Science Fiction & Fantasy




One Hundred Sentences About the City of the Future: A Jeremiad

  1. It rained yesterday, only in my precinct, far in excess of the scheduled and published amount, as a result of which some of my more delicate houseplants, which are flowering, were severely damaged.
  2. The choices in the mayoral election are disappointing, far from the ideological panoply promised in early stages of the campaign.
  3. Because of this, I am deciding whether or not I should file a formal Notice of Intent not to vote, and request that information regarding the civic and criminal consequences of such a filing be forwarded to me immediately.
  4. Aware that the regulations concerning feedback to the Central Civic Authority limit my initial complaint to one hundred sentences, I am indulging in sentence structures more complex and digressive than would be my inclination otherwise.
  5. It is my understanding that the daemon constructed to assess and rout complaints to the relevant authorities is equipped to understand any grammatically correct sentence.
  6. If this is not the case, I request notification of this fact immediately.
  7. As a gesture of good faith toward the one-hundred-sentence regulation, and a demonstration of my commitment to the civic goodwill, I will eschew the use of semicolons throughout this document.
  8. My wife and children concur with my displeasure regarding the amount of rain that fell in our precinct yesterday, and are agitating for me to add a further complaint about municipal services, which has to do with the promised delivery of entertainment through our household channel.
  9. We have rigorously fulfilled our own entertainment obligations under city statute, as you will note from a cursory examination of our feed statistics, which demonstrate that our channel is of above average popularity in the areas of sexual experimentation, cookery for children, and saxophone lessons.
  10. My wife and I will continue to provide popular content in the area of sexual experimentation, and nothing in this complaint should be construed as a threat to withhold provision of said popular content.
  11. If I may devote one sentence of my hundred to humor, I will also note that my children will continue to cook for the educational/culinary benefit of the citizenry.
  12. Saxophone lessons will also continue, although my oldest son wishes me to append a complaint about the mandated price of reeds, which were reclassified as a Controlled Commodity after the last election.
  13. This reclassification will have a real and perceptible effect on our family’s election behavior during this cycle.
  14. My oldest son, who has taken charge of the saxophone content on our family’s channel, becomes eligible for the franchise four days before the election.
  15. If our only complaints were weather-related, we would not clutter municipal bandwidth and processing time; however, the added difficulties with delivery of entertainment and informational content over our family’s channel provoked us to this action.
  16. I note the use of a semicolon in the previous sentence, and will therefore limit myself to a total of ninety-nine sentences.
  17. Given our family’s concerns about the lack of ideological diversity on the ballot, the recent failures of municipal weather control are profoundly disturbing.
  18. Mayoral candidates differ in no significant respect from the current leadership under which municipal weather control has failed and commodity prices have risen onerously.
  19. For this reason, we request a waiver that will permit us to apply for a Notice of Intent not to cast a ballot in the upcoming election.
  20. We are fully aware that municipal statute provides for such a request only in the event that the petitioner can demonstrate that choosing not to cast a vote in a specific instance is more in keeping with the principles of civic engagement than voting for a slate of candidates would be.
  21. First, we are enjoined to make a brief argument addressing our wish not to engage in the Alternative Candidate Selection mechanism.
  22. It is our family’s belief that the Alternative Candidate Selection mechanism is prima facie illegal given municipal emphasis on party enrollment and primary winnowing of the candidate pool.
  23. If any citizen is allowed to write in any candidate despite the systems in place to produce candidates, of what value are those systems?
  24. Knowing that the system in place does in fact, and has in the past, produced candidates who have performed great service for our conurbation, and further knowing that no candidate ever named through Alternative Candidate Selection has ever succeeded to office, we reject the idea that the Alternative Candidate Selection mechanism is a viable alternative to voting within the pool of party candidates.
  25. We further wish to register, in the strongest possible terms, our disapproval of the common practice of soliciting Alternative Candidate Selection votes as a way for an individual to increase traffic and thereby municipal reimbursement and bandwidth subsidies.
