Originally published in Space and Time magazine in 2016
Michael Haynes lives in Central Ohio where he helps keep IT systems running for a large corporation during the day and puts his characters through the wringer by night. An ardent short story reader and writer, Michael has had stories appear in periodicals such as Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine, Beneath Ceaseless Skies, and Daily Science Fiction and his work has also appeared in anthologies such as Deep Cuts, Not Our Kind: Tales of Not Belonging, and Kwik Krimes. He is the chair of the Cinevent classic film convention and enjoys photography, geocaching, and travel. His website is http://michaelhaynes.info/ and he can be found on Twitter as @mohio73.
Future humans will look back at this time. What will they say? Will they say we were an advanced civilization? I have been wondering quite a bit if they will say that this was the start of a civil war, or a war of some kind. All of the people who sit by the side (including me) will be looked at as entirely oblivious to the world around them.
I don’t know what else to do or how else to interact with the world in the way that would be of value. I don’t know what 12,000 years will say, I would imagine that it will mix all times with other times. It will look at this as rementants of the civil war (in the US) because that will have been just a blink of an eye ago.
Did you ever say “I quit”? If so, what happened to make you come back to writing?
Yes. Very yes. Absolutely I quit. I didn’t think it was something I could do. I thought it was something that was in my past. There was a tale that I wasn’t creative and I believed it. I completely bought it. I thought that writing was something I wouldn’t be able to do anymore. That part of my life was over. I needed to move on. Enjoy reading and do other things with my life.
I started to have tiny little glimpses that maybe I could. Maybe there was space somewhere for me in writing. Maybe I wasn’t too old, logical, cynical, boring, whatever else. And that little hope grew. I did some writing here and there. I tried to feed and nurture it despite all else. Let it continue to grow.
Then I read something by Lois McMaster Bujold in the course of my regular reading. And it was good and so I looped my way back into the start (I am completely unbothered by reading out of order so it was somewhere later in the series). I read Shards of Honor and Barrayar. Something about a character who was an adult. Not just old enough to drink. But overall quite reasonable and adult. That was amazing. Something about that made me double down on the writing.
Reading more, learning more, writing more. I really started back in on it. And not all my characters are like that, but it very much kicked me into feeling like there was space for me. I also really enjoyed that despite the books being old, like decades out of date, they didn’t feel like it. I didn’t read them and flinch at the language, the characters, the ideas.
So yes, I quit. And yes I came back. And I’m glad. I might do it again, and that too will be ok.
One of my favorite non-writing blogs is Ask A Manager (if you have a day job and need advice it is the #1 through #10 spot to go, it is amazing). There was a post earlier this week about social signaling at work and the difference between “Hi, how are you?” “Fine, you?” “Fine.” in the hall while passing at work and someone seriously asking “How are you?”
Alison (the eponymous manager) said:
When the interaction is a quick one — like when you’re passing someone in the hall or greeting them in the morning — “how are you?” is a social ritual that means “I acknowledge you, fellow human!” The fact that people aren’t looking for long, genuine replies in that situation isn’t inauthentic; it’s that the words mean something different than they might in other contexts.
But the good news, is that we do not have to be bound by current social rituals. So what might a very different social ritual to acknowledge a fellow human look like? What would a world where we never acknowledged the humans in our physical space look like? What will social ritual look like with AR? VR? Or with magic? What if you had telepathy?
These are 8 fantastic maps that might change your perspective. Do you write and describe your world or use maps? What can maps lie about? What if someone found a “treasure map” that was much more of a lying liars? Someone is surely making maps that deliberately mislead about something?
The Senior Guy Did Not Like Being Alone In The Office After Midnight by Mary Clemons
Mary has spent many years in the software industry watching a great deal of interesting things which are both good and bad. After the last episode of undesirable activities in the workplace, she decided it was time to leave the office and put her fingers back to work documenting what she’s seen and experienced instead of writing down the steps to enter data into software applications. She would love to go back to getting paid by a corporation but is very wary of who she will have to deal with this time. Plus, she’s getting too old for the hijinks and silliness required to withstand an open cubicle plan and next time her cubicle-mates are going to see a slightly more stern version that will say the following “time to work” to others.
Formerly an astronomer and more recently a research project manager in the aerospace and defense industry, Vaughan Stanger now writes SF and fantasy fiction for a living. His stories have appeared in Daily Science Fiction, Abyss & Apex, Postscripts, Nature Futures and Interzone, amongst other noted magazines and anthologies. Like most writers, he’s working on a novel—and has been for many years. He also loves cats, thus further conforming to the cliché. Plus he’s still holding out for that holiday on the Moon he was promised in the dim and distant past. You can follow his writing adventures at http://www.vaughanstanger.com or @VaughanStanger.
The rings are pieces of Dwarf Planets that got torn off in passing, which were then ripped to pieces!
