Are You a Silver Surfer?

“The silver surfers did not impress Elizabeth, who still preferred a good old conversation on the telephone.” 

Murder: Then and Now, Diana Jackson

The clever fiction quoted above spans 100 years, with the present being 2019, and the means of “surfing” the Futurenet. The Elizabeth mentioned is a holdout, as nearly everyone else has adopted the latest technology. ” Her son offers to set her up with a screen on the refrigerator door. She could have voice-activated software (Siri?)and he was pleased that, “By the movement of his eyes the screen could instantly change appearance as it searched for information.”

I believe we have this mind-reading technology in 2015, or almost. Every time I am perusing my online NY Times, ads pop up offering things I will eventually need, like underwear and frying pans. Of course the genie inside the box has been paying attention to my keystrokes, not my eyeballs.

“Another generation and things had not changed, just the eerie wowing of the most up to date technology producing an innovative sound they called music.” (Ibid.)

Well, that is precisely how I heard about computers in 1958, Moog synthesizers, to be precise. Our music professor stuck his head in the door where I was filing slides for the art historian and bid us both to go with him to the basement of a dorm, where he played a symphony that sounded almost musical, changing the instruments and themes just by turning knobs and flipping switches, and, I thought, not enough to crow over. I missed my parents’ 33 1/3 rpm records of the First Piano Quartet.

Sophie Touring Bok Tower Gardens

Harold Garber observes our sleuth sleeping.

My fictional silver surfer, Sophie George, has seen a lot of change in her work as a librarian, from shelving print books,  photocopying pages in reference materials, and mailing overdue notices  in the 1930s to providing “customers” instant access via computer to Information around the world. She has survived by becoming an even better researcher, and that’s how she met “Sam,” the top cop detective in Dorado Bay. As his private assistant in WINDOW ON THE POND she delves into subjects as diverse as murky real estate deals and sexy religious scandals. And it’s all because she had to lie down on a park bench and snooze.

It was not that she couldn’t keep up with her adult son and his fiancee touring Florida’s historical  botanical gardens. And it’s not that she didn’t enjoy the brief chat with a visitor, a man about her age who came to rest on another bench.  She doesn’t want to. She would rather breathe deeply in the heavy perfumes of tropical plants, and feel an occasional breeze ruffling the map over her eyes, even brush away a fly tickling her arm.  Timeless. Then she hears the music in The Singing Tower, a carillon, the real thing,bronze bells, 60 of them, the largest nearly twelve tons.

While the bold tones are wafting  out over the  lily pond and probably across the sunny citrus orchards that surround the park,  someone is waiting in the shadows of the wildlife observatory, ready to make his move across the sand floor silently. Is it the man from Boston to whom she had just revealed a little bit about her impoverished New England childhood, something she rarely  mentions but never forgets?

Gentlemanly Harold Garber is pulled away from the shack toward a waiting squad car as Sophie and her children watch from their position on the wide path leading to the alligator enclosure, now blocked by yellow tape. Within a week, the librarian will talk the small town deputy into letting her take charge of the hapless and probably innocent man to make a detour to Miami and another to Connecticut to trace the real killer and establish the identity of the nameless victim. And she will be doing this without the supervision of Chief of Detectives Reuben Samuels.

Projected release date: January 2016.


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