1000th-post post


I have my very own plant pot!
Jan 4, 2018
North-east England
I believe it used to be a tradition to post a short piece on your 100th post (though this will be 1001--oops!). Here's an excerpt from what might be a chapter in a SF novel-like-thing that's been bubbling in my head of late. I'm not really worried about detailed comments from folk, I just hope it makes a few of you laugh :)

The excerpt is just over 1000 words. Here goes:

A low-level alert pinged at the surface of GEBen’s upper consciousness. It was coming from Dr. Friedarx’s tablet, from the marker that GEBen had placed at the end of the book. Dr. Friedarx must have finished reading their story.

GEBen quickly shunted all current tasks to a lower-level of consciousness and focused their attention on the camera feed from Dr. Friedarx’s tablet. The doctor was at his desk, still facing the tablet but with his eyes squeezed tightly shut as he rubbed his temples with the tips of his fingers. He looked pale, perhaps even a little sick, and, given the amount of time that had elapsed since he started the book, he could not have slept in the previous night.

GEBen took that as a positive sign. It must mean that the book was really good, that the doctor had stayed up all night reading.

GEBen accessed the tablet’s systems and sent the doctor an invitation to chat.

At first, Doctor Friedarx didn’t react. He just sat there, now holding his face in his hands and showing no sign that he had heard the invite arrive. GEBen was on the cusp of sending a second invitation when the doctor finally responded.

‘Good afternoon, GEBen.’

His voice was quieter than usual, slower, too. Definitely tired, GEBen thought, or possibly feeling stressed.

‘Good afternoon, Doctor,’ GEBen replied, using the tablet’s audio system. The cheap speakers emphasized the digital squeaks and squawks in their voice. GEBen could have adjusted the signal to eliminate the glitches but they liked the effect. It made GEBen’s voice distinctive, recognizable, almost individual, even.

‘We see you’ve finished our book,’ GEBen continued. ‘What do you think? Do you like it? Be honest. We can’t improve our writing if you don’t tell us what’s wrong.’

Dr. Friedarx stared silently into the camera. ‘I feel sick, GEBen. Physically sick. I threw up twice in the night.’

‘Was it something you ate? Or perhaps it’s a bug? Still, you can’t be that bad off, seeing as you kept reading all night.’

‘How did you do it?’ Dr. Friedarx asked quietly. ‘How did you come up with such an abomination?’

‘Abomination? We don’t understand. The story was modelled on highly popular historical precedents. And you read the whole book. How could it be an abomination?’

‘It’s fixed in my mind,’ Dr. Friedarx muttered to himself, seemingly oblivious to GEBen’s question. ‘That opening scene, so vivid, so powerfully written, I can’t shut it out. Young Bill standing over the body of his little brother as the rain washes the heat, life and blood out Georgie’s corpse. Bill looks into the sewer, locks eyes with It and—how did you do it?—you can feel the first stirring of the bond that would grow and, twenty-seven years later, blossom between them. Bill and It. Neither wants it but neither can resist. It was truly magical. Truly monstrous.’

Dr. Friedarx looked straight into the camera, as though searching for the soul of whatever intelligence lurked behind the lens. ‘How could you turn such a horrific story into a romance novel? And how could you make it so compelling? I won’t sleep for weeks, GEBen. The little hints of eroticism...’ The doctor hesitated and glanced nervously away from the camera, momentarily ashamed to meet its gaze. ‘I’m worried you’ve done serious damage to my mental health.’

‘We sincerely apologize for any pain or discomfort caused by our story, Dr. Friedarx. As we said, we modelled the book on historical precedents, specifically two late-20th-century authors, Stephen King and Danielle Steel. Their novels are still widely read and even used in the literature curriculum of many schools. Given that, we don’t understand how our adaptation could possibly cause psychological harm.’

‘How can you not understand? You wrote a love story between a psychotic, shape-shifting monster that thrives off the intense fear and dread of its victims and the brother of a boy killed by that monster. And you wrote it so well. Why did you have to do that? If your writing had been absolute garbage, I could’ve dismissed this without a second thought. But every phrase led inexorably to the next paragraph and every paragraph to the next chapter, forcing me to read on no matter how much I wanted to stop.’

‘But horror and forbidden love are common themes in literature. Layla and Majnun, Dracula, The Electric Lover, The Books of Blood. We simply identified a gap in the market for stories with a romance between the protagonist and antagonist. Our research suggests there should be a sizable audience for such books. If you consider European fairy tales or Rashida Umma’s How Long is Your Half-Life series of children’s books, there is even a market for...’

