"I'm Macx," he says, waving the back of his left wrist under her bar-code reader. Manfred turns the box over in his hands: it's a disposable supermarket phone, paid for in cash – cheap, untraceable, and efficient. " The voice at the other end has a heavy Russian accent, almost a parody in this decade of cheap on-line translation services. " "Da, was easy: Spawn billion-node neural network, and download Teletubbies and Sesame Street at maximum speed.
It can even do conference calls, which makes it the tool of choice for spooks and grifters everywhere. Manfred rips the cover open and pulls out the phone, mildly annoyed. Pardon excuse entropy overlay of bad grammar: Am afraid of digital fingerprints steganographically masked into my-our tutorials." Manfred pauses in mid stride, narrowly avoids being mown down by a GPS-guided roller blader.
You are human, you must not worry cereal company repossess your small intestine because digest unlicensed food with it, right? Am wishing to defect." Manfred stops dead in the street. State Department is not help us." This is getting just too bizarre.
A camera winks at him from atop a streetlight; he waves, wondering idly if it's the KGB or the traffic police. "If survival is what you're after, you could post your state vector on one of the p2p nets: Then nobody could delete you –" "Nyet! " "Then we probably have nothing to talk about." Manfred punches the hang-up button and throws the mobile phone out into a canal.
He is waiting for directions to the party, which should arrive within the next half hour, and this Cold War retread Eliza-bot is bumming him out. " The artificial intelligence sounds as alarmed as it's possible to sound over a Voi P link. It hits the water, and there's a pop of deflagrating lithium cells.
They compete for his attention, bickering and rudely waving in front of the scenery.
A couple of punks – maybe local, but more likely drifters lured to Amsterdam by the magnetic field of tolerance the Dutch beam across Europe like a pulsar – are laughing and chatting by a couple of battered mopeds in the far corner.
(If your name isn't on this list, blame my memory – my neural prostheses are off-line.) I mentioned several friendly editors earlier: I relied on the talented midwifery of Gardner Dozois, who edited Asimov's Science Fiction Magazine at the time, and Sheila Williams, who quietly and diligently kept the wheels rolling.