Damien Krsteski’s story “Esma’s Margaret” was published in Metaphorosis on Friday, 29 January 2021.
“Esma’s Margaret” is a product of my overlapping interests in psychology, (artificial) intelligence, and the dynamics of capitalism in general and between corporations and their outsourced workers in particular.
It is set in a fictionalized and near-future version of my hometown — specifically in its poorest neighborhood — with a precocious girl as main character, whose technological talents seem to have made her a minor celebrity in her quarter. This sets up a story where contrasts are painfully apparent: high-tech but low-pay, minus the sleekness of cyberpunk; international big-tech mega-corp, but in a city with regular power blackouts due to decrepit infrastructure; artificial intelligence at everyone’s fingertips, except maybe a bit more artificial than advertised.
And all of that written perhaps as a sort of exaggerated extension of everything that had been impressed on me growing up, written from the perspective of somebody and something I’d never been, written as a warning, as a tribute, as a love-letter to a city that I no longer call my home.
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