Sprint Hack by Zac Miller


Tell us what you thought of the July 2013 issue!

Moderator: Editors

Editor Emeritus

Posts: 805

Joined: December 31, 1969, 08:00:00 PM

Post July 29, 2013, 11:45:41 PM

Sprint Hack by Zac Miller

A very interesting science fiction story in a near-future setting. It was nicely paced and well written.

Content-wise: the genetic manipulation pre-birth to correct and improve is probably not that far off. An OS for your body that let's you manipulate your endocrine system is probably a little further in the future. The virtual (communication, body OS program access, etc...) being projected right into someone's eyes sounds very cool, maybe a little scary when you think of the ads that would run while you're sleeping, but it made me wonder, if people in this world have all this implanted cyberwear wouldn't they probably also have direct brain control of the virtual cursor, which would eliminate the need for funny hand motions:
He activated the program he'd cooked up and his endocrine system peeled open, hormone bars and charts glowing in place. Raising his hands, Nelson's right index finger hovered over the epinephrine bar. Normal levels, bound to build up when he picked up speed, but not enough.

Does anyone watch for this sort of thing? Nelson closed his eyes again.


Then again, it made me wonder where Big Brother was in this scenario; wouldn't all vitals be closely monitored? Everybody's wired, it seems like it'd be easy to beam the info somewhere to be monitored during the race.

In the end it did seem to me like Nelson was cheating and he was using the rationale that many cheaters use: "I'm just giving myself a fair shot, because the game is unfair." It was hard to be sympathetic for him given the circumstance.

I'm not sure the author would consider this story part of Biopunk. It doesn't seem to fulfill the "punk" part of the equation, but it does seem to share some themes.
Biopunk science fiction is a subgenre of cyberpunk fiction that focuses on the near-future unintended consequences of the biotechnology revolution following the discovery of recombinant DNA. Biopunk stories explore the struggles of individuals or groups, often the product of human experimentation, against a backdrop of totalitarian governments and megacorporations which misuse biotechnologies as means of social control and profiteering. Unlike cyberpunk, it builds not on information technology, but on synthetic biology. Like in postcyberpunk fiction, individuals are usually modified and enhanced not with cyberware, but by genetic manipulation.

--http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Biopunk#Science_fiction


Good story.

John

Commenter

Posts: 5

Joined: July 30, 2013, 09:36:22 PM

Post July 30, 2013, 09:41:37 PM

Re: Sprint Hack by Zac Miller

Thank you for the response!

I figured that, while it would certainly be possible for someone to be watching every move, it'd be more likely (at least, in this relatively optimistic scenario) that there would be relatively little active tracking of individuals unless they were already doing something suspicious. It's implied that Nelson is part of the first generation of people doing this sort of thing, so perhaps the authorities haven't really caught on to it.

The stance on Nelson's actions was left deliberately ambiguous. While I don't want to step in with authorial fiat, I will say that I also consider him a cheater. Still, I'd be interested to hear from those who disagree.

This story actually takes place in the same setting as another one that was published here. If you haven't seen it, you can take a look:

http://www.aphelion-webzine.com/shorts/ ... ption.html

Sprint Hack occurs maybe a year later.

As far as sub-genre, I suppose this could be considered a somewhat more optimistic version of cyber/biopunk.

Editor Emeritus

Posts: 2514

Joined: December 31, 1969, 08:00:00 PM

Location: Mass, USA

Post July 31, 2013, 07:19:15 PM

Re: Sprint Hack by Zac Miller

zmiller wrote:...
I figured that, while it would certainly be possible for someone to be watching every move, it'd be more likely (at least, in this relatively optimistic scenario) that there would be relatively little active tracking of individuals unless they were already doing something suspicious.
...


Hi Zac.

I'm dashing this comment off before reading your story, but I wanted to chime in that I am following a series of stories exactly about "tracking of individuals" etc. You may have heard about Edward Snowden and his leaking of NSA capabilities.

But in related news, what he's sparking is revelations that despite denials, tracking is exactly what they are doing.

Even in the past couple of days, check out these stories:

NSA Director Defends Surveillance Activities During Tense Black Hat Keynote
https://threatpost.com/nsa-director-def ... ote/101541

Report: TSA employee misconduct up 26% in 3 years
http://www.cnn.com/2013/07/31/travel/ts ... ?hpt=hp_t2

Again, federal court finds cops don’t need a warrant for cellphone location data
http://arstechnica.com/tech-policy/2013 ... tion-data/

And then this one!
XKeyscore: NSA tool collects 'nearly everything a user does on the internet'
http://www.theguardian.com/world/2013/j ... nline-data

And from our Russian friends:
Moscow Subway To Use Devices To Read Data On Phones
http://www.rferl.org/content/russia-mos ... 59582.html

So not counting a few years just to fix glitches, they *are* tracking everyone!

:(

Commenter

Posts: 5

Joined: July 30, 2013, 09:36:22 PM

Post July 31, 2013, 08:21:05 PM

Re: Sprint Hack by Zac Miller

I did say it was a relatively optimistic scenario, and I wrote the story over a year ago.

Your points are well-made, however.

Editor Emeritus

Posts: 2514

Joined: December 31, 1969, 08:00:00 PM

Location: Mass, USA

Post July 31, 2013, 08:39:09 PM

Re: Sprint Hack by Zac Miller

zmiller wrote:I did say it was a relatively optimistic scenario, and I wrote the story over a year ago.

Your points are well-made, however.


Thanks for your reply!

It does bring up what I see as a core purpose of "Speculative Fiction" - the Meta-Commentary on the future.

