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By adamba in Fiction
Fri Apr 04, 2003 at 05:42:12 AM EST
Tags: Technology (all tags)

The bump was enough to spill a small quantity of his drink.

He reached over to the table, close at hand in such a confined space, and picked up a napkin. He carefully blotted up the spill, avoiding the printouts strewn across the desk.

As he opened the trash panel and threw the napkin in, it belatedly occurred to him that the bump had been unusually strong. He frowned, then checked his watch. Time for a break anyway. Time to play his favorite mental game--where, exactly, was he?

The short answer was that he was home, as always. Looking around confirmed this--the same desk, same bed, same small kitchen and eating area, all of it crammed into a space that was about 92 inches high, 92 inches wide, and 19 feet long: 147 square feet of living area. The interior dimensions were dictated by the exterior dimensions: exactly 20 feet long, 8 1/2 feet wide, and 8 feet high--the size of a standard shipping container, the twenty-foot equivalent unit or TEU, used by shipping companies all over the world.

No coincidence, of course. In fact, at this moment his TEU was being shipped to South America, site of his next job. The door was shut. Above it a red light glowed, implying a stern warning: "Do not exit!" The blinds on the window opposite the door were also shut, although he could have opened them if he wished. In all likelihood the view would be the outer wall of another TEU stacked next to his, likely painted a rusty brown or dull blue. Quite unlike his own, covered in a garishly bright red, to indicate that the contents were a little less sturdy than the plastic toys and toaster ovens that fill most shipping containers. Hence the nickname for people like him--"redwalls." Most crane operators, when they encountered a red TEU, would be careful to load it on the ship last, at the top. Some, however, took a sadistic pleasure in stuffing red TEUs way down in the bottom of the hold, and he had no particular desire to find out which was the case this time.

He was on a ship, he was almost certain. Years of travel with no view to the outside had desensitized him to most feelings of motion, but that bump had felt like a ship coming into a dock a little too hard, rather than a plane landing or a truck hitting a pothole in the road. A status indicator on the wall confirmed that his support TEU, painted bright green, was hooked up next to him, giving him a month of air, water, and food. On a plane they usually didn't bother hooking it up.

On a ship, as expected...certainly there had been enough lead time to get him to South America by ship, but he never could predict Magellan's thoughts on transportation. Sometimes Magellan would hold him back longer than necessary, even if it meant flying him to the site. Was this to keep him available in case better jobs came along, or merely to force clients to realize how dependent they were on his services? Flying the TEU was prohibitively expensive, he knew, although he cared little for the cost; he knew only that if he went where Magellan told him and did his job for his clients, someone would keep paying the bills that allowed him to continue his fantastical lifestyle.

He checked his display. He could easily have asked where he was, and gotten a result so accurate that he could gauge the swell of the waves by monitoring changes in position. But that was too easy. In any case, living as he did, his exact position was generally irrelevant, as long as he was on track to get to his next client on time (which the display informed him, in the one section that he could not remove, would mean arriving in 2 days, 3 hours). What mattered was his level of connectivity to the worldwide data network, and the speed with which needed physical items could be brought to him.

Assuming the ship had docked, his connectivity should be pretty high, once the ship's main data cable was hooked up to a landline. Still with satellite bandwidth increasing so rapidly, it was hard to tell any difference from what was available at sea...He checked on what foods were available to order. A milkshake was ten minutes away, presumably from the ship's kitchen; a freshly cooked steak would take half an hour, meaning it would come from a restaurant on shore. He brought up his personal craving, a bagel with cream cheese from his favorite bakery in New York City. It showed the usual time, four hours. Enough time for a young man in an expensive suit to be dispatched to the store, stand in line with other hungry customers, shout out his order to the man behind the counter, wait for the bagel to be toasted just so and slathered with cream cheese, pay for it, and then, through a combination of limousines, airplanes, and helicopters, deliver the brown paper bag and its precious contents to him. There was no cost listed beside the items; if he needed a bagel, then nothing would do but that heaven and earth move to bring him his bagel. The expense was something for Magellan to hide in the client's bill.

Experimenting with the availability of certain brand-name fast-food items, he decided that the ship was docked in San Juan, Puerto Rico. After hesitating a bit, he confirmed this on the display. He checked his watch again. Time to get some rest. He had to coordinate his sleep schedule so he would be waking up a few hours before he arrived at the client's site.


The accommodations in which he found himself were the result of a long evolution that began in 1956, when Malcolm McLean sent the first containerized ship from Port Newark to Houston. Critics sneered, but McLean's breakthrough signaled the beginning of the end of break-bulk shipping, in which items were loaded and unloaded individually. Four years after the Ideal-X discharged its load of 58 containers, a dedicated container terminal was built at Port Elizabeth. In 1969 Richard Gibney, frustrated by variations in container sizes, coined the term TEU to refer to one whose exterior dimensions were eight feet wide and twenty feet long.

The first TEU apartment was in Tokyo Harbor, a development known as Kiseki City. It began as a way to simplify construction. Every unit was self-contained, with standardized connections for air, water, network, waste, and so on, and because they were the size of a standard shipping container, they could be built anywhere in the world and delivered easily. Kiseki City had been constructed on top of the main Japanese data backbone, right next to the new floating airport, and soon a certain class of knowledge workers began to gravitate to it, workers who valued the proximity to the airport above all else, and who spent so little time in their homes that the small size didn't bother them.

Eventually someone had the idea of modifying one section of Kiseki City to include cranes, so that individual containers could be detached and sent to the other TEU apartments that were springing up around the globe. But the inhabitants still traveled separately, meeting up with their movable homes for long-term assignments elsewhere.

Finally, with the development of the green support TEUs, the infrastructure was in place to allow people to move inside their homes, the ultimate travel perk for those who could command it.

His nominal home was Bak Stad, a TEU apartment outside Rotterdam, home to the largest container port in Europe. In practice this meant that on the rare occasions when a job finished before a new one had been lined up, his TEU would be loaded on a ship bound in the direction of the Netherlands. Often, before he arrived back home, Magellan would call and he would be redirected somewhere else.

It was a shame, in a way. With his TEU nestled in its berth in Bak Stad, his window afforded him a beautiful view over the water. Any food or product was available within hours. He could leave his TEU, stroll the common areas, occasionally chat with his neighbors, other redwalls like himself. Many of them would be gone, off on their own jobs. Bak Stad was fully leased, but rarely more than one-third full.


When he awoke, a message was waiting for him from Idea Auction, a knowledge broker. To amuse himself he occasionally bid, sight unseen, on the right to have a first peek at new writing from various deep thinkers. The message informed him that he had placed the second-highest bid on a 546-word essay from Naoe Hoshizaki, a young topological economist. The highest bidder had seen it a week ago; he would now have one day before the third-place bidder was given an hour to look at it, at which point it would be released to the world.

He read the document, a quick insight into the way daylight savings time affected arbitrage between the New York and Tokyo stock exchanges. Interesting, but he wasn't sure how he was going to use the idea to enrich himself in the next 24 hours. It wasn't his location, buried in a pile of containers on a ship in the Caribbean: he was as connected as he ever was. He simply didn't have the energy, or the time, to concentrate on it, with his arrival at the client site less than 48 hours away. He wondered idly what the high bidder had been up to in the past week, but a quick scan of the East-West Index revealed no unusual trading patterns.

Meeting a client for the first time made him nervous. He was aware that his services, compounded by his mode of travel, were prohibitively expensive. Emerging from his TEU, he felt like an alien landing on Earth. He knew that some people mocked redwalls, called them "red inks", compared them to babies who always needed the same car seat and the same pacifier wherever they traveled. Yet it was hard, leaving his ultra-tech, air-conditioned TEU, as often as not stepping into the kind of inhospitable climate where his expertise was most in demand, not to feel superior to the poor wretches he encountered, doomed to a life of first-class airline tickets and catered limousine rides.

To occupy his time, he spent a few hours playing World Conquest. As he played, the display tracked and analyzed his moves. By now, he knew, it could simulate his play almost perfectly. He was proud of the fact that he was good enough to compete in the top division, in which he had to make every move himself, but demands on his time had grown, and he was currently playing a few divisions down, in which the display was allowed to make up to 20% of his moves. He checked what had been done on his behalf since he last played, and confirmed that the simulation of himself remained perfect.


The alarm went off two hours before he was due at the client, but he had been lying awake for fifteen minutes. Having monitored him as he spent every night for the last six years sleeping in his TEU, the display had a pretty good idea of how long he would sleep on a given night, and had suggested the proper bedtime the night before. In fact it was now two o'clock in the afternoon, local time, but he had long ago abandoned any attempt to synchronize his sleep patterns with the concept of local nighttime.

His first meeting with the client was to take place near the dock. He would shake some hands, pose for a few pictures, then board a helicopter for the ride out to the client's headquarters, while his TEU followed behind in a truck. The helicopter ride was superfluous, but he would indulge his clients as they showed off their own fancy means of transportation.

As he lay there, a voice echoed in his ear. "Arbol...tree... telefono...telephone... nave...ship," it intoned in a soothing voice. To help him improve his Spanish, he had instructed the display to repeat words whenever it detected that he was unoccupied. Now, however, he wanted a few moments of real silence. He subvocalized the word "Stop," and the voice went away.

Lying in bed, he reflected on the fact that the alarm sounding meant that he had exactly the right amount of time to prepare himself, requiring neither wasteful inactivity nor undue hurry. He savored the feeling of accuracy, of machinelike precision, that this gave him. He took a shower, got dressed, then ate a light snack. Despite his nerves, he enjoyed these moments tremendously. He had done all his homework; everything was ready. All that remained was for him to use his intelligence to solve problems. He was supremely confident of his ability to do so.

