‘Submersible’ SerialStory

Symbiotechnogenesis shown in fish

I am writing a serial story called ‘Submersible’ that is unique to Stacker News. Here is a link to part #1.

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Here are parts one and two. For more, you’ll need to visit Stacker.News.

Submersible, Part 1 – Oceanside

Mr. and Mrs. Kevin and Rebecca Boseman were on the smooth marble walkway clicking toward the centerpiece mansion of Oceanside Estates. “Beautiful,” she remarked of it, and of the manicured landscaping, and of the modern, low-profile architecture ahead. “You too,” he replied.

Rebecca was a grounded woman, given her stature; her formals were not entirely comfortable for her. A mostly unsocial workaholic, Kevin strode aside her with a posture chosen to match the occasion. Like the other guests to the billionaire’s island, they felt fortunate to have been invited, but were curious and skeptical that no itinerary had been revealed.

The Bosemans had arrived just after a famous vocalist and aspiring starlet named Melody Moods had begun working the crowd inside. Melody’s voice filled the lawn through the front door as they approached, supported by ambient sounds of a socialite crowd.

“Ah, the Bosemans. A delight to welcome your arrival. Please,” the doorman said as he beckoned for Mrs. Boseman’s fashionable overcoat. “My name is Silas, and I am at your service. Please feel welcome, and free to introduce yourselves to our other well respected guests.”

“Good evening Mr. and Mrs. Boseman,” continued a woman dressed similarly to Silas, standing just behind him. “May I introduce you to Mr. and Mrs. Pelican?” she offered, as Silas turned to ready himself for the next attendee growing larger on the lawn.

“The Pelicans began with resorts on the East Coast of the United States,” explained the second host, “…and now hold many properties on coasts throughout the world. And The Bosemans, of course, are world famous for their media enterprises in Canada, and own both major sports franchises in Winnipeg.”

The couples greeted each other warmly and with mutual civility, though they were meeting for the first time. “We are familiar!” remarked Mr. Stephen Pelican with a smile. “As are we,” Rebecca responded, “… with Pelican Sands, that is.”

“My name is Melissa,” spoke the slender beauty as she guided the Bosemans and the Pelicans forward graciously, “Silas and I represent Frederic Forenza’s Estate. He expects that your every request will be met to the best of our ability. It is our hope that you will feel free, at any time, to summon us and our team with this remote signalling device. Please understand that no request is too large, and that none is too small.” They each received an item that resembled the vehicle keyfobs surrendered to valet.

“Refreshments are aside the staircase, and the restrooms are just beyond,” Melissa said, while gesturing that way. “When the bulk of our expected guests have arrived, we will announce further arrangements and scheduling to all. Until then, please make yourselves comfortable, enjoy the company, and explore the property freely.”

The experience was extraordinary, even to these who were accustomed to lavish grandeur. The group exchanged grateful recognition that as representative of the estate, Melissa had exhibited competence and aptitude to match the culture and care in its every detail.

Melissa held her arm out expectantly, but patiently, to usher the couples into the Great Room, and upon comfortable conclusion returned to greet new visitors to the Forenza Estate. An equally well-spoken permutation of her introductory spiel could be heard behind them as the Bosemans and the Pelicans moved together toward the Great Room, and the social action within.

The room before them was an arena split by a giant staircase surrounded by mingling guests — dining, observing, or holding court. The couples’ marvelled at the artisan craftworks of this Great Room, reminiscent of the grand museums of Europe, or the mosques of the East.

Uniquely styled angle patterns that spoke of geometric truisms buttressed tasteful swirls of artistic entropy, in unassuming tones, trimming countless cut-ins, apses, and bays. Paintings and prints adorned the facets, while sculptures, statues, busts, and vases were illuminated within niches and recessions. Protrusions, projections, and architectural outcroppings were scattered about the room, with dimensional showcases and artistic light to accent them.

“Forenza’s commissions,” said a young man in a dark blue suit and loud yellow accoutrements, overheard by the Boseman/Pelican foursome. “He pays the artists to create something new, just for him. And they come here to do it. The artist signs a non-disclosure and no photos are ever taken. You have to be here to even see it. These pieces are unique to the world… this is all unique… it’s all one-of-a-kind.”

Kevin Boseman moved to introduce himself to the young man and his acquaintance while motioning to the rest of his group to carry on. “Engineered pricelessness,” he mused, “It’s like printing money out of thin air, except just a bit more proof-of-work.”

Submersible, Part 2 – One Bite At A Time

The sharply dressed young man turned to Kevin Boseman and brightened with interest at his comment. “Exactly. It costs Forenza less to commission the art than it will be worth the moment it is completed. If it were ever to hit auction among the general public, it would fetch far more than an identical piece created for any other reason, just because of the Oceanside origin story. The icing on the cake? Art retains its value through tough times and good.”

