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Art by Melissa Mead

That's Show Business

Bruce Boston lives in Ocala, Florida, once known as The City of Trees, with his wife, writer-artist Marge Simon, and the ghosts of two cats. He is the author of forty-seven books and chapbooks, including the novels "The Guardener's Tale" and "Stained Glass Rain". His writing has appeared in hundreds of publications, most visibly in Asimov's SF, Amazing Stories, Realms of Fantasy, Weird Tales, Pedestal, Strange Horizons, Year's Best Fantasy and Horror and the Nebula Awards Showcase. Boston has received the Bram Stoker Award, a Pushcart Prize, the Asimov's Readers' Award, the Rhysling Award, and the Grand Master Award of the SFPA. His graphic art and designs appear both in print and online. For more information, visit www.bruceboston.com.
"Cut!" the Director yelled. "That's wrong, all wrong!"
"You have your interpretation of the part," the Actor informed him, standing with hands on his hips, "and I have mine. I'm willing to compromise to some extent, but ultimately, I have to stick with my vision."
The Director looked at him and snorted. "You call that compromise!"
He was infuriated with the Actor. For the barest moment he considered telling him that he was no more than a solid-state hologram, an artificial construct that could be turned off and replaced at any moment.
He bit his tongue before he could speak.
The Holographic Division had tailored the Actor for the role, an aggressive character with a mind of his own. That meant a like personality came with it, a personality that was causing constant delays because the Actor refused to follow directions. Yet the Director knew if he told the Actor he was no more than an artifact, the persona tailored for the role could begin to disintegrate.
He'd be useless then, and it would take Holographics a week or more to cough up something new. The film was already behind schedule. The Director concluded there was nothing left to do but talk to the Producer. Perhaps the Producer could convince the techs at Holo to make some adjustments.
"We'll discuss this tomorrow," he told the Actor with a malevolent glare. "That's a wrap for today," he shouted to the rest of the set. "Tomorrow. Eight a.m. sharp!"
"I just can't get along with him," the Director pleaded to the Producer. "He won't listen to a thing I say."
"Yes, I can see it's serious," the Producer nodded. "Let me think about it for a minute." He leaned back in his armchair, stroking his beard.
The Director stood before the Producer's oversized desk, hands crossed in front of him, intimidated by the luxurious surroundings.
The Producer considered his options. He knew the Actor was perfect for the role. He had made some suggestions on the design himself. On the other hand, there were plenty of directors that should be able to handle the script. The solution was obvious.
The Producer reached beneath his desk, found the appropriate switch, and flipped it to off. The Director flicked out of existence.
In his spacious office, near the heart of the Great Studio, the Producer called up a list of director constructs and began scrolling through them for one that was amiable and easy-going.
The Producer spent more than forty hours a week in his office, though now that everything was hi-tech and automated, there was seldom forty-hours worth of work to keep him busy. Sometimes he read the sports news online, scanning to the end of each story to use up time. Sometimes he played solitaire online. Often he'd just sit and stare out the window at the empty lots. And sometimes, inexplicably, he found himself looking over his shoulder.
The End
This story was first published on Monday, March 21st, 2011

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