Time Zones

An essay by Gary MacDonald, as provided by Robert Dawson
Art by Dawn Vogel

Teenagers are pretty wonderful people. They are hard-working, tidy, enthusiastic, well-dressed, well-groomed, and polite.

Everybody else’s teenagers, anyway. Every parent wonders how they got the ones who sleep until noon in bedrooms out of Thrift Store by Tornado, sulk silently until they want to borrow the car, and know there’s a passage in the UN Declaration Of The Rights Of The Child saying they don’t have to wash dishes. Ever.

Over breakfast, Jean appealed to me. “Gary, hon, can you make sure Troy gets up in time for school? Maureen said in Pilates that Lindsey has a big math test today, and I’m sure Lindsey’s in Troy’s class. It’s my turn, but today’s the funding videoconference for the matter transporter project.”

“How’s that going?”

“Badly. The airlines and truckers are lobbying against it, and there are intellectual property problems. I suppose Bill meant well when he put a general public license on the matter coherence algorithms, but it makes financing the project really difficult.”

Bill Zimmerman and Jean were an item at MIT for a while, but they ended up “just friends.” Bill ended up marrying Betsy, and now they’re at CalTech, working with Jean on the matter transporter. The first long-distance test sent two American silver dollars from his bench in Pasadena to hers, here in Nova Scotia. One of them’s framed in Jean’s office; Bill has the other.

“So where does that leave you?”

“Well, it’s not dead yet, but the word from the money guys is that unless we can find a big new market beyond what the airlines are serving now, it’s stalled. We thought about cargo, but we can’t bring the price low enough yet to compete with electric trucks or container ships. There are some specialized markets–the provincial government wants us to ship lobsters to Europe–but that’s not enough. We need a killer app, and I hope somebody else has ideas, because I’m just about out.”

Time Zones

Tonight we have Vladimir, then Hiroshi, then Bill and Betsy’s daughter Kayla; and then it’s the weekend and Troy gets home. I’m looking forward to that.

To read the rest of this story, check out the Mad Scientist Journal: Spring 2015 collection.

Gary MacDonald has a PhD in geology, and teaches at a university in Halifax, Nova Scotia; but he is mainly known as the husband of Dr Jean Munro, who shared the 2035 Nobel Prize for inventing matter transmission. Their son Troy is widely credited as the inventor of daystretching, the defining social phenomenon of the cohort of youth known as Generation Gamma. Their weekchildren are Pippa Digby-Jones, Vladimir Kovrov, Hiroshi Tamura, and Kayla Zimmerman.

Robert Dawson has a PhD in mathematics, and occasionally runs into Dr. Macdonald in the Faculty Lounge. His research interests include geometry and category theory; out of hours he likes hiking, fencing, and cooking. He is the husband of Bridget Thomas, a meteorologist. Their sons, Alex and Ian, firmly disavow any connection whatsoever with this story.

Dawn Vogel has been published as a short fiction author and an editor of both fiction and non-fiction. Although art is not her strongest suit, she’s happy to contribute occasional art to Mad Scientist Journal. By day, she edits reports for and manages an office of historians and archaeologists. In her alleged spare time, she runs a craft business and tries to find time for writing. She lives in Seattle with her awesome husband (and fellow author), Jeremy Zimmerman, and their herd of cats. For more of Dawn’s work visit http://historythatneverwas.com/.

This account originally appeared in the November 2013 issue of Perihelion.

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