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Only g62 Kids Will Remember These Five Moments

Leonard Richardson is a software developer at the New York Public Library. His first novel, Constellation Games, is published by Candlemark & Gleam.
1. The Course Correction
Astronomy geeks were excited about Ephraim when it was just a point on the map, but for the non-nerds among us, excitement grew slowly along with the star's disk. By the time we entered the star system, someone had learned out how to activate the viewports, they'd been activated and everyone with any free time was crowded around them, looking out. Out! Can you imagine being so excited about the outside?
g62 doesn't have to imagine--we remember. Most of all we remember the correction itself; the centrifugal tug of gravity, the ship coming so close to Ephraim we saw the bulge of its engulfed first planet, a dead world plowing through the star's cold red atmosphere.
It was the first course-correction in fifteen generations and hopefully the closest we'll ever come to a star. g58 and g59 planned the maneuver, but we were the ones who got the full experience. We were young and curious and we saw a close-up view of something big happening in this mostly empty universe.
2. Orange Juice Toxicity
We've all been there: you steal an orange from a greenhouse, rip off the peel, suck out the juice--and end up writhing on the dirt in untold agonies. Yes, oranges, the forbidden fruit. Their name is the same as the color they are! So delicious, yet so heartless in their short-term effects on the central nervous system. What kept us coming back for more?
The mystery was solved when we got older and learned that oranges aren't toxic at all. Those negative reactions were false memories implanted into the g62 to stop us from committing orange genocide. Kids have always stolen fruit from the greenhouses, but in g62 the normal background level of orange theft became an epidemic that threatened the genetic diversity of the species.
Now that we're no longer kids (plus, candy is better now), we don't need to steal oranges to get our sugar, but it's a safe bet that no one from g62 will ever eat one of those bastard fruits again.
3. Entitled g61ers
g61 was birthed in an emergency after most of g60 were wiped out by genetic defects, and they've never let us forget it. They're the emergency babies and they've got to have everything their way. Mass media, packaged foods, concentration schools, market capitalism--all the old tricks were pulled out of storage and every societal variable was rearranged to handle the largest generation in two hundred years. Then g62 came through that distended pipeline and it turned out those systems were kept in storage for a reason: they were terrible ideas that weren't suited to raising a normal-sized generation. But g61 refused to change a thing--after all, it was good enough for them!
What a mess. If g62ers sometimes seem bitter, it's because too often we're treated like the slow kids who were late to g61.
4. Mr. Kimb
Of course it wasn't all bad, living in g61's hand-me-downs. We all remember Mr. Kimb, the teleducator who did a better job teaching kids over video than any concentration school teacher could do in person. Mr. Kimb was an okay teacher when he was working on g61, but he learned fast and by the time g62 came along, he was the best.
Everyone in g62 remembers Mr. Kimb's patience. He never judged you for semantic mistakes. He'd just smile like he'd heard a joke and say "Are you sure?" in a gentle tone that told you to revisit your priors. Always looking spiffy in his rumpled hair and his trademark corduroy sweater-jacket, Mr. Kimb was definitely the greatest innovation ever to come out of literacy training.
I say "innovation" because after Mr. Kimb's substrate was destroyed along with Arcology A, we learned that he wasn't even human. He was a computer simulation called Artificial Intelligence: another one of those ancient tools that g59 pulled out of humanity's toolkit to deal with the double-sized g61.
It makes sense in retrospect--how else could Mr. Kimb give individual instruction to thousands of students? But we're still heartbroken. Mr. Kimb may be gone, we'd be willing to go to those awful schools again just to bring him back.
5. The Killer Bunny Craze
All kids love furry woodland creatures, but g59 was the first generation who had to fight them off in fear for their lives. When the bunnies started showing up outside the arcologies, it was cute enough, but soon enough the bunnies had learned how good human beings tasted, and it went from "adorable" to "infestation" faster than you could scream "No, don't rip my throat out!"
Then, as suddenly as they'd appeared, the bunnies were gone, never to return. g59 and g61 isolated them in Arcology A and jettisoned the whole damn thing, tragically destroying the substrate used for Mr. Kimb and the other Artificial Intelligences. Plus a few species of grass, but it's tough to cry about grass as long as we've still got the basic green kind.
It's unclear whether they were actually bunnies. I've heard that they were river otters, or genetically modified freaks from the ship's store of dinosaur DNA. Conspiracy theorists say they were invading aliens who took the shape of bunnies.
Now that I write this down it sounds a little silly, like the orange juice thing. I'm starting to think there might not have been any killer bunnies at all. But really, does it matter? It was so long ago, and this is what we all remember.
The End
This story was first published on Tuesday, February 19th, 2019
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