121

After a last, convulsive bout of childishness, humanity finally grew up. The huge red warning sign, marking their system off-limits, was turned off.

Just south of Jupiter’s equator rages the Great Red Spot, a storm that could swallow several Earth-sized planets. First seen in the 1800s, the Great Red Spot is one of the most recognisable features of our galaxy. Yet,  this Great Red Spot may soon become the Great Red Circle Memory, as NASA’s planetary scientists observe that the spot is rapidly shrinking. Inspired by this shrinking storm, O. Westin weaves it into a coming of age for Earth. Could the disappearance of the Great Red Spot signal the end of our adolescence? // Alex Massey

//O. Westin (@MicroSFF) has written thousands of seed-sized science fiction and fantasy stories on Twitter since 2013.//

120

On that wintry afternoon, my date peered up at the cloudless sky and asked, “What’s the umbrella for?” “Just wait,” I said. We passed beneath the branches of an American Elm. It was raining iguanas.

As frigid Arctic-like temperatures circulated around parts of the United States and Canada at the start of 2018, Christopher A. Jos found himself shivering with inspiration as he read of frozen iguana’s falling out of trees in south Florida. Hold your scepticism – as the mercury approaches zero (and even drops below it) certain reptiles and amphibians become immobilised. They may look dead but as the temperature warms up, so will these critters! Combining the natural ability of the North American wood frog to survive winter despite being frozen solid with this news of a sudden iguana rainfall, Christopher creates the perfect first date for a speculative science fiction writer. 

//Christopher A. Jos is a teacher who has also spent time working for both municipal and provincial parks services. Find him at https://christopherajos.wordpress.com, or on Twitter @ChristopheAJos.//

119

She awoke, surrounded by stopped cars on the 110 Freeway.
“Moira, this isn’t the fastest way to Phoenix.”
Letters appeared across the base of the windshield:
ʏᴏᴜ ғᴇʟʟ ᴀsʟᴇᴇᴘ. ɪ ᴡᴀs ʟᴏɴᴇʟʏ.

The current goal for engineers integrating Artificial Intelligence into self-driving cars  is to create a fully autonomous vehicles (Level 5 of AI). These cars will need a level of human-like cognition, not only to make decisions, but to try to understand humans and out-think other drivers and pedestrians. Researchers working at Oxford University on the Oxbotica project Selenium are training AI’s to ask questions like “Where am I? What’s around me? What do I do next?” Inspired by these developments in AI, writer Cria Cow asks the ultimate question: is it possible that a fairly human AI, trained to interpret human social behaviour, could eventually become a social creature itself? And what would happen if it did? 

//Cow @criacow writes about random things, works in IT automation, and
hopes to retire before the computers take over and make us obsolete.//

118

“Park in front of Hussein’s,” I told the car.
“It doesn’t exist,” it replied.
“I can see it, there.”
“Sorry, destination not found. As you can see on the map, there’s nothing there.”

When I moved to Manaus, I realized that many places weren’t listed on Google Maps, and there’s no sure way to list them. And Google listings are, like anything online, vulnerable to tinkering (and corporate whim), which can fail restaurants, for exampleIf driverless cars become commonplace, maps provided by internet-based, monopoly-like companies can render people and places invisible. // Statement by the Author

With the potential for misuse for Facebook and other social media already well known, how long before Rodrigo’s suggestion becomes reality? At Story Seed Vault, we think it’s far closer than this sci-fi piece might suggest…. // Alex Massey

//Rodrigo Assis Mesquita is a mostly strong-willed SFF writer from Brazil.//

117

Born in the heart of a star, a cure for his daughter—and the Resurrectionist’s own salvation—spiderwebbed through the decaying corpse.

Promising steps have been made using gold nanoparticles as agents in cancer therapy. When I read that researchers at Northwestern University recently developed a technique pairing gold nanoparticles with DNA to fabricate materials that can bend light, I wondered at the future demand of this element. Could gold be so scarce that bodies of past cancer patients will be sought for the promise of life threading through their cells? And perhaps, for the lucky grave-robber, there might just be enough left over to fabricate an invisibility cloak to vanish into the night.

//In a last-ditch attempt at surviving a gold-driven future, Bijou Lin is out canvassing the five-mile radius of a rainbow’s end.//

116

2018: The U.S. government shuts down, a crisis that has been averted since AIs won a Congress majority in 2032. ~ “Today in History,” entry for Jan 20

I wrote this on the first day of the U.S. government shutdown, which was triggered by lawmakers’ failure to reach an agreement on federal funding. Amidst the overwhelming coverage of this political crisis, my newsfeed offered one potential ray of hope: AIs appear to be better at compromise than humans. Will there come a time when we would be better served by leaving the running of government to our machine overlords? // Statement by the Author

//Bijou Lin is binge-watching the Smithsonian National Zoo’s panda cams. Because in a few days, she might not be able to.//
 

115

The Freezers hacked the soletas, positioned them over the Indian Ocean. The thermohaline circulation shut down. By the time they caught them it was too late. The ice age had begun.

One part science, one part fiction, this story by Wim Vanderbawhede falls within a sub-genre of speculative fiction called ‘ecopunk’. Inspired by his work with Prof. Hameed on building a simulation for the connection between the Indian Ocean Dipole and the El Nino Southern Oscillation, Wim weaves together climate science and fictional technology (1) to chilling affect. Given the connection between the IOD and El-Nino already affects much of Australia’s agricultural industry, is such a story truly villainous in a world slowly warming?

(1) The soleta is a disk in space to reduce received sunlight as a way to counteract global warming, inspired by technology in “The Night Sessions” by Ken MacLeod.

//Wim Vanderbauwhede (@wim_v12e) is a computing scientist working on acceleration of climate simulations.//