Magellan called with some words of encouragement. Although he pictured Magellan as a man, he had never met him in person, and on the phone Magellan had his voice resynthed to be exactly halfway between male and female. He was fairly certain that Magellan was male--most people in this line of work were--and merely disguised his gender to add to his aura of mystery.

The light above the door glowed green. He picked up a small case and removed what appeared to be a pair of contact lenses, inserting one into each eye. These were his iEyes, officially known as "electronic vision enhancers." The front of the iEye captured the image coming into each eye, "enhanced" it in realtime, and displayed the result on the back, for his eye to see. If the iEye knew enough about an area, it could turn night to day; in a more general situation, it could detect the temperature of objects, and also overlay information over the image, such as the names of people he was talking to. As an added bonus, it captured a continuous video feed, which it relayed back to the display inside his TEU. This last feature made the iEye quite illegal--the government, as it typically did in such cases, had made the technology legal only if it provided a way for it to be detected and disabled by government agencies--but he had found its usefulness outweighed any legal worries, and beyond that his lifestyle made him essentially impossible to prosecute.

He had prepared for this moment extensively, running through many possible scenarios projected onto his iEyes: the initial encounter, the presentation he would give, the meetings that would follow. He had varied the audience response in each case, from indifferent to hostile to welcoming. Unlikely that he would encounter a situation for which he had not rehearsed...still he held his breath as the door slid open. He stepped out, a king arriving at a new stop on the royal round. A man shook his hand, then another. The second man had germs all over his hand, which the iEye labeled in glowing purple. Now his own hand glowed purple. His health was paramount; a sick day would cost an incalculable amount, and any illness could be life threatening inside the TEU. He walked off with the two men, holding his own hand away from him like a dead animal.


He was back in his TEU, on a truck, with his support TEU behind him. After a few days of meetings at his client's headquarters, he was relocating to the job site, a ride that was estimated to take eight hours. The site had been prepared per the instructions Magellan had sent, so that his TEU would be connected to the local infrastructure. This was the last time he would be hooked up to the support TEU for months.

The road was uneven, but his body was used to such trips, and he quickly fell asleep.


He woke up, overcome by a feeling that something was wrong.

He was not moving. Had they arrived, or had the truck stopped? Then he noticed that the display was indicating no support--his TEU was self-powered, a condition it could maintain for approximately one week. Perhaps workers were in the process of switching him from the support TEU to the permanent hookups. He waited for a few minutes, but the display did not change.

Annoyed, he swung his feet out of bed and strode to the display, and then noticed another warning displayed--"no network." Unnerved, he spoke out loud: "Call Magellan." Normally this would have been picked up by the microphone embedded in his cheek and relayed to the phone embedded in his armpit, and the call would have been placed. Instead, his earpiece beeped regularly. A busy signal, an audio relic of ancient phones that had survived to the present, but a sound he almost never heard.

When he placed a call, his voice took many hops. First a small electrode near his heart sent the signal into his bloodstream, turning his body into an antenna. This signal was normally picked up by his TEU, but could also connect to local wireless phone infrastructure, or failing that, one of the GWI satellites overhead. He had never been in a situation where none of those worked.

He sat for a moment, pondering his options. The client was responsible for transporting him to the site, thus any delay was not his fault. He smiled weakly to himself...having assured himself that his relationship with the client was covered, he could now turn to the minor matter of his own survival.

A brief wave of panic swept over him, but he steeled himself and fought it off. The TEU was working; its batteries were fully charged. He had a week of power and food; the air outside was presumably breathable, the climate mild. Humans had survived for millennia in similar conditions without the aid of TEUs, although at times he found it hard to believe. More than a few hours of separation tended to make him feel naked.

He pressed the button to open the window, unsure what he would see. No surprise, just jungle. It appeared to be drizzling lightly.

He checked the display again; still no connection. Shrugging, he grabbed his jacket and stood in front of the door, wondering. He pressed the button to open it.

The smell hit him first, as always. After the antiseptic air inside the TEU, real nature was a shock. He felt as though he could smell every grain of dirt, every leaf on the trees, every drop of rain falling from the sky.

He stepped out the door, swung himself down to the ground, walked around to the front of the truck. The jungle was eerily quiet, so quiet that it made his ears ring. It was missing a sound to which he had become so accustomed that he did not realize how accustomed he was, a sound that he had come to associate with the march of progress: the high-pitched whine, barely audible, impossible to locate.

The door of the truck was open, the cab empty, the keys gone. His support TEU was still sitting on the truck behind him, but the cables had been disconnected. With a shock he realized that he had no knowledge of how to connect them, and no tools either. The dirt road stretched away in either direction, empty. He walked slowly around the truck, but could find no clue as to what had happened.

Climbing up into the cab, he grasped the steering wheel. It had been a decade since he had driven a car. He closed the doors to keep the rain out, and examined the various dials. Eventually he concluded that the truck had no data connection.

Sitting in the cab, he admired the commanding view of the unchanging road ahead. His TEU was the height of technology, but ultimately it depended on lesser forms of transportation to go anywhere. The truck had no thumbprint reader, no retina scanner, no adaptive mirrors. It was a throwback, a precise combination of physical artifacts, metal and plastic and rubber, a reminder of a time when computers were viewed as more fallible than humans. The operation of the truck would have been obvious to Henry Ford, dreaming of an assembly line on the banks of the River Rouge, but it was beyond his skill. He moved his hands over the steering wheel, imagining himself driving such a vehicle down the road. The truck would have no part of such fantasies, and remained stolidly immobile on the road.

He opened the glove compartment, found an owner's manual. His Spanish was rusty, even augmented with the vocabulary drills he had done during his spare moments in the TEU. In his line of work, everyone he dealt with spoke English, or provided translators. His display back in the TEU could have translated for him, but he had nothing better to do.

After an hour he had worked his way through most of the manual. Useless knowledge unless he could find the keys, of course. But the keys were gone, along with the driver, any sign of his client, and possibly civilization itself.

Eventually he climbed down from the cab and re-entered his TEU. The normalcy was shocking; with the door and window closed, he could pretend that nothing was amiss. Only the warnings glowing faintly on the display hinted at the situation he was in.

Bewildered by his sudden glut of free time, he sat at his display paging through a current bestseller. This one allowed customization of the two main characters, the protagonist and his nemesis. He had given the protagonist his own name, of course; the nemesis he had named Magellan, in a moment of whimsy that he still puzzled over. He could not resist constantly checking the corner of the display, but the warnings remained. He was alone.

Finally, he slept. That was the first day.


On the third day, when he opened the door to his TEU, she was standing there.

Magellan had sent him copious information about the job site before he arrived, and after consulting the display he had decided the risk of encountering any threatening or poisonous animal was small. Reassured, he had spent the second day exploring the jungle around the TEU. For the most part it was the same in every direction, bisected by the road. About a mile from his TEU there was a small lake. He felt as if his brain were hurting from lack of use...he needed a problem to tackle. Absent that, he prepared lunch from the food available in the TEU. He carried it off to the lake and enjoyed his picnic. That night, exhausted from his travels, he slept soundly.

On the third day, when he opened the door to his TEU, she was standing there.

At first, he didn't notice her, expecting to see the same jungle panorama that had greeted him the two previous days.

When his brain registered what his eyes were seeing, he jumped back in alarm, his heart pounding.

He had not bothered to wear his iEyes, realizing that in this unfamiliar environment, they added nothing. She was the first person he had met in a long time that he had not been prepped about, that Magellan had not sent him a long dossier about.

"Hello?" he tried to say, but his throat was too dry. With his phone not working, he had not spoken in two days. He swallowed and tried again. "Hello?" Did she speak English? Why would she? Why wouldn't she? Why, in fact, would anything be or not be a certain way?

Her stare was level. He could not guess at her ethnicity. She wore jeans, a t-shirt, a jacket, boots.

She led him away into the forest, moving effortlessly, but waiting patiently as he struggled over fallen logs and under thick branches. After a few miles they arrived at a small cabin. She fed him lunch: fish, a melon he could not identify, odd-tasting milk, a fruit that looked vaguely kiwi-like. Afterwards, she showed him where she had fished, harvested, plucked. To her the jungle was an endless source of food, astonishingly easy to obtain.

Outside her cabin, he surreptitiously dropped a small device known as a gypsy, which combined a phone and a locator device. Calls to the phone were greeted with a digitized voice reading back the exact location of the device. It was simple to have his own phone lock on to the gypsy, combine the information it was returning with the location of his own phone, and lead him on a precise path back to the gypsy.

He brought her back to the TEU for dinner. He showed her his display, his desk, his cramped living quarters. She smiled slightly at everything. He bristled at this: he expected--what exactly? Awe? Fear? Incomprehension? Anything but this sense of mild amusement.

She ate everything he served her, although he realized, to his surprise and chagrin, that the food was stunningly bland. At her cabin, he had watched her prepare the ingredients for lunch; here he punched a few buttons on the display, and four minutes later he opened a panel to reveal the food. She watched all this, inscrutably.

Afterwards, he led her into the forest, following the directions from his earpiece that guided him towards the gypsy, hoping to impress her with his tracking skills. They soon reached a small clearing with the stump of a tree in the middle. According to the relay from the gypsy they should have been at the cabin, but it was nowhere to be seen.

Smiling, she reached into the rotting stump of the log, pulled out the gypsy, and handed it to him, wordlessly. Then she led him through the woods to her cabin.


