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Introduction

  • The easiest way to write futuristic (or futurismic) science fiction is to
  • predict, with rigor and absolute accuracy, the present day.
  • Anda’s Game is a sterling example of this approach. I ripped a story from the
  • headlines—reports on blogs about a stunning presentation at a video-games
  • conference about “gold farmers” in latinamerica who were being paid a pittance
  • “grind” (undertake boring, repetitive wealth-creating tasks in a game) with
  • the product of their labor sold on to rich northern gamers who wanted to
  • level-up without all the hard work.
  • The practice of gold farming became more and more mainstream, growing with the
  • online role-playing game industry and spreading around the world (legend has
  • it that the Chinese rice harvest was endangered because so many real farmers
  • had quit the field to pursue a more lucrative harvest in virtual online gold).
  • Every time one of these stories broke, I was lionized for my spectacular
  • prescience in so accurately predicting the gold-farming phenomenon—I had
  • successfully predicted the present.
  • Anda’s Game tries to square up the age-old fight for rights for oppressed
  • minorities in the rich world with the fight for the rights of the squalid,
  • miserable majority in the developing world. This tension arises again and
  • again, and it affords a juicy opportunity to play different underclasses off
  • against one another. Think of how handily Detroit’s auto-workers were
  • distracted from GM’s greed when they were given Mexican free-trade-zone labor
  • to treat as a scapegoat; the American worker’s enemy isn’t the Mexican worker,
  • it’s the auto manufacturer who screws both of them. They fought NAFTA instead
  • of GM, and GM won
  • This was the first of several stories I’ve written with titles from famous sf
  • stories and novels (Anda’s Game sounds a lot like “Ender’s Game” when
  • pronounced in a British accent). I came to this curious practice as a response
  • to Ray Bradbury describing Michael Moore as a crook for repurposing the title
  • “Fahrenheit 451” as “Fahrenheit 9/11.” Bradbury doesn’t like Moore’s politics,
  • and didn’t want his seminal work on free speech being used to promote opposing
  • political ideology.
  • Well, this is just too much irony to bear. Titles have no copyright, and
  • science fiction is a field that avidly repurposes titles—it seems like writing
  • a story called “Nightfall” is practically a rite of passage for some writers.
  • What’s more, the idea that political speech (the comparison of the Bush regime
  • to the totalitarian state of Fahrenheit 451) should be suppressed because the
  • author disagrees is antithetical to the inspiring free speech message that
  • shoots through Fahrenheit 451.
  • So I decided to start writing stories with the same titles as famous sf, and
  • to make each one a commentary, criticism, or parody of the cherished ideas of
  • the field. Anda’s Game was the first of these, but it’s not the last—I, Robot
  • appears elsewhere in this volume, and I’m almost finished a story called True
  • Names that Ben Rosenbaum and I have been tossing back and forth for a while.
  • After that, I think it’ll be The Man Who Sold the Moon, and then maybe Jeffty
  • is Five.
  • I sold this story to Salon, and it was later reprinted in Michael Chabon’s
  • Best American Short Stories (a story written by a Canadian about Brits, no
  • less!), and it was later podcasted by retired pro Quake player Alice Taylor
  • for my podcast.