I wish to complain about this singularity ...

Charlie Stross (charlie@antipope.org)
Fri, 18 Dec 1998 12:50:46 +0000

My apologies if you've already seen this. If not, enjoy.


_CONTEXT: in net discussion of the expected (by some) Vingean Singularity and the optimists who keep calculating earlier dates for this, most recently around 2015, KEN MACLEOD said: `I can see it coming: the Millennium Bug hits the Singularity.' SIMON BRADSHAW takes it from there...._

CYBERPUNK: Hello, I wish to register a complaint ... Hello?

SHOPKEEPER: Sorry, we're closing for a quick game of Quake II.

C: Never mind that, I wish to complain about a singularity what I purchased not half an hour ago from this very boutique.

S: Oh yes, the Vernor Vinge. What's wrong with it?

C: I'll tell you what's wrong with it. It's not Y2K compliant, that's what's wrong with it.

S: No, no, it needs upgrading.

C: Look, I know a non-Y2K-compliant singularity when I see one and I'm looking at one right now.

S: No, no sir, it's not non-compliant. It just needs the Plus Pack.

C: Plus Pack!?!

S: Yeah, remarkable singularity the Vernor Vinge, beautiful emergent phenomena.

C: The emergent phenomena don't enter into it -- it's not Y2K compliant.

S: No, no -- it's just in need of an upgrade.

C: All right then, if it needs an upgrade I'll give it one. [Shouts at singularity] Hello! I've got a nice FTL datalink for you when you Transcend, Mr Singularity!

S: [jogging singularity] There, it Transcended.

C: No it didn't. That was you Uplifting it.

S: I did not.

C: Yes, you did. [takes singularity and shouts at it] Hello Singularity
[bangs it against the counter] wake up! [throws it in the air and it
lands on the floor] Now that's what I call a non-Y2K-compliant singularity.

S: No, no, it's stuck in a strange attractor.

C: Look, I've had just about enough of this. That singularity is definitely not Y2K compliant. And when I bought it not half an hour ago, you assured me that its lack of technological phase change was due to it being tired and shagged out after downloading the complete book reviews of John Clute.

S: It's probably pining for the High Beyond.

C: Pining for the High Beyond, what kind of talk is that? Look, why did it interface to AOL when I got it home?

S: The Vernor Vinge prefers communicating via AOL. Beautiful singularity, lovely emergent phenomena.

C: Look, I took the liberty of examining this singularity, and I discovered that the only reason that it had appeared even remotely near the cutting edge of science fiction was because someone had nailed a copy of _Interzone_ to it.

S: Well of course a copy of _Interzone_ was nailed there. Otherwise it would muscle up to your neural pathways and _voom!_

C: Look matey [picks it up] this singularity wouldn't go _voom_ if I put the complete works of Greg Egan through it. It's bleeding demised.

S: It's not. It's pining.

C: It's not pining, it's passed on. This singularity is no more. It has ceased to be. It's expired and gone to meet its maker. This is a late singularity. It's a stiff. Bereft of life, it rests in peace. If you hadn't nailed it to an SF mag, it would be joining the Hugos on Dave Langford's mantelpiece. It's rung down the curtain and joined the choir invisible. This is an ex-singularity.

S: Well I'd better replace it then. [Rummages below the counter.] Sorry guv, we're right out of technological singularities.

C: I see. I see. I get the picture.

S: I've got a copy of Windows 98.

C: Is it Y2K compliant?

S: Not really, no....