F is for Future
Vast numbers of writers love to speculate about the future in their fiction and even I have made a brief foray into the unknown in a short story co-written with my wonderful son. Surveillance is set some time in the near future, in an uncertain world where knowledge is valued rather differently than we might expect. Genius is seen as a threat by the controlling powers who fear for their authority over the masses. Everyone is monitored in a surveillance society, including young children who display extraordinary intelligence. Children such as Harrison Avery who, at the age of six, already shows unusual talents.
"Right then, son, let's see what we need to cover today, shall we?" Brandon said cheerfully, logging into the program.
"I'd like to do something different today, Daddy," Harrison said in a polite little voice.
Brandon glanced from the loaded program to the child. "Oh yes? What did you have in mind?"
"A machine. I'd like to make a machine."
Brandon spun around in his chair, his full attention now on the boy. "Do you have any specific machine in mind?"
Harrison nodded, full of confidence and threw his father a disarming smile.
"Yes. I've thought all about it. I want to make a machine to measure people."
Brandon's mind was like a well-oiled machine in its workings as it now ran through the permutations of Harrison's words and tried to second-guess what the boy had in his mind.
"What exactly is it you want to measure?" He enquired at length.
"I want to measure people's truth," Harrison replied, making the words sound so ridiculously simple and straightforward that Brandon laughed in spite of himself.
"And where exactly did this idea come from?"
"From Uncle Russ."
"What?" Brandon asked sharply. "What does Uncle Russ have to do with it?"
Harrison wriggled his small frame into a more comfortable position on his chair so that he could sit back, which he now did, resting his arms on the armrests although, of course, these were too high for him and lent him a certain comical appearance, like any small child emulating an adult.
"Uncle Russ couldn't tell when I was speaking the truth or telling a lie. He couldn't work out the difference and that meant he didn't ask the right questions. And the twins don't speak the truth and they hurt each other by telling lies. Telling lies makes people angry or sad. So I want to make a machine so that people can measure each other and see when they are telling the truth or telling lies. That way they won't have to be angry or hurt any more."