Cyber Seas by Patricia Todd
SUMMARY: A future world where the dynamics of reproduction rest solely on an avatar's appeal and selector's perspective.
The howling loneliness gnawed within her, incessant and relentless: Why had she no mate ? Wasn't she attractive enough - surely her profile master had coached her in posture, style and interface management ? But this was a harsh virtual world where the created image in its finest pixel required skill, dexterity and imagination at the very least. But that was not all, she needed a little bit extra to be ahead of the competition, after all there were only a limited pool of acceptable post apocalyptic male gene profiles out there and she was female, which in the corporeal world had outlived and outsmarted the 'xx' chromosomes till all that was left were sperm banks of highly sought after male genomes.
Her girl friends had got together with her only last week and of course the topic of conversation turned to her lack of bonding, and the success rate of her siblings and classmates : Thanks friends, no solace there but a few reminiscent sighs as they showed her holopictures of their 'cutesies' and which ones they were predicting to complete soon, for the sake of companionship for their current offspring. Maternal greed of course wasn't the defining factor but hard credits, as all females of child rearing age were encouraged to bond and nurture with financial incentives, which could be quite substantial depending on the profile of the newly created off-spring. So if, for instance, a pair bond produced a highly talented child that would have an adult profile that would be predicted to benefit the whole society, based on these statistics carefully calculated by the 'Genome Matrix', the rewards to the female would be particularly advantageous, and so a great deal of thought and planning went into one's profile in cyber space.
Weaknesses and abnormalities could be gently alluded to, but the special talents and prowesses, both physical and mental, should be emphasised. But this detail, much like an old fashioned CV plus biometric data, could be enhanced and packaged as a marketing exercise to gain the proper response from the authorities overseeing the matching and bonding process. This marrying of activity, career status and biometric details had become law in 2095, and was now considered the normal way to reproduce in a human sense: The year was now 3090, and any abnormalities and other teething problems had been eradicated many decades ago.
Funny though, she always thought something was missing from this method of reproducing oneself - something about closeness and touch. The human touch !