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Beings of Light - Introduction

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By PaulPower
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2300AD.  Humanity is in thrall to the Holosims, little more than slaves, kept under control by vastly superior might.  The Holosims are not aliens; to a certain extent they are not “artificial” intelligences either.  They were human once, and could now be classed as human minds in electronic bodies.  But they have lost many of the finer emotions they once possessed, and most of them are now ruthlessly selfish and unfeeling towards the humans.

By 2100, developments in the field of holographic technology and the creation of force-fields allowed the creation of virtual objects that were indistinguishable from the real thing, and could even be touched, picked up, thrown about, etc.  Parallel to this field of research, the fact was dawning that an artificially created intelligence that was indistinguishable from the human mind was impossible if you went from scratch – but it was possible to turn existing humans into AI programs.

Scientists quickly put two and two together and came up with the idea of the Holosim: basically a former human whose mental and genetic structure had been recorded to computer and transferred to a “light bee” for holographic projection.

There was one last problem: power.  The light bee consumed immense amounts of energy.  Fortunately, a third field of development solved this problem.  Matter-to-energy transfer had been perfected in the form of the Energiser – a device that could transform any type of matter into electrical power.  By Energising things – waste rubbish, for example – and utilising the vast quantities of energy produced Holosims could be more than sustained.

The benefits were many.  Although Holosims weren’t completely invulnerable, as long as they didn’t overload on power or catch a computer virus or get hit by an electromagnetic pulse bomb (a concept that would be the Holosim equivalent of the H-bomb), they were pretty much immortal.

As well as effective immortality, Holosims, being effectively computers, could do all the things that computers could.  They could access the Internet and do calculations at dazzling speeds.  The fountain of youth had turned out to be the fountain of wisdom as well.

Then there was the ability to completely transform your appearance.  After all, there was no rule saying that the pre-programmed physical appearance of the Holosim couldn’t be changed.  They could look exactly what they wanted to look like.  Eye colour, hair colour, hair length, height, width, even sex could be changed by a mere thought.  They didn’t even have to be coloured “naturally” – if you wanted to be coloured bright green with pink hair and red eyes, you could.

Of course, at the start the technology was prohibitively expensive.  The light-bees were powered by the latest quantum computers, which needless to say were very expensive.  So, as always, it was the rich, powerful and famous who got first pick.

Soon after, the armed forces of the world recognised the potential benefits of this technology, as did the emergency services.  Other than the above, the Holosims were almost completely indestructible – ideal if you have to rush into fires and so on.  So becoming a Holosim was mandatory for these jobs.  Explorers of other planets also became Holosims, eliminating the need for much of the stuff required to go into space.  Planets could be terraformed by Holosims, then humans could go and live there.

And of course, as rich kids gained access to the technology, it was possible for them to gain access to the other benefits being a walking computer entailed… being a whizz at maths, having an Internet connection, etc.  So, in order to ensure fair play, especially in exams, teachers had to become Holosims in order to prevent that kind of thing from occurring.

Becoming a Holosim was also mandatory for medical staff.  They couldn’t catch or spread disease, and, courtesy of the ability to change their appearance, they could transform to suit their patient’s sensibilities.  If you felt more comfortable around a male or female doctor, they could change to suit you – and then change again for the next patient.

Soon everyone in a position of influence – pop-stars to policemen, lieutenants to lecturers, astronauts to aristocrats – was a Holosim.  Holosims effectively controlled the world (or, as it was rapidly becoming, the solar system).

Fortunately, for a hundred years, no-one really cared.  The Holosims still seemed reasonable.  They knew that they were once human too, so they shouldn’t treat humans like scum.  The solar system was ruled by a liberal and benevolent government that did its best to make sure that Holosims and humans were treated equally.

But slowly but surely, the two groups were pulling apart from each other.

First of all, immortality was a two-edged sword.  As their still-human friends, parents and sometimes children died before they did, the Holosims became further removed from humanity.  Relationships with humans never worked out in the long run.  Besides, as some of the snootier Holosims pointed out, they’d almost always be getting involved with someone below their station.

So Holosims spent more and more time in the company of other Holosims, and less and less time with humans.  Without the company of humans, and without any of the properties of the frail human bodies that had once anchored their minds in place, they began to lose certain characteristics, such as humility and altruism.  It was a slow process, resisted to a certain extent by force of habit, but it had plenty of time to act.

Environmental conditions were also worsening for humans.  Although the government of the Solar System did what it could, the majority of Holosims were somewhat blasé about pollution.  After all, it wasn’t going to affect them.  But for the humans, it was a significant problem.

