Excerpt: St. William at the Pearly Gates
I started this story a few years ago, and it’s still hovering around the top quarter of stuff I need to finish soon. It’s set in a future where a centralized system, Systema, is home to a large number of human consciousnesses, including that of Bill Gates. The story is largely about what is different, developmentally, when immortality or extreme long-life are possible. In the world of the story, a form of suicide is common; it is not the wholly negative thing it is in our mortal world, though not everyone, even in that world, understands it. The tale begins with a letter from Microsoft informing stock-holders of Gates’ decision to “retire.”
It’s strange to read over this material this week, with all the conversation about the death of Steve Jobs. There’s actually a part in the story where Jobs is asked by a newspaper what he thinks of Gates’ decision (“It’s about fucking time.”). I’ll have to edit that now – or maybe not. In any event, there’s been a bit of speculation as to what will happen when Gates dies. I cover that, though I suspect it won’t go quite the way I’ve plotted it.
It’s an epistolary story, a format I really enjoy and hope to utilize more in the future. This segment is from a long “exit interview” of Gates, conducted by an AI approximation of Carl Jung.
J: Is it possible, perhaps, that the existence of this door, and your knowledge of it, could be more important that it’s actual presence?
G: They could be to someone. To me they’re not. They were for a long time. But I’m tired.
J: Death is not an appropriate response to weariness. That’s what sleep is for.
G: I’m not weary, Mister Jung. I’m Tired.
J: Are you tired of life, or are you tired of your life?
G: I’m not sure I’d know the difference.
J: Do you think maybe you’ve climbed too high? That you now are above everything, with no heroes, no idols, no stories left to tell or to call upon for guidance?
G: That’s probably part of it.
J: I think, Mr. Gates, that you have become an archetype. You, yourself. I think you may be outside of human psychology by any standards. I think you are a man who has reluctantly become a totemic entity. You are no longer Bill Gates. You are the sign that points to Bill Gates.
G: Flattery will get you everywhere.