Archive for category stories

The singularity is nigh

The singularity is, by one definition, the first point at which an artificial intelligence equivalent to that of a human is created. There are several ways this could happen, but there is one that I find particularly interesting and that I which I envisioned in a kind of post-apocalyptic story some time ago. Recently, I learnt that a rudimentary first step in realising this future has been taken by science: scientists have mapped the brain of a worm and used it to control a robot.

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A story for those away from home this Christmas

I have spent two Christmases far away from home and I have to confess these were not the best Christmases I ever had. The topsy-turvy weather (I come from a country with a warm Christmas), not having my parents’ food, not having my parents, all contributed to this. This year I am once again at home and I will be celebrating Christmas with my family. I am content. But having spent time in the Netherlands, and having appreciated their strange Christmas traditions, I wondered what the reverse might feel like. That is how my latest story, Not an Afrikaner, was born.

Not an Afrikaner is the story of a Dutch man married to a South African woman and living in South Africa. He has to try to explain the strange custom of Zwarte Piet (I wrote about the controversy of this tradition here), face his unaccommodating and racist mother-in-law, and the unseasonably warm weather. This is a story for anyone who has to spend Christmas away from the country of his birth, but who can nevertheless learn to appreciate the otherness of his new home.

This is going to be in many ways a sad Christmas for South Africa with our great leader, Madiba, having just passed away. However, in the wake of his passing, I believe we will come to a greater understanding the of the extraordinary qualities of South Africa. This is something to celebrate.

 

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A new story and reflections on getting published

I am delighted to announce that this month (November) you can find a little story I wrote – it’s called  Carie’s Way – in the ezine Penumbra. The theme of the issue is gaslight fantasy, which means, as I understand it, that it is set in Victorian times (particularly in England) when streets were still lit with gaslamps. My particular story is set in colonial Cape Town, ruled by the English. An English girl named Carie finds there are sinister forces at work in the very heart of the Empire. Will she have the courage to strike at them when given the chance? It’s a simple story, but hopefully a fun one too.

For an amateur writer like myself this is, of course, a prize: to have one’s work published, even if it is only a short story in a ezine with a small circulation. I feel rather chuffed. It’s almost like being elevated from the rank of “writer” to “author” (it’s not quite that).  Importantly, it’s a first step. A crucial building block of my, until-now non-existent, reputation as a writer.  If you read the story, feel free to give me feedback (positive or negative).

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A story in Cape Town’s future

It has been some time since I have written a story. Here is an excerpt from a new story, called ConnectedIt is about a future Cape Town where implants are available that can connect people’s minds. But of course it’s not really about that: actually it’s about social issues that present themselves in the present, about what forms of love are acceptable and which are not. Read it with an open mind.

Jakkie and Jolande stood together in the large hall, facing the worship leaders. They played instruments, but the sound fed only into the implant network. To an unconnected observer all would be silent, except for the occasional audible exultation that slipped through. The siblings clasped their hands and lifted them in the air, their eyes closed, beatific expressions on their faces. Others soon joined, forming rows of worshippers, hands clasped and raised in the air, declaring the victory of Christ.

from Connected.(link disabled)

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A useless power

In superhero stories powers are always tremendous and obviously useful. I wondered, how would it feel to have a power which seemed utterly useless, and what if you could not even see its effect? So I wrote a little story, a slice-of-life, about an otherwise ordinary guy, who happens to have just such an ability. It’s called Colourblind.

(Disclaimer: I do not claim to be an expert on colour blindness. I may have gotten some crucial details wrong. Please forgive me if I did and please tell me what I got wrong, so next time I can improve.)

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Being a mathematician in Amsterdam

I have been studying mathematics in Amsterdam for a nearly year now. I felt I needed to record my experiences of Amsterdam in story form. However, I have also wanted to write something about mathematics, about how mathematicians see mathematics, and why they do it, in a form that even non-mathematicians can understand. I tried to do both these things in a little story I wrote. It is heavily based on my own experiences in Amsterdam, of studying mathematics and of interacting with  mathematicians both in the Netherlands and in South Africa.

The story is divided into six lessons, each a snapshot of David’s life, where David’s thoughts, recollections and interactions with others give some insight (I hope) into the mind and life of a mathematician.  I have entitled it “The lives of the mathematicians.”

Here is  a link to the story. Let me know if you like (or if you hate it, or have any other kind of experience).

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