The Voluntary State

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Rowe, Christopher. "The Voluntary State”. Originally published in Sci Fiction in 2004.[1] Anthologized Rewired: The Post-Cyberpunk Anthology, James Patrick Kelly and John Kessel, editors (San Francisco: Tachyon Publications, 2007).[2]

Mentioned in Sandor Klapcsik's review of the anthology in SFRA Review #284 (Spring 2008): pp. 15-16, who notes that the story "creates a bizarre, madcap future in which [...] cars pine for and track down their owners, and garages need to be fed every morning."[3]

Reviewed by Alex Willing, 14 August 2012.

In a post-Singularity future, the citizens of the Voluntary State of Tennessee live under the protection of the Governor, a superintelligence known as Athena. However, while all their material needs are being met and morale is high, their society is not free. Soma is one such citizen of Tennessee, who soon gets caught up in a Kentuckian resistance movement known as the Crow Fighters. Meanwhile, his intelligent car undergoes repairs at the hands of a mechanic [...] who has her own fight with the authorities that coincides with the Crows’ plan to bring down the digital autocrats.

See for AI running a gentle dystopia, and for cars. For gentle dystopia, see, e.g., "Out in the Blue Six" and, far more famously, Brave New World; for cars see CARS and the useful articles "Deus in Machina: Popular Culture's Myth of the Machine" ("the cars are the stars" in recent film) and "Love and Death in the American Car: Stephen King's Auto-Erotic Horror."

RDE, finishing, 7Jan21