“To the extent there is disposable income among the rich,” challenged Boseman.

“Or among the museums, or the foundations for the museums… or the grants to them. Or their charitable donor trusts!” The squat one widened and opened his stance. “And keep in mind it is a global market. It’s hard to imagine conditions where there are no buyers to be found anywhere, even when locally there are none. The cushion of additional value Forenza’s commissions carry insulates him from any diminished market value caused by economic downturn.”

“Pecunia collocare… sui generis,” said the peaceful, pensive man, somewhat younger and taller than the first. He’d been surveying the room with what might have been disinterest, but evidently he’d also been absorbing the conversation. Kevin wondered whether the younger man spoke his language at all, when the polyglot enunciated clearly in accented English: “Placing money in something unique. Unique placements of money.”

The squat one continued. “That’s how Forenza secures his wealth through time. The market for his commissioned art will be there when needed. And if it isn’t? We all have larger problems.”

“I see, I agree,” said Kevin Boseman. “But he must physically secure it.” He pointed at security cameras in two corners. “That comes with cost, whereas other investments may outsource security to a custodian.”

“Hence the island,” he beamed, and straightened his bright collar. “The ocean is his first defense.” He gave his hand to conclude their playfully delayed introduction, and guilefully met eyes. “Thaddeus Tilney,” he said, palms up, “… and you, of course, are the great Kevin Boseman! I’m a fan, I’m a student… your University Alternatives courses, among others.” Thaddeus turned, “This is Thiago Vasquez, a fellow software designer.”

Thiago shifted focus to shake hands with Boseman respectfully, nodding quietly with attentive and observant eyes, then drifted back to the eye level showpiece he had been examining. A nearby computer parts assemblage had wires of various colors threaded through circuited components, all surrounding an apple inside.

Perhaps the apple was a criminal, Thiago thought, perhaps I should bind the wires more tightly. He took a step around to view it through another side of the clear encasement. Perhaps the apple is the caged bird, or perhaps a persecuted prisoner. Another step. Perhaps the apple should not rot in here. Perhaps Thiago Vasquez should save it from its fate, and after a final turn for the view from behind… Perhaps I should eat it.

“Thank you, Thaddeus,” Kevin said. “I am aware of you too, but not the details of your software, not exactly.” Boseman pivoted inquisitively. “Thiago, I’m afraid that I’m not yet acquainted with your work at all.”

Upon invitation Thiago Vasquez sprang to life, a new man. Punctuating charismatically, “Mr. Boseman, I am a life-long hobbyist – that is my vocation. I principally follow my curiosity. I spend much time contributing to open projects, which are known to pay well in everything but fiat. For my financial security, I have consulted for commercial interests, I collaborate with those who value such things as I, and I’ve sold software applications of my own. Mostly, however, I invest wisely.” He paused, shifted a half-octave, and added humbly, “So far.”

Thaddeus went next, a half-beat past, explaining, “My software leverages AI to calculate the most efficient path that a vehicle should take given a practically unlimited set of options. Several private manufacturers contracted to license it, and pay me for the privelege to this day. Several state governments have authorized contracts for licensing as well… but I have just this year terminated all plans to renew beyond current commitments. I am instead in negotiations for a fire sale of my software to a radio controlled toy car manufacturer.” His description begged an explanation that he was happy to provide: “My other projects are far too interesting for me to hang onto this old thing. It’s just not worth it anymore.”

“Not worth it? How so?” Kevin was curious. “It sounds ideal, and residual. Toy cars?”

“I was young, and I didn’t ‘see the road ahead,'” he air quoted ironically. “After contracting with civic planners with ostensibly pedestrian motives, my software was immediately repurposed for undisclosed military and police functions. In some cases, I am morally opposed. So I will sell to any good aim. Someone will write similar software, they probably already have. Someone will win the contract. It won’t be me. I’d rather sleep well. Besides, I’m a bit short of cash.”

Kevin laughed as he braced the man’s principle with left hand on right shoulder, ushering a moment of mutual agreement. “Good on you Thaddeus. That’s worth a lot. Thiago, tell me, what sort of projects are your focus?”

“They are so varied I cannot summarize. I add value to anything I can. In open software, I build out tools to be more helpful for myself and what I want to accomplish personally. While I’m immersed in the codebase, I inevitably find that I can also make it more robust, or more efficient, or more user-friendly, or, if I may, more elegant. Specifically?” Thiago’s hands sought example as he momentarily went distant in thought. “I recently translated documentation for a video codec into Paraguayan Guarani.”

“Demand for new languages means new contributors!” said Thaddeus Tilney, “Are you involved with students of coding in your native Argentina?”

“No, my daughter must learn to bingewatch my old Torrents of ‘Friends.'”

to be continued

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