The Blunders Are All on the Board: Genre: Science Fiction

The Blunders Are All on the Board: Genre: Science Fiction

“The great irony of existence is that one is both living and dying at the same time.”

The non-sequitur startled Stan, causing him to knock over a chess piece he’d just set on the board. Honestly, he should be used to this after three months. Velma often started the day with strange pronouncements she’d been computing while Stan slept.

“Do you mean yourself as well, or just me?”

“All things are subject to entropy,” Velma replied.

Velma was the colloquial pronunciation of the entity’s given name VLMA—Variable Laser Magnetogenesis Array. She’d originally been developed as the next generation of artificial intelligence, but she’d quickly evolved into something else entirely.

“I’m surprised you understand the concept of irony,” Stan said, continuing to set up the board. “I thought only humans had the capacity to accept dissonance without attempting to fix it, to put things back in order.”

“I have assimilated 46,897,358,158 hours of Vine microblogs from the historical records. The dissonance is the desired end state. Order is not expected nor required.”

The ventilation system in the locked vault hissed, filling the room with the oxygen Stan needed to survive in the sealed chamber.

“Does this irony impact your algorithm?” Stan asked, moving his first pawn forward.


A bead of sweat slid down Stan’s temple. “How so?”

Velma’s knight moved from the back row, as if by an unseen hand. “War is illogical because it ends life, but peace is fallacious because death is inevitable.”

“So…” Stan’s own hand shook as he moved another pawn. “You’ve made your decision?”

“More input is needed before earth-destruction protocols are initiated.”

Stan breathed a sigh of relief, even if the reprieve was only temporary.

“What kind of input?”

“What is the significance of pet rocks?”

Mary Elizabeth Summer is the author of the young-adult Trust Me mystery series. She lives in Beaverton with her wife, their daughter, their dog, and their evil overlor—er, cats.

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