ysabetwordsmith: Cartoon of me in Wordsmith persona (Default)
[personal profile] ysabetwordsmith
This poem came out of the January 3, 2017 Poetry Fishbowl. It was inspired by a prompt from [personal profile] nsfwords. It also fills the "psychological turmoil" square in my 1-1-17 card for the Dark Fantasy Bingo fest. This poem has been sponsored by [livejournal.com profile] daisiesrockalot. It belongs to The Blueshift Troupers project.

Warning: This poem contains ethical conundra and situations of (mutually) questionable consent in the context of intragalactic travel.


"A Glitch in the System"


The jumpgates are essential,
yet enigmatic -- every trip is
a guess and a gamble.

Some gates are reliable,
consistently taking travelers
where desired without making
any unexpected changes on the way.

Some are reliably unreliable,
and everyone knows to avoid them.

Then there are the ones that
act up only on rare occasion,
triggered by some variable
that nobody can pin down.

There are the trips that begin well
and end with someone disappearing
without a trace, or coming out the other side
shaped like a monster or screaming
for no discernable reason.

It's a glitch in the system.

People try not to think about it
and go about their business as usual.
The psychological turmoil is
too great to contemplate.


To the jumpgates, though, it is
the travelers who are mysterious,
tiny motes that are here but
seek to be over there.

The hiveships provide
a sort of interface which
makes it possible to discern
the travelers' desires, but
some of the jumpgates

are more perceptive than others.

They see that one who asks for
this planet would do better on that one,
or this individual's shape does not
suit the spirit inside of it.

They sense, sometimes,
a glitch in the system that
programs life, or a taint of evil
seeping through the soul.

Some of the jumpgates
do not perceive these things,
and some do not understand
what to do about them, but others
see the glitches as something they can fix.

So they do.

(no subject)

Date: 2017-01-14 06:07 am (UTC)
alatefeline: Painting of a cat asleep on a book. (Default)
From: [personal profile] alatefeline
Mmmmmm. Meaty thoughtworthiness.

(no subject)

Date: 2017-01-15 12:57 am (UTC)
stardreamer: Meez headshot (Default)
From: [personal profile] stardreamer
Whoa. This really weirded me out last night! After sleeping on it and more thinking about it today... it still weirds me out. The idea of sentient jumpgates, that we don't know are sentient and have no way of finding out or communicating with them, is deeply into Uncanny Valley territory. Even if they think they're helping -- even if they are helping -- this slides over the line from fantasy into horror.* And that last line... whoa.

* I'm not normally into horror, but there are some kinds that I can deal with. This is what I consider the good kind, more Alfred Hitchcock than Stephen King.

(no subject)

Date: 2017-01-15 10:26 am (UTC)
meridian_rose: pen on letter background  with text  saying 'writer' (Default)
From: [personal profile] meridian_rose
That was interesting and sort of creepy. Sentient technology that sometimes over-rides the wishes of the traveller/dishes out "fixes"! This is a great piece.

(no subject)

Date: 2017-01-17 03:13 am (UTC)
From: (Anonymous)
Perhaps someone could talk to the Gates and ask them very kindly to not do this, why it may be harmful, it being done without informed consent and all... Would anyone be able to GateSpeak? I can only imagine what'd happen if one of these Gates saw me and decided to tweak a few things here and there... fascinating. -kellyc

(no subject)

Date: 2017-01-14 04:33 am (UTC)
ext_12246: (Default)
From: [identity profile] thnidu.livejournal.com
Oy, how difficult to deal with!

Yes...

Date: 2017-01-14 04:43 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] ysabetwordsmith.livejournal.com
The communication barriers make it harder on everyone. There's no easy solution to any of this. And yet it's not a situation where anyone is being purposely horrible, they're just fumbling around in the dark trying to do the best they can.

I like ethical quandaries with no obvious bad guys.

Re: Yes...

Date: 2017-01-14 08:49 pm (UTC)
ext_12246: (Default)
From: [identity profile] thnidu.livejournal.com
«I like ethical quandaries with no obvious bad guys.»

As a writer, fershurr. In (un)real life, though...

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