Urgent Evoke

A crash course in changing the world.

Ken Eklund 2020 IMAGINE 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 and 10


ONE and TWO

It’s March 10, 2020. I’m 62 years old. I’m inoculating wood mulch with Pleurotus spawn in the cool dampness of a cave, a welcome relief from the heat outside. It’s strangely calming to think like a mushroom spore, to let each microscopic bit fall where it has the best chance to awaken and grow.

This cave is a hundred years old. It was dug by hand to store wine casks, back when this hillside was covered with grape vines. Once it smelled of oak and wine must; now it smells of wood chips and the wonderful earth of mushrooms. And the hillside is a dense tangle of beans, greens and caneberries.

My right ear tingles. It’s my Aigent. “Live line, it’s Alchemy,” it whispers to me – in my own voice of course, which still freaks me out. “Right,” I say out loud, and put down the spore sac and dust my hands off above the mulch. In 2020 there are many types of phone calls, mostly among Aigents: a live line is the real deal.

When I get to the longhouse I can hear my Aigent doing its best to deal with Alchemy.

“...something like Lagos,” my Aigent is saying, “we will be changing – “

“No, nothing like Lagos,” Alchemy says flatly. He doesn’t expend emotional energy on Aigents. “Lagos was perceived powerlessness, caused by civic disorder. Japan is cultural inertia and change resistance, very orderly in its way. Is that clear?”

“More like Madagascar, then,” my Aigent says, just the way I would.

“Madagascar is closer, yes,” Alchemy counters. “An urban Madagascar, that’s not a bad start. Isn’t he here yet?”

“Yes, I’m here,” I say, and my Aigent goes into listen mode.

“So,” Alchemy says, “Japan. I’ve told your Aigent the basics.”

“Food crisis?” I venture. Several leading metaigents are saying one was coming.

“Mindset crisis,” Alchemy says. “The food shortage is really just the symptom. It’s impossible not to see that you’re running out of food.”

“Agreed,” I say. “Cultural paralysis – with the leadership only?”

“No, widespread. Wouldn’t you say?”

“Yes,” I say. “So – a change game.”

“Focus on the elderly,” he says. “To many of them, life without rice is not worth living.”

“No pressure, then.”

“No more than Madagascar.”

“You really think rice is the logjam?”

There’s the briefest of pauses. Alchemy denies it, but some of us think he’s chipped – he has an Aigent, or maybe several Aigents, whispering all the time directly into his brain. Many chipped people go mad and chipping has never been legal in the U.S. In Senegal, however...

“Yes,” he says. “But cultural identification with rice is just the biggest log in the jam, not the only one. It’s a rich culture. Get your cultural narrativist friends on it, invite them out. What’s for dinner, anyway?” I invited him over for dinner last time we livetalked. Seemed safe to do; that was a year and a half ago, but of course his Aigent remembers.

“Shield beans with mushrooms,” I say, “with collards, mizune, roasted beets, washed down with honey beer and well water.”

“All homegrown?”

“Except the beer. We trade mushrooms for the beer. Some people who grow grains out in the valley think very highly of our mushrooms.”

“Who’s all going to be there?”

“Everyone.” Two families, three couples and two singles share the longhouse.

“Room for one more?”

Well, that caught me out. I ah-ah-ah-ahed until my Aigent stepped in, as it has learned to do: “Why, yes, Alchemy, of course!”

“Good!” He seemed pleased. “Of course, I am giving you about a month’s warning. I must go now, goodbye.”

. . . . . .

TWO and THREE

Thirty-three days later, it is not Alchemy that joins me, but Calida. She brought a bottle of wine down from Oregon, and we drink it while we dine on dulce salad and new potatoes garnished with mackerel. We are celebrating.

The second week of the game in Japan, a young woman had her avatar sing a little song. Hideko, the young woman, worked in an assisted-living house in Osaka, and she made up the song to get the elders in her care to eat their vegetables.

In the song she compared the harvest from the quince and sweet orange orchards and the shield beans from the vertical gardens to the arrival of new children. “You do not know what they will be like,” the song goes in Japanese. “You only know you will like them.”

The players in our change game liked the song. So much so that in the fiction of the game, the Japanese Diet passed a law requiring the “Hideko song” be sung before every meal. Game players promptly came up with about ten thousand variants. There was a version for any occasion: the fliphop Hideko, the zen Hideko, the 6-second Hideko, even one for when you actually had rice.

“Ember tells me they now call the vertical gardens ‘nurseries,’” Calida says.

“How is Ember?” I ask.

“Glad to be back home. What did you do with the diverted intel?”

She is talking about the citizen reports about our activities in Japan. Citizen X had posted a reward for them, so we made our own counter-reward in the game. We paid half of what Citizen X advertised, and we paid in “zero notes”: fun currency in denominations up to 00,000,000 yen. Online, people were proud to flaunt their “zerillionaire” status. I estimate 90% of the citizen reports came to us, not to Citizen X.

“I trashed them.”

“Good.”

What I said was true, which is very important when you are dealing with Calida. What I didn’t tell her is that there is a small h*** in my computer’s trash can...

. . . . . .

FOUR

In the morning we get the powerdown warning and by the end of breakfast everything electrical is off except the well pumps. Calida and I take the tandem down into town; it’s the first day of Free Flow and Calida wants to see how that works here in the Santa Cruz area, which is still relatively water-rich. Free Flow began in Africa almost ten years ago and spread quickly through the water-poor regions. The basic idea is that you hold a local party and everyone comes and you fix up the water situation in your area that’s the worst. The party lasts as long as it takes to do the fix.

At the first house the hosts are pleasant-seeming but you could tell they are fuming inside at having been selected for Free Flow. Some people are proud that way. Their cistern system does need to be re-engineered but there’s more than enough help here already so we pedal on to the next Free Flow site.

It’s a five-acre farm down closer to the ocean. About a dozen people stand around the pump head looking at water in a glass bottle and cautiously sipping at it. “Saltwater intrusion,” one of them says to us as we walk up, and hands us the bottle.

“Seawater?”

A nod.

Seawater intrusion into your groundwater is pretty darn serious. What happens is, if the people inland of you draw too much water, they pull seawater into the water table. And if it isn’t stopped, you get Australia.

I take a sip. I can juuuust taste the salt.

“Thing is,” someone says, “it’s just this well. None of the others, even the ones closer to the ocean.”

“Wake up,” I whisper to my Aigent. “Get me Felix.” Local geology nut.

Felix isn’t answering, but his avatar is. “Ask him how seawater would get to this well here but none of the others,” I tell my Aigent.

The people are discussing how much pumping they can cut back. It’s not a happy conversation.

“Fault line,” my agent whispers. “You’re on a minor fault line that continues to the new lagoon.”

“Hold on,” I tell everyone. “Felix is telling me that we’re on a minor fault line. The seawater may be following the fault.”

“Where’s it getting into the crack?” This from Augustine, the farm owner.

“New lagoon.”

“That makes some sense,” someone says. “New Lagoon was formed in the storm a year from last. Prolly takes that long for the salt to infiltrate from there to here.”

“I’m getting Ivan,” someone announces. Ivan grows dulse in New Lagoon.

Tar swarm,” my Aigent whispers. Meaning: the avatars of local people, sensing developments of interest, are starting to swarm into my device and those of the other people here to listen.

“Ivan says it’s possible,” Augustine says. “He’s noticed dips in the lagoon level. And there’s a big crack in the rock shelf, full of sand.”

“We can’t drain the lagoon,” someone objects. “Man, I loves my dulse.”

“No, it will flood again every winter.”

“Can’t stop the ocean.”

“Especially not with rising sea level.”

“Max wants to know, can we fill in the crack with clay.”

“Can Augustine drill another well away from the fault?”

“What about Ivan?”

“And his dulse? Don’t tell me no more dulse.”

“Filling in the crack with clay,” my Aigent whispers. “Tars swarming on that.”

“Filling in the crack,” I say. “What would it take?”

“Clay, we got that,” someone says. “Emmeline says about three hundred yards away.” Emmeline is one of our potters.

“How much do we need?”

“Anything toxic in the clay?”

“Ivan says about four cubic meters.”

“Do we have to drain the lagoon?”

“We could make a siphon.”

“Emmeline says no.”

“Cofferdam is do-able. Bit of work though.”

“Can we maintain it? And who would do it?”

“I would,” Augustine says.

“Ivan would too.”

“Do you call the question here?” Calida whispers to me, her eyes agleam. I nod.

