The Quantum Mind

Author : James Rhodes

“Do you know why you keep making the same mistakes over and over?” Susan asked.

Daniel shrugged, he didn’t really care.

“It’s because you’re forgetful.”


“Well, what are you going to do about it?”

Daniel didn’t really feel like talking, least of all talking about his shortcomings. He realised that if he didn’t talk she would carry on and on until he broke down… Best to get it out of the way.

“I’m only forgetful about things I don’t care about.”

“Like me?”

“No, not you, the things you care about: bills, cleaning, the future… That sort of thing, I can’t focus on it.”

Susan’s lips were visibly smacking.

“Well, don’t you want this to work?”

“It doesn’t work, I die on my own. You get married next year, two weeks from now we get engaged because I start lying to placate you. After that we are happy until I forget all about you for some reason.”

Susan was used to Daniel’s nonsense, she sighed.

“You know, sometimes I wonder how you even hold down a job.”

“No you don’t, you know everything about my job.”

There was an accusative tone to Daniel’s voice that Susan didn’t quite understand.

“Well go on, tell me about it.” Daniel was shouting.

“What do you want me to say?” She asked.

“Just tell me why I love you so much when I don’t meet you until two weeks ago?”

Susan struggled to give him an answer but Daniel couldn’t hear it, his mind was somewhere else.

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Furniture Music

Author : Jason Frank

“Would you drop it already?” not really a question, not the way he said it. “They are not alive. A little self repair, a little self preservation, and occasional self replacement do not make things alive. They make them some damn good products that cost plenty of damn good money, that’s all.”

She didn’t say anything. He had more to say, she knew that but she wasn’t going to encourage him. Of course, sometimes he got on a roll and could keep going without anything from her.

“They don’t have the spark of life. They don’t seek out things, they don’t build things. They don’t have dreams. They don’t have self direction. Whatever the program they have says, they do. We can do whatever we want, that’s why we’re alive and they’re not. Are you getting any of this?”

“So,” she began with that most versatile and complicated of beginnings, “when was the last time you sought something out, built something, or told me about a dream you had? Are you a damn good product, too?”

“I can’t even talk to you. I’m going out. I’m going to the bar,” a familiar phrase he punctuated, as usual, with the slamming of the door.

Walking up to the car, his eyes caught on the traces of the dent he’d picked up in a parking lot the week before. It had mostly healed. Three good kicks took care of that, put the dent back the way it was.

He backed out of the driveway fast, barely looking. What was worse, a bunch of uppity products trying to make him look bad or being married to a half wit who thought she was friends with said products? Thank god her deathly cat and dog allergies had spared him from a home overrun by furry quadrupeds. They should have had kids. Sure, it would have been a huge pain, but at least his wife’s maternal drives wouldn’t have her talking to the damn furniture.

Turning the corner and starting down the hill, the inevitability of his situation was on his mind. He had to drink; there was no getting through to that woman. Wednesday (was it Wednesday?) he was out getting a beer in the garage and there she was with two ottomans and an end table having a tribal council with the car. What could a man do in that situation? He broke out of his thoughts when he realized that he was going a little fast.

He went light on the brakes but nothing happened. The sense of being out of control was novel enough to his sober brain to create a little shock. Still, the sober brain had a number of tricks up its sleeve, such as shifting into neutral, etc. Nothing worked. He couldn’t even open the door to jump out of what was an increasingly speeding death trap. He began screaming just as the car stereo cranked itself up so loud he couldn’t hear himself. That song? He hated that song. She loved it.

“If he was wearing his seatbelt… it wasn’t that bad of a wreck… I’m sorry” the officer was telling her while she stood there in her pink and frayed bath robe, crying into a handful of Kleenex like it was Oscar season. “The car… it’s not badly damaged.”

“Don’t… I don’t want to junk the car. He loved that car. I want to bring it home and let it recover,” she said through the thick tears and aforementioned Kleenex.

“That’s probably a good idea,” the officer said.

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Author : Julian Miles

“Dear Tara,

If you’re reading this, then I have just died again. I am sorry that I will miss Luke’s sixth birthday and even more grieved over missing our eighth anniversary. That brings me to evens now, I promise to try and make the ninth.

Never forget that I love you, and I only do what I do for you and the children’s safety. Yes, I know about Eva. The update reached me just as we dropped out of Hirsch. So I guess that I am going to be in serious trouble for missing her birth as well.

By the time you read this, I’ll be wombed on board the Fulminator or Inceptor, so you can leave updates there and they’ll drop them into the personal feeds, but remember to keep the words simple. You used the word ‘disgusting’ last time and it hung my induction up for three weeks while the meds unravelled my fixation with multi-syllable constructs.

Time to finish as we are about to launch the hammers; I’ve finally qualified for a Versio Quatro, the only upside I can see from dying heroically so much. My death-point learning and psychological resilience is too useful to waste, apparently.

So until I race up the path into your arms again, be strong and kiss the kids for me.

