The short story “Life of the Author plus 70″ by Kenneth Schneyer was published for the first time in 2013.
Eric Weiss is a writer who had no success. He’s the only person to have borrowed his own novel from the local library after he suggested buying it. Eventually, he had to adapt to working for a creative department of cartoons. By signing his contract he noticed the curious clause that includes the possibility for him to get hibernated in case of life threats.
Things to improve for Weiss but after ten years he gets warned that he never returned the book he borrowed. The fine to be paid is $102,400 and Weiss’ attempts to amicably solve the situation only make it worse. His case is handled by an artificial intelligence and it’s impossible to talk to a human being. Weiss is forced to try every loophole to try not to pay an awful lot of money.
Ending up in the gears of bureaucracy is terrible because it’s an inhumane system but what happens when a bureaucratic problem is handled by an artificial intelligence, thus eliminating any human involvement? That’s what happens to Eric Weiss, a writer forced to wage a battle to the last loophole to avoid paying a disproportionate fine for not returning a copy of the book he wrote to a library.
Eric Weiss had little success as a writer and his novel might cost him a lot. He’s the only one to have borrowed it in the library where it’s available but he forgets to return it. The consequence is that after ten years he’s asked to pay a huge fine. Unfortunately for him, his case is handled by an artificial intelligence that is far from perfect despite the progress achieved at the beginning of the 22nd century.
Kenneth Schneyer worked as a lawyer in the course of his life so he knows the problems conncted to contracts, clauses and caveats. The story “Life of the Author plus 70″ is developed exactly on the interpretation of the laws and contracts and their possible developments throughout the 22nd century.
The availability of artificial intelligence that can follow a case indefinitely but don’t always understand the situation completely can generate a terrible bureaucracy. Eric Weiss tries to use cryogenic suspension to escape it but this gives rise to new legal developments he hadn’t foreseen.
“Life of the Author plus 70″ has a light-hearted tone but tells the disturbing story of the fight between Eric Weiss and the increasingly advanced artificial intelligences following his case. It’s narrated in the first person by the protagonist, who tells us about his moods and his frustrations in dealing with inhuman contacts.
It’s a plot-driven story where Eric Weiss is the only significant character, also because the story goes on for more than a century with various leaps forward when the protagonist enters hibernation. For this reason, the pace is very fast despite the very long period of time covered in theory.
The result is a story really well done that will give you many laughs but often bitter. I recommend reading “Life of the Author plus 70″, also taking advantage of the fact that it’s available in an ebook together with “Whole Truth Witness” on Amazon USA, Amazon UK and Amazon Canada.