When full automation made human employment superfluous, the first reaction was panic. Pink slips fell like confetti. Even Chase had protested against the coming of the machines at first, though Marybeth hadn’t.“It’s a paradigm shift,” she’d said. “Relax, Chase. It’s the way things were meant to be. Machines can do things better than we ever could.”
The early days of the Shift were a time of great upheaval, as people who’d spent their whole lives working suddenly found themselves without a job, a purpose. The solution was drastic: a complete social safety net, and a draft. Every day, a few people were called for employment, targeted by the drones that also swept the city clean, monitored crime, and performed chit drops. Stretches of employment varied from a few months to a few years.
You’ll come back, the Employment Bureau said. Everyone will come back. We count on it. Chase knows nobody who has returned, but that doesn’t prove anything.
This issue also features fiction by Robert Reed, Bao Shu, Elizabeth Bourne, and many others! I'm not going to break my usual pattern of not talking about my stories, but I will say that the article "On the Phenomenon of Bullshit Jobs" by David Graeber was a huge inspiration for this piece, and of course this poem by Richard Brautigan. Read it if you want to, and let me know what you think!