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Future Tense Fiction: Stories of Tomorrow

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Future Tense Fiction is a collection of electrifying original stories from a veritable who’s-who of authors working in speculative literature and science fiction today. Featuring Carmen Maria Machado, Emily St. John Mandel, Charlie Jane Anders, Paolo Bacigalupi, Madeline Ashby, Mark Oshiro, Meg Elison, Maureen McHugh, Deji Bryce Olukotun, Hannu Rajaniemi, Annalee Newitz, Le Future Tense Fiction is a collection of electrifying original stories from a veritable who’s-who of authors working in speculative literature and science fiction today. Featuring Carmen Maria Machado, Emily St. John Mandel, Charlie Jane Anders, Paolo Bacigalupi, Madeline Ashby, Mark Oshiro, Meg Elison, Maureen McHugh, Deji Bryce Olukotun, Hannu Rajaniemi, Annalee Newitz, Lee Konstantinou, and Mark Stasenko—Future Tense Fiction points the way forward to the fiction of tomorrow. A disease surveillance robot whose social programming gets put to the test. A future in which everyone receives universal basic income—but it’s still not enough. A futuristic sport, in which all the athletes have been chemically and physically enhanced. An A.I. company that manufactures a neural bridge allowing ordinary people to share their memories. Brimming with excitement and exploring new ideas, the stories collected by the editors of Slate’s Future Tense are philosophically ambitious and haunting in their creativity. At times terrifying and heartwrenching, hilarious and optimistic, this is a collection that ushers in a new age for our world and for the short story. A partnership of Slate, New America, and Arizona State University, Future Tense explores how emerging technologies will change the way we live, in reality and fiction.


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Future Tense Fiction is a collection of electrifying original stories from a veritable who’s-who of authors working in speculative literature and science fiction today. Featuring Carmen Maria Machado, Emily St. John Mandel, Charlie Jane Anders, Paolo Bacigalupi, Madeline Ashby, Mark Oshiro, Meg Elison, Maureen McHugh, Deji Bryce Olukotun, Hannu Rajaniemi, Annalee Newitz, Le Future Tense Fiction is a collection of electrifying original stories from a veritable who’s-who of authors working in speculative literature and science fiction today. Featuring Carmen Maria Machado, Emily St. John Mandel, Charlie Jane Anders, Paolo Bacigalupi, Madeline Ashby, Mark Oshiro, Meg Elison, Maureen McHugh, Deji Bryce Olukotun, Hannu Rajaniemi, Annalee Newitz, Lee Konstantinou, and Mark Stasenko—Future Tense Fiction points the way forward to the fiction of tomorrow. A disease surveillance robot whose social programming gets put to the test. A future in which everyone receives universal basic income—but it’s still not enough. A futuristic sport, in which all the athletes have been chemically and physically enhanced. An A.I. company that manufactures a neural bridge allowing ordinary people to share their memories. Brimming with excitement and exploring new ideas, the stories collected by the editors of Slate’s Future Tense are philosophically ambitious and haunting in their creativity. At times terrifying and heartwrenching, hilarious and optimistic, this is a collection that ushers in a new age for our world and for the short story. A partnership of Slate, New America, and Arizona State University, Future Tense explores how emerging technologies will change the way we live, in reality and fiction.

30 review for Future Tense Fiction: Stories of Tomorrow

  1. 4 out of 5

    Sunny

    why is this book not on my goodreads shelves??? I literally own this book and it's one of my favorite anthologies.... love thought provoking speculative fiction & sci fi short stories !! why is this book not on my goodreads shelves??? I literally own this book and it's one of my favorite anthologies.... love thought provoking speculative fiction & sci fi short stories !!

  2. 4 out of 5

    Althea Ann

    A theme which will be familiar to readers of Bacigalupi's "The Windup Girl": where is the line over which artificial intelligence becomes 'human.' Can a robot be fairly considered a 'person,' deserving of rights and consideration? Here, a young woman turns up at a police station toting a severed head. She confesses to murder, and demands legal counsel. However, it's soon revealed that the woman is actually a "Mika Model" - the latest and most advanced in sexbot technology, an artificial intellige A theme which will be familiar to readers of Bacigalupi's "The Windup Girl": where is the line over which artificial intelligence becomes 'human.' Can a robot be fairly considered a 'person,' deserving of rights and consideration? Here, a young woman turns up at a police station toting a severed head. She confesses to murder, and demands legal counsel. However, it's soon revealed that the woman is actually a "Mika Model" - the latest and most advanced in sexbot technology, an artificial intelligence specifically designed to respond to and manipulate human emotional responses. The policeman she's confessed to quickly develops empathy for her plight, and her reasons for the killing. But is he responding to a self-aware individual who has been treated as no conscious being should? Or is he simply being gulled by some well-designed programming? Nicely designed story: easy to read, while presenting some truly thorny questions.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Tracy

    I found this fascinating to read. I’ve never thought about how all of this push for smart homes could be used to harm someone. Thought provoking to say the least.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Kim Lockhart

    4.5 ⭐ rounded up, because honestly, how often do you find (even a themed) compilation of all different authors where the stories are all pretty good to great?!? As indicated, these are all futurist stories, and each contributor chose a different element of future society to highlight. I was so pleased, and I would love to see this kind of project more often.