All my love,


Tara put the worn note back in its stasis frame as the sounds of childish argument started in the kitchen. Sure enough, Luke and Jack were fighting again. She sent Luke to clean his room while she firmly put Jack down for a nap. Another few months and she’d need a matron droid to help control him; Two metres tall, two hundred pounds of muscle making for three, the mind of an eight year old with the sleep cycle of a two year old.

Jack had been on the Fulminator when the Borsen had punched a hundred metre warpcore through it. She should feel lucky, that her man had died so many times in the line of duty that Command had actually bothered to retrieve him from the wreckage, the sole patient saved. He had been ex-vitro for too long when they got him back to advanced regen, so he had to finish growing back the long way.

All the memories were there, but the release was keyed to physical brain age. He only remembered what he knew at that age, with occasional prescience. Thankfully the insights drawn from Jack’s prescience were enough for Command to pay his family’s way for the next twenty years.

It was going to be difficult, raising her man to be the husband she had loved.

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Hand Out

Author : James Orbesen

My comfort worn wooden chair stands at attention in the city glow of a midnight rainstorm. Droplets patter, tapping on the glass of my three floor-to-ceiling windows as I sit six floors above the sidewalk and peer down at umbrellas weaving a complex choreography along the footpaths. The right hand itches incessantly towards a bottle of shoddy whiskey, three fourths gone. Cabs pull around the street corners with the peeling sizzle of rubber on wet pavement. Horns sound as one of the vehicles lifts off, hovers for a moment like an updraft caught leaf, and zooms off to higher parts of the city. I reach to scratch and feel metal.

The hand is not mine, I think, as I bring it up and hold it in front of me. It was manufactured in bulk somewhere, shipped from wherever and shoved into my empty stump after my hand was chopped clean off. It itches less now that I look at the sleek blue steel contours. The fingers click and clank as I move them up and down as if I was rolling a heavy silver coin across them. It knows I am not its body.

Work is hard now. I cannot get behind a product like this anymore. I was so good beforehand. My words soothed and rolled like a mercury balm. The benefits are there to see. Everyone is getting them. Take charge of your body. People queued up, soup line style, out the door to hear me speak, to talk them into something they just learned they needed. New arms. New legs. New hands. Faster. Better. Stronger. Best of all, affordable. Unique to you. Always a satisfied customer. No one was ever disappointed after I was done with them.

Sometimes I feel the hand move on its own. Late in the evening, after nights of fitful sleep, broken up by dreams of me whole, I could see a tremble in the fingers. The shiver would be barely noticeable but it ran like a current through the finger tips, itching for my attention. It wants to be noticed. I hold my hand up against the gleam of a thousand streetlights pouring in from out front, its shadow taking hold of my face and demanding not to let go.

The hand snatches down to the bottle of cheap booze from the floor. I down it in one swift gulp borne of frustration and a desire to sleep for days. It wants more. As blood eyed weariness begins to pull me down, I think of how tomorrow I’ll go to work with my black gloved hand. Everyone will ask why I hide it and give it a sinister air with the Dr. Strangelove look. I never can answer satisfactory. I have a hand and it isn’t mine. How can I answer when I’m still not whole?

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Author : A. S. Andrews

Reboot. You’re only a runner up. There’s no box office fame in your future.

Come on now. Remember how, in preschool, they gave everyone medals, so no one felt left out? And how, in grade school, they had graduations for all the grades, so everyone felt important and special? And how, in high school, there was no valedictorian, because the school didn’t want all those kids who were an eighth of a grade point away to go and hang themselves?

Well, this is New Hollywood and we don’t play that game here. Somewhere out there, there’s a winner.

And you are not it.

Yes, your script was memorable, but memorable won’t solve world hunger.

Don’t you care about solving world hunger? That’s right, I forgot. You’re an AI. I wonder how many were in my high school class? Rumor has it you don’t need to eat.

So it’s true? So you don’t eat, but you have feelings. And right now, you feel depressed, because you’re only a runner up. Okay. Well, look, so is everybody else who didn’t win. That’s the way it works. You’re in great company here, a whole city of runner ups. And you don’t even know who won.

That makes it worse? How? How can you want to kill someone you don’t even know?

Look, if you need emotional support, why don’t you just reboot? What do you care, anyway? You’re an AI.

Because you were predicted to take over the world? By who? Another AI?

Look, you were programmed to deal with this stuff, right? So you had the same schooling as everyone else, and you’re not used to losing. So what? Don’t compete then.

Of course it’s not fair. Did you see that in the contest rules? No. At least you have a reboot option.

Yes, I assure you, they are all rebooting. Today. As you should be. Don’t you go trying to hang yourself in my office. That’s not how it works. Haven’t you ever rebooted before? Have we really gotten that good at the program?

No, I don’t want to discuss your script. Making everyone losers so they hang themselves is not a solution to world hunger. You can’t just wipe out the human race so you don’t have to feed them. Besides, you don’t even know if they’d really hang themselves. Only the AIs are programmed. And you’re supposed to reboot.

Now what are you doing?

Get away from me with that rope. What makes you think I won?

Illegal? I’ll show you illegal. I’m warning you, I’ve never lost a thing in my life, and I’m not about to start now.

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