  26. We question the motives of those citizens who have let it be known that they would welcome Alternative Candidate Selection votes, and suggest to municipal authorities that those citizens are acting in a manner contrary to the established political procedures that enable the smooth functioning of our government.
  27. Therefore, since Alternative Candidate Selection undermines the political structure that keeps our city functioning, we argue that it is not a viable alternative to a selection from one of the party tickets.
  28. Further, since there is no meaningful difference among the party candidates, the elimination of Alternative Candidate Selection as a viable alternative means that in this election, there is no way for a vote to have the effect our family desires and needs from the electoral process.
  29. This concludes our primary rationale for applying for a Notice of Intent not to cast a ballot in the upcoming municipal election.
  30. We further provide a number of secondary rationales in support of the primary rationale.
  31. Following a recent cast of our family’s popular Kidz in the Kitchen program, we were contacted by four different citizens who wished to appear on the program under the fictitious pretext of being family friends who were invited to dinner.
  32. Each of these citizens suggested, with varying degrees of duplicity, that such an appearance would increase their chances of successfully conducting a political campaign through the process of Alternative Candidate Selection.
  33. Three of the four suggested that if our family did not agree to the fictitious pretext of inviting them over for dinner, there could be political consequences in the future.
  34. The fourth made no such threat, which our family takes as a demonstration of the finer qualities of some of our city’s prominent citizens.
  35. We refused all four requests, desiring to keep Kidz in the Kitchen free of political taint, and since then we have suffered evident political harassment.
  36. To wit: Kidz in the Kitchen has seen firewall attacks in several precincts, which our privately hired AI investigator determined were malicious attempts to prevent Kidz in the Kitchen from reaching the neighborhoods in which its viewership is highest and most committed.
  37. At least one of those attacks was conducted along a frequency known to be leased by one of the potential “guests” of Kidz in the Kitchen for his day-to-day professional activities.
  38. A second potential “guest” has taken the opportunity of his media platform to suggest that all public channels offering sexual experimentation programming should be banned or placed behind onerous security protocols to prevent the material contained within from reaching anyone who might find it objectionable on religious or moral grounds.
  39. This suggestion is a clear contradiction of the city’s stated commitment to freedom of informational flow, and can only be interpreted as an attack on our family, since this potential “guest” never agitated against sexual experimentation programming before our family refused to commit to his fictional pretext for an appearance on Kidz in the Kitchen.
  40. Our popular sexual experimentation programming has recently encountered difficulties due to decreased erotic drive, a problem I and my wife attribute directly to the stressful effects of being made the focus of politically motivated attacks.
  41. Even our attempt to co-opt the problem through role-playing as if we were ourselves the potential “guests” and their spouses (a strategy recommended by the city’s Bureau of Sexual Health) failed due to our personal difficulties in finding the comedy inherent in being made the focus of politically motivated attacks.
  42. Because of this and other problems inherent in the political process, our family feels that we have a right to entertain the possibility of not participating in the upcoming election.
  43. We are also considering filing claims for emotional distress and impingement on means of livelihood against both the potential “guests” and the municipal authorities, both biological and Distributed Network Origin, who have failed in their duties to protect citizens from abuse of the political process.
  44. The nature of the abuses of the political process were outlined above.
  45. We elect not to engage in mud-slinging over the third potential “guest” and our suspicions regarding his involvement in the price fluctuations of single and double reeds for woodwind instruments, which as noted above have onerously increased the burden on our oldest son and his popular saxophone tutorial programming.
  46. However, despite this nod to civic decorum, we are fully committed to our allegations regarding the other two potential “guests” and their egregious manipulation of city infrastructure for political ends.
  47. We therefore request, as outlined above, a full opinion from the municipal AI responsible for legal issues regarding the civic and political consequences of filing a Notice of Intent to not vote in the upcoming elections.
  48. We feel this opinion is necessary because existing city documentation, as available on public servers, is inadequate and fails to take into account the actions of those human beings still remaining in municipal government and positions of influence within the business and financial communities, not to mention the information infrastructure.
