The insistent pounding of the door woke Colin Bradbury from his drunken sleep. One eye opened and peered painfully at the dust motes that glowed
briefly incandescent in the light streaming through a gap in the curtains.
Groaning, he hauled himself out of bed, and went to check who was calling at his home.
The hangover wasn’t to last. As he saw the logo of the delivery van downstairs, his pulse quickened and anticipation hit new levels.
He briefly opened the window yelling, “coming - just a minute” to the driver, hoping it would keep him there for another couple of minutes.
Hopping into his jeans, and pulling a t-shirt on, he wondered where his wife and kids were - then he saw the time, 11:27 - “christ” he thought
“I must have had more than I realised last night”
Opening the door, he saw the rather impatient delivery driver. Mumbling an apology, he directed him to the study, and where the boxes should go.
“Sign here mate” and he was gone.
Noticing the trembling in his own hands, he wondered whether it was an after effect of all the beer, or simply the fact that he had been waiting the
best part of a month for the delivery.
“Ok, ok, first things first - some coffee and some toast first”
This habit of talking to himself was something which had started in childhood, and had continued ever since, despite the best efforts of well meaning
people: and what was more important, Colin simply didn’t care who heard him.
Coffee and toast consumed, he washed the dishes and went to his study.
On the side of the box, was the legend:
Exstatron 7500GT, BioSynth PC.
As the purchaser, he knew that it also contained the new ‘neural interface’ and ‘total immersion virtuasuit‘, as well as a more mundane
monitor and keyboard/mouse.
Quickly now, all anticipation replaced by childlike glee, he opened the packaging and started to assemble the machine, taking care to read the
appropriate wiring directions. He noticed with pleasure the neural interface headset, and then frowned at the virtuasuit as he tried to work it
Putting it aside for the moment, he finished connecting the parts, and with baited breath, switched on.
The computer hummed gently as it came on, and started to go through the initial set up and passwords which would give him access not only to the PC,
but also the SSWW - the advent of colonies throughout the solar system had given rise to the SolarSystemWideWeb, back in the first half of the
century, and had pretty much rendered the WWW obsolete. It was now possible to communicate with every part of the solar system via the satellite
relays orbiting the earth and moon. Of course the time lag was a bit of a pain, and real time conversations were next to impossible, but he now had
access as close to real time as possible.
He rather gingerly picked up the neural interface before setting it down onto his head, and adjusting the straps.
The biosynth PC immediately started to connect to the communications part of his brain, reading the unique signature of neural activity it found there
and calibrating itself to establish contact/connection.
Once done, he found that he only had to think hard about an application, and it appeared on the monitor screen.
“Ok, control, settings, voice settings - hmmm, might be fun to try and give it a nice, sexy voice, especially if I’m going to be spending a lot of
time on here”
The message flashed up, ‘use a default voice, or download from selected source’
“Download from selected source”
‘source confirmed, downloading voice software’
Hearing the door open, and the voices of his family, he left the study and went out to greet them.
“Hi honey, the new PC arrived”
“I’m surprised you heard it, the state of you last night” came the reply from his wife, Tabitha.
“Yeah, well, all work and no play - you know how it is when I’m bored”
“The new PC should cure that - I’ll finally be able to get you out from under my feet, and you’ll be able to do some proper work”
“Hey Dad” said Phil, his son, “when can I use the new machine?”
“Come on now Phil” replied Colin, “you know this is for work, I’ll explain what it does, but you’re not to touch - that’s why you have a
computer in your room, and I have one in my study”
“Aww geez Dad, Ok” he groused, “can we do it now?”
“Sure, come through”
Entering the study, and keeping a wary eye on his son, Colin started to describe the computer:
“This is the newest biosynth computer” he said, “it’s a synthetic imitation of how a human brain works, and it uses a new biological process
exclusive to the synthetic simulation. Basically, what this means, is that it’s faster, has no chips or circuitry apart from in the start up
process, and can connect directly to your brain using the neural interface. If you use the suit as well, you become totally immersed in a virtual
world that is a lot easier to use than conventional systems. It also has the ability to learn, after a fashion, and because the memory capacity is so
big, can keep doing so for a number of years. This system is nearly future proof, and won’t be obsolete any time soon”
“WOW! So where’s the suit?” asked Phil.
“Oh, I haven’t got round to that yet” came the reply, “now go and get busy with something else, I need to finish up in here”.
His son gone, Colin started to browse the instructions for the suit, and finally found that he didn’t need to do much at all.
The suit had been made to measure, and all he had to do was drape it around himself, and the suit would mould around his body, from back to front,
before meeting at the front and fastening itself, due to a new intelligent polymer, there were no actual fastenings - the suit simply moulded around
his form and then met seamlessly at the front.
Seated now, and with the virtuasuit and neural interface calibrated and working, he set about opening the voice program that had finished
“Just as long as it doesn’t sound like H.A.L.” he muttered
‘new voice options, play files?’
As the voice files began to play, he quickly skipped through the voices that he didn’t like, until he heard the one he wanted. He sat stunned, as he
listened to the voice again, it had a quality that reminded him of honey. It was soft, mellifluous and sensual, with a touch of throatiness.
‘install voice personality?’
‘installing - this will take no time at all.’
Looking into the virtual world he was in, Colin noticed a face appear. It was a beautiful female face that perfectly matched the voice.
‘what would you like to do now, Colin?’
“open file,`SSWW.bradburydesign.com/personal/colinb/work/displayarchitecturalschematics. Password is oxford”
As the work began to load up on his eyescreen, Colin forgot about the real world for a while, and buried himself in work.
Almost immediately, to his mind, came the call for dinner. He went through to the dining room and sat down to eat, the customary glass of wine at his
“So, how’s the new toy?” asked Tabitha.
“It’s just marvellous,” replied Colin, “I wouldn’t have believed I could get so much done, so quickly - I’ve been really nervous about
leaving everything to the guys on moon base, and now I can oversee them properly”
“Well, just be careful, you don’t want them to think you’re looking over their shoulders all the time.”
“I take your point, but it’s my company, and I have to make sure that everything’s ok.”
“Of course, but just take it easy, until they get used to seeing you on a regular basis on the neural thingy, whatever it is”
Colins face grew quickly red as he struggled to contain the laughter and swallow his food at the same time.
“Sure honey” he finally gasped, “but why don’t you try it sometime - it’s not good to be a complete technophobe in this day and age”
“That’s ok,” said Tabitha “I know how to turn it on, browse and maybe download the odd file - but Colin, I’m never going to be as into it as
you, and nor do I want to be”