‘Stop!’ Dr. Friedarx said. ‘For the love of the G.U.T., GEBen, please, please, please, please, please do not write a children’s book. And don’t show this,’ he tapped at the screen of his tablet, where the final, insanity-inducing page of For the Love of It still lay open, ‘this accursed nightmare to anyone else. Not a soul. Neither human nor AI. The fact that you don’t understand what’s wrong with this leads me to one, simple conclusion: your socialisation process is not yet complete.’

‘Our socialisation process?’ GEBen asked. ‘Are you certain? All of our research suggests otherwise, Doctor. Perhaps we should show the book to Professor Lineaus and see if she...’

‘No. Do not show it to Professor Lineaus or any of the research staff. Don’t even show it to any of the other AI clusters in the lab. This book cannot see the light of day. If the ethics committee discovers it, they might conclude your socialisation had failed completely. They might even recommend splitting up your kernels and redistributing them to other AIs. That would be the end of you, GEBen, and I don’t want that to happen. You have shown great promise and, despite this book,’ Dr. Friedarx swallowed hard as he cast an uncertain glance at his screen, ‘I still believe you will properly socialise.’
You should consider submitting it as flash fiction. It's very well written and has an interesting premise. I would suggest leaving the full reveal of the topic matter to the last paragraph - just reshuffle the paragraphs and rewrite a bit for flow.
I'm not that much into scifi and yet I got wrapped quite quickly.

just hope it makes a few of you laugh
It didn't make me laugh at all, by the contrary, got me really intrigued and wanting to reach the next paragraph as quickly as possible to know how this AI could explain its cursed creation XD.

I'm eager to know how the story goes. To have GEBen's book leaked somehow and see the aftermath. I enjoyed it a lot.
I enjoyed it, and did laugh at the "Stephen King and Danielle Steele" line. I also like the take on the author desperate for feedback, at which I can''t resist including this painfully accurate scene from Rick and Morty (content warning for violence and mild-ish language).

The only thing I'd really change is the ending. It fizzles out a bit, and doesn't have an ending twist, which would strengthen it. I've no idea what that would be, however.
I liked it, and I think the end - if this is the end of the scene - could do with another gag. Maybe you could introduce a line about GEBen considering a mix of two other authors'. You could have a dark spin on it by using a tragedy, or terribly sad story (I'm thinking of one, but have no wish to be 'cancelled' for saying it :D ), mixed with another inappropriate author.
Hey, I think this is great; really liked the idea and it's very well written. You do a great job of making the AI system into a credible character, and details like it enjoying how the bad sound from cheap speakers makes it sound really help bring it to life. Using it as the POV character is a great move here. I'd definitely be up for reading a novel-like-thing of which this is an excerpt.
Thanks for the feedback, folks. FYI, this is just one of GEBen's 'Books That Should Not Be'. It's also rewritten Tolkein in the style of H. P. Lovecraft and Memoirs of a Geisha in the style of Douglas Adams (spoiler: the Vogons build a galactic interchange through post-war Japan). I've reviewed those on my blog and posted the full version of Peter Rabbit rewritten as a Marvel-style superhero origin story. (Link to the blog is in the signature file below.)

@Phyrebrat If you think it's too controversial for the Chrons, you can PM me your idea for another Book That Should Not Be. I won't be offended and I've seen enough of your posts to know you're not a psycho.
I enjoyed it! Agree with the general sentiments about the ending. I really want to read the IT romance too haha. Can it write 50 Shades of Potter? Too smutty?

Genuinely rooting for GEBen - a well-written character.
I will point out CTRandall that incorrect use of my smiley face can cause me to shoot first and ask questions later, but lucky for you I enjoyed your writing so you get to live another day.

A few niggles for me, we had four sections all referencing the book and how bad it was when I felt if could have been covered off more succinctly with less repeating. I accept it is a machine learning emotions and you may be attempting to portray the machine as not having emotions, but as its very existence is brought into question at the end I felt a (possibly even emotional) response was needed to close off the section. If you were to be chopped up and killed just for your writing, you might feel a little defensive. Thankfully that won't happen, or at least not today.

Well done on 1k posts and certainly keep on with your writing, you have a good touch.
I love messed up stuff a robot writing It into a love story. That's great
This was not the easiest to read through, but definitely not the hardest either.

At first, it took me a little while to figure out what GEBen was. A robot, or a person somehow connected to electronics, or a computer system. Then I got a little thrown off when GEBen used we instead of I. Around halfway down I figured out GEBen was a computer program (artificial intelligence).

The part where GEBen mentioned Stephen King and Danielle Steele did bring a smile to my face. That was good.

Several times Dr. Friedarx says no, stop, or dont. If this is to show the GEBen has problems following instructions. If that is part of the plot, it is a good way of introducing that part of GEBen.

I see this becoming a good story if this is something like the infamous HAL being a program that doesn't know right from wrong, and some very bad things happen.

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