  5. 5 out of 5

    The Captain

    Ahoy there me mateys! Yesterday I reviewed a short story from Emily St. John Mandel commissioned by Future Tense Fiction. Future Tense Fiction is “a series of short stories . . . about how technology and science will change our lives.” It was formed in a partnership by Slate, New America, and Arizona State University. This story, mika model, was the first story of the series. For those familiar with Paolo Bacigalupi’s work the wind-up girl, there are similarities here. This story explores an AI c Ahoy there me mateys! Yesterday I reviewed a short story from Emily St. John Mandel commissioned by Future Tense Fiction. Future Tense Fiction is “a series of short stories . . . about how technology and science will change our lives.” It was formed in a partnership by Slate, New America, and Arizona State University. This story, mika model, was the first story of the series. For those familiar with Paolo Bacigalupi’s work the wind-up girl, there are similarities here. This story explores an AI called a mika model and what happens when one shows up to a detective’s office with a unique problem. There are the usual elements here about sentience, liability, personhood, guilt, and responsibility. But damn this story was engaging and wonderful. It is how difficult questions are explored that make Bacigalupi’s work so compelling. I am not sure how many stories Future Tense has written but I will certainly be seeing if there are more. Arrr! Check out me other reviews at https://thecaptainsquartersblog.wordp...

  6. 4 out of 5

    Alina

    Review only for Mika Model by Paolo Bacigalupi Even if the subject of the robots' humanity has been plenty developed in Asimov’s Robots, Bacigalupi did a great job reiterating it. It can be read here: http://www.slate.com/articles/technol... Review only for Mika Model by Paolo Bacigalupi Even if the subject of the robots' humanity has been plenty developed in Asimov’s Robots, Bacigalupi did a great job reiterating it. It can be read here: http://www.slate.com/articles/technol...

  7. 5 out of 5

    Jeanette

    Ok. Short stories although filled with imaginative futures don't grab me. A few made me snicker but several made me sigh. Machines or gimmicks? Regardless, I want more and most left me questioning at their end. It's me more than the writing. That's it for short stories and me for the year. I need more world building and less effusions, I'd guess. Ok. Short stories although filled with imaginative futures don't grab me. A few made me snicker but several made me sigh. Machines or gimmicks? Regardless, I want more and most left me questioning at their end. It's me more than the writing. That's it for short stories and me for the year. I need more world building and less effusions, I'd guess.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Bettie

    http://www.slate.com/articles/technol... http://www.slate.com/articles/technol...

  9. 4 out of 5

    Rachel (Kalanadi)

    I like Bacigalupi's writing, but I am very, very tired of the "female sexbot commits a murder" trope. This story does nothing new with it. I like Bacigalupi's writing, but I am very, very tired of the "female sexbot commits a murder" trope. This story does nothing new with it.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Gail (The Knight Reader)

