59 Comments
Apr 16Liked by Claudia Befu Ibarra

Adding my comment now that I can ;)

Excellent worldbuilding as always, Claudia. I enjoy these standalone pieces a lot. Great detail within a short story. Impressive that this came from a dream.

Expand full comment
author

Thanks, Nathan. I prefer having these fireside chats here in the comments. It’s more cosy.

Yes, everything was in the dream except: the pink marble, the two policemen, the conversation with the lady at the shelter, the dome over the city and fact that it was a Tesla city. But the device with the strikes, the sliding underneath the closing gates, the AI warnings at the train station, her almost getting caught by the train security entrance, the noodle stall where she worked, the kids playing football at 5am. All was there. It was so easy to write this story.

Expand full comment
Apr 16Liked by Claudia Befu Ibarra

Wow, that's a decent chunk of specific recollection and detail. Amazing.

Expand full comment
author

It was like a movie, all I had to do was to describe it. I can recall it perfectly, the feeling of being in that city. It's so funny, right?

Expand full comment

This is a really great vignette! Also, it makes you want to know what happens next (and before, for that matter).

One of the best aspects for me was the fast-paced narrative. That really worked!

Expand full comment
author

Thank you for reading, Evelyn. This and all the fiction I published so far is part of the same universe.

Expand full comment

Have you heard of the Grist cli-fi competition? If your writing is as good as this story, you should win!

Expand full comment
author

I actually did and I'm planning on submitting a story this year. I hope you're right 😁

Expand full comment
May 26Liked by Claudia Befu Ibarra

enjoyed this very much Claudia. just the sort of thing i like to read and think about writing... although my stories are all tending to a darker side. i will check out more of your stuff and well done with the award... dreams are such a great place for inspiration... but how do the ideas get in there... its a mystery isnt it.

Expand full comment
author

Hi Nick, thanks for reading and your note. Dreams are such a mystery, aren't they? It's the second story based on a dream that I publish here.

I understand about the darker side, I also explore this a lot in my writing.

Expand full comment
May 25Liked by Claudia Befu Ibarra

Is there a reason you've chosen to circumvent TiPToP paragraph guidelines? Not my rule ... just sayin' When characters and dialogue intermix in the same paragraph, it's confusing for ... at least *this* reader. Interesting world, though.

Expand full comment
author

Thanks for reading, Val, and for your feedback. I’m happy to read that you found the world interesting.

Regarding the dialogue, it’s funny, because I used to do it like you said and had several people complaining. Then I started observing my favorite writers and everyone does it their own way. 🤷‍♀️

Expand full comment

Fair enough, we writers can't please everyone, so we have to stay true to our story vision and style.

Expand full comment
May 10Liked by Claudia Befu Ibarra

Hello Claudia, would you be open to writing a science fiction short story as a guest post on my newsletter? We could also republish this one if you like. My newsletter audience are AI enthusiasts I am not sure if you have any short fiction or short stories that relate to how AI might evolve.

I've never offered a fiction writer a guest post placement but if I did it would be something like you are capable of.

Expand full comment
author

Hi Michael, very honored by your proposal for a fiction guest post. AI plays an important role in my fiction work.

I have an AI character in my cli-fi series ‘There Is Hope’ which appeared in this short story: https://www.storyvoyager.com/p/the-seed-grower-part-i

The AI character is present in Parts II & III and is a recurring character in the series.

I also have a sci-fi theater play with the title ‘The Roommate’ that centers around AI and health that I wanted to turn into a fiction story. I would need some weeks to rewrite the play and it will be longer than ‘Illegal’. But I think that it would resonate with your audience.

Or you can have ‘Illegal’.

Your pick. ☺️

Expand full comment
May 11Liked by Claudia Befu Ibarra

Thank you for being open to this, it's an experiment but a way to expose your work perhaps to a wider audience.

This is how I work with guest posts: https://www.ai-supremacy.com/p/guest-posts-on-ai-supreamcy

I will leave it up to you to decide which work to submit that is your best work to attract new readers.

Expand full comment
May 11Liked by Claudia Befu Ibarra

Also if you can include a narrated audio version of the work as an audio file I can embed, I would appreciate that, otherwise I'll give this job to Eleven Labs.

Expand full comment
author

Thanks for this opportunity, Michael, I really appreciate it.

I read your guidelines and given the 10 to 21 days deadline, I would like to submit 'Illegal' if that's fine with you. I will rework the story a bit to give it more polish and I will also provide the audio version.

I'm looking forward to this collab! 🙏

Expand full comment
May 11Liked by Claudia Befu Ibarra

Sounds perfect!

Expand full comment
May 10Liked by Claudia Befu Ibarra

The part where the main character eats the soup with tears streaming down her face stays with me. Also the part where she saved water. The inequality depicted in the story feels very present day, or could be many different times, past, present, or future.

Expand full comment
author

Water and food are basic needs of every human being and it feels like a violence to deny people access when there's enough for everyone. I think of all the people begging on the streets while supermarkets throw away food.

