Into The Night
The story of an old man trying to deal with a shiny new future that comes with every option except an undo feature.
I think it was Bruce Sterling who wrote that the future was already here; it just wasn’t distributed widely enough. Or some such thing. That isn’t my experience however. For many people, the future is all that is available. I have seen my older relatives struggle with futures they hadn’t ordered, and having tried, they don’t like, and having rejected, they cannot return. Sometimes the conflicts are as simple as software that’s utterly indifferent to the needs of old people. Sometimes the conflicts are subtler, for example having to live with people who seem happy to be without origins. One longs for Tamil, for rain, for mud and the jeweled beads of water on the wife’s beloved face, once she was so young, where exactly one wonders, did everything start to go so wrong?
Irrespective of whether this is just sentimental nonsense, it’s true the shiny high-tech futures of the hard SF crowd have little interest in those who have little interest in shiny high-tech futures. Fair enough, one might think. Except that we’re only dismissing some seventy or eighty percent of the world’s population. It makes for a fiction with mostly gears for a soul.
To the extent success and failure mean anything in art, Into The Night turned out to be one of my more successful stories. It’s been reprinted several times, translated into French, Chinese and Romanian, and those whom I love, loved the story. It is one of the few stories I don’t particularly feel like rewriting.
Some debts: Raja Rao’s Kanthapura suggested the representation of Ramaswamy Iyer’s voice. I disagree with Neil Postman’s ideas but his books and essays have had a greater influence on my ideas than I like to admit. I also owe a debt to my father-in-law. Rest in peace, old man.