Latest By
Category:


Armor
Artificial Intelligence
Biology
Clothing
Communication
Computers
Culture
Data Storage
Displays
Engineering
Entertainment
Food
Input Devices
Lifestyle
Living Space
Manufacturing
Material
Media
Medical
Miscellaneous
Robotics
Security
Space Tech
Spacecraft
Surveillance
Transportation
Travel
Vehicle
Virtual Person
Warfare
Weapon
Work

"I can remember when the first pulsars were discovered. I was able to go and sit down and listen to graduate students talking about what their theories, to explain what pulsars really were."
- Vernor Vinge

Discorporate Sector  
  An electronic afterlife.  

In the novel, a spaceship needs discorporate entities to do jobs that living people can't do.

"Closest way to the Discorporate Sector is through there."

The streets narrowed about them, twisting through one another, deserted. Then a stretch of concrete where metal turrets rose, crossed, and recrossed. Wires webbed them. Pylons of bluish light dropped half shadows.

"Is this . . . ?" the Customs Officer began. Then he was quiet. Walking out, they slowed their steps. Against the darkness red light shot between towers. "What . . . ?"

"Just a transfer. They go all night," Calli explained. Green lightning crackled to their left. "Transfer?"

"It's a quick exchange of energies resulting from the relocation of discorporate states," the Navigator-Two volunteered glibly.

"But I still don't . . ."

They had moved between the pylons now when a flickering coalesced. Silver latticed with red fires glimmered through industrial smog. Three figures formed: women, sequined skeletons glittered toward them, casting hollow eyes.

Kittens clawed the Customs Officer's back, for strut work pylons gleamed behind the apparitional bellies.

"The faces," he whispered. "As soon as you look away, you can't remember what they look like. When you look at them, they look like people, but when you look away—" He caught his breath as another passed.

"You can't remember!" He stared after them.

"Dead?" He shook his head. "You know I've been approving psyche-indices on Transport workers corporate and discorporate for ten years. And I've never been close enough to speak to a discorporate soul; Oh, I've seen pictures and occasionally passed one of the less fantastic on the street. But this . . ."

"There's some jobs"—Calli's voice was as heavy with alcohol as his shoulders with muscle—"Some jobs on a Transport Ship you just can't give to a live human being."

"I know, I know," said the Customs Officer. "So you use dead ones."

"That's right." Calli nodded. "Like the Eye, Ear, and Nose, A live human scanning all that goes on in those hyperstasis frequencies would—well, die first, and go crazy second."

"I do know the theory," the Customs Officer stated sharply.

Calli suddenly cupped the Officer's cheek in his hand and pulled him close to his own pocked face. "You don't know anything. Customs." The tone was of their first exchange in the cafe. "Aw, you hide in your Customs cage, cage hid in the safe gravity of Earth, Earth held firm by the sun, sun fixed headlong toward Vega, all in the predicted tide of this spiral arm—" He gestured across night where the Milky Way would run over a less bright city. "And you never break free!" Suddenly he pushed the little spectacled red head away. "Ehhh! You have nothing to say to me!"

From Babel-17, by Samuel R. Delany.
Published by Ace Books in 1966
Additional resources -

Compare to construct from Neuromancer (1984) by William Gibson and recorded personalities, from Gibson's Mona Lisa Overdrive.

Comment/Join this discussion ( 0 ) | RSS/XML | Blog This |

Additional resources:
  More Ideas and Technology from Babel-17
  More Ideas and Technology by Samuel R. Delany
  Tech news articles related to Babel-17
  Tech news articles related to works by Samuel R. Delany

Discorporate Sector-related news articles:
  - Will There Be A Digital Afterlife?

Articles related to Culture
'Snapchat Dysmorphia' Now A Thing, Say Plastic Surgeons
Bot Tweets Venmo Drug Transactions
Ontario Starts Guaranteed Minimum Income
Save Your Brain's Connectome, Upload Yourself Elsewhere

Want to Contribute an Item? It's easy:
Get the name of the item, a quote, the book's name and the author's name, and Add it here.

<Previous
Next>

Google
  Web TechNovelgy.com   

 

 

Technovelgy (that's tech-novel-gee!) is devoted to the creative science inventions and ideas of sf authors. Look for the Invention Category that interests you, the Glossary, the Invention Timeline, or see what's New.

 

 

 

 

More News

PAL-V Liberty Flying Helicopter Car
'...lifted themselves to skimming flight upon whirling helicopters."

Space Drones - UK's Effective Space To Launch Rocket Tugs
'Twenty rocket tugs towed it from its Earth hangar out into space.'

DIY Autonomous Robot Detects Trash
'The search-bug detached itself and rolled forward.'

Ancient Russian Walking Excavator Would Be Perfect RV
I don't need it to go fast, it just needs to amble along.

ELROI Satellite 'License Plate'
Robert Heinlein was thinking about this in 1941.

When Robots Beg For Their Lives
"Just what do you think you're doing... Dave.'

Do You Still Want A Folding Screen Phone?
'A paper thin polycarbon screen unfurled...'

'Snapchat Dysmorphia' Now A Thing, Say Plastic Surgeons
'The program raced up the screen one scan line at a time, subtly smoothing, deleting and coloring.'

Drone Assassin Fails To Kill Venezuelan President
'The spotter descends, and we think it searches the vicinity, looking for the victim's face...'

More SF in the News

More Beyond Technovelgy

Home | Glossary | Invention Timeline | Category | New | Contact Us | FAQ | Advertise |
Technovelgy.com - where science meets fiction™

Copyright© Technovelgy LLC; all rights reserved.