In “The decline of Europe“, a series of six SF stories I am working on, Europe is in an IP-lockdown since 2020. Each of the six stories I am working on is about 40.000 words. This fragment is from “Dreams” (working title). “Dreams” is the story of Isabelle, from 2035 to 2061. It provides one of six viewpoints on that Europe.
From time to time I paste a specific fragment I have been working on and that pleased me for one reason or another. This is one of these fragments.
I nailed something in this new piece. A part on the character of Abayomi I had not hit before.
This new writing happened because I left this note behind several months ago: “[bridge needed, elaborate France visit, add 4000 words]”.
The fragment is part of a long story with the working title “Dreams” (that grew into a novel of over 100.000 words) that is the third in the “Decline of Europe” series.
This is the second day Abayomi is in Paris. She and Isabelle had kind of a fight the day before related to identity, love, being worth of love and fear of not being worthy at all.
[Part of chapter 16. First version]
“When I look at the future, when I look at the simulations, the way they branch and give me all the different possibilities, too many end up without you. Next week. Next year. Next decade.”
I saw the tears come up in her eyes.
“I want you, Isabelle. The idea of losing you hurts me.”
“For your humanness,” she said. “For who you are, for who you can become. For that deep spark inside of you. That deep fire that can not be killed. Can only be killed by death itself.”
“I will never be like you,” I said. “I will never have that same thing inside of me. Never reach this full integration.”
“Don’t say never,” she said.
“Don’t give me that false hope,” I said. “I tried.”
She moved her coffee over the table, in my direction.
“Don’t be blinded by what you do not have,” she said. “To have this system inside of myself does not change that much to who I am.”
“I think it does,” I said.
She shook her head. Then pointed at her head.
“This is what makes me. Not this.”
She pointed at her chest, moved down, indicating the system that ran through her bones.
“Enakshi Tharoor understood this aspect of humanity maybe better than anyone in her time. While others were having nerd-gasms over the possibilities of the hardware and the software, she looked at the human aspects of it. The cultural aspects. The agents in human culture that promote change or not. She took one simple question: ‘how is it that regardless of technical innovation people still use those inventions for the very same basic human expressions? Vanity, showing themselves, finding others, finding love. How is it that hardly anyone mines all that increasingly raw power to improve the world around them? Why all this self-centered bullshit?”
She drank from her coffee.
“She cracked part of it and laid down the basis for a radical change in Saudi Arabia. She, with her partner Karim, created a foundation of systems that provided immediate feedback on the consequences of personal deed. The consequences of improvements, of decay. The results of cooperation.”
She put the cup down, looked at me with her bright green eyes.
“It is not the machines, Isabelle, it is the spirit. The mind. It is the mind that makes all the difference. It is the collective mind that creates the change.”
“Did she leak the data?”
“Maybe. Maybe not. She could have. She probably would have if it had been possible. And it is possible she did.”
She looked down.
“I met her once, ten years ago.” Then she looked up at me. “She is a very smart woman. A very smart and dangerous and vain person. She has no stopping-point. She will betray you when it suits her. It is something not many people will admit. As she is a hero to many.”
I looked aside when the door of the small boulancherie opened and closed again, bringing cold air in.
“She cracked it. And the secret is here.” Aboyami pointed at my head, touched my forehead. “Ten percent of ten percent of tent percent. A mix of qualities randomly spread over the population. I am gay. I also like the occasional penis. I am smart in some senses but also stupid in other senses. Ten percent of ten percent of ten percent of ten percent. The more qualities you want to see combined in one person, the smaller the odds become. And so you will find a lot of people with a little bit of anything and only a few with a lot of something. You will find a lot of smart people but only a few that match your interests. Software does not change that. Culture does not change that. Genetic manipulation might. Genetic selection might. And some countries are doing that right now. Taking this whole accelerated evolution one step further. But the random aspects remain. The human part of us remains. There is no single route, no single path to move over. There are many.”
She touched my face again, this time touching my temple with the flat of her left hand, my forehead with her thumb.
“It is here. It is here where we are the same. Where we are similar. Where the odds come together and we match. Where I find all these treasures that make you worth to love. Where I find all these riches that allow you to love me with all you have.”
Her eyes had become moist again.
“I can not turn back time and kidnap your from this culture. I can not wipe your mind and replace your past with something else. And I think I would never want to, Isabelle. With all your fears and all your misconceptions you are perfectly flawed. Like me. Like I am perfectly flawed.”
She showed me the scars on her arm. The jagged lines that created surrounded the patches of slightly different skin.
“These are just some of my scars,” she said. “Just one of many. One of many from my past, one of many reflected in my mind. My background did not prevent me from feeling hurt as a child, from feeling abandoned and scared and misunderstood. My people, my family gave me all the love they had and still I rejected them. They never stopped loving me and I never stopped loving them. But I simply did not fit in. I am one of those ten percent of ten percent of ten percent that does not fit within that society. And that hurt a lot in the past.”
End of fragment
Several things do and no not happen in this fragment and chapter.
- Enakshi Tharoor — Anakshi Tharoor is a central character in the series of stories “Dreams” is part of. Think of Nikolay Tesla. Think of something pivotal like Alternate Current and the invention of radar. But then in the shape of a woman who is relentless, changed the world when she was 23 and — possibly — even changed that world more by leaking all research-data from that project to the world. Enabling that world to break through to the other side. To what you might call “the singularity” but not how Kurtzweil envisions it.
- The scars — I show them here explicitly through Abayomi, for the first time in the story. Yes I mention them via the eyes of Isabelle three times before that, but here Abayomi links them explicitly to her own past.
- The untold story — Later in this story, “Dreams”, where it merges with another version in a separate long story from the point of view of Abayomi (called “Limiters”) she will tell and show how she got them. This new scene here is crucial to land that later moment deep.
- Fuck technology — Technology is not the differentiatiator Culture is. The mind is. That I use sticks to achieve a specific goal does not make me less. It simply means I do not have the right tools yet. The mind defines whether a person is really beautiful or not.
- Culture/personal freedom — Culture can be backward. Culture can be damaging. Culture can be a prison. Culture is also fluid. Change your mind, get rid of the parts of your culture that block you and you can become a bit more liberated. Freedom is possible for everyone.
Where the previous scene/fragment: “Declaration of love” started this concept of culture and personal freedom, here, in this fragment, I land it a bit more.
“Dreams” is about this. About the role of technology, culture and personal freedom.
Where I was worried about the lack of focus on this aspect, making the story going nowhere, this is now slowly repairing itself in a very natural way. I really love the writing I did above.