My near future science-fiction story “Neuro” will be coming out soon as part of Fablecroft’s “The Art of Being Human” speculative fiction anthology. This is Australian publisher Fablecroft’s first anthology in six years, and it celebrates the arts and creativity in all its forms (theatre, film, painting, writing, and everything else) and how that ties into our humanity.
“Neuro” was primarily inspired by two things:
- The detailed stage musicals I dream of every few months, and then inevitably forget ten seconds after waking. I deeply wish that I could remember the amazing songs that my subconcious composes! And,
- My love of YouTube videos.
In the world of this story, the Neuro platform records your brain while you’re experiencing something (this could be anything from your morning coffee to extreme snowboarding to your dreams of non-existent stage musicals) and then offers you the opportunity to replay it with all the sights, sounds, smells, tastes and feelings that you experienced the first time. If you upload your experience publicly to the Neuro patform, other people can also experience it by having their Neuro replicate the same brain states that occured while it was recording (it’s a little more complex than that, really, but you’ll need to read the story to find out all the interesting details!).
In a nutshell, Neuro is like YouTube for life experiences instead of 2D videos.
At over 5,000 words, “Neuro” gives me plenty of room to dig in and really explore this premise, and I hope readers enjoy getting to know this technology and how it changes humans’ perceptions of their world as much as I enjoyed creating it.
Here’s a sneak peak from early in the story:
The first experiences offered to me on the main menu were grouped under ‘Recommended for new users,’ which sounded exactly like the kind of cautious start I wanted. The image thumbnails suggested a sunny seaside town, a hot spring, a tropical beach, or a cosy log fire. With any anxious anticipation artificially dulled, I went ahead and selected the tropical beach scene.
Immediately, my sensations started to shift, like falling gently out of a dream. The first thing I noticed was the heat: the sun radiating down, the warm breeze ruffling my shirt, the hot sand between my toes. The light was so much brighter, reflecting off the dunes and waves, than in my bedroom, but my new eyes were almost used to it. Then my new body—the body I was borrowing, the body of the woman who originally recorded that experience—started to move, and I was overwhelmed by the difference between our physical realities. How her longer, athletic legs travelled with such fluidity down the beach. How her smaller breasts didn’t bounce as we walked. The sensation of where her shoulders and nose sat in space. And she was so happy, so content. I could feel it through her whole body, her whole mind.
She climbed onto a padded, plastic recliner so that her top half was shaded and her legs were still hot in the sun. We looked up into the gently waving palm fronds. We looked out where small children were playing joyfully in the shallows. A bartender handed her a strawberry-coloured cocktail, and the glass was chilled in our long fingers. Everything smelt of warm, fresh salt air. When she lifted the drink to our lips, her hands smelt of coconut.
I stayed in that experience for its full 54 minutes. At that point, it kicked me out smoothly, back to the weightless nothing of the main menu. It had felt like 15 minutes. I had been in paradise, and although objectively, nothing had happened, I was alarmed by how much my entire waking worldview seemed to have shifted.
My bedroom was getting dark, and a little cold. I switched on the light and the heater, ate a small dinner with my husband, and then replayed the same beach experience once more later that night.
“The Art of Being Human” anthology will contain “Neuro” and 23 other specualtive stories about the arts and our humanity. It currently has a live Kickstarter that funded less than 72 hours after launching! There are still lots of exciting stretch goals to be potentially hit, including interior artwork, and more importantly backing this Kickstarter is the only way to acquire a limited-edition physical/print copy of the anthology (it will still be for sale digitally after).
This Kickstarter will run until 8pm on August 28, 2022 (Australian Eastern Standard Time).