Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Slow Tuesday Night, by R. A. Lafferty

The introduction to Slow Tuesday Night is by Gardner Dozios, the great editor, and he tells us that "only those stories that were the most radical and farfetched in their conception of life in 1970 bear even a conservative correlation to reality"., of stories written before 1965.  The pace of change is tremendous.  He tells us, "If you’re still around forty years from now, do the existing societal equivalent of reading it again" and see what you think.  So I'm reading it--not downloading it into my brain or something--but reading it on a tiny device that can hold several encyclopedias (a first-generation Kindle).  Things change both more and less than expected.

So what's happening here?  In this world, everything is tremendously accelerated, and people have several entire careers and marriages in the course of one evening.  Fortunes are made and lost several times.  The fortunes part is coming close to true--with electronic trading, hedge fund companies make and lose hundreds of millions of dollars in one day.  Easy come easy go.  But Lafferty makes the assumption that humans will personally speed up their interactions and living by the same rate.  But the wetware does not change.  We can now communicate instantly with someone halfway around the world--but no faster than we can type or talk.  If humans uploaded to computers and lived their lives as fast as clock speeds, they could work this way.  But not as flesh and blood.  Good speculative fiction builds contexts for changes--the more radical the change, the more radical the context shift.  Hard to do in a short story, though.  3 stars for the introduction.

1 comment:

  1. Two or so years on and social media seems to be closer to the editor than to the reviewer. See "15 Minutes of Fame? More Like 15 Seconds of Nanofame," NYT

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