Several months ago, Paul Tuttle Starr sent out a call for submissions for an anthology of science fiction stories set in bright futures. At the time, I was working for PCWorld and GreenBiz, reading and editing a lot of stories about smart cities, Google Glass, and the quantified self. I decided to look at the things everybody was freaking out about (facial recognition software! big data! loss of online privacy!) through a rosy lens, imagining a future in which these things were used for good.
"The Distinct Mosaic of Marivel Parado" is set in a future San Francisco, and I imagined more Latino influence in the technology. Belem Zapata stepped up to help me with my rusty Spanish. Any errors are mine, not hers. It was especially hard working with the AIs called Ayudantes, since some characters assign gender to theirs and some don't, and some characters rely on English and other on Spanish. I learned from other sources that the genderless Spanish pronoun is "elle," which unfortunately looks too much like a gendered French word and the name of a magazine, so I decided to go with my own construction, "éle." If this doesn't work, it's completely my fault.
Miriam Oudin read early drafts of what became "The Distinct Mosaic of Marivel Parado," making wise comments that helped shape it. Miriam's charming and sagacious "Maslow's Howitzer" is also in Paul's latest anthology, and I couldn't be happier with the company. I would accept a hug from Howie any time.
Marivel's future is not perfect—wouldn't it be dull if it were?—but the conflicts have less to do with technology and sustainability than with the stuff of normal life: relationship problems, familial discomfort, workplace awkwardness. That's because although this future has different stuff, and although society has made improvements, people are still human.
"The Distinct Mosaic of Marivel Parado" is available as part of You Gotta Wear Shades: An Anthology of Short Fiction about Bright Future Problems. You can buy the anthology for $2.99 from The Sockdolager or Amazon, or you can read each of the seven stories online for free.