FANDOM


Panopticon is a novelette first published in 2018 as part of the Restricted Fantasies collection. A consideration copy of the full novelette is available here.

"Three-hundred eighty-four years. That’s how much time Lew Novak had left. They’d given him six life sentences without parole, and they were going to make him serve every minute of it. They weren’t for his entire life. Not really. Seventy-two years subjective time was the flat limit for each one. He’d already done forty-eight of them. Only another three-hundred eighty-four years, and he’d be a free man again.

'Everyone to their table,' said RITA. 'A prompt citizen is a productive citizen.' The voice sounded like it was coming from the ceiling, but it wasn’t. It was in his head, in all of their heads. It wasn’t a real person, either. It was a computer. The Rehabilitative Intelligent Therapy Algorithm, but they all just called it RITA.

Lew rolled out of his cot, his back sore from a night of fitful sleep. They didn’t skimp on any of the traditional discomforts, not in here and not for him. He was Privilege Level Four. If he was a good boy for the rest of this life sentence, he might make it to a Six. And if he worked at it, he could be an Eight by the time the next life sentence was done. You got to watch the vids again if you were an Eight, and sometimes you even got desserts with your meals.

'No dawdling,' said RITA. 'We must be considerate of others.'

His first warning, and he wasn’t going to let her get to the second. He finished brushing his teeth and booked it out of his cell, sprinting across the pod that housed them towards a row of rectangular tables that lined the center."