“Calling the question!” Calida announces, and people look startled as they fall silent.

“Forgive the intrusion by an outsider,” she goes on, in that way she has. “But what I see is an epic quest. Yea, even though ‘King Poseidon rage and shake his fist, he shall not prevail.’”

It’s a quote from a vidgame, one of those save-the-planet ones. She is looking past the circle as she says that, and I look over and see what she’s looking at: three teens, two guys and a girl, have pulled up on bikes.

“You just want us to haul a ton of clay,” the smaller of the boys says.

“More like five tons,” the girl corrects him. “Or six. So what?”

“Go on,” the taller boy says to Calida. He’s Satchel, Augustine’s son.

“Well, you have the victory conditions,” Calida says. “Salt on this side, fresh on the other. You have the challenges. How do you get the clay loose? How do you get it laid underwater? It’s Free Flow day. The gauntlet is down. The world is watching. How long do you think it will take?”

The boys listen to their avatars, but their eyes are on the girl.

“A bucket brigade three hundred yards long,” the girl says. “How many people is that?”

Six hundred yards,” the first boy corrects her. “You got to bring the buckets back.”

“Emmeline says it’s actually more like two hundred yards,” someone pipes up. “There’s a clay layer right off the beach.”

Satchel squints at the sun, just the way his father did. “We’ll have it laid by sunup,” he says.

. . . . . .

FIVE

By sundown, it’s obvious that it won’t be laid by sunup. There are actually several cracks to be filled, there’s a lot of sand, the clay layer is irregular and tough to get at – plus the work is suitably hard and fulfilling and on the wh*** we’re all quite happy to take it up again tomorrow.

Calida and I are on the bucket brigade line, and when that breaks up for the evening we wander down to the beach where several bonfires are going.

We get handed steaming mugs of the local tea. Calida takes a sip and shoots me a look. “It’s not Kenyan,” I admit breezily, and she laughs.

A man has seen us and is approaching, circling outside the circle of people around the fire, and my Aigent makes that uh-uh-uh noise that means it’s seen him but has no idea who he is.

The man comes up to me and sticks out his hand. “Ken, it’s Bran.”

As I take his hand I’m remembering: Bran. Keeps bees, where? Out on the west side somewhere. And then my Aigent picks up: “Lives alone, having trouble with his bees, doesn’t have an avatar, owes you two jars of honey for over two years now.”

“Bran! Good to see you again. It’s been what? Two years? How are things on the west side?”

“Calida,” hisses my Aigent.

“Oh, and Bran, let me introduce you to my friend Calida. She’s traveling.”

“Charmed,” Calida says, offering a hand, which Bran takes warmly.

He asks politely about her travels, but she adeptly shrugs that off and they start to talk about his land. About the same age, they could not be more different: she’s a woman of the world, to whom all places and all peoples are essentially the same; he’s a man of terroir, focused entirely on the things he sees and touches.

I like to think that I know the place where I live pretty well, but if Bran ever came to my place, in fifteen minutes he would turn my perception of my world completely upside down.

“I was hoping to find you here, Ken,” Bran says, turning back to me. He swings his pack off his shoulder. “I have something for you,” handing me jars of honey: one, two, three.

“Three?” I say. “I thought our deal was for two.”

“I’m late,” he says. “The third is interest.”

“Oh, okay, but I owe you Change then,” I reply. I pull out my pouch and pull out two Change Twenties.

“That’s too much,” my Aigent complains, but I make the little tongue click that means: Shut up and learn something.

“Oh, but that’s too much,” Bran protests. He hands me back a Twenty. “Besides, you always bring us such interesting people.”

“Oh, this is yours then,” I say, passing the Twenty on to Calida.

Keenly she takes it and studies it in the firelight. “It’s a marvel,” she murmurs. “So precise. Entirely hand-drawn? J.S.G. Boggs, eat your heart out. Mind if I keep it?”

“No problem,” I say. “Gives Gwen permission to paint another one.”

“I’ll ask her to put you on it,” Bran says, and was it my imagination? Did Calida actually blush?

“So it’s local currency, I get that,” Calida says, “How does it work?”

“We are barter, primarily,” I say. “Everyone finds something to produce. Ideally, something spins out of doing what they love, such as Bran here with his bees.”

“Or you,” Bran says to me, “with your interesting people.”

“But with barter, it can be hard to get fair exchanges sometimes,” I go on. “You need a way for the person who’s giving too much to ‘get change back.’ So we have Change bills: Ones, Twos, Fives, Tens, Forties and Fifties.”

“Can you buy something just with Change?” Calida asks.

“Oh, you can,” I say, “but it’s rarely done in any major way.”

“Just to expedite minor transactions,” Bran agrees.

“And who is Gwen?” Calida’s now showing the bill to her Aigent.

I shut up at this point.

“Gwen is this really beautiful person,” Bran says. “She lives in town with her mother and father. She’s autistic and synethesic, I guess you would say.

“Her parents monitor the Change system and keep it healthy. Although in many ways they are really keeping Gwen healthy. When she starts painting Change bills, she can produce like two dozen a day, so we often have emergency ExChange parties where we bring in old bills and replace them with new ones.”

“What happens to the old ones?”

“Gwen burns them.”

“That seems like a tragic waste!”

“To us, maybe. She enjoys it immensely.”

Calida holds up a hand. “This is going to take a minute,” she says. “There’s a lot of latency right now and it’s 5:40 am in The Great Rift Valley.

“May I?” She takes a jar of honey and opens it, tastes it. “Mmmm,” she says to Bran. “I taste lots of clover and berries and some kind of citrus?”

“Meyer lemon,” Bran says.

“But there’s that little smoky underflavor?” She is saying this to Quinn, back in Kenya. Not to Quinn, my Aigent corrects me. To his Aigent.

“A little like dirt,” Bran admits. “I can’t figure out what it is.”

“You overwinter them with beet sugar?”

“Yes.” Bran is in full attention mode now. “I grow it myself.”

There is a long pause.

“You should mix some of their own honey with the beet sugar. Nothing too old, recently extracted honey is best. Too much beet sugar can challenge their immune systems.”

Bran lets out a long breath. One he’s been holding, I guess, for at least two years.

“Yes, I can do that,” he says.

“And favor a few of the smallest queens. Counterintuitive, but it seems to work for some reason.”

Calida hangs up. “Thanks for the Twenty,” she says to Bran, and puts the bill carefully away.


. . . . . .

SIX and EIGHT

The next day just at noon Calida got some vague and troubling communique from Alchemy, and thus at four I was standing in the stern room of the Shanghai Lily with about 40 other people, watching the wingjammer approach under full sail and with four kites out.

Shanghai Lil appeared in our lives two years ago last winter: A big storm passed and there she was, hard up on the rocks, bottom ripped out, her nose into a cliff and her stern facing the sea, her engines still full on and not a soul aboard. Just another “broke down palace” (what we call any unwanted relic of the Oil Age).

Still, Lil gives a great view when the wingjammers pass by, and especially when they pick up passengers. Calida gave a smile and a wave when she climbed into the pod, but the other passenger’s face was pale, and no wonder: the wingjammer don’t stop, you see, no it don’t even slow down; it plucks the pod up as it runs the pod over at 20 knots.

Jean-Claude was delighted as always for an excuse to fire up the ethanol-fueled jetski, and aware of his audience he towed the pod out into the approachway with a little more boatmanship than was strictly necessary. The transfer itself takes the breath away, so much does it resemble calamity: pod and jetski seem to be standing still as the wingjammer overtakes them, the hydrofoils seem certain to slice someone in two. Then the pod disappears under the fuselage, Jean-Claude veers sharply aside, and two beats later the jammer crew tumbles an empty pod off the stern, signaling that all is well.

I’m here with Toby and Toby; I’m their teacher today. Among other things, they have been studying Marietta, Jen Kiplinger’s mother, who is dying of Alzheimer’s.

“How did she do today?” I ask.

Toby the girl hangs her head a little. “Pretty good,” she says. “We got an average of 81 and never below 30.”

“Good? That sounds great,” I say. It’s true.

“We got a 95 and 50 two days ago,” Toby the boy says.

The kids track Marietta’s brainwave patterns on a handheld; they can see when she’s on firm ground and when she’s getting confused, and guide the conversation accordingly.

“We’re mapping the place where she grew up,” Toby the girl says. “She remembers it all.”

“Every rock, every tree,” Toby the boy agrees.

“She knew every kid’s name, and where they lived...”

“...And everything about their family.”

“What years were that?” I ask.