The next morning, he woke with a strange disconnected feeling, which he couldn't place at first. He felt a chirping in his ear and realized that he had been woken up by his earpiece. This was how he normally woke up: the jarring sensation was because he had been woken up by his earpiece while lying on a pile of leaves in a cabin in the middle of a jungle.

After he signaled that he was awake, a voice began talking in his ear - the almost-but-not-quite human voice that he had assigned to the display in his TEU. Evidently, someone or something was trying to open the door of the TEU.

Normally, the TEU would open only in his presence, and it was hardened enough that it was essentially impossible to open without destroying it. But the attack signified the presence of life, likely human life, of which he had seen none in the jungle so far beyond the woman who lay beside him. It meant danger, but also the possibility of an explanation for the strange events of the past few days.

The two of them ate quickly and set off through the jungle. When his earpiece warned him that they were approaching the TEU, he stopped, and put his finger to his lips. She smiled, put her hand on his hand, and gently moved it back down to his side. She stepped past him and quietly led the way for the last little stretch.

Hidden in the vegetation by the side of the road, they could see the reason for the TEU's distress call. A man holding a rifle was standing in front of the door, running his finger along the seam at the bottom. Another man, also armed, was sitting in the passenger's side of the truck cab, warily surveying the jungle. A few scratches and discolorations on the red paint showed the result of futile attempts to force the door open.

The TEU could be opened remotely, but it required entering a code on a keypad, located on the opposite side of the truck from their vantage point near the door. After some gesturing and handwaving, he communicated what he hoped was the essence of his plan. She took a few steps and melted into the jungle. He crouched where he was, waiting, wondering if she understood the full extent of what she was about to participate in.

Suddenly the noise of a falling tree shattered the silence. He had been expecting it, but it still made his heart leap. The effect on the two men was much more dramatic. Both rushed to the side of the road, weapons at the ready, peering into the dense growth. He took advantage of the distraction to run, crouching, across to the other side of the road. Then, while the men debated between themselves what to do next, he hurried to the side of the truck, gently slid open the keypad cover, and typed in the code.

The trap was ready, if the bait worked...Back at the side of the road, kneeling next to the tire, he could look under the truck and see the legs of the two men. He silently instructed the door to open, and heard the sudden outcry from the men when it did. One pair of legs disappeared. He waited, hoping. Would the second man go in also? Finally, after what seemed an interminable wait, the second set of legs swung up and out of sight. He quickly shut the door behind them.

As he approached the keypad again, he wondered, as he often had, what had inspired the designers of the TEU to include the feature he was about to use. He thought of the code he had memorized years before, and how he had tried to imagine scenarios in which he would have to use it. Or was it, perhaps, someone else who was supposed to use the code, with him inside the TEU? Magellan had promised him that they were the only two people who knew the code, but even if that were true, he felt little comfort at the thought.

As his hand came to rest on the cool plastic of the buttons, he had a brief flicker of doubt. He looked at the red button beside it, covered in warning messages. Yes, the assets in the TEU had to be protected, and the men inside could do a lot of damage once they overcame their curiosity. He thought of how he had felt as he crouched in the forest, unarmed, watching the men trying to break into the TEU. His TEU!


The men weren't as heavy as he had thought they would be, not with two people to carry them. As they walked back to the TEU, a sudden glint on the ground caught his eyes. Puzzled, he scrabbled around in the ground, and after some digging discovered a single key, on a plain metal keychain.

Just then he heard a radio squawk from the direction where they had left the men. A sense of urgency gripped him. Could the key be what he hoped it was, beyond any reasonable expectation? The two men undoubtedly knew others who would investigate if they did not return. Moving the truck and the TEU somewhere else on the road had suddenly become very important. They hurried back to the truck.

They key fit the ignition perfectly. The truck started up and sat there rumbling. He felt a huge sense of accomplishment, of being proven right, as when a long-debated assumption was suddenly, against all odds, proven correct, as when an unstable construction of desperate guesses and dubious logic collapsed into a single incontrovertible fact.

His relief was short-lived, quickly replaced with another feeling: Now what? He thought back to the manual he had read days before, trying to recall the instructions, so foreign to him. Sitting in the seat, he attempted what seemed to be the right combination of pushing pedals and moving the gear shift, but the truck only lurched forward a foot before stopping. A second attempt proved no more fruitful. He could feel the sweat beading on his brow.

He felt her hand on his. With a rush of comprehension, he lowered himself down from the cab and walk around to the passenger seat, while she slid over to the driver's side.

After a while it seemed that they had traveled a safe distance, and the jungle was starting to darken in the heavy shade of the trees. He opened the door of the TEU, climbed in, and helped her in after him. He attempted to demonstrate how he would sleep on the floor while she could have the bed, but she seemed unwilling to remain in the TEU. Thinking back to the sterile yet brutal events that had taken place inside, he could begin to understand.

After gathering some leaves to make reasonable sleeping mats, they both fell asleep in the jungle next to the TEU.


He was awakened by his earpiece--not the gently increasing chime of the alarm, or the disembodied tone of the TEU, but a real live human, a voice full of alarm and stress and other authentic human emotions. He jumped at the unexpected sound. It was Magellan on the line...a long explanation...civil unrest, client in trouble, communication disruption throughout the country, intentional jamming of satellites...was he OK? A truck would be along in a few hours to pick him up, take him and his TEU back to port, on to his next job, which Magellan had already arranged. Quite an opportunity, his services so much in demand, the new client was quite excited that he was available. Magellan talked and talked. He had still not said anything in reply.

He stood up, faced the TEU. Back on the grid, able to sense its own position and his, it opened the door for him.

He looked back at her, still asleep at the edge of the road.

He looked up, inside his TEU. He could see the display, glowing happily, no warnings displayed.

He looked back at her.


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Display: Sort:
T.E.U. | 125 comments (107 topical, 18 editorial, 0 hidden)
I want to live in a TEU. (none / 0) (#4)
by j1mmy on Thu Apr 03, 2003 at 09:16:37 PM EST

Where do I sign up?

me too... kinda (4.50 / 2) (#19)
by coderlemming on Fri Apr 04, 2003 at 01:37:50 AM EST

I thought that too, at the start.  It sounded like just the kind of lifestyle I'd want... very little in the way of living space, just what I needed.  Travelling across the globe, at a moment's notice.  Everything at my command, all so I could solve some kinds of problems for clients.  

Then I read further into the story, and I, like the main character, gradually began to wonder if this was the kind of life I'd want.  The story pulled my thinking with it artfully; it was extremely well written.  Thanks for a great read, author.

Go be impersonally used as an organic semen collector!  (porkchop_d_clown)
[ Parent ]

iEye (none / 0) (#69)
by nooper on Sat Apr 05, 2003 at 04:47:11 AM EST

When will the iEye become a reality! waaah!

[ Parent ]
A delight! (5.00 / 1) (#5)
by Yekrats on Thu Apr 03, 2003 at 09:22:29 PM EST

Thanks for the good read! Yay, Fiction section! :-)

+1 FP from me (4.00 / 1) (#20)
by khallow on Fri Apr 04, 2003 at 01:48:06 AM EST

Normally, I skip over fiction entries. But I have a transportation industry fetish. When I saw "T.E.U.", I couldn't resist.

Stating the obvious since 1969.

Congrats. (4.00 / 2) (#22)
by RJNFC on Fri Apr 04, 2003 at 05:45:10 AM EST

Great story, I liked it a lot. Not many can write fiction at K5 that will make it to the fiction section, let alone the front page.

He looked back at her.. (5.00 / 4) (#23)
by RandomAction on Fri Apr 04, 2003 at 07:31:39 AM EST

.. sod it he thought, give her a quick bunk up, and then back to that game of World Conquest. Now how long will a NY bagel take to get here..

Awesome, adamba! (none / 0) (#24)
by vzd on Fri Apr 04, 2003 at 08:28:46 AM EST

Well conceived and executed.  Interesting: 1) For a long time I've considered the TEU to be an ideal "mobile home" form factor.  2) I named my gps "Gypsy" last year.

gypsy (none / 1) (#61)
by adamba on Fri Apr 04, 2003 at 08:39:59 PM EST

The idea was that such a device would be called a "GPS Echo" device, thus GPSE, and would then quickly be nicknamed a gypsy.

- adam

[ Parent ]

Fantastic... (4.75 / 8) (#25)
by arglebargle on Fri Apr 04, 2003 at 08:36:55 AM EST

now, if i give you my $4 a month, will you write us the book???

Great Stuff (5.00 / 1) (#26)
by faecal on Fri Apr 04, 2003 at 10:16:24 AM EST


This fine piece of fiction, brought to you by... (4.00 / 1) (#27)
by Silent Chris on Fri Apr 04, 2003 at 10:17:20 AM EST

Rusty!  Maker of the long and irritating text ad that goes down the page.  Appearing soon in actual paperback books!  ;)

An excellent piece! (none / 0) (#28)
by Kasifox on Fri Apr 04, 2003 at 10:26:24 AM EST

Very nice...interesting concept coupled with just enough gray areas to get the reader's imagination involved. I look forward to reading more of your work!

great read! (4.50 / 2) (#29)
by kemmen on Fri Apr 04, 2003 at 10:38:30 AM EST

nice read this morning adamba! keep it up!

My Favourite Paragraph (4.00 / 1) (#30)
by CheeseburgerBrown on Fri Apr 04, 2003 at 11:01:12 AM EST

Climbing up into the cab, he grasped the steering wheel. It had been a decade since he had driven a car. He closed the doors to keep the rain out, and examined the various dials. Eventually he concluded that the truck had no data connection.

Fiction on the front page? Nice work, adamba. Very engrossing.

