Author’s Note: Hi! I hope that my notes from earlier will be enough to deter like-sprees, so I won’t put it here. OK, hi! This will most likely be the only story this week because I don’t really like these prompts and prefer the open-ended ones, but I tried my best. I’d have loved to do a historical fiction, but I couldn’t figure out which “technology wave” to do, because obviously there’s The Industrial Revolution, but then there's a bunch more of “waves” where computers did something amazing and different. (If we call Science-Fiction sci-fi, then why do we never call Historical Fiction hi-fi?) I went with this. Hope you enjoy!
When History Repeats Itself
A Science Fiction Short Story by Ana Govindasamy
Trigger Warnings/Disclaimers: Arrest & Hate Crime References
The United States of America, Earth, 2073
Classroom 8C, Cari Academy, Period Two
“Olivia Shinner was a cyborg who lived from 2032-2120 and was one of, if not the most influential woman of our society. Shinner was influenced by the Covid-19 Pandemic of 2020 and saw the effect of technology on our society from her parents.
Then she started thinking. How else could she use technology to further better the world? She started experimenting with…”
Raima zones out while skimming the page.
She’s always hated her Technology Education lessons, much less now her teacher had insisted on using paper textbooks and pen, to “get into the spirit of it all”. She hated the way paper felt on her fingers. And it made the most annoying sounds. At least the clicks of fingers typing didn’t make her want to claw her ears out every lesson.
She wishes she could actually learn about something cool, like the Pandemic. She’s never asked about it and never had the nerve to research it any further than the brief mentions of it in her textbooks. It’s basically taboo, you don’t talk about it unless you’re in a lesson and you stay silent and act sad, even if you want to learn the details.
She’s started clicking the button on her pen now. It reminds her of the keyboards that she misses. She skims the questions below the textbook passage.
What was the original name given to Shinner’s software? (Pg 48)
The pen ink flows weirdly and creates a giant blob on the page. That would never happen if she’d been allowed to type.
In what year did Shinner release Stardust to the general public? (Pg 50)
Anywhere between 2032-2120.
Could she get away with that?
She takes a wild guess with 2053.
Why was Shinner arrested? (Pg 49)
She has no idea. And she doesn’t actually remember learning that. The prospect of learning about a criminal piques her interest.
She scrolls or, rather, flips to page 49.
This time, she doesn’t mind trawling through paragraphs.
“In 2057, months after Stardust’s release, Shinner was arrested as authorities suspected her software to be a scam or that she was collecting client’s personal information. This was later disproved, and it was also accounted to her being both a cyborg and was fuelled by prejudice and the recent law passed. She was released shortly after the allegations against her were disproven in court.”
That was the kicker. Raima herself was an android. Not a cyborg, but still an AI. Prejudice had faded in the last few years, but it was still there.
On the tenth of September she was one of the first AIs to ever attend a human school.
On the eighth of November she was one of the AI student who actually spoke up about her abuse. Infamously loud from the start.
By the twenty-third of November she was one of the people in this world who wished to be invisible.
The United States of America, Earth, 2052
House 26, Deroa Road, 5PM
A young woman sits in the front room of her house, eyes glued to the screen, arm around her husband.
The president is just about to sign the contract that would treat AIs like humans. They knew it wouldn’t be immediate, they’d still face prejudice, but they couldn’t dim the bulb of hope.
“Today, President Kaur will sign the 2040 AI Equality Act, meaning the rights of the android and cyborg minority groups will be the same as those of humans. This means they will have the same Human Rights as observed by humans.”
She lets the anchor drone on, lets the headline flash past.
She’s finally safe.
Or she should be.
She knows she’s not, she never will be. She isn’t different to the humans. She’s seen the protests. Dealt with the abuse hurled her way. Words and worse.
She was never treated right and never will be. A piece of paper wouldn’t change that. No law would change that.
Especially when the law were the very people against them.
She doesn’t feel the tears blooming on her cheek until her husband brushes them away, and grossly misinterprets them for joyful.
“We made it, Lan. It’s passed. We’re safe.”
She can tell he doesn’t mean it. That he has the same fears as her. He’s only trying to comfort her.
A wave of relief washes over her heart. She has her husband. She has Anco.
“No, we aren’t.”
“We both know that’s a lie.”
“What is a curly line of ink on a page gonna do for us?”
“Doesn’t mean that we’re safe-safe”
She struggles to find words. She wants him to know that she knows they can’t be safe. That he doesn’t have to pretend for her.
But she doesn’t. She just settles to lay her head down on his neck and let go with an
“I love you.”
“Hey. Now we’re safe, are kids still on the table?”
Neither of them are quite sure yet.
She wants her kids to be safe and so does he.
But it’s now or never.
“You know, I’ve always wanted to call my kid Rai.”
“Yeah. It was my best friend’s name. Rai Jira.”
“I’ve always wanted to name my kid Madeline.
That was my mother’s name. You remember 2020?”
“How could I forget?”
“She was an activist. For the BLM protests. She fought for her equality, Anco. If we want to be treated anywhere close to right, we need to as well.”
“I never told you why Rai was so special to me, did I?”
Lan shakes her head.
“He was an android and he died in the protests. Not the BLM ones, he was a kid then, obviously. The AI rights one.”
“Is that why you’ve always been so quiet when I bring it up?”
“Yes, Lan. That’s exactly why.”
“Do you think…that maybe you’d be up go to a protest again?”
“I- I don’t see why not.”
“Well, that’s good, because Narya asked me if I’d like to go to one next week. Would that be too soon?”
“God, no, the sooner, the better. I’ll come.”
The door shuts as they walk outside to their newfound liberation.
They’re as safe as they can be for now.
And that’s enough for them.