10 Stories About Technology
As part of our celebration of Short Story Month this year, we are studying the ways in which fiction grapples with technology—be it twitter, imagined futures populated by robots, or the unexpected power of the emoji. We would like to start our examination with a list of stories that tackle our relationship with tech. And what better way to read them then on the web? Here are ten stories that have definitely entered the information age, all available and waiting at your fingertips! Browse away.
“The Black Box” by Jennifer Egan
Technology is inextricably intertwined with communication, but how do we know if anyone is really listening? Here is a story about heroism, trust, and a very long data stream that documents the use of technology as espionage.
The winner of our Summer Short Story Award for New Writers, this piece effectively contrasts the (initial) silliness of emojis with the horror of sexual assault. Told from a younger sister’s point of view, she uses emojis as her own language to describe a confusing and changed world.
“Likes” by Sarah Shun-lien Bynum
Not all stories vilify technology, even when it is the most obvious disconnect between a father and his eleven-year-old daughter. He is constantly baffled by her Instagram account, and he doesn’t understand her social networks, but his willingness to soldier through his own bemusement is a lesson in true goodwill.
“Mika Model” by Paolo Bacigalupi
Paolo Bacigalupi has won both the Hugo and the Nebula awards, and it’s easy to see why. A detective is trying to decide if an android is human enough to be charged with murder, and the whole world says it isn’t. If you tell yourself something for long enough, can you ever truly come to believe it?
“Quantum Convention” by Eric Schlich
In a million different worlds, there must be a million different versions of yourself. Getting the chance to meet them might seem like an amazing windfall, but you’d better be prepared to face all of your failures, and all of your might-have-beens, and your eventual return to your own life.
“Rachel Reaches Out” by Ben Pester
Computers can incorrectly send messages without our knowledge, and it is a surreal feeling to see an email that is partially yours, and partially something other. There is more going on here than a computer glitch, however, and they say that the number one problem in these situations is an operator error.
“The Relive Box” by T.C. Boyle
Our lives are made up of a series of events, dimly recalled through our own imperfect memory, and perhaps it’s better that way. When technology allows us to relive our favorite moments, whenever we want, that’s a temptation that can prove too much to handle.
“Sal Wants to Sleep” by Serena Johe
Although sleep seems like nothing more than the absence of consciousness, it is actually a vital component of our lives, rejuvenating our minds and our bodies. When a young boy is unable to sleep, and he turns to movies, television, and radio to drown out the world, he is only postponing his eventual reckoning.
Our phones and laptops are connected through satellites and the internet, but even as an email arrives, it’s impossible for us to see its transmission. It’s a phenomenon that fits into any ghost story, especially when all the phones go out, and this story drags you along with a family who would like to return to civilization as soon as possible.
There is something wrong with Nathan’s life, but his emails, texts, and chat logs aren’t enough to solve the mystery. He’s plagued by his own erratic Twitter account, the disappearance of his girlfriend, and at the end of it all, even his personal horror story has been reduced to a Buzzfeed clickbait article.
by Kimberly Guerin