CARBON DATING by Mark Gorton

Not so long ago I had a life expectancy to die for and lived in the High Lands where it’s always summer. I was 56 but looked 26 and could buy anything and everything. I could go where the hell I liked, even off-world to resorts where inverted sail boats navigate the waters way above your head. All thanks to the man who’d orphaned me when I was 5 years old and left me a couple of billion and some hot patents by way of recompense.

Murder and money had made me an instant A-list Sleb, famous at first for being so young, so alone and so wealthy, a mysterious Golden Child, silent and wide eyed. Later I became one of the planet’s most eligible bachelors. And then, as years passed by, I gained notoriety for being reclusive and unattached. You see, I wouldn’t, couldn’t play the game. I was solitary and introverted and reluctant to share my life and likeness with modern madness.

In the end I gave people the creeps, Slebs and Plebs alike, and started to get plenty of bad press. I was the focus of hate campaigns and death threats. In truth I was a single man worth a fortune, but universally acknowledged to be in want of a life.

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THE FALL by Mark Gorton

I wrote this story in 1986 to enter a Gollancz/Sunday Times science fiction short story competition. It was a runner-up and published in the subsequent anthology. Set in a possible future it also harks back to the past in which it was written – when the Internet was still embryonic and mobile devices were neither small nor almost ubiquitous; when people still read books and wrote on paper. A past when you could quote Karl Marx and people would nod thoughtfully…

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