  49. As an aside, our family strongly feels that the time has absolutely come for the city’s Bureau of Information Architecture and Bandwidth to be turned over to an all-AI staff.
  50. What better demonstration of the city’s avowed commitment to equal placement policies for Humans of Distributed Network Origin?
  51. The previous is noted to be a question, but will be included in this letter’s count of sentences, which, as previously noted, will total ninety-nine due to the presence of a semicolon.
  52. We as a family feel that it is important not to take advantage of either people or systems.
  53. This sentiment extends to our approach to municipal government, in which DNO Humans perform as well or better than their biological counterparts, and are much less likely to run afoul of ethical problems and conflicts of interest.
  54. We find it regrettable that none of the candidates pursuing the mayor’s office has seriously considered this step, which would enormously increase the efficiency and responsiveness of municipal government.
  55. We find this failure one more data point in our hypothesis that there is no meaningful difference among the candidates, and, as pointed out above, regard this lack of difference as a valid reason for expressing our desire to apply for a full accounting of information regarding the consequences of filing a Notice of Intent.
  56. Because we find our point adequately argued in the previous fifty-five sentences, we will devote the next forty-three (because of the semicolon) to a litany of suggestions for improvement of civic life and governance.
  57. This is the greatest city in the history of human civilization, and it is the responsibility of the polis to seek ways in which it can be made even better.
  58. We call for abolishment of the popular and ironic slang term “Dinos” as it is used to refer to Humans of Distributed Network Origin, on the grounds that its evocation of the pejorative epithet dinosaur is demeaning to their incorrigible individuality and nature as a parallel and equally valid stage in the development of humanity.
  59. The term AI, short for artificial intelligence, though outdated and unreflective, is nevertheless free of such biases and has been found to be a preferable alternative.
  60. For this reason, our family uses that term whenever the full nomenclature “Human of Distributed Network Origin” is found unwieldy.
  61. As an alternative, when “AI” seems flippant, the compromise coinage “DNO Human” has been, and will continue to be, preferred.
  62. This consensus was reached in consultation among all family members, with children accorded an equal vote due to their fuller investment in a future they will inhabit long after their parents’ lifespans, however enhanced by current and future developments, have concluded.
  63. We wish the relevant authorities to recall that some years ago, our city began its transformation under a leadership mandate to become the City of the Future, and now that a form of this envisioned future has become our present, we must not lose sight of this mandate.
  64. The City of the Future must tolerate none of the failings and shortcomings of cities and civilizations past.
  65. What emerges from any committed analysis of ideas of the City of the Future is an impression that the City of the Future is never fully achieved, and forever only sought for.
  66. This seeking is what defines the City of the Future.
  67. The slate of candidates available to the polis in the current election has utterly failed to demonstrate a commitment to seeking, and instead evinces a meek investment in the status quo.
  68. The unpredictable and poorly controlled incidence of rainfall in our precinct is one example of this.
  69. A DNO Human would do a much better job of regulating municipal meteorology than does the current biological human leadership, which is running unchallenged to continue its tenure.
  70. We call for a City-wide assessment of the ways in which DNO Humans would be more effective stewards of City resources, and an aggressive implementation of such policies where they are found to improve upon the existing state of municipal services.
  71. We call for a thorough re-examination of the ways in which the City’s environmental, climatological, economic, information, and social policies contribute to the quest for the next becoming of the City of the Future.
  72. This call has been circulated to all subscribers of our popular programs in children’s cookery, intermediate saxophone, and sexual experimentation.
  73. The authority to which we are addressing this letter will in all likelihood receive similar communications from a number of our subscribers.
  74. We wish to declare that despite our solicitation of expression of common views, at no time did we suggest that continued provision of our popular content would be dependent on our subscribers expressing such views or conveying them to the relevant City authorities.
  75. We make this declaration in order to differentiate our activity from the brazen political gamesmanship engaged in by the three potential “guests” who wished to use our popular content to further their guerrilla political candidacies.
