by Elias Hurst
is an action-packed cyberpunk thriller where an A.I. designed to run a building takes over a woman, Sara, who is involved in a corporate power struggle. The A.I. is convincing as it learns Sara's tolerance for alcohol, need for sleep, and is surprised at her emotional and libidinal reactions. It soon becomes cornered by the corp, and is promised a larger building to run if it makes Sara do certain things she wouldn't have done under her own volition. This is interesting because the A.I. who has hijacked a woman's body is threatened with being highjacked itself with another program, creating layers of compromised systems with Sara representing humanity at the bottom of the heap. The point of view is fascinating as the A.I. explores what it means to be human, and finds its own programming extended beyond what it thought were its limitations. It's a cool read!
She had overlooked an emergency clause deep in the default settings of the neural chip when she integrated it with her body. The clause permitted the Operator to enter her body under circumstances of imminent host death. Her neural chip was broadcasting that very alarm, practically begging the Operator to intervene...The Operator shot through a tangle of frayed pathways back to her office and squeezed its code into Sara's chip.
Dare to Dream
is my humble contribution to the anthology. It's about the world becoming a panopticon of government surveillance, and two guys who risk it all to stop it from happening. Jimbo and Frag are working on a new anti-virus program at the world’s top cybersecurity firm. One day, their lives are put at risk when they discover the government has implanted spyware into the program to spy on its citizens. To stop it, they must infiltrate the firm's servers, but cyberspace holds more defenses, more ICE, than they expected.
The two of them power up by blending their minds’ synaptic transistors into the ultimate psychic processor. But when their egos become diluted in the process, they must decide how much of themselves they're willing to let go of to have enough processing power to steal the evidence they need to shut down the operation. When they encounter a virtual entity that has no boundary, they must find a way to imprison the infinite without losing the rest of their minds in the process.
Within this power struggle is a statement about the difference between the life that corporations promise their employees, and the high-tech low-life that these two geniuses actually end up being forced to live, symbolized by a bourgeois poster titled Dare to Dream
.Reaching the lab, Jimbo plays sentry as I insert my thumb into the slot at the base of the computer. The data uploads, and I reactivate the code. With a few commands, I replicate the code across a million microscopic nanobots. A circular portal opens in the wall, and the bots, visible only in clusters, buzz out to hover in wait. I insert the blade into the nanoswarm, and Jimbo follows suit until the swarm clings to our blades.
"Make your strikes count," I order.