Some elements of life in the TEU lifestyle remind me of the amazing travelling trunk lived in by space-thespian Sparky Valentine in John Varley's The Golden Globe (Ace, 1998), and, to a lesser extent, the starfaring gentlemens' drawing room featured in The Cabinet of Oliver Naylor by Barrington J. Bayley (DAW, 1976).

It cannot be denied that I do enjoy the occasional cheeseburger.
Shipping Container (2.00 / 2) (#31)
by Dickie Crickets on Fri Apr 04, 2003 at 11:04:46 AM EST

Shipping container, shipping container,
An efficient use of space.
Baby'd live in a shipping container,
It's such a cozy plaaaaaace.

King of Megaphone Crooners
Wow. Very, very creative. (5.00 / 1) (#32)
by porkchop_d_clown on Fri Apr 04, 2003 at 11:21:00 AM EST

To me, it's very evocative of Shockwave Rider.

Note that the depiction of the president as a deranged or Nazi paranoid is coming mostly from people who constantly tell us how passionately they

Well done (3.00 / 2) (#33)
by Cruel Elevator on Fri Apr 04, 2003 at 11:23:32 AM EST

First of all, congratulations on an *nice* piece of work. Very original, well paced, and well written.

So what happens next? I feel that the TEU owner and the girl parts at this point. She wakes up (another set of trucks are heading this way), they say goodbye... and that's it. She belongs Outside, and him Inside. A glitch brought them together and that has been taken care of.

On the bright side, I think they'd exchange their phone numbers and email addresses.

Planning a sequel?

Emails (5.00 / 1) (#50)
by rusty on Fri Apr 04, 2003 at 04:15:37 PM EST

On the bright side, I think they'd exchange their phone numbers and email addresses.

Heh. "Email me! I'm silentgirl@junglehut.com."

Not the real rusty
[ Parent ]

um, why not? (none / 0) (#65)
by Cruel Elevator on Sat Apr 05, 2003 at 12:42:40 AM EST

Perhaps she's better in writing emails? Maybe she owns a computer? Perhaps she used to be a TEU dweller too, but chose to live life elsewhere (someone like... er... Trinity?)

Maybe Babelfish could translate whatever language she speaks/writes?

Then of course, there's the snail mail He knows where she lives :-)

[ Parent ]

Spam (none / 0) (#79)
by Cameleon on Sat Apr 05, 2003 at 04:47:25 PM EST

"Email me! I'm silentgirl@junglehut.com."

Why does this make me think of a spam email for a porn website?

[ Parent ]

Excellent (2.66 / 3) (#34)
by Wildgoose on Fri Apr 04, 2003 at 11:35:27 AM EST

I was engrossed.

I want more!

Interesting...... (3.50 / 2) (#36)
by Niha on Fri Apr 04, 2003 at 11:56:17 AM EST

very nice (5.00 / 1) (#37)
by asad on Fri Apr 04, 2003 at 12:45:27 PM EST

Looks professional, do we have a real writer trying out his stuff on us. I for one enjoyed it. Hope to see more high quality writing like this on the site.

Actually, yes (5.00 / 1) (#48)
by rusty on Fri Apr 04, 2003 at 04:09:43 PM EST

Check out his site. Not a professional fiction writer so far (er, I hope, considering the premise of Proudly Serving) but a published author, anyway.

Not the real rusty
[ Parent ]
heh (none / 0) (#102)
by asad on Tue Apr 08, 2003 at 04:15:07 PM EST

yeah I did after I had posted and low and behold he has actually written. No best sellers but hey he has only published a few things so far.

[ Parent ]
Awesome (3.00 / 1) (#38)
by hdaemon on Fri Apr 04, 2003 at 12:52:35 PM EST

Wow.. I normally don't read the fiction section, but seeing it on the front page I gave it a go. Definitely a good read. Thanks for writing it.

Just joined K5... (4.00 / 1) (#39)
by sqrl on Fri Apr 04, 2003 at 01:15:37 PM EST

and just read this. Nice work. I think I am going to like it here.
...and how much you want to be on the other side, there's a man with twice your pride?
AGHGHGHH!! (5.00 / 1) (#55)
by phlux on Fri Apr 04, 2003 at 06:13:43 PM EST


[ Parent ]
Hate to disappoint you (3.00 / 2) (#57)
by godix on Fri Apr 04, 2003 at 07:06:32 PM EST

This work is not typical of K5 fiction. Go ask any 5th grader to write an original story then throw in some random angst and you'll get a good feel for what K5's fiction section usually holds.

"You think we're arrogant, and we think you're French."
- George Herbert Walker B
Parent ]
urgh (2.50 / 4) (#40)
by turmeric on Fri Apr 04, 2003 at 01:24:03 PM EST

sorry but as soon as i read 'years of living in a box with no contact with the outside' i got this queazy feeling like i was reading furry fan fic

More! (none / 0) (#41)
by kshea on Fri Apr 04, 2003 at 02:12:14 PM EST

great story

Since nobody else seems willing to take a stab... (5.00 / 3) (#42)
by Fantastic Lad on Fri Apr 04, 2003 at 02:42:45 PM EST

And I KNOW the author is anxiously re-reading this section every hour on the hour. . .

First off, Brilliant work. Why? Read on. . .

1. Zero dialogue. Even after buddy meets the girl! (Who had better not have slept with him. Feisty Jungle Girl and a Paste-like Borg Loser? Only in a fantasty, that's for sure!) Anyway, including no talking just serves to increase the miasma of lost humanity clinging to the protagonist.

2. This story was just removed enough from our current reality to surprise the senses from a new angle, cut through the hypnotic daze most people wander around in, and actually succeed in being horrifying. (I think, anyway. --I could be alone in my reaction, in which case your story was a thudding failure, since I sing in the damned choir. I suppose it's possible that society is simply too far gone at this point for anything to make an impact. In this case, however, it's certainly not for lack of trying!)

3. Minor technical gripe; Many container vessels take more than a month to reach their destinations. The green boxes need to last longer, and probably would given their size and the technology which appears to available in the story universe. Recycled water and all that. Like I said. Minor, minor, minor.

4. I certainly wouldn't do it, but I can tell you right now that I'd definitely feel the urge to kick the shit out of the protagonist if I met him in the street. And I almost NEVER feel that way. What a worm! That, 'cull the herd of the weak' gene built into all humans came active within me! Wow. That's good writing; You actually pulled my strings without being painfully deliberate about it! Cool!

Side Comment: The most successful way to enslave a population is to make the people believe that they are weak, make the people dependant, make them fear leaving their cages. Then you don't even need the barbed wire. --And in order to feed on them, just addict them to their media and whenever you feel a hunger pang, just tweek their emotional pain centers and suck up all the "I'm so lonely" misery. Of course, you need to be an evil higher being in order to feed this way. Cities are just great, big, negative energy batteries.

Okay. That's enough. Good story! Take care, and best wishes in your future writing efforts! Do you have a real name we should look for?

-Fantastic Lad

Hey, I feed that way! (5.00 / 1) (#43)
by LilDebbie on Fri Apr 04, 2003 at 02:47:23 PM EST

Does that make me an evil, higher being? I mean, I knew I was evil all along, but your implication that I am a higher being strokes my ego to even greater heights. Anyway, thanks for acknowledging the presence of us psychic vampires, and keep on living your life in suppressed agony; it's delicious!

My name is LilDebbie and I have a garden.
- hugin -

[ Parent ]
Enslaving populations through media? Evil beings? (none / 0) (#105)
by Akshay on Wed Apr 09, 2003 at 01:33:48 PM EST

Ah, knew this was an Iraq allegory.

Seriously, the story rocks! I can't wait for your next one!

[ Parent ]

One more very minor gripe (2.50 / 2) (#49)
by rusty on Fri Apr 04, 2003 at 04:13:44 PM EST

Most crane operators, when they encountered a red TEU, would be careful to load it on the ship last, at the top. Some, however, took a sadistic pleasure in stuffing red TEUs way down in the bottom of the hold

If I were a 'redwall' I would beg to be stuffed down in the bottom of the hold. In rough weather, those ships lose containers over the side all the time. I would hate to be on top when a gale hit.

Not the real rusty
[ Parent ]

redwall location (none / 0) (#52)
by adamba on Fri Apr 04, 2003 at 05:12:50 PM EST

I think those containers normally just sit there, held down by only their own weight. So maybe with redwalls they would bolt them down.

I think it would be more unnerving to know you were all the way at the bottom. What if the boat sank? I kept thinking of those poor kids in Titanic, the ones in steerage whose mother was telling them some folk tale while she tucked them in.

- adam

[ Parent ]

What? (4.66 / 3) (#53)
by rusty on Fri Apr 04, 2003 at 05:33:38 PM EST

You mean your TEU can't seal itself and sustain life underwater for a while? Signal for help? Float? Come on, you're not using your imagination! :-)

Course, I suppose if it can seal up and float, it could fall off the boat without much problem, so maybe you were right.

Not the real rusty
[ Parent ]

ahhh, I see why the new story ads appeared... (5.00 / 1) (#54)
by adamba on Fri Apr 04, 2003 at 05:49:37 PM EST

rusty has to pay for the waterproofing/flotation upgrade on his TEU. It's all clear now!!

- adam

[ Parent ]

seawater (none / 0) (#116)
by eudas on Tue Apr 15, 2003 at 05:53:02 PM EST

what kind of signal could penetrate through seawater?

"We're placing this wood in your ass for the good of the world" -- mrgoat
[ Parent ]

It would float (none / 0) (#117)
by rusty on Tue Apr 15, 2003 at 10:28:43 PM EST

Without a lot of specialized extra gear, a sealed capsule full of air would float.  So it would just have to have some antennas that could stick up.

