Transient By William Harris
Every now and then, I find a story from a writer that didn’t go on to complete a body of work, or was a well-known writer, writing in a different genre using a pseudonym, which was never discovered or disclosed. So it was with William Harris and Transient.
Transient struck a chord with me, as it’s a story about consciousness and more specifically the virtualisation of consciousness. I explore this concept in some detail in my own story (The Goldfish) that is included in Incredible Science Fiction: Amazing Tales from the ’50s and Beyond Volume One. Harris’s take on this is very funny, as the consciousness of an astrologer is projected into a number-crunching computer designed for statistical analysis in a science lab. This is results in the computer providing some profoundly non-scientific responses:
That night Henderson asked it a question about confidence limits for a universe mean, from a mean of a sample of n observations and got back, “Uranus on Antares but conjoining Jupiter and trining the Ascendent. Yours is a strongly literary nature.”
However, this is a science fiction story through and through and Harris provides a further twist on the concept of consciousness at the end.
Here’s a five-minute sample of the complete story that is part of Incredible Science Fiction: Amazing Tales from the ’50s and Beyond Volume One
The full unabridged story is 11 minutes and 23 seconds long and is available in Incredible Science Fiction: Amazin Tales from the ’50s and Beyond Volume One on Audible: