Timeline

Letter from a Correspondent, Undated.


By Ambrose Garcia III
 
 

The sun is setting over a panorama of dusky masjid towers, and the dust of the immeasurable Sahara lends the sky above a similar hue to the ground beneath. All is sand. Lest I run the risk of forgetting that I'm sitting in Africa's greatest city, of course, my bawab chatters away in his impenetrable Cairene accent, doing his best to distract me from the task at hand.

Said task: to find the hashish, to smoke the hashish, to somehow portray the ineffable mystery of the sandy sky in the midst of the great release brought about by the hashish.

My attempts at marshalling my paintbrush whilst dissolved in the oceanic effects of laudanum in Cathay having failed me something awfully, I decided some time ago to turn my arts to the skies of Africa, and my lungs and veins to a lesser poison. I have found it most a most effectual inspiration, if disorienting slightly, but a handful of the retainers-in-exile of the former Mahdi of the Soudan seem to appreciate paintings of improbable masjids dangling from the sky, so all that turned out for the best. Now, fraying at the edges like the delightful arabesque rug upon which I recline, I try to drown out the penetrating ayn and the punctuating qaf - not so much a consonant as a glottal stop to the Cairenes - and focus my awe on the same sky and the same sand that every great man from Rameses II to Napoleon has awed at

My bawab, it must be said, does not appreciate the sight. I would consider dismissing him, but unfortunately, he comes with the building, and in antithesis to the Kipling-Cat, I am quite peculiarly attached to my particular nest.

I am finally torn from my reverie (dusty canvas watching me balefully from its single mihrab-eye in the wall of its unfinished masjid) by the phrase "Art'fisal Adam", spoken with some contempt in an approximation of English. The speaker, Sara, is the one person in the building other than myself who can read English, and she has come to join the conversation with a copy of The Daily Telegraph. On the front page (which, in my enthusiasm, i hastily snatch up and bear triumphantly to the heavens to catch the dying sunlight), a crude diagram of a man's head filled with cogs.

I admit I had quite forgotten, in this place of donkey and cart, where airships are a rare sight which children chase, laughing, through the alleys, that such wondrous mechanical endeavour was taking place back in the Home-Land. And for a brief and sparkling moment my heart pumps oil and my head whirs with ticking cogs, and I know what these mechanical men must feel and how they must think. I see the lines and circles in the world; I see its component parts.

I know now that I must make art, but not how. Suffice it to say, I decide to become an amateur sculptor, hoping to reproduce in art the magnificence of science. I go out to buy metal and saws and most of the equipment necessary for arc-welding in the home setting, and turn my apartment into a sculptor's studio.

Well, it is now some days later, and the kind, British-trained surgeon Mr. Abd el-Maksoud tells me in his flawless (Manchester-accented) English that I am likely to keep the use of all of my fingers, "despite my best attempts". I would make a mental note to halve his backsheesh for that, but he is right, of course. Nothing has changed, regardless. I still feel the ticking now and again, and I still know that a world of unrestrained magnificence, powered by the relentless, infinite ticking of the future's steam-and-brass engines, lies a centimetre behind the eyes of our Artificial Adams.

Every culture that we have ever met has affected our art, our music, and the way that we think. Here we have the opportunity for reflexive creation: to create a thing that can create, and thence to see how it influences us, and how we influence it. Far greater than the simple process of birth, and the schooling and indoctrination that follow - a decade and more before the talent accrues to produce works of worth and respectability - here we will be treated to a new influence just as certainly as if we had met it on an island already speaking our language but thinking thoughts wholly alien to us.

But first, I must wait, while the bandages on my hand and wrist (and arm, side, and chest) come off, and I am assessed again for functionality. Would that I had replaceable parts!

And that, Mr. Editor, is why my column is late this month.

 

Reporter: Ambrose Garcia III

 

The Clock Issue: Lady Frobisher Pilbeam explains

    
 
 

Her Majesty's Emissary to Science the Honorable Lady Forbisher Pilbeam, was at the Tomorrow's World… Today! event in London, where she held court with people concerned about recent developments at the Department for the Advancement of Sciences.

Reporter: What problems do you foresee with the work  being carried out by the government scientists?

Lady Frobisher Pilbeam: I am in favour of the clockwork automaton, but only under certain conditions: it must not annoy the working classes so much that they rise up against us, it must not fall into the wrong hands, it must not have the ability to replicate itself, and unless we can make it loyal to the crown without question, it must not be self-aware.

 

Lady Frobisher Pilbeam
Lady Frobisher Pilbeam Emissary to Her Majesty Queen Victoria

Reporter: How about the impact on the workforce, many people are currently without work.

Lady Frobisher Pilbeam: The idea of the clockwork servant is highly problematic. While I would not oppose their use entirely,  I would advise heavy restrictions. They should only be used to perform tasks for which human beings are unsuitable.

Large-scale production and use of automata, resulting in the loss of jobs for the working classes, may cause civil unrest and destabilize the realm.

If the crown wishes to endorse the use of automata in industry, precautions must be taken against this eventuality. I am certain that Her Majesty, in her benevolence, will neither starve her people nor deprive them of their livelihoods.   

Clockwork automata should not be given the ability to manufacture other automata. This is for two reasons: first, if this were the case, and a single automaton was to fall into the wrong hands, we would be giving our enemies an army of automata. Second, if these automata were to--despite my third and final recommendation--develop self-awareness, and suddenly decide that they no longer want to serve their country, we would be giving our enemies an army of automata. In this case, we could even find that our enemy is the automaton itself.

Unless we can ensure their loyalty (and ensure also that this loyalty cannot be changed by simple mechanical means), we must take all precautions possible to prevent them from becoming self-aware. While the wisdom and prudence of Her Majesty command loyalty from all right-thinking individuals, it pains me to say that not all individuals are right-thinking. Who is to say that a self-aware mechanical person, exposed to the wrong kind of influence, will not decide to bestow its abilities on the wrong agencies? A human traitor is dangerous. A mechanical traitor is ten times worse.

Reporter: Isn't this a licence to play "God" and how far can the scientists be trusted in the light of Saryn?

Lady Frobisher Pilbeam: Significantly, I noticed a change in opinion after it was revealed that scientists were attempting to install human brains in these automata. Following this revelation, around half of the people who told me that they believed the Clockwork Servant to be a positive thing, came back and told me they had changed their minds.

I am still unsure whether the installation of the human brain in a mechanical body is a real possibility. If it is, I can see a limited number of applications, including the preservation of those minds which are vital to our nation's wellbeing. I would not, however, recommend the overt use of human brains in automatic bodies on a large scale.

The Clockwork Servant, if used correctly, could provide our nation with an enormous amount of power. Like any kind of power, however, it must be dealt with wisely, and it must not fall into the wrong hands. I have every trust that Her Majesty will choose the wisest course of action, and act in the best interests of her people."

 

Reporter: St Jon Ponsonby Smythe

Photographer: Oliver Facey

 

TOMORROW'S WORLD… TODAY! YOUR STORIES PLEASE   

The Department for the Advancement of Sciences grand expo "Tomorrow's World… Today" kicked off with a bang on Monday, as anxious delegates waited to get a glimpse of what is being heralded as the first 'mechanical man'.

The crowd was a mix of Factions, each eager to see what the scientists had up their sleeve. While people waited for the show to begin, many tok advantage to shop at the art and crafts market at the venue, under London Bridge Train Station.

     

Our reporter was ejected by security staff for trying to get a photograph of mechanical parts before the show started. We have heard unconfirmed reports of two robberies, protests and an assault of a member of the audience.

Lady Frobisher Pilbeam Addresses Crowd  
Lady Frobisher Pilbeam   

If you witnessed anything unusual at the event, or if you have an opinion on what happened at the show, please get in touch with the London Gazette, we would like to hear from you.

      
 
   
 

 

Lady Lark Skyfried: Many Die In Conflagration

    
 
 

Yesterday, at shortly after 9-o-clock in the morning, Her Majesty’s Skyship Lady Lark was the victim of that which all aeronauts dread – skyfire. The blaze is thought to have begun in the lower stern of the vessel, where the laundry closets are housed, quickly growing in size and overtaking the entire ship. Within moments, the gasbags had caught and the Ambinium storage canisters burned freely, leaving the HMS Lady Lark to plummet approximately 8000ft in to the Oxfordshire countryside.

Residents of the little village of Kidlington rushed to the stricken vessel’s aid, but of the HMS Lady Lark’s eighty-six- strong crew, only three miraculously survived – Lt Cdr’ James Weston, Mid Michael Ponting and Officer Cadet Louis Gradan.

All others, including Captain John Stephenson, are thought to have burned with the ship. All seven civilian passengers were evacuated safely, set loose in an escape balloon shortly after it became apparent the ship could not be saved. The London Gazette would like to send its condolences to the families of those lost in this great tragedy.

 

 
 

NATION SPLIT OVER “ARTIFICIAL ADAM”

 
   

Tension is mounting as the date draws ever nearer to May the 6th when, at a grand exhibition in the nation's capital, the Department for the Advancement of Sciences will be unveiling a 'mechanical man'.

   

Will this artificial ’Adam’ delight and astound the crowds, or will this modern-day Pinocchio prove nothing more than a puppet of clockwork and steel?

   

Artificial Adam

   

Opinion is divided, with some Factions calling the news a blasphemy; others claiming it is nothing more than a natural evolution, but many believing this row merely overshadows what could bring a reversal of fortune for our beleaguered industry.

  
   

Interest from other countries is said to be strong, and it is already rumoured that representatives from China, the United States of America and India are coming to watch the show.

   

Is this a step too far?  Are we putting Science above the Sacred?

   

It's too early to tell, but one thing is for sure: The London Gazette will be there to bring you all the news

And in late breaking news, this paper has learnt that the exhibition is to also play host to the old as well as the new.A group of archaeologists have discovered a bizarre, ornamental  clock, said to be of unknown age and origin.

The timepiece, which has four faces and rides an enormous pole, was found in the Forest of Dean.  Is it a relic from a bygone age?  Find out when they unveil the clock on May the 6th.  

If you have a view on this, or are planning to attend Tomorrow’s World… Today! contact us, we will buy your story.

 

 
Alchemists Dream
 
   

 

 
Alchemists Dream