There used to be a clash between "two and a half modes of thought". One is to suppose a future that you don't know when or if will occur, to create story space to thrash out a social issue before we get it "for real". And the message is that hopefully with a bit of pre-thought into it, we'd do it better the second time for real!

The second is the Dystopian tale which is purposely gloomy, and it is supposed to be a warning! These tales are written with a grim wink in tone.

However, the "half" is that when you suppose a future "for real" like category 1, but then real events permanently derail that future! The "trope namer" is reading Soviet SciFi positing the various futures of the Soviet Union.

But we're getting into another one, where a few nasty people are taking the dystopian tales and going "wow, that could make us very powerful and then very rich! Let's do that!"

Commenter

Posts: 5

Joined: July 30, 2013, 09:36:22 PM

Post July 31, 2013, 11:29:25 PM

Re: Sprint Hack by Zac Miller

Interesting. I hadn't heard it phrased in that way before, though I can see how it works.

This story probably falls into the first category (that is, predicting a future so that we'll all do a better job), though one of the key ideas is that people will always find ways to use technologies in ways that were not intended, and that are self-serving in nature. This concept has, of course, been explored in cyberpunk.

I'd go so far as to say that if you're envisioning a new technology, one of the first things you have to do is figure out how criminals will use it, as they will likely be very inventive. This in turn leads to a response from the authorities, and the age-old game continues.

Exactly how this would fare in a world where all kinds of information is being constantly collected is certainly a pressing consideration (one perhaps too ambitious for this story), though one might suppose that the authorities may not be able to meaningfully sort through so much data, or end up following false positives.
User avatar

Long Fiction Editor

Posts: 2642

Joined: January 11, 2010, 12:03:56 AM

Location: by the time you read this, I'll be somewhere else

Post August 02, 2013, 11:23:25 PM

Re: Sprint Hack by Zac Miller

Interesting. During the big race, I was waiting for him to get caught -- by his EMT friend, George.

Yep, he's a cheater, all right, but he also knows that the winners get to write history (and/or get the best mates) -- sometimes. Maybe someone should tell him about Lance Armstrong.

This is a strange thing; it seems that we universally decry cheaters and demand "fairness," while knowing that life isn't fair at all. And, this story shows how easy it is for people to lie to themselves.
I was raised by humans. What's your excuse?

Editor Emeritus

Posts: 805

Joined: December 31, 1969, 08:00:00 PM

Post August 03, 2013, 10:44:19 PM

Re: Sprint Hack by Zac Miller

Lester Curtis wrote:And, this story shows how easy it is for people to lie to themselves.

Good point Lester.

Thanks for the link to the other story Zac. I'll have to check it out.
Last edited by davidsonhero on August 11, 2013, 03:16:57 PM, edited 1 time in total.
User avatar

Master Critic

Posts: 1178

Joined: October 06, 2008, 06:53:45 AM

Location: Chantilly VA

Post August 11, 2013, 02:40:57 PM

Re: Sprint Hack by Zac Miller

Just a comment on the other implications here.

If one is a Professional athlete, (Professional is the key here. It's big business not sand lot or pick up games. They get paid millions or YOUR DOLLARS, demand the best they can be. Shit if we're developing exoskeleton devices to keep "dead" soldiers fighting, how immoral can self administering enhancing drugs be? ), if you want to, you should be able to dope yourself up with whatever you think might enhance your ability. Why not? Isn't your job to be the best? And given the possible side effects you're an adult, (another precondition), go do it.

Something good may come out of it. Didn't doctors in the past-self inflict themselves in order to work a disease? Well maybe something good will come out of it.

Congress and all the other Handicapper Generals should mind their own damned business and let these men and women work their magic.

The results could be rather interesting.

RT

Critic

Posts: 123

Joined: January 04, 2013, 11:48:08 AM

Post August 13, 2013, 11:57:20 AM

Re: Sprint Hack by Zac Miller

So far this is my favorite story of the month! It held my attention from opening line to conclusion.

And what's more, in ways, it felt like a fast-paced, action oriented story, but at the same time, it had enough cerebral elements to be something weightier.

Great stuff!!! I really look forward to seeing more from this guy!

Commenter

Posts: 5

Joined: July 30, 2013, 09:36:22 PM

Post August 14, 2013, 12:44:06 AM

Re: Sprint Hack by Zac Miller

rick tornello wrote:Just a comment on the other implications here.

If one is a Professional athlete, (Professional is the key here. It's big business not sand lot or pick up games. They get paid millions or YOUR DOLLARS, demand the best they can be. Shit if we're developing exoskeleton devices to keep "dead" soldiers fighting, how immoral can self administering enhancing drugs be? ), if you want to, you should be able to dope yourself up with whatever you think might enhance your ability. Why not? Isn't your job to be the best? And given the possible side effects you're an adult, (another precondition), go do it.

Something good may come out of it. Didn't doctors in the past-self inflict themselves in order to work a disease? Well maybe something good will come out of it.

Congress and all the other Handicapper Generals should mind their own damned business and let these men and women work their magic.

The results could be rather interesting.

RT


Very interesting points! This is exactly why I left the ending ambiguous; it's more fun to see fascinating arguments like the above.

Jay_Hill wrote:So far this is my favorite story of the month! It held my attention from opening line to conclusion.

And what's more, in ways, it felt like a fast-paced, action oriented story, but at the same time, it had enough cerebral elements to be something weightier.

Great stuff!!! I really look forward to seeing more from this guy!


Thanks! I've already posted a link to it in this thread, but there's another story of mine that takes place in the same setting. It was published last year, and might be of interest to you.

Return to July 2013

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 1 guest

Powered by phpBB © 2000, 2002, 2005, 2007 phpBB Group.
Designed by STSoftware.