Not the real rusty
[ Parent ]
buoyancy (none / 0) (#118)
by eudas on Wed Apr 16, 2003 at 01:44:17 AM EST

it would have buoyancy, but i doubt it would float completely above the water. weight would drag it down until such point that the buoyancy by the air inside cancelled out the pull of the weight, and there it would sit, floating, but yet still underwater...

"We're placing this wood in your ass for the good of the world" -- mrgoat
[ Parent ]

Or not... (none / 0) (#121)
by morceguinho on Mon May 19, 2003 at 03:22:26 PM EST

If he'd choose to be on top then i'm sure there'd be techniology enabling a ton-heavy container to float, in case of "TEU-overboard!". But if he, like someone who posted would want, would prefer to be at the bottom (or middle) and the ship would sink, then how would the TEU - or any device it would deploy - could emerge from under a pile of other TEUs? He'd die.

Of course one could imagine a very powerful antena, so powerful its porlonged use is hazardous, that would beep an s.o.s. to a nearby GPS atellite.

[ Parent ]

My TEU on-ship location... (none / 0) (#92)
by aldjiblah on Sun Apr 06, 2003 at 06:29:25 PM EST

Where the rocking of the waves is least noticeable, most likely in the middle of the ship. Anybody who has experienced lodgings at the bottom of large cruisers (often the least expensive) know why all the costly rooms and suites are placed in the middle.

[ Parent ]
The End is Nigh (3.00 / 1) (#44)
by LilDebbie on Fri Apr 04, 2003 at 02:50:26 PM EST

The Fiction section has produced a Front Page article! Repent sinners, for the time of Reckoning is at hand!

Anyway, a fairly cool story. I thought the woman in the jungle was just a tad sketchy with regards to placing the much needed human interaction into the story. Perhaps you could work on figuring out a more realistic way to bring the second character into the mix than having her just walk out of the jungle.

My name is LilDebbie and I have a garden.
- hugin -

sequel (5.00 / 3) (#45)
by adamba on Fri Apr 04, 2003 at 03:17:37 PM EST

Several people have asked about this...I certainly wrote it without a sequel in mind and tried to give the story an ending, such as it was.

But all the nice things people said (thank you by the way) made me reconsider, possibly. Thinking about it more, I may have left it ambiguous enough to keep going (New! Improved! Version 2.0 -- now with Dialogue(tm)!). But I would have to write around a few random things I threw in just for atmosphere, that would impede the continuation of the plot as I envision it.

So we'll see, don't hold your breath though.

- adam

DO NOT REVISE THIS STORY! (2.66 / 3) (#74)
by porkchop_d_clown on Sat Apr 05, 2003 at 09:58:55 AM EST

At least, not for a while. You've come up with something creative, but you want to keep coming up with new ideas, not rehash old ones!

A sequel might be a good idea, and in the sequel you can experiment with dialog and so on. But this story stands on its own.

Note that the depiction of the president as a deranged or Nazi paranoid is coming mostly from people who constantly tell us how passionately they
[ Parent ]

no revision (none / 0) (#95)
by adamba on Sun Apr 06, 2003 at 10:26:06 PM EST

I would not "revise" the story posted...meaning that if I discovered some conflict between what I wrote before and what I wanted to write in a future story, I would resolve it in the future story. So this one would stay unchanged.

I realize if I write more, I risk it not being as good, or simply annoying people who made certain assumptions about events in the story, or what happens next.

- adam

[ Parent ]

Cool. (none / 0) (#101)
by porkchop_d_clown on Tue Apr 08, 2003 at 09:18:01 AM EST

And don't feel bad about writing "short" stories, either. In many ways they are harder to write than longer stuff - because you can't waste words...

Seriously, though, this story reminded me a lot of John Brunner's novel, Shockwave Rider and also his short stories...

Note that the depiction of the president as a deranged or Nazi paranoid is coming mostly from people who constantly tell us how passionately they
[ Parent ]

An idea for the sequel... (none / 0) (#99)
by tchuladdiass on Mon Apr 07, 2003 at 06:19:26 PM EST

Write the same story, but make the woman the protaganist. Maybe she knew he was coming, new about the truck breaking down, etc., and she is from a rival corporation that wants to recruit this guy.

[ Parent ]
Thanks (none / 0) (#108)
by jred on Thu Apr 10, 2003 at 12:42:37 PM EST

Great story. One request, if you do write a sequel, don't use the same characters. Use the same universe/ideas, but not the chars. That story is complete. I would love to see a book of short stories, though. Heck, I'd even buy it :)
[ Parent ]
Groovy stuff: comments inside (3.33 / 3) (#46)
by coljac on Fri Apr 04, 2003 at 03:32:12 PM EST

Well written, interesting premise. I happily read every word. (A also enjoyed PSMCM btw).

A couple of thoughts occur to me. I couldn't quite buy the concept of the $millions-a-day, all-purpose troubleshooter. What are these amazing skills he has? What's his particular domain of expertise? What requires him to travel and be on site? Still, suspension of disbelief and all that. :)

Secondly, there wasn't much of a story. There was an excellent description of the TEU concept, around which very little happened except for a minor, temporary interruption. The female character was not too believable and in any case was not interesting as she had no dialogue, just a general "mysterious", "natural" quality which I didn't find too compelling.

Finally, the lifestyle described in the story can almost be achieved today, just commit securities or accounting fraud and get sentenced to minimum security prison. :)

Seriously, though, good stuff. Keep up the good work,


Whether or not life is discovered there I think Jupiter should be declared an enemy planet. - Jack Handey

Minimum security prisons (5.00 / 1) (#51)
by ZorbaTHut on Fri Apr 04, 2003 at 04:17:38 PM EST

If the minimum security prisons near you will ship a bagel from a different continent in four hours flat, I want to know what your taxes are like :)

[ Parent ]
Don't joke... (5.00 / 1) (#59)
by coljac on Fri Apr 04, 2003 at 07:50:05 PM EST

Do you think the when Enron's CFO gets sentenced to prison he's going to a bare cell with a mattress and a bucket? Sure, he may not be able to choose a particular deli in New York, instead putting up with whatever room service will deliver, but it is supposed to be punishment. The probably only have a 9-hole golf course!

Whether or not life is discovered there I think Jupiter should be declared an enemy planet. - Jack Handey
[ Parent ]

what skills? obviously... (none / 0) (#58)
by bolthole on Fri Apr 04, 2003 at 07:14:15 PM EST

The man knows the secrets of how to turn microsoft windows into a reliable operating system. The special disable key for "go to bluescreen every (n*rand(15)) hours".

You thought this was a fictional account. Silly you. This is the biographical story of why the author left his former employer.

(Check out his website :-)

[ Parent ]

skills (5.00 / 1) (#60)
by adamba on Fri Apr 04, 2003 at 08:38:17 PM EST

I couldn't quite buy the concept of the $millions-a-day, all-purpose troubleshooter. What are these amazing skills he has? What's his particular domain of expertise? What requires him to travel and be on site?

Great question...sure beats the heck out of me. Anyone have any ideas?

- adam

[ Parent ]

Think, think... (none / 0) (#64)
by bjlhct on Fri Apr 04, 2003 at 11:53:03 PM EST

Neuromancery hacker dude?
Nuclear weapons designer?
Doctor who does various illegal things for a price?

ps, it reminds me of http://www.plexus.org/forster.html

[kur0(or)5hin http://www.kuro5hin.org/intelligence] - drowning your sorrows in intellectualism
[ Parent ]

Think of industries (4.50 / 2) (#66)
by rusty on Sat Apr 05, 2003 at 01:20:14 AM EST

The guy costs an arm and a leg, right? If you were just some personal service thing that catered to really rich people, your client list would run short pretty fast. So think of industries where you would be willing to spend, say, $100M for one guy to do something, because it will make you $100B in the long run.

Basically, you're probably looking at energy, weapons, pharmaceuticals (legal or otherwise), some kind of finance, or... um, WalMart.

I'd rule out finance, as that tends to be virtual anyway, so why would he have to come to the jungle? He could be a geologist, brought around to troubleshoot or double-check suspected energy deposits. He could be a research biologist or geneticist or something, out in the jungle assessing some new drug source (that seems unlikely to me too).

Personally, I'd dig it if he did WalMart type work in some capacity. Think about it. You're in some near-future world, where the energy problem has been pretty much solved. This allows everyone to be fed, and most of the world has been converted into vast swathes of consumer market. WalMart is, right now, the highest-earning company in the world. What happens when China is nothing but middle class consumers? India? And so on.

So WalMart is this multinational collossus. It basically dwarfs all national economies. It owns something like 30% of the world's wealth. It sells everything there is to sell. Its tentacles are everywhere. Your guy? He's a retail troubleshooter. He goes to underperforming stores, analyzes the problem, and fixes it. This is worth absurd amounts of money.

This sort of undermines the apparent client relationship you've described here, but it could be worked out.

Not the real rusty
[ Parent ]

Well (none / 0) (#80)
by TheOnlyCoolTim on Sat Apr 05, 2003 at 05:33:02 PM EST

If Wal-Mart became franchises, that would probably work it out.

"We are trapped in the belly of this horrible machine, and the machine is bleeding to death."
[ Parent ]

My take: He's a Polymath (3.00 / 2) (#91)
by rickwood on Sun Apr 06, 2003 at 04:37:36 PM EST

First, let me say I loved the story.

