“Clickerland” by M.V. Montgomery is a plain spoken, realistic story in a domestic setting. Set in the United States in 2062, the story opens with a summary of how the government has been changed, explaining how every person in the country is allowed to vote on all laws by using clickers that can be purchased at any store and activated by entering a Social Stability number. Janey, the protagonist, works at Wall2Wall in the paint section. She suspects she has been assigned there because she once “liked” something art-related.
Janey rebels against the clicker system in small ways and eventually falls in love with Bob, a guard at a local Display Storage Facility (DSF), this future’s version of an art gallery, although all art is available digitally. This relationship leads Janey to begin to think for herself, and she and Bob conspire to first allow Janey to create real art on the walls of the DSF with paint she has purchased and later stolen from work. They hack the DSF webcam and on New Year’s Eve, they broadcast a tour of Janey’s art live on the web. Vigilance troops surround the DSF, take Janey and Bob into government custody, and inject them with a drug to erase their previous lives and memories. The last thing Janey consciously can recall is Bob sleeping at her feet before she slips into oblivion.
“Clickerland” is exactly the type of short science fiction that I enjoy. The details of what makes the story’s world different than ours are given clearly from the start to give context and then the focus narrows into a small slice of life. While this could be done using a close third person POV, I think the distance works well and adds a layer of detachment to the story that reflects how unemotional this future has become. It also serves as a way for the author to use the overall storyteller’s voice to inject his opinion on present day social media obsession and how it could lead to the future he is imagining: “You might worry if you hadn’t heard from that friend of yours in Denver or Minneapolis who ordinarily posted hourly updates and start flooding their page. As a security measure to help direct the flow of virtual traffic, the government had installed a Regional Vigilance in twelve hubs around the country. It soon became public information to know who was online at all times….”
Janey was a strong character and I found myself rooting for her and Bob to have their moment of quiet rebellion even though the ending, in which they are arrested and essentially reprogrammed to conform to the status quo, was inevitable from the beginning.
–Jessica Scott, Columbia College