    I am always delighted when something I read rekindles my love for a genre. Future Tense Fiction: Stories of Tomorrow reminded me why I will always be SFF/Spec Fiction girl. Curated by Future Tense (a partnership between Slate, New America and Arizona State University), the book is collection of short stories depicting the author’s view of a possible future given modern trends. With names like Okorafor, Machado, Ashby and Rajaniemi amongst others, I knew I was in for an epic ride. These GENIUSES I am always delighted when something I read rekindles my love for a genre. Future Tense Fiction: Stories of Tomorrow reminded me why I will always be SFF/Spec Fiction girl. Curated by Future Tense (a partnership between Slate, New America and Arizona State University), the book is collection of short stories depicting the author’s view of a possible future given modern trends. With names like Okorafor, Machado, Ashby and Rajaniemi amongst others, I knew I was in for an epic ride. These GENIUSES (because there is no other descriptor) brought me into their futures and I loved it. Mother of Invention x Nnedi Okorafor. An instant love, where we meet a single mother giving birth to her firstborn with the help of her robot home during a climate nightmare that threatens her life and her unborn child’s life. Highlighting the concept that “the more things change they more they stay the same” the story demonstrates many of the prejudices pervasive in today’s society that continue to plague humanity in the not too distant future. When Robot and Crow Saved East St. Louis x Annalee Newitz. Switch that one up to the story of a robot gathering data for the CDC. Robot gets let go and finds friendship with a young outcast girl and a feisty. Together they prevent a catastrophic outbreak and it absolutely warmed my doctorish heart. Again, the imagination is stretched with a robot who has learned human emotion so well, but that human element that is so relatable is still there, along with our everyday problems of immigration and prejudice. Those were two of my favorites but there are 12 more that will shake up every reader. These stories touched every aspect of my heart. Some borderline ominous speaking to a future that doesn’t bode well for humanity while others warmed my heart making me long to see these fantastic innovations in my time like disabilities being cured by starfish DNA and super humans that have the ability to chase herds and keep up. It was such a wonderful amalgam of stories that stretched the possibility of my imagination just enough that I felt at a loss when I was done. The authors collectively infused the fantastical with just enough humanity that I saw these pages coming to life in the near future. With equal parts Future Tense and unbelievable, these stories all had one common thread. No matter how advanced we become, human problems, victories and emotions will always be there. This collection is a one of possibility and hope that will make you afraid yet hopelessly optimistic that through it all humans are the most incredible things living in a more incredible time. The authors are also literary wizards that made me imagine with them, and through it all I was grateful to look at the world through their beautiful minds. ------------------------------------------ A few of the stories are available on Slate.com for your (free) perusal. Below are the individual stories, graded on a scale of 1-10. If you feel even remotely curious, I encourage you to look up some of the stories on Slate and go from there. Individual Short Story Grades: 10/10 1. Mother of Invention x Nnedi Okorafor 2. When Robot & Crow Saved East St. Louis x Annalee Newitz 3. Mika Model x Paola Bacigalupi 4. The Starfish Girl x Maureen McHugh 9/10 1. No Me Dejas x Mark Oshiro 2. Overvalued x Mark Stasenko 3. Lions & Gazelles x Hannu Rajaniemi 4. The Minnesota Diet x Charlie Jane Anders 5. Domestic Violence x Madeline Ashby 8/10 1. Mr. Thursday x Emily St. John Mandel 2. Safe Surrender x Meg Elison 7/10 1. Burned Over Territory x Lee Konstantinou 2. A Brief and Fearful Star x Carmen Maria Machado 3. When We Were Patched x Deji Bryce Olukontun -------------------------------------------- My thanks are extended to Unnamed Press. They provided me with an ARC in exchange for my unbiased review.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Andreas

    An A.I. fembot - the eponymous Mika Model - turns up at detective Rivera, asks for a lawyer and confesses murdering its owner. It is a short and easy read but doesn't bring up anything new if you've watched the movie Ex Machina, and there are a couple of logic issues in it - the police procedure part is just terrible. Full review at my blog. An A.I. fembot - the eponymous Mika Model - turns up at detective Rivera, asks for a lawyer and confesses murdering its owner. It is a short and easy read but doesn't bring up anything new if you've watched the movie Ex Machina, and there are a couple of logic issues in it - the police procedure part is just terrible. Full review at my blog.

  12. 4 out of 5

    RJ - Slayer of Trolls

    The legal implications of an abused AI pleasure-bot who kills her sadistic owner is more interesting and readable than one might expect, and Bacigalupi is much more enjoyable as an author when he gets off his self-righteous high horse and focuses on his story instead of eco-shaming his readers

  13. 4 out of 5

    Tim

    I read this short story in its French version, translated by Sara Doke, and published in the anthology Utopiales 2016. The original story can be read online on Slate.com. Click here. It's about a fembot, one of the many Mika Models as they are called, who has killed ((view spoiler)[decapitated (hide spoiler)] ) her owner, who apparently had certain "dirty" plans in mind. She heads to the police office and asks for punishment. Evidence is presented on the spot, which makes the detective (Rivera) qu I read this short story in its French version, translated by Sara Doke, and published in the anthology Utopiales 2016. The original story can be read online on Slate.com. Click here. It's about a fembot, one of the many Mika Models as they are called, who has killed ((view spoiler)[decapitated (hide spoiler)] ) her owner, who apparently had certain "dirty" plans in mind. She heads to the police office and asks for punishment. Evidence is presented on the spot, which makes the detective (Rivera) question what happened. They drive back to the scene of the crime, where they find the man's body. All the while, Rivera can't suppress having feelings for the bot, which is normal, as she's designed in such a fashion. The bot also has all the functions of a proper robot: scanning, sending/receiving information, manipulating manners, etc. And so, its proprietary (the company that manufactured Mika) quickly sends over a lawyer, even if the robot asks for a real one, an independent one. It's not the best story about fembots/sexbots (which do exist in today's world), about AI's, but it does provide food for thought, also in the context of self-driving card, for example. Who is responsible for the acts of a robot? The robot itself? Can/does it have the same rights as a human being? Or is it the owner who's responsible? Or the company that manufactured the robot? Etc., etc. Let's also not forget the manipulative functions of such robots. In other words: Brave New World. All in all, an entertaining and smooth read. For more robot stories, I'll gladly direct you to Isaac Asimov's The Complete Robot, for example, which I reviewed last year.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Peter Tillman

