Help me find an old sci-fi short story
March 27, 2006 9:11 AM   Subscribe

Hi, I'm thinking of short story I read a while ago where the worlds communications system (telephones pre-net I think) became sentient. First sign of it doing so was that it started putting people in touch with each other that it thought might like each other like some crazy dating agency and finally it achieves full intelligence and starts communicating with a telecommunications system in another galaxy. Oh how I've looked! Or maybe I dreamt it in which case forget you ever read this and I'll write the story!
posted by merocet to Writing & Language (16 answers total)
The world's communication system becomes sentient in David Brin's book Earth. It's later on in the book. Not a short story, but worth looking at. I don't recall that it was playing matchmaker, and it was much more the net than telephones. Still, maybe it gave rise to your dream?
posted by ontic at 9:17 AM on March 27, 2006

There's an Arthur C Clarke story too.
posted by A189Nut at 9:26 AM on March 27, 2006

The Clarke story is "Dial F or Frankenstein" but I don't think that is what your looking for.
posted by octothorpe at 9:37 AM on March 27, 2006

'At 0150 Greenwich Mean Time on December 1, 2005 , every telephone in the world started to ring.' Clarke's story is "Dial 'F' for Frankenstein" which, if you can stand the formatting, is reproduced here.
posted by steef at 9:39 AM on March 27, 2006

Octothorpe, I owe you a Coke.
posted by steef at 9:39 AM on March 27, 2006

This sort of happens in Neuromancer.
posted by delmoi at 9:40 AM on March 27, 2006

Response by poster: You know I think you're kind of all right? I thought I might be mixing up more than one story and these are all stories I've read! Not sure where I got the dating agency bit from though... Stoopid brain, be more clever!

Thanks a lot for the answers!
posted by merocet at 9:53 AM on March 27, 2006

I know it's been answered already, but there's a relatively new book out there that deals with Cell phones and ghosts. It's very similar in structure, but tends to lean more toward the horror end of the specturm.

Check out Greg Bear's Dead Lines
posted by thanotopsis at 10:14 AM on March 27, 2006

There's a great 1967 paranoia comedy where the top level of conspirator turns out to be The Phone Company, which wants to shape political will to recommend that everyone be connected to the hive mind in utero -- I don't recall if this was something of an outgrowth from the grid's own emerging consciousness, although I know there was an android. I'd recommend it, but I've already given away the ending. Better that you might stumble upon it.
posted by blueshammer at 10:39 AM on March 27, 2006

John Varley, one of his "universes" he writes in is the "Eight Worlds". Depending on the story these involve planetary computers, the one based on Luna specifically (and perhaps others) has sentience and acts as a sort of deus ex machina in many peoples lives, they may have had contact with extra-solar systems somewhere in the stories.
posted by edgeways at 11:31 AM on March 27, 2006

Response by poster: Ahhh Luriete! Just when I was setting my mind to rest safe in the knowledge that it was all a dream, you come along and tell me there WAS a story like that? OK, the questions back on. What WAS that story? ;-)
posted by merocet at 11:47 AM on March 27, 2006

In "Ender's Game" (or -- does it first appear in a sequel?) by Orson Scott Card, a self-aware entity arises within the future's giant communication network. I need to re-read the series, but I think I remember that it communicates exclusively with Ender while (benevolently) manipulating information and events throughout the network.
posted by Tubes at 12:04 PM on March 27, 2006

Tubes: that's "Jane." She first shows up in "Speaker for the Dead," the (first) sequel to "Ender's Game."
posted by zanni at 12:19 PM on March 27, 2006

Doesn't Jane connect with other entities similar to herself? Also, don't the self-aware AI in Gibson's cyberpunk books also hook up with alien intelligences?

Also, Bruce Sterling has a short story about "gift economies" in which an AI sends people scurrying around, performing errands, and getting things they want in return.
posted by craniac at 8:04 PM on March 27, 2006

merocet, try the Fiction-L list; the librarians there are good at questions like this.
posted by mediareport at 7:47 AM on March 28, 2006

Response by poster: good suggestions there but not the story I remember. Ah well, thanks for trying everyone.
posted by merocet at 5:41 AM on April 3, 2006

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