You are Callie Arnold again, being interviewed by Halwaz in your home.

"You have become something of a celebrity, haven't you?" she asks.

You flush. Clearly there is an emotional charge to this word.

"Not really by choice. I've been told I interview well. But it is nice that nobody spells my first name with a 'K' now."

"One thing you haven't mentioned so far is Gu-knocking. Was that something you thought about when you introduced Gu? Or didn't it cross your mind?"

Your stomach clenches and sinks a little.

"Well - honestly, I'd have to say, it did, though not in the form it ended up taking. Most major technologies start out military, eventually become commercial, and the instant they become commercial are co-opted for sexual stimulation. I mean, language was probably the first example. It's just part of how people think. Gu managed to skip the military part - which I've always been smug about - but frankly, the Gu sex doll was inevitable from day one. I knew that. I just didn't predict exactly how the pornographers would use it, because I don't think like they do."

"If someone had asked you, what would you have thought they would do?"

"I probably would have guessed much the same as what the fullmesh sites offered. But I didn't actually know what that was."

"Although you were fully meshed yourself."

"Yes, you have to be in materials science. Standing inside a simulation of virtual molecules, pushing them and feeling how they stick and fold, is part of how you come up with innovations. But I had carefully not ever gone near the porn spaces - I didn't really want to know."

"So you didn't know that they used the images of well-known people?"

"No, it wasn't common knowledge. Relatively few people were fullmeshed, fewer than now, not only because of expense but because it was so invasive back then. I remember, though, about a week after the first commercial release - here."

Another memory bead.

The memory is slightly crisper than the earlier one, though still not approaching current standards. You are in a robe, sipping coffee, reading the morning news the old-fashioned slow way, on a slate. The setting resembles the present-day one where Arnold is being interviewed. She narrates in voiceover:

"The lead article in my morning news digest had an unusually high hit ranking - my interests aren't particularly mainstream. I thought at first my digest service had glitched and included a Hollywood gossip article."

The headline is "Nebraska Rovira Sues Over Blow-Up Doll".

"AP/Detroit. Entertainer and model Nebraska Rovira is suing a company called Blue Stars Entertainments for 'inappropriate and unauthorized exploitation of image,' alleging that they have used a copy of her nude scene in the popular holo Call Me Carson Jackson to create an image of her in the new programmable matter medium known as Gu.

"The company is said to have programmed it with a public-domain sex response AI, blown air into it to keep it from collapsing, and rented it out by the quarter-hour in a dingy building in downtown Detroit.

"Ms Rovira is expected to be joined in the suit by other well-known models and members of the entertainment industry once the legal discovery process has progressed."

You feel a mixture of amusement and sympathetic chagrin, with a hint of disdain.

Cut back to present day.

"I was already living here then, and the commentators - professional and amateur - had had a couple of hours already to react to the news. One of them had already coined the name 'Gu-knocking' for what the Blue Stars guys had done, and it stuck." (Links to Mike Sutton's archived post, and to Nebraska Rovira's article in Starpedia, which describes her as "the first person to be Gu-knocked", are available in the context menu at this point.)

"Did you support their suit?"

"Against the pornographers, yes. Not the one against us, naturally, but they dropped that very early on, it was always clear they had no chance of winning."

"But they did win against Blue Stars."

"Of course they did, especially when it came out that the copy of Call Me Carson Jackson was actually a bootleg. Adding insult to injury, or possibly the other way around. But once the idea was out there you couldn't put it back in the box, and as Gu got cheaper it inevitably started to go amateur - a lot harder to prosecute."

"What did you think about that?"

"Well, I agreed with the courts that, technically, the most the amateurs could be charged with was a breach of 'fair use'. That if people were going to put their naked image out in public - often earning a lot of money for doing so, incidentally - then other people were naturally going to use it for sexual gratification. But I didn't like the way it progressed, when the Gu-knockers started to image-process people's clothes off so that they could Gu-knock celebrities who hadn't appeared naked."

"Like they did with you."

"Yes." You're embarrassed. "I mean, I have as much of a sense of irony as anyone, but - I'm a bit conservative about nudity, and I have to say, I felt a sense of violation."

"When you found out?"

"Yes. When I found out that anyone could go to a fileswapping network and download holographic images of my naked body, and use it to make a sex doll, yes, I did." You're angry and embarrassed, avoiding Halwaz's eyes.

"Do you have the memory of when you got that news?"

"Yes, but I'm not going to give it to you. I've never reviewed it myself and I'm not going to give it to you."

You deliberately slow your breathing, calm yourself down, relax your tightened muscles.

"Sorry," you say, meeting Halwaz's gaze again. "I do have a memory I can give you that bears on this, though."

"What's that?"

"It's from after public opinion turned against the Gu-knockers - when the main fad was over, not that it was all that widespread as a percentage of the population. I mean, blow-up dolls? The Gu-knockers were always seen as losers, but at the same time, when it was just celebrities - people like seeing celebrities embarrassed, it's a kind of shameful sport. Schadenfreude, isn't that the word? But when it came out that people were taking clandestine holography of work colleagues, people who lived in the same building, people on the street, and Gu-knocking them - and these were usually people that, well, let's say wouldn't be likely to get many dates in the usual course of things - then the tide turned. They started to be regarded like Gu-melters, the kind of people who take a laser to the beach and fire it at women's breasts to see if they're enhanced with Gu, or to the park and laser-disrupt people's Gu-coses in case they're not wearing anything underneath. And this memory is my own little bit of sociological research, captured unexpectedly in the wild."

The memory is recent. You are walking down the street when three boys, about 15, pass you, jostling each other in adolescent high spirits. One of them trips another. He recovers, and swipes at his friend.

"Ah, ya Gu-knocker!" he says, laughing.

You experience a complex satisfaction.

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3 Responses to Gu-knocker

  1. Mike Reeves-McMillan says:

    This is, with minor edits, the ending of the original short story which I expanded into Gu.And it’s the ending of the novel, as well. I’ll do one more post so that my (few) RSS subscribers know that.

  2. Sid says:

    I’m interested, because it’s hard to tell, what’s the word count to this point?

  3. Mike Reeves-McMillan says:

    It’s somewhere between 25,000 and 35,000 words, I think – I don’t really have any way to tell either short of pasting it all into Word, but there are 25 posts and I’ve been making them as close to 1500 words each as I could, but falling short sometimes.

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