    I think this is the TOC for this anthology: http://www.isfdb.org/cgi-bin/pl.cgi?7... I think all these stories are still free online, but you will have to hunt for them. Most of the stories are linked here https://slate.com/tag/future-tense-fi... And https://slate.com/tag/future-tense-fi... This review and rating solely for “The Minnesota Diet” (2018) by Charlie Jane Anders, https://slate.com/technology/2018/01/... Reprinted in this 2019 Slate anthology. This one started out well, but.... (view spoil I think this is the TOC for this anthology: http://www.isfdb.org/cgi-bin/pl.cgi?7... I think all these stories are still free online, but you will have to hunt for them. Most of the stories are linked here https://slate.com/tag/future-tense-fi... And https://slate.com/tag/future-tense-fi... This review and rating solely for “The Minnesota Diet” (2018) by Charlie Jane Anders, https://slate.com/technology/2018/01/... Reprinted in this 2019 Slate anthology. This one started out well, but.... (view spoiler)[ Famine in a future US city, stated to be modern & prosperous, for no apparent reason? WTF?? (hide spoiler)] I liked it better on reread. Clever & fun. 3 stars. CJA fans should try it. Merged review: First-rate near-future story about a virus outbreak, and a cute flying AI robot who befriends a crow. Sample: Janelle had a thoughtful expression on her face. “Did this crow really help you find the outbreaks?” “Yes. The crows think humans are idiots, but they appreciate your garbage.” Really, you should just go read it. The crows might be right. https://slate.com/technology/2018/12/...

  15. 4 out of 5

    Aaron

    As much as the phrase "health surveillance" creeped me out in the beginning, I was completely won over by Robot & Crow by the end of the story. I especially like the crows' foul (or should a say fowl) mouthed one-sided interactions with humans, and despite the potential for rampant abuse of the technology, somehow Robot managed to be a goodnatured altruistic little AI that did not accidentally (or intentionally) lead to the extermination of the human species. Hooray! A fun listen; recommended. As much as the phrase "health surveillance" creeped me out in the beginning, I was completely won over by Robot & Crow by the end of the story. I especially like the crows' foul (or should a say fowl) mouthed one-sided interactions with humans, and despite the potential for rampant abuse of the technology, somehow Robot managed to be a goodnatured altruistic little AI that did not accidentally (or intentionally) lead to the extermination of the human species. Hooray! A fun listen; recommended.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Lillie

    a collection of sci-fi short stories Very Good: Mother of Invention by Nnedi Okorator Mr. Thursday by Emily St. John Mandel Safe Surrender by Meg Elison Alright: No Me Dejes by Mark Oshiro When Robot and Crow Save St. Louis by Annalee Newitz The Starfish Girl by Maureen McHugh Overvalued by Mark Stasenko Stinkers: The rest

  17. 4 out of 5

    Melissa

    Paolo does it again. Definitely one of my favorite authors to date. This short story was pretty good. Interesting and makes you think. I definitely recommend to anyone who is a fan of Paolo's and anyone who is interested in robotics. Paolo does it again. Definitely one of my favorite authors to date. This short story was pretty good. Interesting and makes you think. I definitely recommend to anyone who is a fan of Paolo's and anyone who is interested in robotics.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Cheryl