Juno – I don’t care how old this is – is out of safe mode and awesome. NASA is awesome. Humans managed to send tiny hunks of metal, plastic, and glass and throw them super hard and whoop they went out into space and made pictures of planets that we can see (and that we can’t) as just little specks of light. Humans. Can. Be. Awesome. Then again, robots are the ones doing the hard work. Packing up, leaving home, journeying through potentially lethal and unknown space to explore the universe. Didn’t humans used to talk about going out and exploring? Now we just let robots have all the glory?
The true understanding of natural language, the breadth and generality of human intelligence, our ability to both play Go and cross the street and make a decent omelet—that variety is the hallmark of human intelligence and all we’ve done today is develop narrow savants that can do one little thing super well.
Over at Terribleminds Chuck Wendig issued a challenge. Write a flash fiction with words from his small child. Challenge accepted. I wrote about your future. (Or his, if his child turns out to be a super sarcastic partly alien living in a colony growing up in the J cohort. Seems unlikely, but not impossible.)
I even made a quiz. (should be at the bottom of the page too) You can find out your own future. Now excuse me while I go say some not sarcastic things to work this out of my system so I can do other writing.
I looked around the room and peaked at tests. I looked down at my own. 500 questions. I was never going to finish. I only had my name on it.
“Please remember, this is not a test of your knowledge. There is no right or wrong answers.” I rolled my eyes at the teacher. She smiled at all six of us.
No right or wrong but it would determine the rest of our lives.
“Well some answers will be wrong.” Julie, who knew everything, mumbled just loud enough for everyone to hear. Jason chuckled. I rolled my eyes and my shoulders.
“Every job is important. Every position matters. Without each person and their specific talents the colony would not thrive as it does. Soon you will all be important, powerful members of the colony. This will help identify what your skills are.”
Someone made a sucking sound. Probably Jacob. I scoffed and sighed. At least when this was all over I’d be done with the Js and we’d all be off into the rest of the colony. It was so annoying to deal with these immature idiots all the time.
I sighed and looked down at the questions.
What is the most important thing in your life?
◦ The colony
◦ My cohort
◦ Discovering new worlds
Finishing this test. Not being annoyed by the Js to death. Being done with this damn test. Pff. I marked Discovering new worlds.
During free time you…
◦ Study the colony details, history, and optimizing my capacity for learning
◦ Spend time with friends and develop relationships
◦ Tending the animals
They had to be kidding. Ugh. Fine. I selected volunteering. At least my actual record would show I didn’t do that.
In the morning you notice your________first when you look in the mirror.
◦ My eyes
◦ My smile
◦ My fangs
◦ My aural stalks
Come on. Were they all going to be like this? Nothing even about what I was actually good at. I skimmed through the test looking for anything even the slightest bit relevant.
Which trait is the most important?
Diligence would be something like janitorial duty. Compassion would make me deal with the dumbest of the colony, oh wait. I looked around the room…I already did that. I marked Determination. I was determined to be done with this test.
What is your favorite animal?
Oh, I really didn’t want to end up in the barns. I wrinkled my nose. Hawks, I guess. I looked around. Jill was reading each question carefully and stopped to actually ponder the answers. They’d just shove us into whatever jobs they had open. It wasn’t like they’d let the medic job sit empty because no one was naturally inclined to do it. Why were they making us waste hours on this damn test?
Under pressure you are:
◦ A natural leader
◦ A follower
◦ At my best
Oh good. We aren’t biasing our answers at all here. Nooope. Not even a little. Where’s the question about preparing these exams?
When evaluating others it is important to be:
All over the place, random, obtuse, and dismissive wasn’t listed. Which of course just meant that I was absolutely right about shoving us into whatever job they needed filled.
B. I was going to go with B for everything. Nah. Every fifth answer I’d switch it up a little. I started checking boxes. B, B, B, B, A – oh fun!
Jacob was just drawing boobs on his. Maybe they’d make him the medic.
All my questions were answered. Well none of my questions were answered, but that wasn’t going to change any time soon. I filed up to the front and passed the test over to the teacher. I was the third person done. Jacob of course had been first. Boobs were apparently the way to finish fast. I snickered to myself.
Jill had finished before me too. I couldn’t quite figure it out. She was smart, sure. But she’d been thinking about the answers. Maybe I dozed off and took a nap and didn’t notice.
The teacher took the sealed print out from the machine and handed it to me. Putting her fingers to her lips and baring her fangs at me, she pointed out the door.
I headed out. My last day of class.
Jacob was slumped on the floor in the hall. “I’m a janitor. A goddamn janitor.”
“Hey now, you will be the second in charge. You jumped right to the front of the line. And all jobs are very important. And you’ll get to go outside the habitat. You like getting out of here right.” Jill was crouched in front of him with her hand on his knee.
“What’d you get?” Jill sat down next to Jacob and I came over to sit next to her.
I ripped open my envelope and held my breath. “I am queen of the goats.” Lead Goatherd
There was silence for a long moment and then both Jill and Jacob burst into laughter.