOL
Dystopian Sci Fi by contrast is: rife with excrement-covered fans.
I blame Mary Shelley 🙂 (Whose work I happen to also love…)
Cheers & thanks again
Thanks again JT, its really fascinating reading your responses to your comments. Such a wonderful pool of knowledge and inspiration you draw from. Also, I’ve not as yet caught up with Ethan Hawkes ‘Predestination’, but will certainly now track it down. Don’t worry about the haters… no matter what just keep escaping into your art. It’s the only conduit to the other side 🙂
Haha YES! 🙂 (re: Art = best conduit to The Other Side…)
Also, if/when, you do catch `Predestination’ – suggest, if poss, try not to know/hear anything about it? (…It’s quite easily `spoilt’ – but pretty mind-blowing, if you go in knowing nothing, plot-wise…)
(Though, `Primer’ is still my personal fave time-travel movie / story)… just sayin.
The giant ants seem a little incongruent with the rest of the prehistoric theme but I like the concept.
Yes, I do take your point (about the giant ants).
– My thinking there, was influenced by, things like:
ie Apparently, the oxygen levels were much higher prehistorically so the insects (and a lot of other flora and fauna, eg the trees) had metabolisms that coped with being: much bigger.
(b) I’m also a yuge fan of E O Wilson (eg his work on ants, and also, his work on consiliants) – that was a joke. eg
(c) I was thinking, if you could overlay anything on anything, using AR (augmented reality), what things would be interesting-and-freaky, and big insects (and also microscopic life – like say waterbears) freak me out the window…
I’ve actually done a bit of work in A.R. over the years, great fun. eg:
(BTW – Your `Coffee and Fate’ looks cool! As does `Love Letters and other Passages of Darkness’). And by the way – I LOVE your poem, `An Open Letter To God’. Brilliant stuff.)
Thanks so much for the read, and the feedback RJ!
I must say, you are a very informed individual. To be clear, I actually like the idea of the ants and your description and I can see them being larger in a Jurassic world but your comparison to them (inside joke) being over-laid on the image of cars makes me think mutant size and that is what detracted me from the rest of the flow. But I’m being picayune in an otherwise good story.
Many thanks RJ – yes, I see what you mean now. All super-valuable feedback, so thanks again.
(Also, many thanks for introducing me to the word `picayune’-!! I wasn’t aware of it… I very much like, and plan to use it in the future. e.g. Maybe, something like “Travelling from Earth to Tattooine in under 12 parsecs is a non-picayune problem for our engineers…”)
PS – Notwithstanding that a parsec is actually a unit of length, and not time. Seems `Star Wars’ (1978) maybe got that wrong, but in its defense, I guess it’s a space-opera, not sci-fi…
Then again – at least 3 explanations exist: https://www.liveabout.com/han-solo-made-kessel-run-12-parsecs-2958034
But the Star Wars `parsecs’ issue may well also be a picayune problem, especially in comparison to Jar-Jar Binks. (And, the midichlorians furore.)
And yet… there’s this:
Great premise and strong writing… but I was hoping for a stronger twist at the end maybe with some kind of storyline.
Many thanks for these kind words Daniel.
(I’m a fan of your writing! eg `Malia Read’ & `My iFriend’)
Funnily enough-I’ve actually just submitted a sequel to this one (`TACoT – Part 2′), which, (if it’s accepted), I suspect, you may like? It features: plot, events, various characters & not 1, but 3(!) twists!
I look forward to any thoughts/feedback, if/when it’s published…
Many thanks again,