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image, The Editor of Love, by Janice Valerie Young.

by Janice Valerie Young
  

Earth, 4000 AD

L-29 was a most unlikely evolutionary revolutionary.

Like every other Thinker his brain and consequently head were six times the size of the human Doers’ heads, and he had six arms and no legs. Simply put, he resembled an octopus. The Thinkers had once been Doers themselves, but around 3000 AD the legs of the Monitor Watchers (as the Thinkers were then called) began to atrophy due to lack of use, and the history files tell us that it was also around this time that the Thinkers noticed their growth of four new arms. These additional arms served the Thinkers quite nicely, as they were famous for their fanatical electronic multitasking.

The Doers (classified as those who did work not involving any time in front of a monitor) were too occupied doing to pay much attention to the Monitor Watchers’ radical evolutionary developments. The two races then steadily drifted apart until the Thinkers gradually completed their evolution and retreated to an enormous, long-forgotten nuclear waste dump known as Thinker Kingdom.

The Thinkers were a solemn bunch, responsible for thinking of ways to improve global society, as well constantly calculating and programming crucial technology related to the Doer’s food, transportation, and education.

After a thousand years of successful thinking, the Thinkers grew tired of creating “additions,” as their thoughts were called. Senior Thinkers then reached the conclusion that instead of additions, what global society really needed to become a better, more efficient place were actually subtractions. The premise was simple: take away the bad, and you are left with only the good. The Senior Thinkers thus developed a Subtraction Plan.

image, Love.

The Plan was based on Doer invitro fertilization-brain zapping. Unwanted brain functions, including fear, hate, curiosity, sadness, and love, were effectively zapped away by high tech lasers, allowing the Doers to mature into satisfied beings who did their jobs with the total subtraction of crime, stress, and excessive emotion.

But why subtract love? This was hotly debated; after all, weren’t the Doers searching for a world with love? Full of love? Overflowing with love? The Senior Thinkers responded with the facts. Their research had proven that love was a key component of fear, hate, curiosity, and sadness. With love subtracted, the Doers were guaranteed to be happier and thereby do better jobs because they wouldn’t be distracted by negative emotions.

Thinkers themselves had not experienced love since the time of their evolution from Monitor Watchers, and although they had read Monitor Watchers’ historical accounts of love’s potential to create bliss, the Thinkers still deemed it to be a far greater evil blocking the Doers’ efficiency.

image, Love.

The Senior Thinkers decided they needed a fool-proof backup plan if something went wrong during invitro-brain zapping and unwanted brain functions weren’t completely zapped away. They were worried that the unsuccessfully zapped Doers might come across something that could inadvertently trigger the emotions which should have been zapped. And so it was decided that all information the Doers could potentially be exposed to, whether for employment, education or entertainment, needed to be edited out.

Deep in the basement of the Thinker Kingdom nuclear dump, the Junior Thinkers groaned loudly about this mammoth editing task. Clearly it was a junk job that would be given to them. As predicted, one Junior Thinker was allocated to each unwanted brain function. These specified Thinkers were called Editors, and it was their responsibility to use their big brains to scan all material in existence and edit out any reference whatsoever to their assigned unwanted brain function.

H-19, for example, was the Editor of Hate. Having much familiarity with hate (he hated all Senior Thinkers, he hated living in a nuclear dump, he hated all-night focus groups) he could spot it a galaxy away. He sliced and diced all references to hate out of existence in no time. He was awarded a medal for most efficient Editor. Alas, he hated awards too.
The other Editors proved to be just as competent. Except the Editor of Love—L-29, the evolutionary revolutionary from the opening line.

The trouble with L-29 of course was, like all other Thinkers, as he had never experienced love, he couldn’t recognize it save for being able to spot the word itself. So the best he could do was to simply edit out “love” from all material. And that’s what he did. He had finished editing everything up to 1800 AD when Senior Thinker 45 entered L-29’s private chamber and checked his editorial progress by running the edited materials through a love-detector software program. The generated report was far from encouraging.

Senior Thinker 45: L-29, when was the last time you recharged?

L-29: I recharge regularly, every night.

Senior Thinker 45: Then why have you left intact references and even descriptions of love? This love-detector report says that Romeo and Juliet should have been edited out altogether. You’re the Editor of Love! You are supposed to edit everything to do with love—your mandate is quite clear.

L-29 (pulling his dictionary and thesaurus up on all of six monitors): Senior Thinker 45, I have edited out all occurrences of the word “love”. See for yourself! (His six hands flailed as he gestured to the monitors).

Senior Thinker 45: Yes, L-29, I can see that, but what you’ve missed are the other descriptions, the nuances! This report is troubling, L-29. If Doer invitro-brain zapping doesn’t work perfectly—and remember, it’s still in the beta-testing phase—we are counting on you to ensure that love doesn’t pop up in the Doers’ mind and complicate the smooth-running of society. Now get back to work and report to me next month with your revisions. And for the sake of evolution, check your results with the love-detector software first.

image, Love.

Word quickly spread throughout the Thinker Kingdom that the Editor of Love was a foul-up. He was greeted in the cafeteria by, “It’s L-29, the Editor of Love! He takes his title seriously—he edits out the word love, but forgets everything else! Every nuance, every reference!”

(Secretly all the other Junior Thinkers were relieved that they weren’t given the Editor of Love posting because they knew very well they would have had the exact same problem as L-29.)

Just how was L-29 supposed to edit out the concept of love if he couldn’t identify love in all its nebulous forms? The love-detector software indicated he kept missing “love nuances.” What exactly was a love nuance and how could he detect it? No one could answer, including the software creator who sheepishly confessed that software was smarter than her, and that she really had no idea how to use it.

