Any sufficiently advanced technology
is indistinguishable from magic.
~ Arthur C. Clarke
What is magic? Is it only a science e or technology beyond what a person is aware of?
I have talked to and read of tarot readers who when studying the cards may enter a state where the representative characters painted on the cards become alive and speak with the reader.
As we continue our move into technically augmented realities there will be a time in the not too distant future where mystics and fortune tellers use virtual tools to aid them in their profession the same way astrologers began using early personal computers to cast their clients’ charts.
In The Californian‘s, a subchapter of Unfolding: Awakening Chapter 7, Drew and Andrea meet in a virtual office used by his sister Candice’s artificially intelligent counterpart to discuss their upcoming trip. On entering the office Drew finds Candice has left a message for him hidden in an arrangement of cards on the conference table.
Andrea describes what it was like:
I clicked on the door’s nameplate. It shot within millimeters of my nose clattering on the floor behind me. “Aiyee!” I cried. “What happened?”
Drew cackled, “It’s a warning. The students built scripts into various objects. That one is a trap to catch newbies. They want to let you know to be careful what you click on. Tap UNDO and it will reattach itself.
“Oh, when you get more experience, you can use gestures too. Your Heads Up Display has a camera in it, which among other things, can track the position of your hands.”
I watched the sign fly back across the room and reattach to the door, “I better just follow you. I wanted to ask what ‘C2’ stood for.”
“Ah, that’s the Artificial Intelligence’s office. She’s a near duplicate of Candice and is fed as much of Candice’s memories as possible. One day the AI called Candice ‘C1’, Candice, called the AI ‘C2’ and that’s all it took for her to get her own office.”
“Is it safe to go inside?”
“The AI is offline tonight. I can show you the room, but don’t touch anything.”
“Don’t worry about that,” I promised.
Drew opened the door and I followed. He snorted as soon as we entered.
Drew pointed at a deck of cards on the glass conference table.
“What is it, someone playing solitaire in the virtual world?”
“Look again, notice anything different?”
“It’s an odd pattern?”
“It’s Tarot,” he said touching the card in the center of the spread with his pointing action.
The card enlarged and turning to face us, it expanded to fill the vertical limit of my HUD. The caricature of a brightly colored jester laughed, startling me. I flew back in my chair becoming disoriented again.
Drew chuckled this time, “The Fool.”
“What does it mean?” I asked, hoping he wasn’t referring to me.
He pointed once again. The jester stepped out of the card and sat lazily on the edge of the table, playing with his magic wand. “What do I mean? To which of you am I cast?”
“That would be me,” answered Drew. “Have you a message from your mistress?”
The Fool stood and glared imperiously, “My mistress does not change my message for anyone! She has placed me in the center of the spread to represent the one who activates me. You have identified yourself as he, so hear my message! You come to me as one seeking experience. From said experience, you will grow wise…, unfortunately, you will not become wise until you have had the experience. Touch my right shoulder to continue this conversation,” the character stared at Drew then blinked.
“What does he … it … mean?”
Drew stroked his chin, “Candice has a wicked sense of humor.”
“Just like me,” he sighed.
He brightened, explaining, “The card runs a script; it means nothing, except the interpretation I give it. If this were truly a random spread, I would consider it and ask myself, ‘What experiences am I seeking’. Tarot basically throws a card at you and asks, ‘What do I mean to you?’”
“I don’t know, Drew, I’ve seen some pretty accurate readings. My mother used to play fortune teller at New Year’s Eve parties with a WITCH’S DECK, but quit when things she predicted came true.”
“Oh, the reader can make a difference, Andrea. Candice, for instance, has a very high hit rate. If you look at it and ask yourself, ‘What does this card means to me?’ that’s one thing. If a person with second sight does it, they will use the aspect the card represents to focus in on your life and pull real information from The Source of All Knowledge,” he looked at me as if I understood.
“Yes, … I see.”
“Not yet, but you will soon,”.
This is as close as we get to meeting the AI in the first two books of Unfolding Series.
Cheer up, I promise after we get Unfolding Nexus published I’ll write her into the third novel where I see her becoming a permanent part of the series.
– Jeffrey A. Limpert
2005-05-08 i like plasma