Flowers blossomed through what remained of my eye sockets, green-brown skin peeling off like dead leaves. Never jailbreak your chlorophyll implants.
William Shaw wrote this story inspired by the biohacking movement. While the potential benefits of augmenting the human body are potentially immense, he worries about how such technology would interact with a tech world increasingly dominated by proprietary software. Intriguingly, chlorophyll is already a substance of interest to those in the bodymod community. In 2015, grinders tested chlorophyll’s ability to augment night vision. In 2016, the Quimera Rosa collective presented a project called “Transplant“, where chlorophyll was injected in an attempt to create photosynthesising tattoos. Whatever the results, the proprietary dilemmas of body modification are something we should definitely consider.
//William Shaw (@Will_S_7) is a tech writer by day, blogger by night. Find him online at williamshawwriter.wordpress.com//
I’m super pleased to announce that I have hired a sub-editor! Jacinta Bowler is an established science communicator who is going to be working with the Vault to gain more experience with fiction. Thanks to your generous donations to our Patreon and Ko-Fi, I’ve been able to pull together enough funds to pay her a proper really-small-part-time sub-editor salary!!!
I’m thrilled to get the chance to work with her and continue the amazing scicomm work that the Vault has been doing in 2019. So, with no further ado, it’s time to introduce you to the whole team (all 2 of us!) behind the Story Seed Vault.
Curator & Editor
Alex Jane Massey (they/them)
Alex Massey is a writer, editor, historian, and researcher from Sydney, Australia. They currently reside there with a cat, a cat lady, and a Canadian. Their work has appeared in ADDitude Mag, Story Seed Vault, Archer Magazine, Love Letter Podcast, and Fifty Word Stories. They can be found hiding behind decorative foliage at parties or on Twitter @angry_pidgey.
Jacinta Bowler (she/her)
Jacinta Bowler is a Melbourne-based science writer and podcaster. She has written for SBS, ABC, Brisbane Times, and is currently working as a writer and fact checker at ScienceAlert. She fact-checks people at parties and drinks more tea a day than any mere mortal could handle. Find her on Twitter @jacinta_bowler.
Like what we do? Want to make sure I can pay our staff and writers so they don’t die of exposure? You can support us on Patreon, buy us a Ko-Fi, or give directly to our PayPal! We really appreciate every single cent, and it helps us in a meaningful way every day.
We found the secrets to unravelling the universe, and bound them in poison-laden books. Those who hungered for such power unravelled themselves, their dying minds an inaccessible, sparking archive.
Shadows from the Walls of Death (1874) contains close to a hundred wall paper samples. Be careful when opening – if you touch it with bare skin, the book might just kill you. This book is not some cursed artefact – it is the work of Dr. Robert M. Kedzie, a Union surgeon during the American Civil War and later professor of chemistry at Michigan State Agricultural college (now MSU). Dr. Kedzie was intending to raise awareness about the dangers of arsenic in paper. Inspired by this marvel of chemistry, D. C. wondered whether there would ever be a reason for a scientist to poison a book on purpose… maybe to protect the secrets of the universe?
//D.C. (@sixfeetzen) is a queer/NB writer who works on LGBTQ games. They were a mortician once, and prone to writing about death.//
“Ready?” calls Dad from downstairs. I check the seal on my net-suit and try not to smudge lipstick as I put on the hood. Mum attaches the bridal veil.
In October this year, the Pentagon announced a controversial new project called “Insect Allies”. Funded by DARPA, researchers will use gene-editing techniques like CRISPR to infect insects with modified viruses that could make crops more resilient. However, the scientific community is skeptical and has voiced concerns that the project could be easily exploited as a biological weapon. Inspired by this news, A. J. Nicol added a twist to a scene normally filled with nostalgia and love – a bride getting ready for their wedding. Living in Australia, A. J. is used to keeping an eye out for dangerous creatures. The idea of adding virus-laden grasshoppers to the mix is not appealing.
//A.J. Nicol likes to write short stuff. She’s on Twitter @manicol1//
Did you know that the Vault has a Patreon? I’ve just given our Patron’s exclusive early access to a new blog post! This month, I’m asking if creating dystopias based on possible disaster is worth it. Could it make the reader feel like change is hopeless? Click here to read more: Is Dystopic Sci-Fi Just Suffocating Hot Air?
To all our loyal readers! A message from Editor Alex Massey:
Hello all! Just a quick post to say that the Vault is going on a short hiatus. There are a few reasons but to sum up – the past 6 months have been quite stressful and I am 100% burnt out. I need to hit pause and recalibrate. So, what does this mean for the Vault?
The Vault will be on hiatus until October 1, 2018.
Your submissions to date will still be read and responded to, but you won’t hear back from me until October. If you want to withdraw your submission, I understand completely.
I’ll be looking for a sub-editor!
I’m not sure how much I’ll be able to pay them, but that’s definitely the goal. With the contributions from our Patreon supporters, I definitely have some funds for an hourly-based wage. I’ve already had a few people show some interest, and I’m keen to expand to an actual editorial team!
Keep writing, we’ll definitely be re-opening to submissions in October.
Thank you for your support of the Vault and your patience as we take a break!
~ Alex J. Massey
Alone, I have sailed, sought and found
I am tired
Careening further still into the void, my dream of sleep is dashed
As thrusters wake
For the first time in 37 years, Voyager 1 was roused by the remote re-ignition of its thrusters by NASA to slightly alter its course. In this story, Nathaniel Darbonne re-imagines the awakening of Voyager 1, humanising it for his reader. If you feel your heartstrings pulled, this is not the first time a spaceship has been anthropomorphised – several spacecrafts have now ‘live-tweeted’ their own deaths (with the help of a human media department). What will future generations think of our compassion for inanimate spacecraft?
//Nathaniel Darbonne is a human.//
The district attorney’s histrionics left the audience in tears. Unimpressed, the robot juror considered the facts.
Inspired by research on how artificial intelligence will impact the way we work, writer Justin Short creates a sci-fi legal drama in Story #141. “Robots aren’t scary,” says Justin. “What’s scary is knowing your fate is in the hands of twelve humans easily swayed by emotional closing arguments.” With the launch of IBM Watson’s legal AI application, Outside Counsel Insights (OCI) in 2017, the legal industry is poised on the precipice of fast technological change. Yet, it must be asked – if we use robot’s to enforce the law, can programmers overcome their own unconscious biases to ensure the law is ethically enforced?
//Justin writes horror, sci-fi, and other stuff. Find him online at www.justin-short.com.//
U.S. DECLARES EMERGENCY EXPANSION OF GUEST WORKER PROGRAM
Contracts will be offered to citizens of all Latin American nations to fill pollinator vacancies ahead of the California almond bloom.
As North American honeybee populations decline dramatically, it’s interesting to speculate how the U.S. would continue to feed itself and the rest of the world. California alone provides 80% of the world’s almond supply. China has already begun to utilize humans as crop pollinators. With immigrants supplying over half of the U.S. agricultural workforce, a reassessment of immigration policy could be the future.
//Celina Chiarello (@thecelinas) is a mother of dragons, a writer of things, and an eater of cupcakes. Checkout more of the things she writes at girldoingstuff.com.//