To add insult to injury, unemployment among humans was at an all-time high.  Holosims practically always got the jobs; it wasn’t discrimination as such, it was just that – with their superior intellects, immense strength, and lightning reflexes – Holosims were always better qualified for tasks.

By 2200, although very few mentioned it in public, it was clear that what had started as a medium-sized gap, with the government a fairly sturdy bridge over it, had turned into a yawning chasm, the bridge increasingly strained.  Many Holosims secretly viewed humans as poor, diseased and badly-educated, with no concern for the finer things in life.  Even the lowliest Holosim was a cut above humanity.  The only way to get ahead in life was to become a Holosim.

Occasionally, a Holosim would put these thoughts into words, although they would usually be dismissed as a madman.  Sometimes, though, these words would become actions.

As has been mentioned before, Holosims possessed a potentially devatstating weapon: the Energiser.  Although most of them used theirs only for their intended purpose, i.e. a combination of food supply and eco-friendly waste disposal system, some were using them more violently – to kill humans.

These attacks were sporadic at first, and were widely condemned by the majority of Holosims, although there seemed a trend among judges to hand out lighter sentences than for human-on-human killings.

Things were soon to change forever though.  All that had happened before was merely a prelude.  The pieces were sorted; it just needed something to join them together.  That thing was Holonet.

Information scientists had recently postulated the concept of a “Holonet”, formed by the dynamic between Holosims and the Internet.  Their constant connection to it, and the constant back-and-forth transfer of information, had led to what could only be called a gestalt entity, formed by the billions of Holosim minds.

Further study of the concept led to a more startling discovery: Holonet was real, and “alive”.  It was even possible to hold conversations with it.  These conversations led to a disturbing truth: Holonet was a raving anti-human.

All the minor discriminations and prejudices that Holosims bore against humans were concentrated and magnified several billion-fold.

To make things even worse, it could wield enormous power over Holosims if it chose to.  Each Holosim was fitted with nearly unbreakable security codes, primarily to stem the problem of virus transfer and also to prevent one Holosim meddling with another’s head.  However, with the computing power of the Internet behind it, Holonet had the capability to crack these codes, enter the mind of a Holosim, and do what it wished with them.

The reality of this was brought home in 2201.  On the 12th of October, 2201, there were some 30 million Holosims and a further 300 million humans living in the United States of America.  By the morning of the 13th, only the Holosims were left.  Holonet had broken down the codes of the Holosims, and ordered each of them to Energise ten humans.

This demonstration of its power did not go unnoticed.  The Solar System government was up in arms, and demanded that Holonet explain itself.  Holonet agreed to grant them an audience.

The meeting was the stuff of legend.  To facilitate discussion, Holonet had “incarnated” itself into a light-bee.  Its chosen incarnation was as a tall, beautiful woman with silver hair and astonishing eyes, sans irises, sans pupils, glowing brightly with an eerie silver light.

Actually, “discussion” was probably the wrong word.  As soon, as they were all assembled, a humming noise could be heard.  It sounded as though it was coming from the light-bee of the President.

He looked down, puzzled, then looked up again at Holonet, who was standing at the other end of the chamber.  It smiled in a decidedly malicious way.  The humming grew louder and more high pitched.  He looked down again.  Suddenly, the noise hit a peak, and his light-bee exploded.  Holonet had overloaded it with a power surge.

The various representitives of the countries and colonies gasped.  But they were drowned out as more and more loud hummings began.  Eventually, they all exploded.  The republic was dead.  Holonet now had control over the entire Solar System, and any challenge to its power would be dealt with as mercilessly as the old government.

Its first act in power was to give Holosims a definite, uniform identity, so they could be distinguished from common, ordinary humans and thus given the respect due.  It decided on the same silver hair/eyes colour scheme that it itself had adopted.

The whole of the next century was dedicated to the establishment of the deeply polarised society seen in 2300.  Humans became second-class citizens, barely better treated than animals.  They were used mercilessly by the Holosims – as slaves, for sport.  Reproduction kept the population steady, but that was all they could ask for.

Any human who put a toe out of line was immediately energised, without trial or compassion.  But there was a carrot as well as a stick.  If a human’s conduct was good – very, very good – they would be allowed to become a Holosim.  There were drawbacks – not least the facts that Holonet could read their minds, and exert direct control over them whenever it chose – but it was still considered better than what life as a human entailed…
--> Chapter 1: [link]

This is the introductory chapter to a novel I'm quote "writing" unquote: in fact you could argue it's several books I've attempted writing, as the introduction plotline and particularly the whole Holosims (Essentially, holograms a la Rimmer from Red Dwarf, with added bonuses) concept features heavily in most of my attempts to write stuff (It runs counter to my personality, but most of the stuff I write is depressing Sci-Fi. Maybe it's just my safety valve).

