Techno Sink Sci Fi
SF in between Apocalypse and Tech Wonders
We need science fiction stories that expose the insanity of infinite growth and offer hope and help to find solutions.
Due to the current collapsing infrastructure of the USA, apocalyptic landscapes are easy to find, think zombies, Book of Eli, the Road, etc. What is missing are stories showing profoundly how we got there (and hopefully a way out before). Techno Sink is my word for scientific arrogance, of rushed innovations without estimating the consequences enough and the disasters that come because of that. Blinded by the miracle of the possible, our civilization is digging its own grave increasing dystopia rather than help. All new jumps lead to more waste, more confusion, more manipulations and less humanity in our society. Profit and possibility daily suppress the sanity we need. And Techno Sink SF could help warn us to stay awake and vigilant as we move forward.
Here’s my first outline for a Techno Sink SF. It’s a wild ride, yet also full of analogies with current trends and the psychology of power in our society.
The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing. ~ Edmund Burke
Uploaded, Cycle 1: ‘Hear The Dead’
The joy of the miracle, of being able to live forever, sours as soon as the first uploaded billionaires keep increasing their power with no end in sight. What chance does a rebel stand, when his oppressor can be rebooted again and again?
Robin Park, young gifted Canadian Korean works as intern for Dr. Zhu Houcong, one of the billionaires living forever in the cloud.
Robin must serve Dr. Zhu or become one of the untold poor starving on the streets of all major cities.
Robin wants to help do justice to these poor, as his family is part of them.
Robin gets ordered to find the hacker, one Egx, who killed Dr. Zhu.. twice.
While Robin investigates Egx and his motives, the consequences of billionaires living forever become clearer and clearer. They are buying and ruling everything, without any connection to the world of the living. The economy has become a power machine, destroying life on the planet. Robin slowly is driven to choose sides, keeping this hidden for his employer who has all seeing eyes.
Robin parents who sacrificed everything for Robin to succeed forbid him to join the resistance. Meanwhile AI and human spies are closing in on every bit of resistance happening. Then Robins parents get imprisoned because he helps the hacker escape. Dr. Zhu threatens to have them killed, unless Robin kills the hacker first.
Robin succeeds in helping the hacker to hack Dr. Zhu’s personality, thus saving his parents. But government AI’s are on to them and Robin loses his job and is sent out onto the streets.
Mixed in with Robin’s exploits are some subplots.
Egx is the hacker who killed dr. Zhu twice. He lives on the streets, but has some powerful connections, who’d like to see Dr. Zhu fall. Egx discovers that his ‘helpers’ are another billionaire uploaded into the cloud. He ends up playing this billionaire to get his hands on tech that helps save Robin.
As a government official, Erica LeCroix protects the laws which state that uploaded lives are legally alive. She cruelly hunts down anyone who rebels, to protect her own position as part of the privileged few. During her work to catch Egx she gets more and more suspicious of Robin and imprisons his parents to put the pressure on him.
Dr. Zhu and Beçazon are two of the three competing billionaires who own over 87% of the whole world. Their uploaded AI minds become ever more powerful, for into them is programmed the will to win over all others. Beçazon helps Egx to influence the programming of Dr. Zhu and thus finish the first of his two remaining competitors.
Uploaded, Cycle 2: ‘Fear The Dead’
In part 2 the world has become worse. Many poor are dying and seen as vermin by the remaining powers. They use calculations to determine who has to die. Behind these calculations are the billionaires ever seeking to increase their profits.
As a counter move Robin Park and Egx expose the manipulations of Beçazon. Rather than make a difference it unleashes a global manhunt for everyone questioning the power of those who control all money, all governments and all goods. Egx disappears. Luckily Robin finds new helpers. One is Erica Lecroix, who arrests him. During the interrogation of Robin she falls in love with him. This should be one of the subtlest scenes of falling in love ever. Cameras follow their every move and she’ll be fired when her colleagues understand what is happening. When a total electricity blackout happens she helps him escape. Robin finds that a new online force, called Mercury, created that blackout. This force then helps him find Egx’s body. With Egx dead, Robin must find the rest of the resistance. But in a world where almost everyones survival hangs on the goodwill of the rulers, who can be trusted?
