This morning, the radio switched itself on and gently brought me awake with the news. After 10 minutes, I rolled out from under the duvet and reflected how the money we'd spent on that memory foam mattress had been totally worth it. 5 minutes in the shower saw me both cleaner and more awake in equal measure, and I rapped on my son's door as I went past. I'm sure he was on the Xbox until 3:00 a.m., and he knows it's a uni day, but there was no response. I made some scrambled eggs in the microwave, and by the time the toast had popped and the kettle had boiled for a cup of instant, I felt almost human. The bus stop isn't far from my house, and I paid my £3 and took my seat. My phone picked up the wi-fi automatically, so I pointed my browser at the BBC and started streaming an episode of ISIRTA I hadn't heard, before settling in for a few games of Angry Birds. Halfway to work, the sun was rising over the Pentlands, so I grabbed a couple of quick shots, and updated my facebook status.
When I got to work, I flashed my badge at the building and it let me in. I'd checked the rota the night before and knew I was gutter rat this week- cleaning up the messes, so I downloaded the overnight error logs to my workstation and got busy tracing batch script failures. Peter, Mandy and Eddie were already there, but my team leader, Meera, was off ill, so I covered her phone. 3 cappuccinos, and 16 error logs later it was lunchtime, and I'd been so busy, I hadn't even gone out for a cigarette.
A normal morning, slightly compressed to fit everything in. There's a lot in there. Socio-economic status, employment, I'm old enough to have a son at university, the fact that my immediate boss is both female and non-Caucasian, no smoking in the building. The team's split roughly equally on gender lines. Eddie's gay, but that won't enter into the story so I'll never mention it. There's a lot of implicit assumptions - the reader will know what an Xbox is, cultural references. Never mind 100 years, you only have to roll it back 10 years for the 'Angry Birds' and 'Facebook' items to have no intrinsic meaning. Roll it back just 50 and we lose 'Xbox', 'microwave', 'memory foam', 'wi-fi', 'browser' as words, and the concepts that go along with their use. And how would I take shots of the sunrise without a camera? 'Streaming' is still a word, but the context is missing. And in 1964, the idea that my boss at any job, let alone a technical one, would be female and non-Caucasian, would be pretty unusual. Why would I leave the building for a cigarette? And what's with £3 for bus fare to work - where do I live, the Outer Hebrides? How did I get cappuccinos at work? Why have I got a phone on a bus?
We live in a world that would have largely been science fiction just 50 years ago. Extrapolating was hard then, and harder now. You don't need the Singularity or a post-scarcity economy to mess things up, just the micro-processor and the Internet. Nobody saw them coming. The changes they've brought have been so staggering in magnitude that it makes it all the more obvious that attempting to predict the future changes is getting sillier all the time.
Mr Stross writes lovely Mythos stories, and Accelerando is pretty good. But the one I'm trying to read at the moment, about the immortal robots all pretending to be human after the humans all died out is purely fucking tedious. It's super-futuristic, and the hard science of long, boring planetary travel is well done, but I can't remember its name right now, or the main character, and that never bodes well.