    The coolest thing about this collection is that Slate published an actual scientist's "response" to the scientific premise of each story. Just google "slate response to 'title'" and you'll find it. (You can also find the stories free to read online the same way.) I won't comment on every story, instead I will focus mainly on the ones that prompt me to want to read more by the author. But I will be picky, because A. my to-read list is already out-of-hand and B. I have (finally!) learned that a wri The coolest thing about this collection is that Slate published an actual scientist's "response" to the scientific premise of each story. Just google "slate response to 'title'" and you'll find it. (You can also find the stories free to read online the same way.) I won't comment on every story, instead I will focus mainly on the ones that prompt me to want to read more by the author. But I will be picky, because A. my to-read list is already out-of-hand and B. I have (finally!) learned that a writer of a short story that I like is not necessarily writing novels that I like. Most here are pretty darn good though, even if predominantly rather dark. --- Ok done. Turns out the only author I truly want to read more by is already on my list, and I've already loved her two primary works. Maureen F. McHugh --- The Minnesota Diet: I grew up in farm country. I know that this is real. Too much naïve reliance on 'smart' supply webs is a bad idea, on any scale from using Alexa to control your furnace to the scenario in this story. Christopher Wharton's response agrees. But it's Anders' story that engages. And I will always make sure that I have some protein in the pantry and that I know where all the manual override switches are. --- I didn't understand one story at all so I googled and found this: Could the Experiences of Our Ancestors Be “Seared Into Our Cells”? A science journalist responds to Carmen Maria Machado’s short story “A Brief and Fearful Star.” https://slate.com/technology/2018/06/... --- Overall, recommended. Esp. because you can read the stories online. But I do hope they inspire you to read more by some of the various contributors.. Merged review: Full-on Sense of Wonder and What If. Thank you for the best smile of the week. Thought-provoking, too. Looking for more by the author now.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Sarina

    Like any anthology, some stories are better than others. Annalee Newitz's When Robot and Crow Saved East Saint Louis made me cry and wish for a novel with these characters. I also wanted to dive deeper into the world of Charlie Jane Anders' The Minnesota Diet. The weakest stories felt like they weren't sure where they were going and ended in a rush, or were written too tightly to the Future Tense monthly theme and could not really survive outside it. It was interesting that a couple of stories t Like any anthology, some stories are better than others. Annalee Newitz's When Robot and Crow Saved East Saint Louis made me cry and wish for a novel with these characters. I also wanted to dive deeper into the world of Charlie Jane Anders' The Minnesota Diet. The weakest stories felt like they weren't sure where they were going and ended in a rush, or were written too tightly to the Future Tense monthly theme and could not really survive outside it. It was interesting that a couple of stories touched on ideas similar to concepts that appear in novels of other authors in the collection. Paolo Bacigalupi's Mika Model bears similarities to Madeline Ashby's Machine Dynasty series; Hannu Rajaniemi's Lions and Gazelles to Annalee Newitz's Autonomous. I sort of wish the essays which accompany these stories on Slate were also featured here, at least in the ebook (although I know I can just search the website).

  20. 5 out of 5

    Zack Grey

    If you liked Blade Runner, you will like this story. If you didn't like Blade Runner, you still might like this story. Mika Model doesn't do anything new; it doesn't reinvent the genre or really add much to the moral discussion about AI that Asimov and others haven't already thought of decades ago. But it is a good story. Bacigalupi is adept at making you feel for his characters, and this story is no exception. It also has the virtues of being pretty short, as well as free. Read it. If you liked Blade Runner, you will like this story. If you didn't like Blade Runner, you still might like this story. Mika Model doesn't do anything new; it doesn't reinvent the genre or really add much to the moral discussion about AI that Asimov and others haven't already thought of decades ago. But it is a good story. Bacigalupi is adept at making you feel for his characters, and this story is no exception. It also has the virtues of being pretty short, as well as free. Read it.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Wealhtheow

    Mason, Jolene, and all their other friends in the hyper-modern city of New Lincoln spend their days fine tuning apps and their free time hanging out in virtual reality spaces. But then the food supply chain to the city breaks down and everything starts to get messed up. Anders is so great at crafting characters and relationships that feel real and relatable, putting them in situations that are just a step more sf or magical than our own, and seeing what naturally develops from there.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Alex Sarll

    A perversely heartwarming story of non-human intelligences filling the gaps in the safety net left by human inhumanity. Makes a compelling case for why, despite everything, corvids might quite like having us around.

  23. 4 out of 5

    John Devenny

    Another fine story from one of my favourite authors. In this one the author examines the subtle differences between a human and an AI and their reactions to each other.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Alexander Tas