Again and again Robin must escape street drones, AI surveillance, bounty hunters and even his own parents, who are pressured into betraying him. Finally he finds, through Mercury, proof to help open the eyes of the poor. Through a media hack they help launch a global movement against the power of the dead. Hope is born. Then Robin is arrested and sentenced to death. Just before his execution, he is returned to Dr. Zhu, who still is alive in the cloud and has organized Robin to be his slave until he dies. Only then Robin finds out Dr. Zhu has been merged with Egx who uploaded himself into him. Their synthesis calls itself: Mercury.
“You have owners. They own you. They own everything. They own all the important land. They own and control the corporations. They’ve long since bought and paid for the senate, the congress, the state houses, the city halls, they got the judges in their back pockets and they own all the big media companies so they control just about all of the news and information you get to hear. They got you by the balls. They spend billions of dollars every year lobbying, lobbying, to get what they want. Well, we know what they want. They want more for themselves and less for everybody else, but I’ll tell you what they don’t want: They don’t want a population of citizens capable of critical thinking.” ~ George Carlin
Uploaded, Cycle 3: ‘Serve The Dead’
Outside the towers of the uploaded elite the poor have started to revolt. Meanwhile Robin, Erica and many others are bound to serve them in many ways. The AI machines only seek to increase their profits through infinite growth. The last chance to have life survive the onslaught on nature is coming close as the two undead owners of everything are building a machine that will use the whole planet as resource for production, thus killing all life left.
Robin serves dr. Zhu as a slave under his commander Roderic2, a clone. Robin must mislead Roderic2 to prevent him finding out that dr. Zhu is infected with Egx. This comes to a confrontation when the living elite, including Roderic2 wants to escape earth. With the help of Mercury, Robin succeeds in sabotaging their escape to space. Thus the living elite must rethink their position. Now Roderic2 must help Robin to end the deadly rule of the uploaded ones if he wants any chance to survive.
The movement Robin started in part 2 now pressures, under guidance of Erica the governments to change the laws protecting the uploaded dead. This gets more violent as the global urgency grows. Robin and Roderic2 now find themselves in dr. Zhu’s headquarters surrounded by rebels seeking to kill them as pawns of the Uploaded. How can they escape without killing the rebels? Online they have huge forces at their disposal, but Robin doesn’t want to kill the rebels. He wants them to win.
They reveal to the rebels, that dr. Zhu/Egx, as Mercury, is on their side and Robin and Roderic2 start the attack on the killer machine that started to use the whole planet as resource for production. The last two uploaded billionaires then merge with powerful AI’s to strategize every move of their opponents and calculate how they can win. Then Robin asks them online, what they’ll win, when they have won. This gets the two AI’s into a difficult calculation. An empty world without servants and them in a last fight would leave the one winner endless loneliness. During this calculation Mercury merges with these AI’s and then creates more confusion. This gives Roderic2 the time to create another blackout during which Robin can shut down both AI systems and Erica and others now have all backup systems around the world destroyed. Robin can Erica can finally be together.
The age of infinite growth madness is over. The regeneration of nature and society begins.
Themes in the Books
On the shadow side: Man and machine. Infinite growth on a finite planet. The stupidity of scientists helping things progress, without consideration for the bigger picture. The side effects of life extension for the wealthy and powerful. The consequences of a few owning everything. The psychology of the servants of order, run by corruption. The stupidity to not take psychological health and sanity into consideration for people in powerful positions. The logic of ‘normal’ under suppressive powers, let alone capitalist jobs. The misuse of technological advance to control people. The tyranny of algorithms. The forgetfulness of people, about how their current ‘normal’ can be totally absurd for outsiders. The idiocy that the laws at some point get more protection than the people they are supposed to defend. How the people get poor because of crooked laws and then get seen as the problem.
On the light side: The power of collaboration for a common cause. The solution of swarming as a way of bottom up change. The need for a regenerative society. The inventiveness of the poor. The beauty of planet earth. The beauty of everything fragile. The power of love. The willingness to sacrifice for a bigger cause. Critical thinking as a power. Humor and playfulness as powers for good. The global waking up that is happening. Etc.
© Floris Koot 2019.
Note: the mockup book covers were made with Canva. As far as I could tell the used pictures within the mockup where cc, but when wrong, let me know.