Ok, trying something new. Every Friday, I intend to post a snippet of fiction I’ve written. It’s a bit terrifying, given that I’ve written very little fiction, and what I’ve written I’m not especially proud of. Here’s hoping that this will give me the incentive to write more, and write BETTER. Keep me honest!
My first entry, in the spirit of the SOPA/PIPA debate deals with copyright, diversity, and openness. Set in a future of techno-utopian mega-cities ringed with earthy hobbity back-to-the-landish Permaculturey towns. Written in 2008, presented unedited. See if you can spot my misunderstanding of apple propagation.
“That’s the big dirty secret of the Cities — they need us. Behind their pretense of civilized authority, of technological, cultural, social, scientific superiority, they’re depends on us 100% for everything they have. The cities look totally self-sufficient — they produce enough food, power, and good to keep all Citizens not only alive but thriving. Frankly, the trade we do is trade of luxuries. The ground-fruits and live-meats we sell them are staples only to the ultra-rich and avant-garde chefs. The conveniences we buy from them are just that — 90% of the synthesized medicines we take from them can be made from herbs in every Burgher’s garden, and there’s nothing their mechanisms can do that a skilled crafter can’t do better. No, we trade more out of habit than necessity. A pretense to maintain contact, of more diplomatic use than economic.
“The truth is that we have something much much bigger than carrots and longcoats. We have diversity. We have the biodiversity from which the Cities select and develop their handful of staples. Do you know how many varieties of apples are available in the middle-storey grocers in MetVan? Four. AgriCore has one red, one yellow. The red is called Autumn Blush, the flagship of their sweet-eater product line. Each one fits perfectly in your palm, each one the slightest rosy fade on one side, each one with a quaint leaflet attached to the stem. Each one as crunchy, sweet, and mildly tart as the last.
“Three years ago AgriCore’s red eater was Annapolis Dream. When Autumn Blush was introduced, Annapolis Dream was discontinued, except for a short yearly run in the specialty boutiques. Because the cost of producing multiple varieties compounds, AgriCore (as with all the major City producers) produces no more than a handful. Usually no more than 2 or 3 for wide-scale distribution. When production ends, they’re gone. I don’t know if you’ve ever eaten a City apple — they’re seedless. Seedless! The only way to produce them is to have access to the original tissue cultures. And of course, you can’t, unless you hold the patent. Violating copyright is not worth the risk of punishment, not for black-market apples. Even if you had access to the looms to produce them, or a vat operation, the risk is too great.
“But do you know where these new varieties come from? You’re looking at it. There are genetic prospectors from the City throughout the Burghs — you can’t shop at a busy market without seeing at least one or two. They scout for exceptional apples, produced from the genetic diversity of our trees. One good apple is worth untold wealth to a prospector (most work freelance). No reputable apple-selling Burgher would charge a prospector more than they would a fellow Burgher. To us, and apple’s an apple. We like an apple, we ask the tree-owner for a graft. If we’re feeling saucy we’ll cross it with one of our own varieties. The tree you’re sitting under produces more varieties of apples than three quarters of Citizens have access to. We Burghers can own apples, we can own trees, but only in the City can you own the right to produce a variety.”