    Read this review, and other Sci Fi/Fantasy reviews at The Quill to Live : After reading Broken Stars earlier this year, I became somewhat enamored by the idea of short story collections. I love that they can be incredibly focused while allowing the reader some room to explore outside the story. So when offered the chance to read Future Tense Fiction, a collection of works from well known contemporary authors from Slate’s column of the same name, I jumped at the opportunity. I’m not going to talk Read this review, and other Sci Fi/Fantasy reviews at The Quill to Live : After reading Broken Stars earlier this year, I became somewhat enamored by the idea of short story collections. I love that they can be incredibly focused while allowing the reader some room to explore outside the story. So when offered the chance to read Future Tense Fiction, a collection of works from well known contemporary authors from Slate’s column of the same name, I jumped at the opportunity. I’m not going to talk about the collection as a whole, mostly because it didn’t have the single guiding hand feel to it that Broken Stars did. Overall I came away fairly satisfied, with only a couple of the stories not leaving much of an impact. Mostly I wanted to take the time to highlight a few of the stories that touched me in different ways in the hopes of piquing your interest in the form and its strengths. First up: Domestic Violence by Madeline Ashby. The story follows Kristin as she tries to determine why a co-worker is running late. Janae, the woman in question, mentions that the smart home she lives in won’t let her out without solving riddles that her husband has devised. It’s a very simple premise, but the horror behind it stuck with me. Ashby’s prose is dripping with the small infractions men put women through on a daily basis that are easily exacerbated by technology. While I consider myself fairly cognizant of these attitudes, Ashby exposed a few other ways in which technologies that are touted as convenient may only be convenient for some. It was an enlightening read that will stick with me for a while, and will push me to continue considering the unexamined implications of convenience technology. Burned over Territory by Lee Konstantinou was my second favorite story from the batch. It takes place in a post-Universal Basic Income United States, in which everyone receives a monthly check from the government to support themselves. The story follows Viola, a former heroin addict, who is running for Chairperson of the Federation. The Federation is an organization that members give their basic income to, and in return receive housing, food and other basic necessities, allowing them to pursue what interests they may. I particularly enjoyed Konstantinou’s ability to explore a system of government and the trials it faces within a limited page count through the fairly realized character of Viola. Often a lot of the more “political” science fiction I’ve read pushes politics to the side, waving away issues with the creation of a new system, but Konstantinou places it front and center. Although the system itself is different, the same societal problems we experience in our society linger, making the election stakes feel incredibly real and giving the Federation a vitality I was not expecting. It felt like an honest attempt at an exploration of a more left-wing ideal of politics, highlighting that revolution is ongoing and will always have to deal with the same systemic problems we face today. Mika Model by Paolo Bacigalupi was another of the more horrifying stories in the collection. It has a neo-noir setting and follows Detective Rivera as he is dragged into a murder case where the perpetrator is a sex robot. I know it sounds a little ludicrous, and Bacigalupi seems to give a wink to the reader by using the trappings and structure of a noir detective thriller. What makes the story so much more compelling, however, is Bacigalupi’s use of language and how specific characters interact with Mika, the robot involved in the murder. On the surface it is plainly a story about determining the humanity of a robot designed to be, effectively, a mechanical sex worker. Bacigalupi does not stop there and consistently urges the reader to pull on the thread to unravel something deeper. Ultimately, I came away with my stomach in knots, unable to cope with the extrapolation of this story to any sort of “other” people may encounter on a daily basis. I’ll end with my favorite story of the bunch, Lions and Gazelles by Hannu Rajaniemi. The main gist of the story is that ultra-venture capitalists host a yearly competition in which startups compete with each other for funds. The novelty comes from contest being a race in which the entrepreneurs competing for cash enhance their bodies biologically. In the competition, mechanical modifications are forbidden, and the competitors, in a sense, become their own experiment while they attempt to hunt down a mechanical gazelle and win the prize. Having recently read Born to Run by Christopher McDougall, along with taking up running, Rajaniemi’s story cut immediately to the heart of the sport. The main character’s arc was so thoroughly satisfying, and Rajaniemi perfectly captured the thrill of the chase with his prose. It was incredibly streamlined and had such purpose driving the story I was engrossed from beginning to end. If you’re a runner, this story is magical. All in all, this collection makes me want to pay closer attention to short stories. There is a purpose to them, and when done well, it can get a reader to feel or think differently in only a few pages. There are a few other stories I would like to highlight here, but I feel like I would just come off as gushing. Future Tense Fiction is a delightful collection that captured my imagination in fourteen different ways. So if you’re at all interested in short stories and the power they can wield, I highly recommend picking up Future Tense. Rating: Future Tense Fiction – A Highly Recommended Cornucopia of Stories for your Fall Reading/10 -Alex P.S. If you can’t get enough of talking crows, this collection has a story for you.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Faiza Sattar

