As virtual assistants go, Aura was a very nice companion – cheerful, bubbly, with a touch of self-deprecating humour. One could confuse her with a live person if a conversation was limited to small-talk and ship matters. She explained that all my work had to be done on that ship and I was totally isolated from the rest of the world for the next two weeks. Gerhardt made sure that I had everything I needed: food, computer and even a software model of an LCQ controller to test my code. The controller model was several orders of magnitude slower than the real thing but was good enough for testing purposes.
All in all, the arrangement wasn’t any worse than some of the assignments I had before during which I didn’t leave my apartment for weeks at a time. If you throw in a bottle of Scotch as a job perk, it was the best workplace I had had in years. So I cracked my knuckles and got down to work. Continue reading “A Job To Do”
Capsuleers! Everyone heard of them but not many actually met them. Capsuleers were like demigods: they lived in the sky, they knew everything, they had superhuman reflexes and they were virtually immortal. To meet one of them in flesh was every teenager’s dream. And mine too. Although my teenage years were long gone, deep in my soul I still kept a romantic spark which could not be extinguished by adult cynicism. And now that spark turned into a raging wildfire. If only I knew who Gerhardt was before he left, I could have asked him hundreds of questions which were now burning inside me: how did he become a capsuleer? Was it true he could live forever? How did it feel to have cables attached to his back? Continue reading “Aura”
A couple of years ago I was between contracts and was rather hopelessly browsing a site for freelancers trying to find a new job. Hopelessly because my fellow programmers from third-world planets were discounting prices to indecent levels. Each job had already had a few hundred bids, every new one offering a lower price, and even if I won the auction I would not be able to survive on that kind of pay, not on this planet. I was going through the list of jobs without even trying to open descriptions, just checking the number of bids: 311, 472, 308, and then suddenly, on the thirtieth or fortieth page I saw an ad with zero bids! For a while I looked at it in disbelief, thinking if I wanted to spend my time on some kind of sick joke, but then my natural curiosity got the best of me. Continue reading “An Unusual Customer”