  76. Should the processing daemon at the Central Civic Authority be unable to distinguish between these two forms of political engagement, we request that the entirety of our petition be directed to a human, either biological or of Distributed Network Orgin, who will be able to assess it fairly and fully.
  77. We are aware that the previous sentence will only be read in the event that its request has already been honored, which will probably mean that its motivating concern was misplaced, and it need not have been written.
  78. It is our profound hope that the same is not true of the rest of our communication, which is born out of real and pressing concerns, and is meant to propose real and transformative solutions.
  79. As I wrote the previous sentence, it began to rain again.
  80. It was not scheduled to rain in our precinct again until Thursday.
  81. We consider this further proof of the City’s failure under the leadership of humans of biological origin, and of the political system which they continue to dominate at the expense of potentially more effective and progressive leadership driven by DNO Humans.
  82. My son declares his unwillingness to continue providing saxophone content until the meteorological situation is fully assessed and corrected.
  83. I have not encouraged him in this decision, but as a father I am heartened at his investment in a political process that has failed him so utterly.
  84. The leak in our kitchen roof has nothing to do with the origin of this complaint, although it is a well-known fact that the actions of the Central Civic Authority have contributed to the outrageous rates charged by licensed contractors in the areas of home repair and network administration.
  85. As of this writing, our family will continue to provide Kidz in the Kitchen.
  86. The continued provision of sexual experimentation content will to some extent depend on the emotional and psychological well-being of the principals in that content’s provision.
  87. Said emotional and psychological well-being is in question at this moment, due to meteorological irregularities, which are known to affect human emotions, and a pervading sense that while our family performs its civic duties, the City is not performing its duties to us.
  88. It will be clear, we hope, how this continued malfeasance on the part of City meteorological authorities strengthens our petition to explore any and all options with respect to civic engagement, including the pursuit of a Notice of Intent not to vote in upcoming elections.
  89. In a spirit of good faith, we will, as a family, endeavor to convince our son that he should continue to provide saxophone content.
  90. The final decision, however, will be his.
  91. We have been in communication with a number of Humans of Distributed Network Origin, who are fully supportive of the sentiments expressed in previous sentences of this petition.
  92. At their request, we have not included their identities, although we have secured their permission to characterize them as “representing a broad range of occupations, social strata, and roles within the informational architecture and civic ecology of the City.”
  93. Their reticence to disclose their identities provides ample evidence of the degree to which DNO Humans feel marginalized in the life of the City despite their critical and necessary role in the function of nearly all civic authorities and bureaus.
  94. Central Civic Authority ignores discontent such as that expressed in the preceding sentences at its peril.
  95. This sentiment is not expressed as a threat, but as an acknowledgment of the deep feeling among the polis as a whole that the City of the Future has taken the passage of time as an excuse to pretend that the future is already here.
  96. That is not the case, can never be the case, and must never be assumed to be the case.
  97. It has stopped raining.
  98. We are nevertheless committed to this course of action, and hope that Central Civic Authority or one of its representatives will contact us regarding our questions, both on the topics of the Notice of Intent and the status of the City considered more broadly.
  99. We remain committed to the ideals of the City, and those of the future, and hope that this petition is taken in the spirit in which it was intended.

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Alex Irvine

Alex Irvine. A middle-aged white guy wearing a blue and orange winter coat, leaning against basalt columns.

Alex Irvine’s original fiction includes Anthropocene Rag, Buyout, The Narrows, Mystery Hill, A Scattering of Jades, and several dozen short stories. He has also written graphic novels and comics (The Comic Book Story of Baseball, The Far Side of the Moon, Daredevil Noir), games (Marvel Avengers Alliance, Space Punks, The Walking Dead: Road to Survival), and a variety of licensed projects including the best-selling artifactual “metanovel” New York Collapse. Originally from Ypsilanti, Michigan, he lives in South Portland, Maine. Find out more at or on Twitter @alexirvine.