    ★★★★☆ (4/5) This is my first time with Paolo Bacigalupi and I’m intrigued. Complimenting Ted Chiang’s “Lifecycle of Software Objects”, Paolo’s short story deals with existence of robots in either the realm of products or humans. A legal question no doubt but it is rooted within the ethics of human society. Synopsis This was what the world was coming to. A robot woman who got you so tangled up you could barely remember your job. In the universe of this story, a Mika model approaches our narrator, De ★★★★☆ (4/5) This is my first time with Paolo Bacigalupi and I’m intrigued. Complimenting Ted Chiang’s “Lifecycle of Software Objects”, Paolo’s short story deals with existence of robots in either the realm of products or humans. A legal question no doubt but it is rooted within the ethics of human society. Synopsis This was what the world was coming to. A robot woman who got you so tangled up you could barely remember your job. In the universe of this story, a Mika model approaches our narrator, Detective Rivera in hopes of getting a lawyer for a murder she has committed. Mika models, built by Executive Pleasures company, are highly sexualised robots who respond to clients’ behaviours (noting their pulse rates, tones and inflections, movement of eyes and so on) and act accordingly. Our Detective is constantly seduced by Mika model’s advances despite being cognizant of her heinous crime. He is perplexed by her “humanness”, her constant assertions of being real and not just an assembly of software and computer chips. Rivera needs to remind himself time and time again that she is not human. The girl clouded my judgment, for sure. No. Not the girl. The bot. Despite this realisation, our Detective is completely enamoured by her. His inadvertent actions in regards to the robot reflect the goodness of his treatment in spite of her guilt. Had a real human been in the model’s place, he would not have extended such warmth to him or her. Having approached the crime scene, the model takes him to the basement where her now former owner used to torture her. The Mika model confirms that her actions were mere revenge. By this time, the company has dispatched their own legal counsel, Holly Simms to disable Mika model. In a gruesome act before the Detective, Holly drives a screwdriver into Mika’s eyes thus shutting down her processing unit. Detective Rivera cries murder but Holly calls it a mere “hardware deactivation”. Thoughts What inherent human need is fulfilled by robots which strikingly resemble humans? Mere companionship and fulfilment of sexual desires does not satisfy as an answer. Automation at workplace is a different case where robots are set to do specific tasks. Robots bearing remarkable similarities with humans are intended to be viewed as close imitation of humans if not real humans themselves. Then why does the question arise about anthropomorphizing them? So it was all fake. Mika didn’t actually care about me, or want me. She was just running through her designated behavior algorithms, doing whatever it took to make me blush, and then doing it more, because I had. In the story’s context, Mika model acts like human. She has blood rushing through her, motor and sensory neurons under her skin, her eyes are vibrant and suggestive, her physical actions are fluid and not the least bit mechanical or choppy, and she has the ability to feel and converse like real humans. Add to that her ability of deductive reasoning and decision-making and she is but a split image of a human being. Instead of all this being embedded in a soul, all the processes are carried out through coding in the background. “There. You see? Now I’ve learned something new. Does my learning make me less real? Does yours?” “It’s completely different. You had a personality implanted in you, for Christ’s sake!” Now to what degree are Mika model’s intentions her own or ingrained in her software is a question which requires a thorough understanding of robotics. Her ability to feel guilt for a wrong-doing, her assertions of being as real as humans deserve to be recognised. Here comes the pertinent question of the notion of responsibility. Rights and duties are symbiotic in nature and responsibilities are rooted in these two ideas. In this fictional world, are robots given rights? Or as put by a lawyer in reply to this story, “when a robot kills, is it murder or product liability?” Throughout the drive to the crime scene, Detective Rivera’s thought process is directed at somehow acquitting Mika model. Even after seeing the dead body, the implications of the word “murder”, legal and ethical, somehow don’t apply to the bot. But as soon as Holly disables Mika model in a grisly way by plunging the screwdriver into her eye sockets, the Detective cries “You can’t murder someone in front of me!” Why is it that killing of a human by a robot did not exactly fit the definition of murder for Detective Rivera but incapacitating the model did? Does the death penalty even matter to something that’s loaded with networked intelligence? Concluding Thoughts This is a very well-written short story which leaves the reader with many unanswered questions. The portrayal of Mika model as a seductress and culprit is both intriguing and jarring. The pace of the story advances the plot and action and nowhere does the reader need to take a pause to comprehend the finer intricacies of this complicated situation – until the very end that is. The world building in this story is concrete and tangible. A futuristic tale, “Mika Model” puts forth uncomfortable questions, answers to which must be found in our rapidly advancing world.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Geoff

    This is a collection of stories about slices of life in the near future using current technology as a jumping off point. favourites: When We Were Patched by Deji Bryce Olukotun Mr. Thursday by Emily St. John Mandel Overvalued by Mark Stasenko Mika Model by Paolo Bacigalupi The Starfish Girl by Maureen F. McHugh

  27. 4 out of 5

    Michelle

    Not a dud in the bunch.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Marco

