‘Behind Grey Eyes’ published on Daily Science Fiction

Huzzah! Another piece by yours truly went live yesterday, this time on Daily Science Fiction. Check it out here!

This piece was inspired by a chat I had with a friend of mine about the effect mobile technology is having on our ability to appreciate what’s going on around us. It’s a familiar thought: we’re so busy tweeting, facebooking, and instagramming everything that we sometimes don’t get a chance to just stop and enjoy it all. (Spoilers on the way!)

This story imagines a world in which modern society has created a subservient group of humans to do all of the jobs and tasks that people think are beneath them or boring. The people in this group are philosophical zombies: humans with perfectly functioning brains and bodies, but none of the accompanying phenomenal states that usually goes with that. They are persons (well, arguably) who will act in just the way we would expect a person to act, but who have no conscious experience of anything that is going on.

The idea of using zombies is this: what’s so bad about a boring job, is that you have to experience doing it, so if you give it to someone who has no conscious experience then no one loses out. The problem, of course, is that it becomes difficult to draw the line between what is an interesting job and what is a boring job. Every job has positive and negative parts to it—anyone can take joy in what they are doing—and once you start doing nothing at all, you cut yourself out of really experiencing anything anyway (even if you are fully capable of doing so!). In the story world, things have been taken to the extreme and zombies appear to do pretty much everything.

Hopefully the story doesn’t come off too preachy! I mostly just wanted to write a story about p-zombies, and this seemed like the perfect place to use them: here’s a guy (grey-eyed to be precise) who can’t have conscious experiences who non-the-less perceives more about the world around him than our protagonist, who has all the time in the world to take everything in but spends it not paying attention.

Hope you enjoy the read!

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