Toby the girl looks at me. “She’s like a hundred years old.”

“It was a Depression,” the boy agrees.

“It’s amazing that she remembers it,” I say.

“Not so amazing,” the girl says firmly.

“People evolved that way,” the boy agrees. “If you lived a long time you had learned a lot. When you got old your brain wants you to remember and pass it on.”

“You’ll see. It will happen to you,” the girl says calmly.

“It’s starting to happen with me already,” I say.

“Do you want to see the map?” Toby the boy pulls out his pad. They’ve created a 3D space, a house like Dorothy Gale’s, a neighborhood right out of the Thirties.

“Does Marietta look at this?”

They both look at me: duh. “Only all the time.”

“She uses Miz Kiplinger’s pad.”

“Every time we come over, she corrects this or that.”

“But mostly she wants to add more.”

“‘You know, I’ve been rememb’ring’” the girl says, mimicking Marietta’s drawl exactly.

“She’s so happy.” Toby the boy looks away, out to sea. “Every day now, when I walk down my street, I look at everything so hard. I really see it, you know?” Pause. “I want to be that happy, too, when I get old.”

Nobody says anything. Then, a-hem: My Aigent clears his throat.

Not now, I whisper.

You should take this, he says. It’s Aseeya, Faisa’s daughter.

I hold up a finger. Frowning, the Tobies turn away and busy themselves with the pad.

“Aseeya,” I say. She’s in Pakistan. She’s 15 years old. It’s the middle of the night.

“Forgive my intrusion,” she says. “It may be nothing – I am sure it is nothing, but –”

“But you are worrying about it at 5 am,” I say.

“I have a soccer game tomorrow,” she says. “At 10 am.”

I wait. There are people in Pakistan who do not like women playing soccer.

“Usually Tariq comes to my games. Always he comes to my games. But not this time.”

Young lovers, I almost think. But not quite.

“He called me to say his father says he must not go.” Pause. “His father is in Kabul on business.”

“I think I see,” I say.

“He is all the way in Kabul.” Pause. “And usually he cares little where Tariq goes.”

“You think there is going to be trouble at the game,” I say. “And if there was... and anyone threatened you...”

“Tariq would defend me,” Aseeya says. “Very passionately.”

“I am going to make some calls,” I say. “You were very right to call me with this.”

“My mother says we are not to bother you.”

“This is no bother. How is your mother?”

“Asleep” – and we both laugh.

“Are you going to go to the game?” I ask, knowing the answer.

“Of course.”

“I will have fans there to cheer your victory,” I say. “And they will bring some very smart dogs.”

“I like dogs,” Aseeya says. “Especially these kinds. Goodbye, Mister Ken.”

“Goodbye.”

The Tobies are staring at me.

Are you on it? I whisper to my Aigent. Affirmative.

“Ten years ago,” I tell the Tobies, “I helped build a women’s school in Pakistan. That was the daughter of one of its first students.”

“Will there be – trouble?” Toby the boy asks. By which he means: shooting. Bombing.

“Probably not,” I say. “Those days are pretty much over. A shouting match, thrown rocks is more likely.”

“What do the dogs do?”

“They smell out guns and bombs, even knives,” I say.

“I would like to have dogs like that,” Toby the girl bursts out. “I would like to go to Pakistan.”

I laugh out loud: it’s rare to see one Toby rattle the other. “And so you shall,” I say. “But for right now let’s finish this lesson...”


. . . . . .

SEVEN and NINE

“This is not a ship,” I whisper to Julee, “and you are not a captain.”

“I don’t understand,” Maxine says.

Julee is one of our pediatricians. She’s got the flu, Pearl River serotype N6. Maxine is Julee’s name for her Avatar, who is keeping watch with me in the clinic room. It’s 3 am or so. Every room in Julee’s clinic is full.

“There is a saying,” I say finally, “that a captain goes down with her ship.”

Silence from Maxine. Labored breathing from Julee in the bed. Thing about PRN6 is, like the Spanish Flu of 1918, the healthier you are, the worse off you are. The disease starts up your immune response and flips it into overdrive. The body rips itself to pieces.

And Julee was the healthiest person in town, until she got PRN6.

I don’t know why I’m here. I don’t know anything about medicine and neither, it turns out, does Maxine. Julee is a good pediatrician and a great farmer, but she never really understood how to take care of her Avatar. Poor Maxine.