I really identified personally with the protaganist. This is mainly due to the fact that my dream job is to show up at the client dressed in black, with my joeboys carrying the two 8-bays that make up the Portable NOC. I say to the receptionist, "I'm here to see Mr. So-and-so. Please ask him to meet me here." When So-and-so arrives, I simply ask my standard three questions: "What's the problem?", "Where is the box?", and "What's the root password. It used to be four questions, but I don't need to ask, "Where's the coffee?" anymore. Coffee making things and enough Blue Mountain for a week is in the PNOC...

Sorry. I got a little carried away there. Anyway...

While the idea of a person being a true polymath in an era when knowledge grows at geometric rates seems impossible, I see our protaganist as such a person. He can solve any soluable problem, no matter the domain, between the knowledge he either already possesses or is able to access by having his TEU search the global network.

This points out one of the main themes of the story, at least from my point of view. When the protaganist is in the TEU and connected, the entire array of human knowledge is literally at his fingertips. When he is cut off from this body of knowledge though, he is essentially helpless. He's caught in the technology trap: He can't cope with his real-world environment because he doesn't really know how, and now has no way to find out. (Though the engineer that didn't include a Instruction and Operation Manual in the TEU for emergencies should be sent to the Hell of Upside-Down Sinners...)

As far as the financial feasablity, I would posit that causes of inflation aren't likely to go away. Thus, it wouldn't surprise me if things we think of as costing thousands or tens of thousands of dollars in todays terms had increased ten or even a hundred fold.

In closing, I hope that you will take the following as a compliment: Your story has made me reflect on my desire to live exactly the kind of hermetic lifestyle the protanganist does.

[ Parent ]

That's what sucks about living today (none / 0) (#93)
by TheOnlyCoolTim on Sun Apr 06, 2003 at 07:55:53 PM EST

No one can be Da Vinci anymore...

"We are trapped in the belly of this horrible machine, and the machine is bleeding to death."
[ Parent ]

used TEU's for housing. (none / 0) (#47)
by yllugkcin on Fri Apr 04, 2003 at 03:36:35 PM EST

Great story. Anybody know what a used TEU (no longer freight worthy) might go for? Might make an interesting modular house. -Nick

$1500-$1800 for one, $1200-$1300 each for three (5.00 / 1) (#56)
by adamba on Fri Apr 04, 2003 at 06:31:50 PM EST

According to this article (part one and part two) by someone who tried just that. Here's a quote, after he considers using two forty-footers for his pad: "However, for greater ease of moving and site locations (especially urban sites) I think it's interesting to consider just a single 20-foot container." The end of part two has links, plus a pointer to the Transportable Home Design mailing list (I just discovered all this stuff, after I wrote the story!).

- adam

[ Parent ]

But, (none / 0) (#63)
by bjlhct on Fri Apr 04, 2003 at 11:45:58 PM EST

they get hot w/o air conditioning in the sun. And you'd need plenty of it, I figure.

GJ adam ba, now I'm reading k5 again.

[kur0(or)5hin http://www.kuro5hin.org/intelligence] - drowning your sorrows in intellectualism
[ Parent ]

Here in Jamaica, (none / 0) (#106)
by JahToasted on Wed Apr 09, 2003 at 04:34:44 PM EST

A lot of NGO's are using containers for classrooms. I'm not sure the cost, but I think they can be had quite cheaply.

[ Parent ]
To All Those Suggesting Sequels... (3.50 / 2) (#62)
by Xophmeister on Fri Apr 04, 2003 at 09:34:38 PM EST

No! Have you no shame; have TV and Internet pr0n damaged your imagination that much?

This is a good piece of fiction, leaving the outcome to the reader's discretion. A sequel, to the ends of "what happened next", would be a crime and really cheapen this work.

Can we talk about the story now? (4.65 / 23) (#67)
by RobotSlave on Sat Apr 05, 2003 at 01:32:56 AM EST

Maybe I'm just a grey-haired old-fashioned fuddy-duddy, but when I was in grade school, we learned that discussing a story meant making an effort to figure out what it was about. You know, themes, and stuff.

In that light, the discussion so far has been pretty abysmal, people.

On the one hand, we've got a bunch of people enthusing, "I like shipping containers!" This is charming, sort of, in the same way that a small boy excitedly pointing and exclaiming "fire truck!" is charming, but it doesn't begin to do justice to this story. Sure, it might be fun to talk about fire trucks instead, but it strikes me as impolite.

The other commonly expressed sentiment so far has been "I want more!" Dear lord, this makes me sad. It's clear as day that this story has finished with the thematic business that it set out to address, and that any continuation would be superfluous. Demands for "more" simply leave me with the impression that quite a few K5 users are accustomed to using fiction strictly for its escapist function, and are resistant to any analysis that does not amount to further escapism (e.g. "would I use nanobots that way? Isn't this a nifty time-travel paradox?" Etc).

On, then, to the business at hand: some discussion of the story.

The most obvious thematic conflict in "T.E.U." is immediately apparent, that of technology vs. nature. The conflict is expressed in very conventional terms: the technological or "civilised" aspect, represented by the protagonist and his hermetic abode, is depicted as masculine, isolating, bland, martial, specific, profitable. The "natural" aspect in turn is just as clichéd, represented by an almost comically abstract female character, who embodies instinct, wisdom, sensualism, freedom, and compassion.

The resolution of this conflict is indeterminate, but the uncertainty is hardly whether the natural or the technological is preferable. The giveaway is the womblike container itself— the "correct" course of action is clearly to be born, to emerge from the technological into the natural. The only uncertainty lies in the dubious courage of the protagonist. Is he brave enough to quit the womb? In his metaphorical capacity, he asks us if mankind is brave enough to step away from his technological cocoon.

Pretty boring, isn't it? So far, we don't have anything more than a very conventionally expressed and rather well-worn sci-fi theme.

Well, let's spice it up a bit, then.

I find this story much more interesting when it is viewed as an allegory not for all humanity, but for a certain sizeable segment of Sci-Fi fandom.

In other words, it's not an interesting story about mankind, it's an interesting study of nerds.

If we abandon our suspension of disbelief for even a moment, the central conceit of T.E.U., its titular abode, is patent nonsense. From an economic standpoint, it is laughably inefficient, requiring far to much time in transit for the savvy employer; and from a social standpoint, it is impossibly cruel, rendering normal, long-term face-to-face friendships impossible. No, it makes sense only as allegory, and I would like to suggest that while it might represent "technology," as outlined above, it might also be regarded as a portrait of a particular sort of nerd fantasy.

Consider: our protagonist is super-intelligent, and his superior intelligence confers untold riches upon him, and power beyond the reach of the "normal." His abode, and his mastery of technology, shelters him not only from the elements, but from uncomfortable social interaction as well, both through physical isolation, and through the removal of normal social uncertainties via detailed "briefings" and the "illegal" iEyes.

This is a straightforward exaggeration of the power-fantasy of the cubicle-dwelling nerd, both from the physical aspect, and from the fundamental psychological delusion, in which the nerd imagines that his computers-ability can confer tremendous power ("we can destroy your credit rating!"), and in which interpersonal skill is unnecessary, and in fact often denigrated ("damn those stupid useless marketroids!").

Does the nameless woman in the story, then, represent an opposition to the cubicle-nerd power fantasy? Not quite. It seems more likely that she instead represents another, distinct nerd-fantasy, and that the conflict in the story represents a conflict or incompatibility between fantasies.

In many respects, the woman in the story is an embodiment of an immature nerd's sexual ideal. No conversation is necessary with this woman, yet she seems to understand the protagonist quite well, as if reading his mind. She is perfectly trusting, and trustworthy. She shares her bed without any negotiation or complication whatsoever, and later she refuses the protagonist's lonely sheets, drawing him instead into a world he has never before experienced. She is not intimidated by his technology (or put off by his attachment to it) and even seems at times to have a superior understanding of it.

This is where the conflict begins to develop. It is clear that at the end, the protagonist must choose between the cubicle power-fantasy and the adolescent sexual fantasy. There are again indications that the "female" aspect in the thematic conflict is the correct one. In addition to the aforementioned hint of "technological wisdom," the bugbear of authority is raised at the end in the person of "Magellan," and clearly, a controlling father-figure does not fit well with the cubicle power-fantasy.

What, then, is the element of indecision? What dilemma are we meant to ponder at the end of the story?

I believe the key element at stake is the protagonist's self-regard. If he chooses to return to his container, he may retain his image of himself as all-powerful, privileged, and possessed of intelligence beyond the reach of mere "normals," but at the price of pursuing even an adolescent sexuality. On the other hand, he can start down the road to adult interpersonal relations, but only if he abandons his notions of his own superiority, and the technologies and the isolation that sustain those notions.

As a conflict between fantasies, this story is quite satisfying, indeed.

I... uh... I... hm... (none / 0) (#70)
by opendna on Sat Apr 05, 2003 at 07:21:16 AM EST

I had this sense that the protag needed a clip in the shnoz but hadn't yet figured out why. I was going to read the comments, contemplate and write a response. Then I read your comment and decided that, well, you've got it covered and...

uh... I got nuthin.

[ Parent ]

Possibly (none / 0) (#71)
by Souhait on Sat Apr 05, 2003 at 07:28:32 AM EST

My problem with the story is that the female character is just an ideal and not actually a believable person. This actually vaguely reminds me of Heinlein's Stranger in a Strange Land - the main character is the ultimate in nerdly obsessions, and the only female character (characters, in SiaSL) he interacts with seems to be a superintelligent subservient fantasy that has no basis in reality. I much prefer books with characters that seem to have some real motivation for their actions. But, maybe it's just me. What do you think?

[ Parent ]
One perspective (none / 0) (#83)
by irrevenant on Sat Apr 05, 2003 at 09:06:17 PM EST

The story was from one perspective: the bloke's. You only perceive the story through the protagonist's viewpoint and thoughts.

