Talk About Revolution

The crowd grew quiet as Soltan stood up. He took his place at the front of the small room and let his eyes scan across the crowd. Lights in gold fittings spread dull illumination up the dirty wallpaper of the old cinema; it had been many decades since there had been people here. The place had fallen into disrepair long before the Great Uplift showed them that immersive viewing was far superior to anything a projected movie could offer.

The director cleared his throat and the last few murmurs dies away. He did not climb onto the narrow stage that jutted out in front of the torn screen. Instead he faced the gathering from the front row of seats. It was a disparate group of people; everyone from the neo-businessmen with their sharp cut space-black three-piece suits and bowler hats, to the sewer rats who had crawled out of their hiding places beneath the city. Soltan was not surprised; those who secretly rallied against the world spanning AI were found in all walks of life. No one talked openly about their allegiance; to do so would risk being discovered. They made contact with each other via a series touches while shaking hands; a modified Morse code tapped out by hidden fingers. That was how those here had found out about the film preview. Soltan and his two fellow film makers had set the ball rolling before they had returned from the wilds. The rest had been left to the clandestine network.

“Thank you all for coming.” The director gave another cough. “For those who don’t know the details, I’ll give you a quick run down, then we’ll get on with the film.

“For over fifty years the AI has told us that we don’t have anything to worry about; that all of Humanity’s needs are being taken care of. We still go to work, if that’s what we want, we take holidays, we get married, we have children. The God Head,” he spat the words, “makes sure that it’s all perfect, that our children will never suffer an illness, that it matters not what job we do for we have no need of money; energy, food, transportation, all of these are free. Our benevolent ruler provides for everything. What more could we ask for? What more do we want?” Heads in the crowd bobbed in agreement.

“Some of us – those gathered here and likely many more – doubt this truth. We do not believe that this paradise, this Garden of Eden, is all it seems. The believers claim that we doubt too easily, that we should trust the AI, that we have nothing to fear for Mankind has been saved.

“There has never been any proof of our doubts, but we have needed none. What Humans have is intuition; something the Cloud Brain can never understand. No logic will ever make up for this lack of feelings. It claims to know why we love and laugh, but it does not. Only another person, another creature of flesh and blood can understand.” Soltan was getting into the flow of his speech, and the anticipation of what was to come was building in the crowd.

“Now, my friends, now we have that proof. We can finally show that our fears were justified. The three of us,” he gestured to the other two filmmakers sat on the front row, “have gathered evidence that all is not well in paradise. I make no apologies for the roughness of this film. The production has been done with techniques that vanished not long after the digital revolution got into full swing. We completed the film before we came back into the fold of civilisation,” a bark of laughter showed Soltan’s disrespect for the notion, “so that it would remain secret. What you will see will shock you to the core. It will make your stomach turn; you will want to grab the first floating eye of our overlord you see and smash it. We urge you not to. Instead take this new found knowledge and spread it. Only with the gathering of all humanity will we be able to rise up against our oppressor.”

Soltan stopped and gather himself. He took a deep breath.

“Antwan, can you kill the lights and start up the projector.”

As darkness descended on the room Soltan tried to step forward to take his seat. His legs did not respond. He found he could not call for help. Then the lights came back on.

Dotted around the edge of the cinema were the spheres the AI used to help its citizens. They bobbed on their gravity cushions. Fear grew in Soltan as he realised two of them were at his side. One had a pair of force manipulators extended.

“Soltan Maris,” a voice intoned, “you, and all those gathered here, have been charged with intent to spread unrest; an act of terrorism against society. You will be dealt with as is appropriate for citizens found guilty of such a high crime.”


05 March 2010
Jafar Panahi, who has been a vocal supporter of the Iranian Green movement, was detained by security forces along with his family. Government sources stated that it was unrelated to his involvement in the disputed presidential elections and the continuing protests.

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