I dreamed of a woman made of glass, like this.
A poem that’s barely even speculative – I used to have an RPG/writing partner who could intuit some of my ideas almost this easily. It was my first sale to Through the Gate, in May 2013.
25. How My Best Friend Rania Crashed a Party and Saved the World
Rania snorted and shoved me. “That’s not a date with me. That’s a date with Suman Bachchan’s cheekbones.”
“Rania” is a YA that grew out of a very specific frustration of mine – polarized discussions about social media. Either millennials are using it to ruin the world and destroy everyone’s privacy, or it’s the wonderful wave of the future where everyone should always be connected and you didn’t need that privacy anyway. After walking out of yet another of these discussions, it struck me that neither side seemed to have much nuance – and that both sides seemed to be missing the ways that people actually adapt to social change, whether good, bad, or ambivalent.
So, I decided to write a not!dystopia. A world in which some Internet stuff had been taken to its logical conclusion, and was ridiculous and problematic in certain ways, and people adapted and went on with their lives – subverting what they could, when they needed to, but also using it to their advantage.
“Rania” is only barely science fiction, as it’s barely in the future. Almost all of it is completely doable with current technology, including the central conceit of an Infallible Cloud that sorts people’s personalities into categories. (Marketing companies already do this, just not publicly.) And the Kinect-like video game system, and the robot camel, etc. The only part I’m not sure you could currently do is some window dressing with holograms at a party, and even then, I’m not sure. The story came out in February 2014 in The Journal of Unlikely Cryptography, but a couple of years later, China announced that it would be using machine learning to give its citizens trustworthiness scores similar to a credit rating. So now this story is even less speculative than it was. 😛
Song Pairing: I struggled to pick a song for this one, but given the YA vibe and the focus on surveillance and privacy, I think I’m going to go with Miley Cyrus’s “Fly on the Wall”.