by Will Schmitz
Don’t know how much longer I’ll still have my head. Been havin’ some ‘dangerous’ thoughts of late. Never should have let the bots begin designing themselves. Folks thought they’s just extend the basic human body shape. What could be better? Turns out, a lot of things. Borrowings from nature by humans barely ever scratched the surface. They like climbing walls, I guess. Wheeling over walking–flying over either.
Used to be only a sultan could order a chop. Grand old days. Always feared the sultan when he rode out of the palace dressed in yellow silks. Blue, you were safe, but if he rode out in yellow, some lowly, or even not so lowly, soul was gonna . . . Think that palace went down in an earthquake. Could fit ten Versailles inside. Piracy brought in your workers. Ransom them when
possible. Otherwise, worked on another palace, garden, or the wall.
Yeah, but the Scimitar Program for Domestication of Violence. Used to be able to work out the revenge, even if it took generations. Now? You get violent, you get dead. No excuses, no reprieves. Nowhere safe. Sometimes, in some back of beyond village where you’d think you were out of reach, someone would try it. Try to pop some enemy, somebody who’d insulted you, someone who’d slept with your wife. Scimitar appeared and off went the head. Nice clean slice every time. Quickest form, the guillotine. Think the bots would find something that just knocked you to your knees. No. Head drops (usually to the ground or floor, but you can imagine how many other ways possible yourself) blood spumes out of the pipe and it’s at least a day of cleanup if you’re inside.
Bots don’t let anyone buy out. Kind of the old some/none/all chestnut. Gotta do to all equally–and they do. You can imagine the number of corpses in the first few years. Special heavier bot cleanup squads had to be manufactured to keep up. Quite the quick curve down, tho. Five years it took for most everyone to behave themselves all of the time. No utopia, tho. You still possess the full range of likes, dislikes, irritations, displeasures. But keep a lock on ‘em.
Once the planet was pacified, groups of the bots took off for planets that have more longevity. Suns that aren’t gonna nova for another four or five billion orbits. Bunch of herbivores left here.
You wanna get from place to place these days, you can. Slowly. You can catch a ride across the oceans, but it’s only 600 clickers a day. Caught in a storm, you may die. Individual- ists built their own and go when and where they want. Lots of fish in the sea these days. Clean everything. Live your 500 and die lookin’ thirty. But pick up something to use as a weapon,
and a scimitar appears. Two blades. Easy to manufacture by the multi-millions. Everyone at once–like it was once thought about the deity.
Can live anywhere on the planet. And in comfort. Icecaps are back, but the bots will build you a regulated temperature villa at the pole if that’s where you want to live. Food flown in
every day of the week.
What to do with the time when servo bots do the heavy lifting. Anything. Fix you up if you break a leg on the slopes or a shark takes a bite while you’re surfing Maui. Most humans prefer the coasts. You can live in virtual reality if you’d rather and fight in as many wars as you want to. Generally cuts life expectancy to 350 years since you don’t get up much. Doesn’t matter what you rot your brain with or what’s in it–just don’t . . .
Perfectly dull world. Lots of Buddhists. Still lots of smaller orthos. Make all the music you want, make love, even make money. Get excited it. Unfortunately, when you figure out the money can’t get you any more than anyone else can wish for . . .
Sometimes humans ask to convert. Drop the mortal coil for replacement bot-material. Half living, but a lot of alloy. Get to leave the planet if you convert. But before you elect it, you have to pass the ‘space’ test. Can you handle that much emptiness? Giving up the senses ain’t that much glory. The bots taste/smell/touch/hear/so much better and some trying to convert,
melt. Too much to process continuously.
The Upper Bots don’t need to categorize cause they can handle the data. Every atom of uniqueness, they flow with, swim in. Your average mortal convulses for months after conver- sion. A couple have died. Some have wanted to come back, but it’s one-way. Then you have to wrap yourself around enduring the universe until it ends. Think they’re still trying to figure out how to jump from this to another. Supposed to be possible. Hate to have invested so much effort into so much development only to see it all reset to zero once the expansion . . .
Yeah, well. Gotta tune in the scimitar report for today. Sometimes you can get one live,
but it’s mostly replays. Some folks keep collections, but not me. I’m just worried the wife’s gonna finally figure out a way to trick me into going ballistic. It’s fast and she’ll laugh and just get a House Bot to clean up the mess.