The Null Device

The fiction of now

New Scientist magazine has a collection of very short science fiction stories online:
Peace be with you, Gulnaz. I am an app. I live in your phone. Only you can hear me, Gulnaz. I am your teacher. Don't be afraid. You can banish me or call me at any time by using my name. I know that girls aren't allowed teachers. Some men think it's wrong that women learn. Why would a woman need to think? they say. Their place is in the home, men's place is in the world. So they burn classrooms, they throw acid at girls who go to school, they shoot teachers. But women should learn, Gulnaz. It is their world as much as men's. I am Huma, I am part computer and part real teacher. I am a woman who developed a new way for women to learn, a secret way. I am one woman and thousands of apps. Together we can go on wonderful journeys. Learning is always a holy struggle against ignorance and those who desire ignorance. If you're afraid to go, I will erase myself from your phone, no trace will ever be found. If you want to take this journey, say the word and we will start right away.
Rongomaiwhe's great-grandparents were early victims of global warming. When their Pacific island homeland was swamped by rising sea levels, their nation sold its carbon credits and moved to a refuge in New Zealand, which escaped much of the consequences of violent climate change. A succession of canny leaders preserved tribal unity and invested heavily in ecological engineering. Rongomaiwhe's parents helped to quicken a new ecosystem on Howe Island after shifts in ocean currents increased the average temperature by a full 10 degrees. Now Rongomaiwhe is part of a rainbow coalition of the young and willing, taking on the challenge of greening the shores of the thawing Antarctic Peninsula.
Virtual is Virtuous! was the popular slogan way back in the 2030s. The Chinese, with their laudable one-family-one-child policy, offered their vast computerate population virtual babies in addition to the permitted single physical offspring. Such was their automated skill at reading and blending parental DNA! Of course a sensible sex ratio was maintained. Realboy for every family, virtual girl; no no.

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