Ryan Frantz
Untitled Sci-fi Serial

Sometime in the slightly distant, hitech-is-believable-and-ubiquitous-in-a-familiar-way future.

I’m in the lobby of some hotel whose decor can best be described as gilded. It’s either old as shit or some arrogant, misguided attempt at looking like it. I’ve been waiting to get into a LAN party. It’s a dumb name, a throwback to in-person gatherings PC enthusiasts used to organize in the later part of the last century. But these Neurolink assholes love their nostalgia. And to show off. They’re also suspicious as hell. So they throw these parties to meet people, size them up, and offer some of them to join their silly Uplink group. Mindshare TM meets gated community. A place for them to have conversations and discuss anything they fancy on a dedicated, private Cerebellum network.

I’m here because I somehow managed to convince someone with an invite to bring me along. To be sure, that was my task: to find someone dumb enough to trust me. I just wasn’t sure I could pull it off. Joaquin knows me as a tech, someone who understands commercial hardware enough to make minor repairs and dabbles in writing software. I showed him some small sleeve apps I’d built to display info like game scores and the weather on your forearm and he seemed to be impressed. Honestly, I think he sees me as some schmuck and brought me here to show off his connections. He’s got the makings of a dipshit Uplinker.

The past few days, all anyone can talk about is those damn “thinking” self-replicating 3D printers. We’ve always had them, of course, just not on the scale we’ve seen this week. I mean, until now, they were self-replicating, but not sentient. Not even mobile! You still had to add new source material into the printer so it could replicate itself. You always had more mouths to feed. And now, somehow, they’re thinking?!