Arc’s winning stories: The Delights of Gardenearth by Peter Dennis

22 Nov

If you’ve been following Arc from the outset, you’ll recognise Peter Dennis as a runner-up from our first competition. A Private Party was a delirious story about online identities creating havoc in the world of the living. “The Delights of Gardenearth” explores similar territory from a more philosophical angle. It imagines a technological marriage between 3D printing, DIY-bio and God games.

Nature itself, by now thoroughly hacked, has become a giant sandbox, a playground, an infinitely fertile game-of-games.  But for its elite players, creation turns out to be a not very playful business. There is, after all, a moral burden to be shouldered, if one wants to play God.

Read Peter’s story in full here. There’s also a short extract below.

‘Come on, play fair now. You’ve been missing for days. What did you expect me to do? Leave you to wander in the wilderness?’

No answer.

Still no answer. I raise my eyebrows, corrugating my brow, and lean forward.

‘It’s my wilderness,’ is the final petulant response. He is playing with something – a ball of grey green mist that spins in the palm of his hand. I try to classify the delicate weave in the turning cloud: it’s a prelich – the code-state of a Gardenearth lichen. Or at least that’s what it looks like to me. It is already starting to take on greater definition.

‘Oh yes. Yes it is. Of course. It’s your wilderness. But you work for me. So it’s my wilderness.’

The lichen is now formed and sits like a spider moss in Gassile’s hand. It is intertwined in his long fingers and he lets it settle in the shallow bowl of his hand and rotates it, as though it was something that might crawl off if he didn’t move in just such a way.

‘Look, could you stop playing for a second?’

Gassile starts to ignore me then looks me straight in the face ‘Nope,’ he replies. ‘Isn’t that my job? To never stop playing?’ There’s a small, china finger-bowl hidden in amongst the empties and half empties that I had assumed to have been an ashtray. Gassile reaches into it and, making a fist, eats a parade line of nuts. ‘Good nuts,’ he says conversationally. He smiles again – all teeth and half-masticated peanut. ‘You know, I think they’re from Greece.’

I sigh. I’m regretting my ‘but you work for me’ line and pass my attention from the face grinning at me as it chews to the lichen in his hand. It’s beautiful: shimmering with oily rainbows that spiral back and forth along the structure’s delicate grey tendrils. While what I’m seeing is obviously only a previsualisation of the product that could be finally engineered in the real world, I get the feeling that, out there in reality, this lichen would shimmer too.

Read all our winning entries here

Click here for details of our new competition!

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