Expand full comment
May 10Liked by Claudia Befu Ibarra

Right. And they often even lock the dumpsters so hungry people can’t get in even after it’s thrown away.

Expand full comment
author

Yes, in so many ways we live in such a ridiculous and tragic world! How did we get here?

Expand full comment

This is a good story, dystopian sci-fi based on current reality. Tech used to create fear and control. I noticed the absence of animals in the story. Just a thought; a bird like a raven or a crow might be a nice touch, linking the mythlogical past long forgotten to an antiseptic future devoid of any real life.

Expand full comment
author

True. In my worldbuilding animals and plants start to be scarce and they are protected in enclosed spaces. But having birds flying freely in the dome city would be a sign of great wealth. I might edit the story… I like the idea.

Expand full comment
Apr 30Liked by Claudia Befu Ibarra

Really enjoyed the pace, tension and world building in this short story. The fi- part works even outside the sci- part, and that's the mark of good fiction.

Expand full comment
author

Thank you so much Reena for reading and for your feedback. I’m still learning but I have a deep love for stories first and foremost, that’s why the sci- part is always secondary for me. Especially in climate fiction, it’s important to remember that fiction is for telling stories not for activism. Too many publications want to turn climate fiction into propaganda. I’m happy to hear that I managed to honor the story with this one.

Expand full comment
Apr 30Liked by Claudia Befu Ibarra

Yes. So glad to hear stories come first -- for you! Propagandist agendas pollute storytelling and readers can always smell motivated reasoning of the characters... I'm with you. Keep going!

Expand full comment
author
May 1·edited May 1Author

I grew up in communism and my childhood books were about 9-years old kids who made scientific discoveries leading to the betterment of society. 🫠

Unfortunately, there is a crop of fiction written in this vein popping-up like mushrooms after the rain and very enthusiastic proponents of writing such 'useful' literature and decrying the 'dystopian' tendencies of some writers. Freedom of thought and creativity is very important in this landscape of change as it fosters the forming of meaningful ideas for a better future.

Expand full comment
May 1Liked by Claudia Befu Ibarra

Oh dear! Good that you're sufficiently inoculated due to your childhood. Much needed in modern America.

Expand full comment
author

Yes, I even hear people contemplating a 'benevolent' dictatorship that could help us navigate these turbulent waters. Honestly, they have no idea.

Expand full comment
May 1Liked by Claudia Befu Ibarra

They don't. And so elitist too. I grew up in socialism and know the cost of bad ideas like these. Fortunately, I do see a ray of light in that common people are waking up and finally pushing back... Long live liberty.

Expand full comment
Apr 28Liked by Claudia Befu Ibarra

This is a fantastic stand alone short story. The tension is so well done. I can't wait to read more!

Expand full comment
author

Thank you so much for reading, Jodie! This story is placed in the same universe as the rest of climate fiction. It's stand alone but part of a bigger narrative :)

Expand full comment
Apr 28Liked by Claudia Befu Ibarra

Many congratulations, Claudia. This short story is a very well-deserved Lunar Awards winner. When reading it, I kept thinking of current and historical examples of human beings separated by security gates, checkpoints, paperwork and bureaucracy because of political, economic and religious ideologies. I'm sure there will be many more in the future. Humanity will only survive the difficult times ahead through acts of community and generosity.

Expand full comment
author

Thanks Johnathan, I still think yours was the winner, but we can argue about that another time 😉

The story was all a dream. I didn't have to think about anything except the description of the city, the chip implant, the dome and the police showing up at the eatery. Also, since it was already there, I could write it very fast for a change. It almost feels like cheating 🤣

Jokes aside, I have a couple more ideas for stories set in this 2400 CE world leading to a data war. I now feel encouraged to write them.

Expand full comment
Apr 28·edited Apr 28Liked by Claudia Befu Ibarra

Wow, such a vivid dream! I barely remember any of mine, and even then only for an hour or two after waking. But maybe I make up for it with my daytime dreams. 😉

I'm not sure we'd be good at having an argument. The creativity would get in the way. 😋

Looking forward to immersing myself into your expanding universe.

Expand full comment
author

That’s good, creative discussions are the best. Though I do tend to get rather boorish sometimes. Some generous folk is kind enough to ignore that side of me for which I’m highly grateful.

I’ll go back to read your entry once again. Funny thing, I noticed I’m quite drawn to English writers on Substack, there’s a certain use of language and a way of looking at things that is quite particular. With good writers, of course. I wonder why that is… It must have something to do with the British literary history and of course British thought. I’d like to pinpoint it, but I think I don’t have enough in depth knowledge of the culture.

Expand full comment
Apr 19Liked by Claudia Befu Ibarra

Beautiful descriptions and very realistic. It would not surprise me if this becomes the reality in places like Neom in the future.

Expand full comment
author

Thanks a lot for reading and taking the time to leave a comment, Natalie. I really appreciate it.

Oh, Neom is a completely different ball game. I have another vision for that city, you've inspired me to write a short story about that city as well.

Expand full comment

That's a story I'd definitely read...