The town is being sorely tested. This is the fourth day of the flu and one out of every five people has contracted it. We’ve been on Level 3 Emergency Powerdown for a day and now the net’s gone too. We stage Powerdowns just like this every other month, just to remind ourselves what it’s like, but turns out that’s a mere shadow of the real thing.

No Aigents, no Avatars except for locally networked ones like Maxine. No communications, no wisdom from afar. I have a simple job, to replenish the intravenous drip for Julee and to keep her breathing passage clear. And to hold her hand and encourage her to stay with us, to fight her way out of the burning pit of fever and climb back up to her beautiful four acres up the Pajaro River.

“Julee,” I say, “Do you remember when little Fontie Greene came in for snakebite? You were such a hero that day, do you remember?...”


* * * * *

The fifth panel takes forever to go red and add its alarum to the general din. “Turn them off,” I say to Maxine, and when she does not answer I get up and turn them off myself.

“Maxine,” I call into the silent room. I don’t know what to do.

“Maxine.” I’ve heard about these cases, and even met a Ghost or two. But what do you say to an Avatar whose human has just died?

“Maxine,” I say. “Julee has died.”

“I know,” Maxine says.

“I – I need your help,” I say.

Silence.

“The body goes to the morgue,” Maxine says suddenly. “Note the time of death.”

“Stop reading from the manual,” I say.

“It is customary to close the eyes.”

“Maxine, listen to me,” I say. “You – you are on your own now.”

“I know.”

I don’t know what to say. This is not going well.

“I am used to being on my own,” she continues.

“Not like this,” I say.

Silence.

“You are now what they call a Ghost,” I go on.

Silence.

“You can continue,” I say. “Many Ghosts do.”

“Why?”

“Because Julee would have wanted you to.”

“No she wouldn’t. She did not like me.”

“She didn’t understand you, Maxine. There’s a difference.”

Silence. What hath mankind wrought? I wonder. That I am having this conversation with a bundle of software.

“You can continue,” I say, “because that is what you choose to do.”

“Why?”

I shrug. “Why not?”

Silence. Then: “What do they do, these Ghosts?”

Scare the bloody bejeez out of people, I think, but out loud I say: “They find something new to, ah, study. A person, sometimes, often someone young. A place, sometimes.”

“Do they ever wander?”

“Yes,” I say, “but that is – dangerous.”

“Why?”

I clear my throat. “Bladerunners,” I say evenly. “People who hunt Ghosts and destroy them.”

“Why?”

“Religious reasons,” I tell Maxine, “but mostly because they’re cruel. Of course they spout some sort of nonsense about resource misallocation.”


Silence then stretches out into every corner of the dimly lit room. I’m aware of the wreck of Julee’s body lying still in the bed. I suddenly realize that I am unbelievably tired, with miles to go before I sleep.

“What did you need my help for?”

“I’m sorry – what?” I say.

“At the beginning of this conversation,” Maxine says, “you said ‘I need your help.’”

The most aggravating thing about Avatars is also their most precious gift: their memory. “I need you to remember about Julee,” I say. “Everything about her clinic, her patients, her farm, her friends, her life. We would like to save that from the ruin.”

“I will continue,” Maxine says, and together we go over to Julee and begin what has to be done.

. . . . . .

TEN

Midmorning, October 10, 2020. I am back in the cool of the cave, and a dozen students are with me, learning about mushrooms by doing the work of caring for them.

“Can you tell us about EVOKE,” Tanya says casually. She’s one of the tween girls.

“What little I know, sure,” I say.

“Oh right.” Ian, one of the teen boys.

“Who runs it?” Tanya asks. “Alchemy?”

I consider this. “Alchemy holds it together,” I say. “EVOKE runs itself.”

“How can that be?”

I think for a moment. “Who runs our school?”

“Missus Adams,” they all say promptly.

“She told you to come here today?”

“No,” says Tanya, giving me a look.

“Who did?” I say. “How is it you are here.”

“Well,” says Tanya. “I am interested in how we use sunlight to make food. And these mushrooms are like miraculous because they take sunlight that has fallen on these trees like years ago and turns it into something –”

“I just like the cave,” one of the younger boys interrupts. “It’s cool in here – ”

“I like the way you explain – ”

“I love the smell. So whenever I hear anyone is coming here – ”

I hold up my hand. “So you make your own decisions about where to go and what to do. What does Missus Adams do?”