L-29 was determined not to lose face again. His giant brain nearly exploded in his quest for a solution. He came close to overdosing on nuclear fuel, trying to kick start the process. Only one solution crystallized: he himself would have to become a master of love. He would have to study love as it had never been studied before in the history of recorded life on Earth. He must be able to pinpoint every hint of it.

image, Love.

So he set himself a new task—before his upcoming status meeting with Senior Thinker 45, L-29 himself would become the most sensitive, romantic, and ardent Thinker who ever existed. A PhD in passion, a Masters in melodrama would be his. He would show the Editor of Hate that the Editor of Love was in fact the most hallowed editorial position. He would show them all that he could zap love in any form. The world would soon be free of anything and everything related to love, forever. Love would have nowhere to hide—not in innuendo, not in a simile, not in a glance. To learn love, he went back to the beginning, starting with cave paintings.

Love gradually unraveled its mystery to L-29. He judiciously took notes, more confident than ever that he would be the most skilled Editor of the Unwanted Brain Functions.
Then, late one night, for the first time, he felt his heart beat.

It happened while he was reading the Kama Sutra. L-29 instantly realized that studying and reading about love wasn’t enough. No, he could only do his job completely (a promise he had made to himself and the whole of civilization, as we know) if he were to actually feel every nuance and experience each caress for himself, interactively, live in 3D. The Doers in the Kama Sutra looked comical to him, but he detected something in their gaze, in the motions of their united bodies. It was beyond his understanding, yet somehow he knew needed to feel it. Purely for editorial purposes.

No one noticed the break-in the next night at the invitro-zapping lab; it would soon be zapping-inventory season and everyone, including the lab guards, were preparing their final stats. L-29 grabbed the necessary cells and, using the strongest nuclear power available, created a Doer without brain-zapping—the love functions remained intact. He brought the test-tube back to his private chamber, overjoyed as he watched the Doer grow into a woman overnight. According to the test-tube, her name was B-86. At dawn L-29 shook her awake.

L-29: Do you love me?

B-86: Isn’t love illegal? It clearly says in my implanted Doer Manual that love is illegal.

L-29: I ask for professional reasons. I’m the Editor of Love.

B-86: Love doesn’t interest me, but I’ll make you a trade: you make me a Thinker instead of a Doer and then we’ll talk love.

L-29: Trust me, you don’t want to be a Thinker—you just sit at computers all day and get bossed around. And as you can see, we’re not the best-looking creatures. (L-29 felt that somehow this was a devastating detriment in the world of love, and he was nearly overcome with piercing sadness.)

B-86: But Doers get robbed of thinking, and I want to think.

L-29: Okay, I’ll change you into a Thinker if you love me. (The desire for love overwhelmed L-29 and therefore he had no qualms in telling this most unbelievable lie!)

image, Love.

At that moment the walls around L-29’s chamber vaporized and Senior Thinker 45 ordered the two lab guards to arrest the Editor of Love.

Senior Thinker 45: He was trying to experience love! You are the Editor of Love, L-29; what were you thinking?

L-29: Senior Thinker 45, I was trying to experience love so I could catch every nuance, every appearance of it in any form, just like you ordered me to. Love must be felt, I think. (L-29 wept.)

Senior Thinker 45: L-29, Thinkers are not built for love. No room for it in our world. That’s why it was phased out when we evolved apart from the Doers. Okay, okay, L-29, stop weeping! I will give you a choice. I will grant you the capacity to feel love, to satisfy your curiosity, but you will be banished to live alone deep in the stratosphere, forever. Alternatively, you can stay here, but you will be demoted to Assistant Editor of Curiosity. Think carefully before you respond.

L-29: You mean the Editor of Curiosity isn’t finished her editing yet either?

Senior Thinker 45: No she’s not. As you yourself have just proven, it seems like curiosity is harder to edit out than originally thought.

L-29 labouriously shifted his bulky head, absorbed in each of his six monitors showing his current study material: The Tale of the Genji.

The Editor of Love desperately wanted to receive a kiss as soft as a sweet budding cherry blossom. There were no longer cherry blossoms on Earth—maybe they existed in the stratosphere? He turned to Senior Thinker 45 and asked, “If I’m banished, will I still have access to all material that contains even an allusion to love?”

Senior Thinker 45: Yes, and that’s not an appealing option, L-29; there won’t be any other Thinkers to discuss issues with, no meetings to attend, no Think Tanks to join.

L-29 (choosing not to think): I choose love!

image, Love.

And with that offensive proclamation, L-29 was, as promised, banished to the stratosphere where he continued to immerse himself in all materials related to love since the beginning of time. L-29 progressively and finally learned the intricacies of love; indeed, had that PhD in passion been on offer, his heart-felt evocations and sensual descriptions would have left the thesis committee speechless.

Then the ex-Editor of Love experienced a mind-blowing epiphany—no being since Earth’s creation, had, nor would ever, fathom the astounding power of love, in all its manifestations more than he did. He realized that love was immortal and couldn’t be edited out—not by him at least. And it was at this exact moment that L-29 was written into the evolutionary-revolutionary history books—he was the first Thinker to die of loneliness.

  

Janice Valerie Young is from Toronto but has lived in Japan for the past five years. She has published in UltimateHallucination.com, Faces in the Crowds anthology, and The Hiragana Times. Her novella, Muskoka, was a finalist in the 2003 New Century Writer Awards.
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