The woman presumably had her own reasons for being there and doing what she did. But the protagonist didn't know them and probably didn't particularly care so we didn't get to hear about them.

I agree with you that books should explore characters' motivations in more depth than this, but this isn't a book. It's a short story, the ideal length for making short, focussed points.

SiaSL had no such justification. IMO, Heinlein just can't write characters in general. Like a lot of the older school sci-fi authors, Heinlein's books were concept based, with cardboard characters thrown in for the ride.

[ Parent ]
Adding spice (4.66 / 3) (#73)
by it certainly is on Sat Apr 05, 2003 at 09:54:50 AM EST

You forgot to slag off Tolkien and make allusions to all geeks being autistic. Apart from those omissions, I liked your review.

I was kind of hoping that the woman would shackle the guy and sell him to the guys with guns as a slave or something. That'd be a more realistic ending.

kur0shin.org -- it certainly is

Godwin's law [...] is impossible to violate except with an infinitely long thread that doesn't mention nazis.
[ Parent ]

Thanks (none / 0) (#75)
by p3d0 on Sat Apr 05, 2003 at 11:58:38 AM EST

I guess I'm a bit dense when it comes to interpreting works of fiction, but I definitely enjoyed this story more in hindsight having read your interpretation of it.
Patrick Doyle
My comments do not reflect the opinions of my employer.
[ Parent ]
I'm not as easily amused. (4.50 / 4) (#81)
by gzt on Sat Apr 05, 2003 at 05:41:50 PM EST

As a conflict between fantasies, this story is quite satisfying, indeed.

I may be a pretentious prick, but I thought that,  even as a conflict between fantasies, it was pedestrian and cliched.

[ Parent ]

eponymous abode (sounds less rude than titular : ) (3.66 / 3) (#84)
by irrevenant on Sat Apr 05, 2003 at 09:36:07 PM EST

If we abandon our suspension of disbelief for even a moment, the central conceit of T.E.U., its titular abode, is patent nonsense. From an economic standpoint, it is laughably inefficient, requiring far to much time in transit for the savvy employer; and from a social standpoint, it is impossibly cruel, rendering normal, long-term face-to-face friendships impossible.

Much like it's laughably inefficient for each family to have one, or even two cars? Don't underestimate society's willingness to trade inefficiency for convenience.

However, I agree there would be few employers shipping their employees via TEU around the world. The story's protagonist is obviously an anomaly: A highly paid specialist who needs to work in different global locations for extended periods. Remember that the TEUs are apartments as well as offices. Shipping apartments or complete office buildings would be far more common than shipping single offices.

We already have jobs that require people to move frequently (eg. national defence). We already have the "home in a box" concept where you pack all your stuff into a giant crate for shipping. All the TEUs do is facilitate that process.

Even if TEUs did have an additional impact on socialisation, I doubt that would outweigh the convenience. TV had a huge impact on socialisation but that didn't stop its huge popularity.

Society is increasingly mobile. TEUs are a believable end result of current trends where people have to frequently move to find jobs anyway.

[ Parent ]
The answer of course (3.00 / 2) (#90)
by trane on Sun Apr 06, 2003 at 09:52:50 AM EST

is to make the girl available, as a vr entity or robot, to the dude in the TEU.

[ Parent ]
ah well (3.00 / 2) (#96)
by trane on Mon Apr 07, 2003 at 01:51:44 AM EST

robotslave don't like my comment, but won't tell me why...

[ Parent ]
c'mon dude (1.00 / 1) (#100)
by trane on Tue Apr 08, 2003 at 04:48:37 AM EST

Argue with me, dammit. Or am I beneath your contempt?

"Adult relationship", what a pile of crap. Is that a code for "hypocrisy"?

[ Parent ]

sigh. that is all. (3.00 / 2) (#111)
by trane on Fri Apr 11, 2003 at 03:52:35 PM EST

[ Parent ]
sigh. that is all. (3.00 / 2) (#112)
by trane on Fri Apr 11, 2003 at 03:59:00 PM EST

[ Parent ]
Your one ratings (3.00 / 2) (#113)
by trane on Sat Apr 12, 2003 at 08:37:52 PM EST

validate my low self-esteem. Keep 'em coming!

[ Parent ]
Robotslave, you are a waste of sperm. (3.00 / 2) (#114)
by trane on Sun Apr 13, 2003 at 02:14:49 PM EST

A load that should have been swallowed.

[ Parent ]
Robotslave (2.00 / 2) (#120)
by trane on Wed Apr 23, 2003 at 06:24:54 PM EST

the best part of you ran down the crack of your mama's ass and ended up as a brown spot on the mattress.

[ Parent ]
Nice (3.00 / 1) (#68)
by bugmaster on Sat Apr 05, 2003 at 02:00:44 AM EST

To all those who said the fiction section was crap: neener-neener-neener !

Anyway, wonderful story. It played with my emotions in such a subtle way that I can no longer the question that the protagonist asks himself at the end...

My only minor gripe would be with the exposition paragraph in the middle -- the one that outlines the history of TEUs. I realize that it's necessary, but it feels a bit out of place.

Oh, and please, don't listen to those Hollywood monkeys ! A sequel would ruin this story, by giving the reader answers instead of questions.

those Hollywood monkeys - lol <nt> (none / 0) (#122)
by morceguinho on Mon May 19, 2003 at 03:53:37 PM EST

[ Parent ]
Get some priorities! (1.14 / 7) (#72)
by happy rabbit on Sat Apr 05, 2003 at 08:25:44 AM EST

I can;t believe this. Children are dying in Africa, and all you people can talk about is some fucking story?

Oh my GOD, people. Get some priorities!

(and vote down all fiction)

Damn, you're right! (5.00 / 1) (#76)
by CAIMLAS on Sat Apr 05, 2003 at 12:13:52 PM EST

I think I'll go out and sell all my earthly possessions, stop eating manufactured foods (because they use more natural resources to make), and send everything I don't need to the needy children in Africa.

Meanwhile, I'll stop doing things I enjoy. Who needs creativity when other people completely insignificant to my life are dying? While I'm at it, I'm going to start lobbying for the ethical treatment of plants - nobody argues for them!

My point being: there's humanitarianism, and then there's stupidity. You picked the latter.

Socialism and communism better explained by a psychologist than a political theorist.
[ Parent ]

and finally there are people who fall for trolls (none / 0) (#104)
by flo on Wed Apr 09, 2003 at 10:44:57 AM EST

there's humanitarianism, and then there's stupidity
"Look upon my works, ye mighty, and despair!"
[ Parent ]
Has potential! (4.50 / 2) (#77)
by CAIMLAS on Sat Apr 05, 2003 at 12:17:15 PM EST

You mention, "she was standing there" twice in relatively short time sequence. Remove one and reword, maybe.

Other than that, some actions and descriptions are unclear. Does she speak? Can she speak? Is she pretty? Why would she have such clothing if she lived in the jungle alone? Wouldn't she have, say, a loincloth? Why is she even there? What does he look like? What does he do? Did they/how did they kill the men with weapons? There's not enough description where needed.

I felt particularly strongly that who he was and what he did should have been gradually explained. At first I thought he might be a businessman, or maybe a tech worker, or something like that, but maybe something Bond-esque as well. The Bond-esque nature, if implied, didn't contrast well with his ignorance and green nature in the wild.

There also seems to be some extraneous and unnecessary descriptions - such as that of non-existent technology. It's too specific and seems to disuade interest.

I found the historical aside concerning the TEUs interesting and a welcome tidbit -  is it all factual, or fabricated?

Overall, it was a fairly interesting piece. I wasn't clear at the end as to exactly what happened concerning Magellan (friend | foe) - which was good. You ended it well. I'd say this probably wasn't ready for front page, but it has potential. Certainly better than some of the horrid writing I've seen.

Socialism and communism better explained by a psychologist than a political theorist.

TEU history (none / 0) (#86)
by adamba on Sat Apr 05, 2003 at 11:43:37 PM EST

It's all real, Malcolm McLean (who died a few years ago), the Ideal-X, Port Elizabeth, etc. You can search the web to find out more.

The other stuff was mostly intentional. I did repeat that sentence on purpose. Her physical appearance, what she is doing there, the lack of dialogue, what exactly happened to the two men, and especially, what his job (or name) is, I left out because I was trying to create an off-kilter atmosphere. Pretentious or effective? You be the judge.

Some of the tech-y stuff I admit I was just being a geek, but what can you do.


- adam

[ Parent ]

Use your imagination. (none / 0) (#123)
by morceguinho on Mon May 19, 2003 at 03:59:53 PM EST

If you get all the answers, where's the fun? I'm asumming they died via a poisonous gas, some others might've ictured a vacuum button, others these snakes creeping out of a box inside the TEU 8nah they'd be shot... unless there was no light, i saw that somewhere actually... two guys inside a container, they shove some snakes in and close the doors). The point being, if all the answers are give you'll be reading a "newspaper article", not fiction :)

[ Parent ]
william gibson - snowcrash (1.40 / 5) (#78)
by node3667 on Sat Apr 05, 2003 at 02:31:19 PM EST

Hey, that's a very cool story...
it remembers me a lot the kind of atmosphere you can find in william gibson - snowcrash... thoses tiny spaces... i recommend this book for anyone who liked the story above.

it's very well written. thanks a lot !