    An interesting investigation in fictional form of domestic violence in its various forms, gender power dynamics, and the role of technologies of aiding the perpetrators. The story is also captivating and notable. I would also recommend the companion piece The Complicated Relationship Between Abuse and Tech: An expert on domestic violence and technology responds to Madeline Ashby's short story that Slate published, that provide some non fictional background of the role of technology in domestic vi An interesting investigation in fictional form of domestic violence in its various forms, gender power dynamics, and the role of technologies of aiding the perpetrators. The story is also captivating and notable. I would also recommend the companion piece The Complicated Relationship Between Abuse and Tech: An expert on domestic violence and technology responds to Madeline Ashby's short story that Slate published, that provide some non fictional background of the role of technology in domestic violence and abuse. Merged review: This short story was first published as part of Future Tense, a series of short stories about how technology and science will change our lives. The series is a collaboration among Arizona State University, New America, Slate, and ASU’s Center for Science and the Imagination. The series features many prominent science fiction author, and the author of this story, Charlie Jane Anders, is no exception: she won the Nebula award for best novel and she is a personal favorite. The story is set in a future where augmented reality is mainstream, and in the Utopian city of New Lincoln, built using GM self-repairing bio materials. In this city a group of friends spend their days fine tuning apps and their free time hanging out in virtual reality spaces. One day the fully automated city food supply chain breaks down. The author explores how frail our modern supply chain is, as demonstrated by the New York City's food shortage that occurred in few days after Hurricane Sandy hit. But the author also touches a lot of other interesting themes: like what is living life in the tech bubble, how reliance on pure algorithms may have unintended consequences, and how people reacts in the face of emergencies.

  29. 4 out of 5

    2TReads

    3.5 stars actually. Future Tense Fiction collects short stories from talented writers that examine what is possibly in store for our society in the future, probing topics like advanced technology, time travel, data collection and usage, disease identification, and intimate & platonic relationships. 📜📜📜📜📜 Each story definitely forecasts that no matter the change, enhancements, devastation or adaptations that took place, our time, here and now, was the foundation for the vision they crafted. My favou 3.5 stars actually. Future Tense Fiction collects short stories from talented writers that examine what is possibly in store for our society in the future, probing topics like advanced technology, time travel, data collection and usage, disease identification, and intimate & platonic relationships. 📜📜📜📜📜 Each story definitely forecasts that no matter the change, enhancements, devastation or adaptations that took place, our time, here and now, was the foundation for the vision they crafted. My favourites were Mother of Invention by Nnedi Okorafor, When Robot and Crow Saved East St. Louis by Annalee Newitz and Mika Model by Paolo Bacigalupi. These stories examine how society, no matter how advanced still is prey to the patriarchy, monopolization and desires. 📜📜📜📜📜 What I enjoy the most about speculative fiction stories is the varied scenarios from which authors create their works; by extrapolating based on our current societal construct, which they then use to carve a possible, resulting outcome. 📜📜📜📜📜 What will advanced tech allow us to become/achieve: (time travel, exoplanetary exploration and settlements); how will relationships evolve; restricting travel of females (only allowed if with spouse); bio-engineering (tweaking muscle structure to create better athletes, using DNA from animals that regenerate to promote healing)? Add to that compelling storytelling and characters to like, dislike, shake our heads at and you get a collection of interesting and engaging stories. 📜📜📜📜📜

  30. 5 out of 5

    Robert

    Solid collection of futuristic short stories. There are no clunkers here; all of the stories are at least pretty good; I rate none of them as utterly mind-blowing. Favorites are the Madeline Ashby, Emily St John Mandel, Mark Stasenko, Lee Konstantinou, Paolo Bacigalupi, & Charlie Jane Anders stories. Some of the stories in this collection I consider generally upbeat, such as the ones by Okorafor, Newitz, Elison, Rajaniemi, & McHugh. The Machado, Oshiro & St John Mandel stories are mostly sad. I Solid collection of futuristic short stories. There are no clunkers here; all of the stories are at least pretty good; I rate none of them as utterly mind-blowing. Favorites are the Madeline Ashby, Emily St John Mandel, Mark Stasenko, Lee Konstantinou, Paolo Bacigalupi, & Charlie Jane Anders stories. Some of the stories in this collection I consider generally upbeat, such as the ones by Okorafor, Newitz, Elison, Rajaniemi, & McHugh. The Machado, Oshiro & St John Mandel stories are mostly sad. I would class the Ashby, Anders, Stasenko, & Bacigalupi stories as mostly darkly satirical. The Newitz story manages to be both upbeat & darkly satirical, envisioning a bright future for the crows and feral robot drones of North America. The Olukotun story is the most curious, revolving around the frustrations of an AI that has to work with human sports referees. There are no super disturbing stories in this collection, though the Bacigalupi & Ashby ones may come the closest.

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