“That’s right, friends! Imagine yourself the star of your own show in your own home! All you need is the fantastic new Twenty-Twenty holovision plan, available only from UniCom.”
I read this short story in Nova 2 (1972) edited by Harry Harrison. I will be working my way through this anthology as part of my Short Story Tarot Challenge.
Ransom is a struggling poet who makes a living writing ‘holovision’ shows for a huge corporation. He lives in a ‘labyrinthian apartment block’ in a polluted city where windows ‘stay permanently shut.’ He hates writing scripts for UniCom and is hatching a plan to break free from its soulless grip.
‘This isn’t art,’ said Ransom, his face again reddening, and his voice thick.
This was my first time to read Ed Bryant’s work. I enjoyed it without being blown away by it. It’s a solid short story with some engaging ideas and a cool title. Considering it was written in the early 1970s, it has aged pretty well. The story is only 17 pages long, so there isn’t a lot of time for worldbuilding or character development.
Each new scene is prefaced with screenwriting terms, for example:
MEDIUM SHOT–THE POET SEATED IN HIS CHAIR
EFFECTS : NORMAL SCALE
AIR DISPERSAL : GRAVEYARD EARTH, RAINSOAKED
FADE IN :
This was a nice meta touch which added to the story. I particularly liked the ‘Air Dispersal’ idea.
One of the lines that grabbed my attention was in a scene where Ransom’s boss is telling him about the future of UniCom’s holovision entertainment:
‘Just wonderful,’ said the poet. ‘Another step in the progression. What now? Are you going to plug the program right into the viewer’s brain?’
Prescient, perhaps, because it looks like that’s the way we’re going.
Monday January 20th, 2020
Okay. It’s time to shuffle the deck and draw my third card. It is:
No way! It’s the Nine of Cups, also called “Happiness”. Last week’s card was the Ten of Cups. I thought I shuffled well and picked one at random, so maybe the universe is trying to tell me something? As can be seen, this is another positive card. It’s sometimes known as the “wish card” and can mean that what you are hoping for is coming your way. Sounds great!
The story assigned to the Nine of Cups is “Miss Omega Raven” by Naomi Mitchison. It is also taken from Nova 2 (1972), edited by Harry Harrison. Another author new to me. This is a very short story clocking in at only six pages.
Thanks for reading and see you next time.