Today marks the first time my work makes it to print!
You can read "The Mummer" in Working Futures: 14 Speculative Stories About the Future of Work (get it on Kindle or paperback). It appears alongside a bevy of thought-provoking tales about how artificial intelligence, automation, and VR will change the nature of jobs.
If you're a fan of my work, it would mean a lot to me if you could buy the book and leave a review. That will feed the black-box algorithm monsters and boost the book on Amazon. The editor, Mike Masnick, the founder of Techdirt, has done a good job curating stories from talented writers at the intersection of tech and fiction. It's an awesome anthology, and you'll enjoy reading it.
The Mummer was one of the first pieces I wrote after I left Facebook a couple of years ago. It's a story about fake autonomy, free will, VR embodiment, and our obsession with control. It's been a long journey filled with over a dozen drafts and rejections. I learned a lot by writing it. A big thanks to folks who critiqued the story, especially Sahil Lavingia, Montana Low, and Kevin Lacker.
Here's an excerpt from the beginning:
Olin Chang stared at the display. It was 2am. He was, he confessed, happiest when he was alone. That’s why he’d installed the glass wall he could work behind. His mom had complained, but he’d paid for the enclosure himself, not to mention their entire home.
Gossamer light trails danced on the screen, each one a self-driving car traversing the streets of Chicago. They swarmed in a symphony of paths—moving people, minimizing waste, increasing value. They reminded him of the ants at the playground when he was little, each giving it their all for the hive. Perfection.
He downed his energy drink, then watched as the display blinked red. He was falling behind at his tasks—something a good machine wouldn’t do.
Olin was a mummer, which meant he helped machines. He was there when they failed, and that meant he had to understand them—become one of them.
And now, back to writing!