Jeremiah Tolbert’s fiction has appeared in Fantasy Magazine, Interzone, Ideomancer, and Shimmer, as well as in the anthologies Seeds of Change, Federations, and Polyphony 4. He’s also been featured several times on the Escape Pod and Podcastle podcasts. In addition to being a writer, he is a web designer, photographer, and graphic artist—and he shows off each of those skills in his Dr. Roundbottom project, located at www.clockpunk.com. He lives in Colorado, with his wife and cats.
In everyday life, when people use the word “wizard,” they’re almost always talking about a “computer wizard,” and that’s no accident. There are many striking parallels between the wizards of old and our modern-day IT folks. Both are conversant in inscrutable languages full of strange symbols where even the tiniest error can spell disaster, both spend hours locked away in rooms full of books and equipment, and both can produce dazzling effects.
In fact, to most people computers seem like magic. In one Too Much Coffee Man comic, the hero’s computer attempts to explain to him how it works, in terms of RAM and binary numbers and machine code. A skeptical Too Much Coffee Man tears the computer apart only to reveal what he’s always suspected—inside is nothing but a tiny devil standing on a flaming pentagram.
It’s no surprise then that many fantasy writers have speculated about how sorcery and computers might intersect. Our next tale is one of a series in which Tolbert utilizes his formidable knowledge of computers to present a world in which hackers and geeks are also wizards and witches, where a “sprog” (“spell” + “program”) can do almost anything, and where spam can be deadly.