I'm a fan of technology, I admit, but for some worrying reason I can't see any other result of the increase in artificial human improvement. Holosims are of course the extreme consequence, though I guess anything that allows a human consciousness to a machine is in a similar league. Holosims are more frightening because, unlike say a mechanical body which would have its own flaws as much as a human one, they posess a level of grace and power that lend them to comparison with biblical angels.

But yeah. Cybernetic implants, genetic engineering. If it solely became the province of the rich and/or influential, which is a reasonable assumption, then as far as I can see you've hit a very slippery slope.

EDIT: Title changed to reflect new... uh... title?

EDIT 2: One or two small changes.
Published:
© 2005 - 2020 PaulPower
Comments40
anonymous's avatar
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Margot-Cloud's avatar
Oooh, I really like it. You've managed to avoid the cliche of things like Terminator very well with humans becoming Holosims. Quite original. I'll definately read more, given the time.

The way you've written this is perfect, I think. Establishes setting and hooks the reader in.

It works. Very well.
PaulPower's avatar
Thanks :)

It's always slightly odd when I receive praise like this, because it's not really the way I think when I'm writing. Or is that just talent? ;p
Margot-Cloud's avatar
That would be sheer, unadulterated modesty, quite likely. ;)
Black-Manifest's avatar
well, i must say, thats quite an original story there! :highfive: im really intrigued by the 'holosim' ... its incredibly well thought of, and the story line is awesome! :XD: i havent read all of it yet, im just about to go read your second piece you left for me.

good work, that was really good! :)
DaNoodleBox's avatar
DaNoodleBoxHobbyist General Artist
I'm heeerre...my critiques are sometimes very long winded because I think outloud and would like to discuss with you why you chose some things, etc. I am overjoyed that you spell checked your work (or at least you are good at spelling) so that I don't waste my time saying 'all your I's need to be capitalized' and such nonesense. So If you agree, cool, if you don't, then don't worry about it.

Hey, awesome story. At first when I started reading this I was thinking "Oh god. Another story about AI taking over the world" but as I read on...what an interesting concept. In the age of plastic surgery, who's to say that people will not morph their bodies with little electric doo-dads? I mean, you've seen Paris Hilton, like hell she's real...making that comparison is enough to keep me up at night, you know? And it could be carried on to the next step...evil dictators could abuse this technology so that they were always alive to torment their people...freaky. I like it.

However, when you say "scientests quickly put two and two together" it almost sounds like a trend more than a growth in technology. So which is it? I like it as a trend, it sort of point out the irony in such things.

The benefits were many. Although Holosims weren’t completely invulnerable, as long as they didn’t overload on power or catch a computer virus or get hit by an electromagnetic pulse bomb (a concept that would be the Holosim equivalent of the H-bomb), they were pretty much immortal.
Did anyone say terrorism?

Then there was the ability to completely transform your appearance.
I got yelled at for putting 'you' in my essays, so this style may not be the same. Either way, 'your' could be 'their' or something.

You confront many problems between holosims and humans, but never do you mention the ability holosims must have to retain information. Sometimes the one thing that keeps someone from getting a job is that they've had no expierence in the field and the employer has no will to teach them how to do it when someone else already knows.

As soon, as they were all assembled, a humming noise could be heard
Excuse me sir, but I do believe you have an extra comma.

Verdict is: exciting. This is so interesting, and how you created an entire introduction without dialogue makes it all the more interesting! I really do like this.
AToxicDelight's avatar
Very intereting concept. I do like some sci-fi involved pieces; as long as the idea is well thought out, and in your case it is. When I have the time I will more than happily read what you've written so far and see if the novel itself catches my attention.
Iguanaray's avatar
Pretty good, damn me for not having read this earlier. Now I'm off to read the other chapters, here goes another "productive" day of my life :p
PaulPower's avatar
Heh, have fun! :)
praetoritevong's avatar
praetoritevong Photographer
It's certainly an interesting idea, one we may have to consider seriously in the not too distant future. It's a good intro, though I thought for the seriousness of the situation (I mean, we're getting a belting :P), I thought it could've been made more interesting with a little more drama from a possibly darker persona, and a little more... Committed, I suppose (to either side) tone and mood. But maybe you meant for it to be open and neutral. Either way, good work.
forgetfulwords's avatar
I like the writing alot. The line breaks are somewhat verbose though... especially for a book. Perhaps those are my own rules playing into this critique, though.

