Another Great Idea from the Dystopian Universe

I was just reading Dark Intelligence by Neal Asher, and in the very first chapter the author introduced an innovation that I’m surprised isn’t real yet: a brush-bot for cleaning teeth. The hero just sets the brush-bot on his teeth and it sets to work zooming around, getting those back molars and tricky bicuspids, not to mention everyone’s receding gumlines. Then he returns the bot to a container of antiseptic solution, so it’s ready to go again–easy as contact lenses.

Since we already have automated roombas as vacuum cleaners and tiny spy drones pretending to be insects, why can’t we have brush-bots? Just think how many children would stop arguing about brushing their teeth at bed-time. And those of us who have some damage caused by chemotherapy would benefit from a less painful cleaning process and maybe keep some more of our natural teeth.

Most of the time for the past several years, as I analyze my reading history, I’ve been obsessed with dystopian views of the future, murder mysteries set on yet-to-be populated planets in other galaxies, and family traumas. Perhaps this hasn’t been my most cheerful phase in life. I can’t watch romantic comedies because they make me cry, and I (literally) fall asleep during action movies. So I’ve been grateful for the darker visions so many talented writers are fleshing out as explorations of the possible, taken to the extreme perhaps, but possible nevertheless.

Dystopian fiction is receiving more attention as a sub-genre as we worry about climate change, our never-ending wars, and ceaseless news stories of greed winning out over hard work and integrity. OK, yes, so I’m a bit depressed–this isn’t where I imagined we would be when I was nine years old watching a man on the moon. Dystopian fiction’s emphasis on survival skills, resourcefulness, alienation, hypocritical political leadership and betrayal are critical inquiries at this stage of human development, I’d say. Lots of valuable ideas emerge when we pit our disgruntled heroes against corrupt governments, toxic environments, and almost impossible challenges.

Meanwhile, I just want that brush-bot. Any interested angel investors out there? Mr. Asher?

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