Chapter Nine


Avatars Get It


"So, what's your follow-up to that UNMSG gig?" asked Jaden when Ruby came in.

She pulled off her glasses and smiled at him, but it was not the smile of triumph, "Nothing lined up yet."

"Wow! You looked so good at the UNMSG I'm surprised to hear that."

"I was too," she said, "In fact, I've lost a gig. It seems the Justice Sisters have taken my place at the Miami Vice commemorative."

"The Justice Sisters! ...Aren't they--"

"Yes they are: avatars," she sighed, "But they move like they drink python juice every morning, and they've gone from viral to mainstream now."

"Couldn't you avatar?"

"I could, and I do for some occasions. But that's not what I'm in this for. I'm in it to express myself and get sincere appreciation for what I do, not what some stylized impression of me does."

"Spoken like a true artist." said Adrian.

Ruby laughed, "It sounds like it, doesn't it." she thought, then said, "I guess I'm not the ambitious Ruby I was five years ago. I sold my soul then, now... I'm not sure it's mine to sell any more.

"And... those Justice Sisters are so derivative!! God! They don't have a single original move in that entire routine!" she shook her head, "People want to pay good money to see that sh-- stuff? Why not rent a Michael Jackson video if that's what they want to see! He did it first, well... near first, and with a purely human body."

I'd never seen her like this before.

She settled down immediately and the gracious smile came back, "Ah well... nothing ever stays the same in entertainment, but nothing ever changes, either."

And with that, I started my class.


After class she told me more over coffee.

"I have been offered something, but it's... I've been offered a gig as chef on a cook show. Jeremy Clautz, the big afternoon show producer, thinks I'd be a hot item as a gladiator chef. The idea is I costume up like a warrior maiden and combat something in a gladiator arena. After I defeat it, I cook it up as something tasty."

I kind of smirked at that, "Piranhas and pirouettes, can it be that bad?"

She smirked back at that, "It can. Food is so irrelevant these days... at least I think so. Except for taste, smell and texture it's all up to my nanobots."

"So it's all entertainment."

"It is. But I want to do real entertainment. Traditional entertainment I guess I should say -- singing and dancing to tell a story. Swooning over what's in a fry pan is..." she sighed, "If I take up on this, I really will be selling my soul twice. I'm not sure Mestophales would be pleased with that."

"Somehow, I don't think he would mind."

"He might not, but I sure will." she sighed again, "I feel like I'm getting old, Dahlia, I'm thinking more about dignity than opportunity. It's kind of spooky, and I'm sure it's going to cost me."


Dahlia Lesson

Lesson Six -- Where is the child to live?

About three quarters of the children raised today are raised to grow up with their parent or parents and to become part of that family in the traditional legal and social sense. These days there are a whole bunch of children that are raised for other destinies.

Most of these other children are sponsored by various governments -- they are grown because a community has a need for human beings to do specific tasks, but they can't find enough traditionally raised children to fill the demand. Historically, if a community needed more warm bodies it was either just a "too bad -- live with it" situation, filled spectacularly by conquest and slavery, or more quietly by immigration.

Now we have these new ways to fill the demand, and ever since these new ways have become possible they have generated a lot of social heat. I'm sure you're all aware of that. But let's review a bit so we all have some common perspective to base our further discussions on.

Those who are dead-set against government-sponsored babies like to bring up the experience of the Antebellum American South. After importing slaves was prohibited in 1808 some owners made a practice of growing their own -- essentially setting up breeding farms. Modern day objectors see too much parallel with that experience to condone modern baby growing methods. They see this as neo-racism, that we are making a new slave society, and that we are going to burn in hell for doing so.

Some of the parallels are real: the government sponsored babies are not expected to grow up with the same lifestyle as private sponsored babies are. They are being raised to live in different places and do different things during their lives. This causes great concern because both the American South and its island contemporary, Haiti, suffered from a damaging social stasis for five to ten generations after their slave liberations -- they lagged way behind their North American contemporaries in adapting to industrialized ways.

And there are some legal parallels as well. There is still a lot of question as to what rights various government sponsored babies have, and will have, compared to the rights of a private sponsored baby.

At other times in history, governments have sponsored population growth by encouraging family and baby making. The most conventional way is giving tax breaks to those who do so, and adding some government propaganda for everyone to experience. Many totalitarian nations did this during the Great Unrest of the mid-twentieth century.

We are not experiencing that kind of deep social and economic crisis today, thank goodness!, but we are experiencing a steady decline in human population. These days the whole world is not producing enough babies to keep up the population -- some people cheer this, and others worry. The worriers support government-sponsored babies.