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Fiction #34
(published April 5, 2001)
1K+1 Astral Nights:
Cycle 1, Packet 1
translated by David Erik Nelson


It is told, Great and Noble SHAR, that there was once a programmer who, although thoroughly mediocre, grew quite rich. He was a coder in a time when code was as gold, and the forgers of code scarce. So, despite his dearth of skills, his clumsy work, his deficit of wisdom or art, he accumulated great mountains of gold and stock options. Each night he slept on a deep, wide bed of stock certificates, attended by juicy, sad-eyed concubines in golden bikinis who cooled him with huge fans of $20 bills.

One day he realized that he was bored of his life and his riches and his sad-eyed concubines and his wonderful null-G swimming pool. He had not become bored of his job because, truth be told, it had never interested him to begin with. He decided that the only cure for his sickness of the heart was a grand and expensive vacation, and he set off to see the world's heres and theres without a single cycle's thought.

After many a strange and wonderful adventure, from which he learned very little, he found himself in an apple orchard.

The programmer had no idea where he was.

He sat beneath a tree, content with his location and comfort, happy and vacuous. The trees were full of apples, bright red and ripe. He reached up and plucked one. They were crisp and, although somewhat tangier than he was used to, quite delicious.

Suddenly the trees began to shake, as with a strong breeze, and a great cloud of motes rose up from among the leaves. At first the programmer took it to be dust, or perhaps tiny flies. Afraid that they'd bite, he hunched his shoulders and pulled his shirt up around his ears, continuing to munch his delicious apple.

The motes whirled and coalesced and became a solid, glittering column, its foot on the ground and its capital in the sky. The column broadened across the top, and sprouted arms, and gripped its head between its claws, howled: "Oh great Solar Christ, what are you doing?"

The programmer pulled his head up. "What?" he asked, apple flying from his stuffed mouth.

"Oh stop, won't you stop!"

The programmer took another bite, greatly confused.


The Distributed Nanobot writhed, "Me, stop devouring me, with your horrible, wet, flapping mouth! Why won't you stop!"

The programmer looked at the meat of his apple and saw that it was writhing with millions of these motes— tangy motes. The apple fell from his hands.

"oh . . . I . . ."

The Distributed Nanobot laid hold of the talentless programmers lapels and lifted him high into the sky "Do you have any conception as to the value of the technology you've destroyed?"

"No . . ."

"SILENCE! These, my children, my body, my self— we are each unique, designed through genetic algorithms."

"I have these stock options, I could—"

"SILENCE! We are evolved, self sufficient. Peaceful. If you happened to crush a human infant in your monster-hands, would you offer the bereaved breeder stock options? You, you are a war criminal, you are committing genocide"


"Yes, you, blood-sack, you are now forfeit to us. And we intend to use your resources to help replace our destroyed brethren."

"You're going to kill me?"

The Distributed Nanobot's head shimmered into a wide, jack-o-lantern's grin.

"We never said we would kill you. As robots require copper mines for there to be more robots, we require carbon, and iron."

The programmer stared blankly at the Distributed Nanobot.

"These we shall harvest from you."

"Oh Christ."

The luckless programmer explained that he had many affairs to put into order including his will and the disposition of his wealth, the division of his palatial estate and the care of his sad-eyed concubines. He begged for the Distributed Nanobot to give him a year to get his affairs into order, swearing that he would return in exactly 10,501,488,000,000,000 clock cycles. The Distributed Nanobot agreed and set the programmer down.

to be continued next week . . .

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The Next Fiction piece (from Issue #35):

1K+1 Astral Nights:
Cycle 1, Packet 2

translated by David Erik Nelson

The Last few Fiction pieces (from Issues #33 thru #29):

1K+1 Astral Nights:

translated by David Erik Nelson

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by the Giant Squid

Scenes from Being Bill Walton
by Jim Ruland

Why I Don't Explain How I Lost My Sweater
by Terence S. Hawkins

Dreaming Moriarty
by Norman Lock

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