Expand full comment
author

It would be a bit dystopian. For the ones living in the lower levels of Neom…

Expand full comment

I read Tesla City and it somehow reminded me of that Sky Dome 2123 trailer. Nice one, Claudia!

Expand full comment
author

Wow, didn't know this one, it looks intriguing. And it does remind me of my story. 🤣 Just in mine the city layout is inspired Jacque Fresco. So completely new.

Expand full comment

Ah yes, the Venus project, been a while since I looked at their website. Fascinating project, not the only one these days.

Expand full comment
author

Which other similar projects do you know?

Expand full comment

Well, I have been looking at the RBE ideas and sustainable city/community concepts for a long time and so far that's all they are: concepts and ideas.

Last time (a few years back) I was on TVPs website they were recruiting for people to live there, not any more. Do you think TVP will ever get to a state where it matters?

The Eden Project is cool, a tourist attraction, a film and concert location. They are planning to build a second site (Morecambe). I posted about this some time ago on Notes.

You probably know of TROM, more on the knowledge-sharing aspect of things.

Expand full comment
author

I know the Eden project, but didn't know about Morecambe. TVP is for me a cool MVP, if people want to move there and be part of the experiment it's great. For me, it's great that there are real life examples that we can explore. Rebuilding the whole world with this new architecture and urban planning... nothing lasts forever on this earth, who knows? Or perhaps someone comes with a better idea. Better to have more choices than too little.

Not sure if I know RBE or TROM.

I remember looking at a sustainable city project somewhere in Dubai and of course the one from Saudi Arabia. It's a fascinating topic.

Expand full comment

Fascinating indeed. Then there are all these eco homes now, like "ecocapsule"

RBE is merely a resource-based economy, i.e. no more money... Star Trek! 😅

Expand full comment
Apr 16Liked by Claudia Befu Ibarra

Thoroughly enjoyed this!

Expand full comment
author

Thanks Brian, really appreciate the note. 💚

Expand full comment
Apr 16Liked by Claudia Befu Ibarra

"The train hovers over the magnetic tracks..." This is the future I envision, a world connected by fast, clean, safe trains.

Expand full comment
author

There are so many ideas for a better future. I hope we'll get to build this future.

Expand full comment

Obviously maglev has been a proven tech for decades (see Japan). The real problem is that the monsters in charge don't want to create a utopia, because they are not adapted for survival in a utopia. That's the key insight. Nothing happens 'structurally' - it is all deliberate decisions by a small group of bad guys. So they will deliberate 'not fund' obvious utopian technologies (free energy through Caesium, for example).

Thus, remove the bad guys, replace them with good guys, problem solved. If this doesn't happen, if humanity doesn't learn this basic, obvious lesson (ostracise bad guys before they get into positions of social control), then humanity doesn't have a future. The real underlying factor in all this is psychology, in other words.

And as for ETI, they would never let 'this' humanity leave the system and threaten other life. Quarantine, I mean.

Are there ETI in your story-setting? (forgive me here because this is the first story of yours I've read, via Lunar Awards). The ETI are, in my view, the 'hidden variable'. A lot of my stories (and setting) are from the ETI point of view, so I do think about this a fair bit, lol.

Expand full comment
author

Thanks, Evelyn. One fascinating thing about our cities and infrastructures, is that they are built based on a blueprint of someone's idea of how we should build our cities, transportation etc. For example, the US is a car country because Bank Lloyd Wright had a vision that people will stop walking in the future and they will fly in helicopters to their farms.

It always depends on who manages to sell their vision best.

ETI... hope no one reads this [spoiler alert], but yeah, ETI will play a significant role in my cli-fi universe. ;)

Expand full comment

I read this yesterday and I can't stop thinking about it- I wish there was more so I could know what happens!

Expand full comment

I totally agree that it's about who controls the technology and the design and how it's implemented and so on. My take on all this is that the way to solve all the world's problems is to simply replace the evil decision makers with benevolent decision makers - then they make good decisions and we have a utopia (that's the premise of my parallel world Katrina series). In other words the technology is 'neutral', it's the personality and intentions of the users/controllers that determines whether it's used for good or ill, and what effects it has on people, the environment and so on. It's kind of obvious when one thinks about it.

In my setting, all the ETIs have long-since understood and acted upon this, so now they have a 'prime directive' which is monitoring all pre-spacefaring civs and intervening at an early stage to prevent them becoming a threat. The Star Trek idea of not intervening is a really, really stupid thing to do. Like 'oh look, that evil fascist species has just developed warp drive and black hole bombs right under our observation satellites and now we have an interstellar war going on in which trillions are going to suffer and die - how silly of us; well, we'll not be making that mistake again, eh!' In the early years of life in the galaxy there weren't enough lifeforms to intervene, so you do get evil empires and an ancient war, but then the good guys win (we'd know by now if they hadn't), then you have a lasting peace because of the interventionist policy (that's the variable they missed out on the Drake equation, of course).

Anyhow, morning ramble over (I always have at least three coffees). Have a good day!

Expand full comment