In short, reporting has eaten my soul. But over reading week (and between two profile interviews I may or may not be doing in the morning) I'm doing my best to carve out chunks of time to start--hopefully finish--a story I plotted in part on a westbound train drifting its way from Scarborough to Union station. Toronto, by way of Oshawa.
Current working title is "arachnae.we." Title's a bastardization of the source code of the world's first psychiatric AI system--Arachnae--created as a software entity that's part medical encyclopedia, part inhumanly patient counselor, part curious and intuitive behaviorist.
Arachnae's creation couldn't have come sooner. A mental-health epidemic--the psypocalypse--is sweeping the globe, fueled by a thousand unresolved twenty-first century stresses. Burnout, disillusionment, and suicide have claimed hundreds of millions. Whole cities of people can't muster the willpower to leave their homes, let alone go to work, pay taxes, visit a corner store. Parts of civilization barely creep along--or have shut down entirely. Offices lie empty, theaters play sold-out shows to disillusioned sleep-deprived masses, thousands congregate in city centers to watch the world strain against the thoughts behind their eyes. Children jack into automated game servers or wander nearly-empty streets, unsure of how the billboards towering above could ever keep their promises.
If only the next generation pulled beyond this eclipse. It tried.
The World Health Organization, CAMH, Zeller Institute, and a myriad of agencies are lifting the worst sections of the world back onto their feet. But the treatment of whole populations is daunting--impossible to any degree resembling perfection. There aren't enough psychiatrists. There aren't enough doctors. Police forces find themselves running crisis intervention teams. Routine patrols are delegated to volunteer citizen's watches. Aid is needed.
So the Zeller Institute designed Arachnae.
They never expected it to work. Or lash out.
This could be anything from a lengthy short story (6,000 words+) to a full-length novel. Not sure what I want, or what the rest of the story will provide. I'm thinking somewhere around 15,000-25,000 or so. Writing this in part for a friend's anthology of modern-day kaiju fiction. This is my take on the genre--one I've never tried and barely read.
Sections may be posted here. Updates will occur at the very least. Depending on the length and reaction, I might extend it beyond the anthology. Might try and sell it as a novella. Stay tuned.