I'm not a big fan of "future writing," but yours has a nice motive. It's kind of bleak, which is something I like, and I wonder if, despite the reccuring theme of humans as toliet paper, there would be some use to these little bodies?

Nice. :)
Amber-M-Forrester's avatar
This is pretty good. I seldom come across DA writers who write Sci-Fi, but this is a really good submission. Keep it up.

P.S. Have you read Roger Zelazny? ;)
HexBlade's avatar
Hmm... it starts off somewhat hokey with all these technological advancements, and sounds like a documentary to start off with, but it gets a lot better. I do say that the pieces to fit together to make quite an intriguing puzzle.
dnmn89's avatar
Great intro. I cant really critisize it because I'm really just a beginner, but I like it
lelekelley's avatar
Even though Sci-Fi isn't really my thing I really enjoyed this.

Very creative and you've got some really great ideas there.
xephia's avatar
xephiaStudent Digital Artist
for me, at first it was a bit like a history lesson...
it looked like a chapter of the story that i would look back on while reading, or might skim read, but it didnt realy grab my interest. had it been on paper, I would have skipped right to the next chapter after not much more than the first few lines.
but, insted, I read on and became interested in about the 3rd - 5th paragraph.
Its a beggining to a realy great story, and your an incredible writer, clearly passionate about the topic.
I found very little to critisise, but here is that little critism that I did find.
You first speek of 2030AD, then in the second paragraph you move to 2010AD. Thats not a problem, but you say 'By 2010AD' which makes me feel that the time went from 2030 - 2010, if that makes any sense to you. that isnt realy critisism... im just curious as to why you wrote it like that.
also, I think your paragraphs are a tad to short. just a wee bit.

Anyhow, I think that your work is truely AMAZING and i'll be one of the first to buy it when you publish it.
great job (way better than my story anyhow, XD)
and good luck.
PaulPower's avatar
Well, the idea is to have an introductory paragraph set "present day" to jolt the reader's brain, and then go into the history next paragraph. Although I admit I could probably do with rewriting that first paragraph really, and while I'm at it include a line like "Perhaps it would be a good idea to explain how things got this way"

Yeah, someone else noticed I tend to write in short paragraphs. I think this may be a reaction to "walls of text" on the internet (ie, long rants without any paragraphing at all). Overly long paragraphs tend to distract me when reading online, and as a result I tend to use shorter ones. OTOH, it could in part be an illusion caused by a lot more words fitting on a line on dA than in, say, a paperback novel. I haven't really done an "average paragraph length" check against any of my favourite authors, but I'd imagine that there isn't too much in it.

Anyway, thanks for the support and I liked the "when you publish it" ;) :hug:
EMKARO's avatar
I like this... I can see where your drawings are coming from now.
TrackGirl's avatar
I love the idea thats behind this. I'm not one typically for more sci-fi technology related storie but I must admit that I'm intrigued by this and I'm assuming that you have more chapters on here that I should probably read to as now I really want to know what happens next.

and the idea of holisms (if i spelt that right) was great almost for a moment made me want to be one and be a somethign great or extremely smart what would happen to sports though? would everyone be the same and be good or would they put restrictions of sports and your abilities? Just curious.

then after I read about holonet I had decided I'd be an animal! lol. I wouldn't be a slave and I couldn't have my mind read. but really my childlike thoughts aside. this was amazingly written and definately so well written that I want to read more.

:D
PaulPower's avatar
Yep, I have other chapters - 18 so far, and three more to come. Quick way to access them all is to do Prose > Fiction > Sci-Fi with the category search function on my Gallery page.

If you do read them, please note the presence of continuity errors. These will be fixed once I do what I like to call The Big Edit, which will begin once I've finished writing the story.

Sports is an interesting question, and a similar one is being addressed by the roleplaying system a friend of mine is trying to base off it. Essentially, all Holosims are equally strong, and this strength is massive, but their dexterity varies, not through actual physical limitation but through how force of habit developed when human shapes their realisation of being a Holosim. A Holosim can of course train themselves to break those habits and maximise their potential, but that makes them lose their humanity even faster than the simple passage of time.

Holonet has set certain caps on how good you can actually get, for the most part because it runs against her doctrine that no-one can be better than her at anything.

Anyway, thanks for the comment and I'm very glad you want to read more! :)
TrackGirl's avatar
thank you for that explanation it gives me more insight into the story and now I want to be a holoism just so i can be super fast at hurdles! lol *sighs* anyway I was thinking of featuring this first intro of your story in my journal just wondered if you would be ok with that?
PaulPower's avatar
That would be excellent. Thank you very much!
TrackGirl's avatar
you're very welcome :D
TrackGirl's avatar
you're very welcome :D
anonymous's avatar
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