Tuesday, December 12, 2017

From the SHOWCASE archives...

Fiction • ‘A Glimmer of Artificial Intelligence,’ by various authors •

While looking at the results of the 11/3 Friday Challenge and the authors’ bios for the current batch of finalists, I realized that we have published a lot of stories that spring from this same basic idea: What would be the most amusing | disturbing | frightening common thing to be given Internet connectivity and blessed with a glimmer of artificial intelligence?

Therefore, as we’re winding up and shutting down the old SHOWCASE site, I’ve decided to post links to a half-dozen such stories—including, to my surprise, my own story, “Appliancé,” which I’d quite forgotten was out there.


» “The Vending Machine,” by Sarah L. Byrne

Marta was working late again. She got up from her desk for a break, walked down the corridor, and habit made her turn aside into an alcove where she stopped, confronted by The Vending Machine...

» “Smart Money,” by Samuel Marzioli

Harold Lewis entered the liquor store, a decrepit old space that was as dusty and unkempt as it was gaudy. Seasonal decorations lined the scuffed and holed walls and ceiling, along with advertisements featuring alcohol and scantily clad girls in semi–erotic poses. Far from an oddity, it was indicative of the kind of slum the Mars colony had become over the past fifty years...

» “Seek Vista,” by Gary Cuba

“Sam, maybe we should head back to the main highway.” Marian’s small voice hardly registered over the noise of the SUV’s massive tires pounding over the rocky scree that covered the approach to the butte rising in front of them.
“C’mon, Marian,” Sam said. “This is what it’s all about. Life on the edge. You can’t hardly buy this kind of experience...

» “Your Call May Be Recorded for Training Purposes,” by Simon Kewin

Thank you for calling CyberSeven Systems. Your call is important to us. Please be aware that it may be recorded for training purposes.
“Yes, hi, I need help. Urgent help. I …

» “Advances,” by Liz Colter

Zane had almost finished his second beer when she walked in. The mauve hair highlighted with metallic gold was the same as her profile picture, but the rest of her was more than he’d expected. He’d sent a “Want to meet?” prompt to an attractive woman on the singles site, but the person in the doorway looked more like a supermodel. Zane wondered if he should have slammed three beers instead of two. It was a delicate tipping point between settling his nerves enough not to make a fool of himself and not getting so buzzed that he made a fool of himself anyway.

She scanned the room and spotted him at the bar. Heads turned as she approached him. “Zane McWilliams?” It wasn’t really a question...

» “Appliancé,” by Bruce Bethke

“Good morning, Barbara,” the soft, pleasant, sexless voice said. “Time to rise and shine.” When there was no reply in sixty seconds, Snoozalarm tried again. “Good morning, Barbara. Please wake up.”

John got one eye sort of half-open, gave some consideration to waking up, then slid his hand around Barbara’s tummy and snuggled in closer, burying his nose in the back of her neck.

The clock’s voice became a bit more insistent. “This is the third call, Barbara. Please wake up. It is already 7:02.”

Her long, blonde hair smelled wonderful. He ran his fingers across the curve of her hip and down her thigh; she responded with a soft, throaty sigh...

Barbara Lynn Murphy!” Snoozalarm shrieked. “If you don’t wake up this very insta—

“I’m awake.” She started disentangling herself from John’s arms and pushing back the blankets...