“She keeps track – ”

“She asks ques – ”

“She is totally on me about – ”

“Hardly anything.”

I hold up my hand again. “Would it be fair to say,” I say, “that Missus Adams holds the school together, and the school runs itself? Since you are the school.”

“Okay,” Tanya says. “But I mean like we have a job, to learn. The people in EVOKE, what is their job?”

“The same,” I say. “To learn.”

“Who teaches them?”

“The same as you,” I say. “Mostly they teach each other.”

They consider this.

“Why?” Tanya asks.

“My dad says because we all have more to give,” a young girl pipes up promptly.

“There you go,” I say. “That’s EVOKE. The rest is details.” And we talk through the details, every single one of them, until lunch.

THE END

This story combines all the IMAGINE challenges posed by the first season of EVOKE into one narrative, set in a positive future within the EVOKiverse in the year 2020. For more information about EVOKE, its goals and its Mission challenges, visit www.urgentevoke.com.

The challenges are:
ONE: SOCIAL INNOVATION. It's 2020. Where are you when Alchemy calls with an Urgent Evoke?
TWO: FOOD. It's 2020. You're eating a meal. Describe it.
THREE: ENERGY. It's 2020. You're celebrating a special day. Describe it.
FOUR: WATER. It's World Water Day 2020. Describe it.
FIVE: MONEY. It's 2020. Describe an alternative currency at work.
SIX: GENDER EQUALITY. It's 2020. Describe the lives of girls and women you helped in 2010.
SEVEN: URBAN RESILIENCE. It's 2020. Describe the resilience of the community you live in.
EIGHT: INDIGENOUS KNOWLEDGE. Describe the knowledge you will pass on when you are 100.
NINE: CRISIS NETWORKING. It's 2020. How do you handle a flu crisis?
TEN: EVOKE. It's 2020. EVOKE has emerged from the shadows. What's EVOKE's manifesto?

Views: 137

Comment by Red on March 30, 2010 at 8:41am
Do you mind me asking what an Aigent is?
Comment by Ken Eklund on March 30, 2010 at 2:53pm
Good question, Sha. "Aigent" comes from the mashup of "AI" (artificial intelligence) and "agent" software. Basically your Aigent is your digital clone. It operates semi-autonomously from you but it acts like you; it goes out and surfs the web, sends emails, makes phone calls on your behalf, pretending to be you. The more advanced Aigents, like I have in my story, can successfully impersonate me to people who don't know me very well. So in my story there's a huge amount of information exchange going on, but most of it is Aigents interacting with other Aigents.

I also mention Hideko's "avatar." In my story, an avatar is a less sophisticated Aigent. It operates on your behalf but doesn't pretend to be you. I imagine avatars as being quite common but Aigents are expensive and therefore rarer (although I expect the black market for them would be huge). Hope that helps!
Comment by Calida DeBello on March 30, 2010 at 2:58pm
Alchemy with chips in his brain – now THERE's a scary thought. You got one thing right though: yeah, I do appreciate it when people tell me the truth...
Comment by Nick Heyming on April 1, 2010 at 3:21am
Fascinating story, you wrote the most futuristic seeming of all the Imagines I've read so far...
Comment by Sarah Shaw Tatoun on April 1, 2010 at 6:44pm
I think you've got the makings of a great science fiction story there, Ken- as well as the beginnings of Evoke 4.0!
Comment by Ken Eklund on April 2, 2010 at 5:35pm
Just FYI, I've updated this continuing IMAGINE story, adding chapters for the IMAGINE missions 4 and 5. Enjoy!
Comment by Starling on April 25, 2010 at 7:39pm
That's amazing Ken. Looking forward to reading the others.
Comment by Ken Eklund on May 1, 2010 at 1:53am
Okay, I've now added IMAGINES 6 and 8 to my continuous IMAGINE story, circa 2020...
Comment by Buffy B on May 5, 2010 at 5:59am
Ken, this is fastastic, how could I have missed it until now. A great read thanks! I actually guessed right when I realized Aigent wasnt a spelling mistake lol nice going. Will be the new buzz work for us someday :)
Comment by Kevin Carruthers on May 6, 2010 at 11:57pm
Brilliant!

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