Snowcrash was written by Neal Stephenson. (NT) (5.00 / 1) (#89)
by Lucipher on Sun Apr 06, 2003 at 09:07:46 AM EST

[ Parent ]
heh, there's something to this fiction section! :) (2.75 / 4) (#82)
by infinitera on Sat Apr 05, 2003 at 07:34:17 PM EST

Excellent work. For some reason it reminds me of Lem's writing in general, and Peace on Earth in specific, as the disconnect [from the real world] of the protagonist becomes clear (as well as our immersion in his world through a sort of surreal narrative - like waking up drunk/confused).

Brilliant Work! (none / 0) (#85)
by k31 on Sat Apr 05, 2003 at 10:55:48 PM EST

I'm impressed!

And, for reference, I'm not very impressed with anything else... not even GNU/Linux. The GNU concept, sure. And the Amiga (which was awesome, I still want an A600-ish machine).

Keep it up, and try doing this for (more) fame and fortune.

Your dollar is you only Word, the wrath of it your only fear. He who has an EAR to hear....

Here you go. (3.00 / 2) (#88)
by it certainly is on Sun Apr 06, 2003 at 05:58:13 AM EST

10 quid to you, guvnor.

kur0shin.org -- it certainly is

Godwin's law [...] is impossible to violate except with an infinitely long thread that doesn't mention nazis.
[ Parent ]

Notice: no name given (5.00 / 2) (#87)
by coderlemming on Sun Apr 06, 2003 at 12:38:19 AM EST

Often, when I read the editorial comments of a fiction submission in the queue, I see people complaining that we don't know enough about the main character to identify with him, and that the author should give him a name.  This is a great example of the fact that a name is not entirely necessary.  I'm not even sure that it would add anything at all to name "him", or "her" for that matter.  This story does a fine job of drawing in its audience without naming anyone except Magellan.

While it usually helps to name characters, I can understand why some authors don't do it.  In this story, it kind of helps to add to the air of mystery around the first chunk of the story before the exposition... and after that, it's not necessary, either.  In the case of the woman, it helps to add to her vague and mysterious nature... and, of course, the main character doesn't know her name either.

Go be impersonally used as an organic semen collector!  (porkchop_d_clown)

Good intro (1.00 / 3) (#94)
by I Robot on Sun Apr 06, 2003 at 10:19:10 PM EST

Now write the rest of the story.

Wonderful (4.00 / 1) (#97)
by Vader82 on Mon Apr 07, 2003 at 02:09:26 PM EST

A style of writing I haven't encountered yet, it was very refreshing.  I really like the detail about the science part of the fiction, contrasting the rather detail-lessness of the friendship/romance.

I despise you for not telling us what this gent chooses to do, but applaud you for leaving it open, as it should be left.  It is too easy to say that he picks one over the other.  By leaving it to the reader you force him/her to decide for themselves which the protagonist picks.  This also forces one to examine one's self which also is the mark of good writing.

Overall, an excellent piece.  I would very much like to see more of it.

Need food? Like sharing? http://reciphp.vader82.net/

excellent work (none / 0) (#98)
by ph0rk on Mon Apr 07, 2003 at 04:51:31 PM EST

Though, were I you (and I'm not), I would consider expanding on your premise.

It has enough interest and flavor for a novel, imho, and while novels are a great deal of work, they are easier to sell.

One thing, if you do decide to expand it, don't post it anywhere online, as that can be considered first publishing, and then cou can't sell first publishing rights (which is about all anyone will buy).  Making a novel out of a short story is perfectly ok though (Card did it with ender's game), and you won't have to worry about publishing rights.

Anyway, great work!
[ f o r k . s c h i z o i d . c o m ]

Another idea for the protagonist's job (none / 0) (#103)
by coljac on Tue Apr 08, 2003 at 04:47:15 PM EST

Perhaps he could be one of a handful of respected, certified international binding mediators. In the enlightened age of TEU living, technology has advanced to the point where armed conflict is too dangerous and not permitted by the international community. International disputes therefore call for a neutral, stateless party to come in and hand down a binding resolution that implicitly has the full backing of the UN/International community, but can be done in a time frame short enough (as it's not a committee) to forestall violence.

So for example, the Congo and Uganda are disputing control of border territory in which a Tantalum deposit was found. Rather than resort to violence, a Mediator is called (at U.N. expense), who ships out immediately, researching the entire history of the countries, their culture and even some language along the way. By the time he arrives on site, he has a solid list of questions to ask the two sides, at which point he prepares his decision and hands over a document - perhaps outlining a revenue-sharing scheme - then goes on his way. Either side can appeal the decision to a higher level mediator (perhaps the protagonist is one of the highest ranked or rated) but at their own expense.

We could use a guy like this to solve the Palestinian issue for example. (BTW, my pet crackpot theory is to create a federation of Isreali and Palestinian states. But that would make for a boring story).

Anyway, thought-provoking stuff.


Whether or not life is discovered there I think Jupiter should be declared an enemy planet. - Jack Handey

Great short story!!!!! (none / 0) (#107)
by unstable on Thu Apr 10, 2003 at 11:03:53 AM EST

I got to the end wanting more but now I see it ended at the right spot.  in my mind the story is still going on two diffrent paths,

one were our main character leaves his world of gadgets and "connections" and goes for the simpler life were everything is more vibrant, more uncertain

then the other path were he gets back into his box and continues on his life but in the back of his mind he is always thinking about his brief life "outside" and what he might be missing.

thanks for the story, I love it when something like this jumpstarts my imagination.

Reverend Unstable
all praise the almighty Bob
and be filled with slack

Minor thingy: Bak Stad (none / 0) (#109)
by Chakotay on Thu Apr 10, 2003 at 12:46:08 PM EST

You probably looked up the Dutch words for box (bak) and city (stad) and put them together in a way that seemed logical to you...

But actually, the Dutch, like the Germans, glue words together. The name of such a city would much more likely be Bakstad, in one word. Thing is that "bak", aside from being "box" is also the stem of "bakken", verb meaning "to bake / to fry", making Bakstad not a very good choice, from a Dutch point if view. Actually, in Afrikaans, a language very closely related to Dutch spoken by the white folk in South-Africa, one would probably easily make a contraction like Bakstad, but the Dutch would avoid it.

A word that would likely be used by the Dutch to nickname a TUE city would be Blokkendoos, box of toy bricks. Maybe Blokkendorp (block town) or Blokkenwijk (block quarter) or ofcourse Blokkenstad (block city)? Those would be names much more likely to be used than "Bak Stad" or even "Bakstad", they are much more Dutch-sounding, and they even have a snuff of humour in them, referring to kid's toy bricks stacked together to form a city :)

Linux like wigwam. No windows, no gates, Apache inside.

origin of Bak Stad (none / 0) (#110)
by adamba on Thu Apr 10, 2003 at 03:04:47 PM EST

I actually did a little bit more research. I first did get "Bak Stad" by literally translating the words. I then checked with someone I knew who has Dutch parents and who speaks reasonable Dutch. She said that her literal translation of Box City would be Doze Stad or Dozen Stad, but that Bak Stad might sound better. She also said that Bak was slang for "bucket" which I liked.

Anyway, thank you for the suggestions. Maybe when Hollywood comes calling for the movie script I can fix it.

- adam

[ Parent ]

Hmmmm... (5.00 / 1) (#115)
by Chakotay on Mon Apr 14, 2003 at 02:46:29 AM EST

Actually, I thought later that "bak" would also be mentioned as the Dutch word for "container", though a freight container in Dutch is simply called a container :)

"Doos", plural "dozen", means cardboard box, which doesn't seem quite appropriate. And "bucket" rather translates to "emmer", than to "bak"...

Containerstad (the word "container" being used in Dutch to indicate freight containers, but also large garbage containers, which is an interesting connotation ;)) would also be a nice option, though maybe, for the story, it would not sound foreign enough?

In any case, in Dutch one sticks words together, so if you want to stick with Bak Stad, you should at least glue thit together to Bakstad, which sounds much more Afrikaans (the language close to Dutch spoken in South-Africa) or maybe Flemish (the Dutch dialect spoken in Belgium) than Dutch. Maybe it would be best to ask somebody from Rotterdam what such a city would be called in Rotterdam slang or dialect to get the best possible fit? After all, I lived most of my life in the centre and in the east where general slang and local dialects are quite different...

When I picture a city in which bright red "freight containers" are inserted and removed at will, one word pops up instantly: Lego...

Linux like wigwam. No windows, no gates, Apache inside.

[ Parent ]

loved it (none / 0) (#119)
by transient0 on Fri Apr 18, 2003 at 02:42:19 AM EST

best story I've read in the K5 fiction section. Good luck if you ever decide to try and publish your work in a medium that pays in something other than comments.
lysergically yours
Do you even read subject lines? (none / 0) (#124)
by morceguinho on Mon May 19, 2003 at 04:24:15 PM EST

Oh, many different ways to view the posts, sorry i forgot :)

I liked the story and like many others here started picturing myself living in a TEU. However i wouldn't picture a world where people would be bounced around in their TEU's, i'd picture sometihng like James Cole's appartment in the 5th element plus the mobility factor. I did get disappointed the second he saw the girl: then i started seeing the story as a metaphor - and in that i'd agree with most of RobotSlave's opinion, although i wouldn't use that many words :) does sound like the typical geek vs world thing.

The girl could have a bit more personality and the guy's job is a mindtease (i liked coljac's opinion on what his job could be).

I'd also like to read more, i.e., i'd read this if it was a long story. Writing a part II wouldn't work for me.

Somehow i know i forgot something, as usual.

This is... (none / 0) (#125)
by morceguinho on Sun Aug 03, 2003 at 01:25:32 AM EST

...readable material. This is also a late post :)

T.E.U. | 125 comments (107 topical, 18 editorial, 0 hidden)
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