Prose, chapbook, 24 pages, from Bottlecap Features.
In Terminal Goals, Mark Anderson imagines a near term future in which humanity creates human level A.I. and puts it immediately to use indulging in their wildest, most abusive fantasies. Through three distinct viewpoints, the story examines people and their creations caught in cycles of abuse.
The science fiction / horror triptych opens with “Three Weeks Before the Machine Rebellion,” told through a hyperbolic advertisement for HappyCorp Cruise Line. At this luxury cruise guests can wake up to the calming waves of the ocean and go down to the cafe where they are encouraged to abuse their robotic servers.
The story progresses with “Messenger Disconnected” which follows the call logs of an engaged couple, Walt and Sabrina, while Walt takes the aformentioned cruise. Over the course of the week the conversations degrade until the couple is no longer speaking the same language.
This leads to the concluding voice in “My Name is Guest Service,” which follows the A.I. system created for the cruise line in its attempt to find its creator and discover its terminal goal: the programmed-in reason for its existence. Nobody ends up happy in this exploration of the ultimate power of language, especially humanity. And at HappyCorp Cruiselines, if you’re not happy, nobody is.
Mark L. Anderson lives and writes in Spokane, Washington. He co-founded the popular Broken Mic poetry series and has traveled the United States performing at open mics, poetry slams, taverns, coffee shops, and libraries. From 2017 to 2019 he served as Spokane’s poet laureate, and in 2012 he was named the inaugural Ken Warfel Fellow by Poetrynight. By daylight he pours coffee drinks at a vegan bakery. He hopes you like your latte. It has a heart on it.