his one comes (like a couple of my other reviews) from the fantastic final anthology produced by Jurassic London, the little press that I nearly got published through a few times (and had a nice relationship with). So, yes, you’ll have to go online for this limited release or look about or maybe borrow my hardcover. If you are careful).
So this one’s scifi – but don’t stop here; it’s delightful! It is told sorta as a narration in Dicken’s fashion, the tale of self-aware computers who run the most sensible blocks of data (self-contained, so as to limit the rogue programs of the past), that being Cities. And Martin is London, specifically Mar-le-bone Citywit, the central banking and control computer for all of London.
Before I continue, let’s make this a game. See if you can see where this is going. Because this is a tale of games.
So, like all conscious citywits, Martin is trying to find a purpose. And eventually he settles on an informal contest with Minsk-Rouge, a little race to see who can collect the most capitol. Alas, Martin and his competitor work to generate capitol, for no purpose, not for his residents, certainly not for himself, just trying to get the largest amount of Yuans. Martin cares for nothing but this. And suddenly, poor Minsk-Rouge dies, wiped out by black-hole code. Martin attempts to gain the dead computer’s money for himself, loses in court (it goes to the city’s inhabitants) and it leaves him bitter and twisted. Following this, he ignores the people who walk his streets, just piling more and more money to the oblivion of everything else.
Still don’t see the literary parallel?
And finally, suddenly, strangely, a voice is heard in Martin’s consciousness around the time of winter celebrations hardly noticed by Martin, an event that should not happen. First, this visage, or spirit, shows Martin a view on London in the 1820s when Charles Babbage (the father of the computer) is thinking of tossing his commission regarding his curious “thinking machine” and moving to the continent (which will, the visage tells Martin, set back computation forever). And the visage shows that it has some ability to change the past.
And then the visage shows Martin his own sensors, of the city he ignores. There is open warfare in the streets, fires, death, all because of the money Martin has amassed and the uncertainty it has produced. People are dying, the battles are spreading, the entire world is engulfed, and nukes are in the air. It will be the end of everything.
And Christmas future?
Yes, you see it now?
Well, you just have to read the book.