October 3, 2022•74 words
Peter Guzman had officially cashed out. It had been a year since the scans were taken, and he was now six
months into recovery from surgery. The procedure had far from perfect, despite Shuttercorp's reassurances.
Even so, Peter had to admit that the healing process proceeded much more smoothly than anticipated.
Entering the telesurgery chamber was simple. After Peter situated himself above the restraint points of
the operating harness, the rest of the process was more or less automatic. The first thing Peter felt was the
mechanical precision of restraints automatically engaging to precisely fit his form, fol owed by the prick of a
large and uncomfortable needle in his upper left forearm. Locked in place, Peter's head was mechanical y
articulated into position by hundreds of servos in the rig's form-fitting headrest, right under the business end
of the automaton. The industry term for it was a spider, and it was easy to see why with its massive array of
high-definition cameras and nearly a dozen fuly articulated robotic arms.
Congress had strictly regulated surgical automation for decades, ever since a senator was permanently
disfigured during an autonomous hip replacement procedure. It wasn't that the technology was inherently
flawed- In fact, by the manufacturer's own statistics the number of failed operations fel far below that of even
the most skil ed human doctors. Even so, the optics were awful: a freak accident resulting in irreparable
damage to the pelvis, cleaving the tailbone in half and reducing multiple vertebrae to particulate. Public trust
in medical robots fel sharply as senator Thompson made public appearances with both legs amputated on
account of having nothing for them to connect to anymore.
Not to be fucked with, the cosmetics and altercations lobby had, through some miracle, excepted machines
like the one that Peter was currently bound to not only from the new legislation, but nearly any regulation at
al . Plastic surgeons and generals alike could agree that it wasn't the first time that a disfigured man had been
used as political capital. (Rework this)
A calming and familiar voice instructed peter to close his eyes and remain still as his measurements were
taken, then again as his face was bathed in light. Slowly ...
Peter’s telesurgery rig had a slight misconfiguration. Of the several booms used to remove the patient's facial
tissue, one had been ever so slightly misconfigured such that it damaged Peter's facial arteries, but not quite
severely enough to engage the rig's alert system. Peter's last dimly conscious memory was the the pulsing,
liquid warmth of his own blood leaking down from his ears to his neck.
Peter could recal virtual y nothing from the rest of his 48 hour stay in the telesurgery rig. He came to in a
hospital bed, his face encased in a thick fleshtone plastic that held the stem cel tissue graft in place. Within
the a week, Peter would have this saran wrap removed and join his col eagues as the proud new owner of a
blank. What he had lost in his old face had been regained in his access to new opportunities: the blank was a
gateway to career advancement, a milestone for any aspiring young actor. Even better, he had come out of it
al debt-free, financing the operation by signing the rights to his former likeness over to Shuttercorp.
Tom Rawley did not give a shit about his models. Shuttercorp was the largest talent management and
likeness licensing agency in the western hemisphere and Eurasia. You wouldn’t find it in the glossy
pamphlets- but as far as Shuttercorp was concerned, clients were basical y expendable assets. Besides,
Nobos were practical y a natural resource in Los Angeles. Of course, only the top brass could speak openly
about that. At Tom's level it was al pleasantries and bluster and "Thank you for choosing Shuttercorp! You've
got great talent, stick with us and you're gonna make it big, kid".
But what Tom real y couldn't stand (apart from the uncanny smoothness of their faces) was the chemical y
burnt reference markings on each temple, cheek, and chin. To be surrounded by a bunch of starry-eyed and
naive young actors was bad enough, that they looked like displaced Star Trek extras was just more shit on the
Shuttercorp's business model was built around the simple promise of eternal life for actors, public figures,
Shuttercorp created and perfected the industry of computer-generated face grafting through its vast catalog
of celebrity and individual likenesses (including historical greats like Marlon Brando, Tom Hanks, and Robin
Wil iams). It then supplied the necessary technologies, support teams, and staff to enable the use of those
likenesses in everything from blockbuster films to stock footage and online videos.
And because Shuttercorp's industry-standard equipment was exclusively compatible with Shuttercorp's vast
client base of body-doubles, it gained lucrative stakes in the plastic surgery and talent management
businesses as wel . In fact, for the third year running there were now more actors with Shuttercorp-compatible
cosmetic alterations in the industry than those with organic faces. Shuttercorp had quite literal y remade the
face of the entertainment industry in its standardized, smooth, featureless image.
Peter had known love once, before she’d had the Nobo surgery and suddenly stopped returning his cal s. He
saw her face one last time, in a toothpaste commercial. Colgate bought exclusive rights to her likeness (cat.
no SCO4EA2DF) for a national ad campaign, and now the woman he once knew was everywhere. The woman
he had fal en for, reinterpreted by focus groups to resonate best with consumer demographics. A familiar face
grafted onto an unfamiliar body, touting three times the whitening power with the voice of a stranger.
Distorted by the funhouse mirror of a marketing department's focus group dowsing-rod.
It was almost six months before Peter had worked up the courage to buy toothpaste again. Walking into a
grocery aisle and being assaulted by glossy images of a n abandoned love was, to Peter, a very personal
definition of hell.
Peter was thinking of Anita again as he walked down the al eyway, but not so much from longing (as that
wound had already started to heal, slowly). The particular reason that she had ascended to his immediate
consciousness was because he was now staring at a photo of her. Though dim, there was just enough light in
the al eyway for him to make out the words COLGATE and “#1 DENTIST REC...” on a damp and crumpled
pamphlet mixed in among various other pieces of garbage.
Peter instinctively averted his eyes, which came to rest on the pool of dirty water near his feet. A streetlight’s
halide glow illuminated the swill just well enough for him to make out his new face, for the first time since he
had been discharged. The dim light framed it warmly. It looked better than the cold, sterile fluorescent of the
Prior to the procedure, Peter was wel aware of the social stigmas surrounding Nobos- the wide-eyed looks
from tourists, the dating site profiles proclaiming, "no blanks!", the inescapable feeling of otherness in public
spaces. Even so, the isolation was colder and more piercing than he had anticipated. Despite the unusually
high number of Nobos in LA (this was a cultural center, after al ), Peter couldn't help but feel out of place, an
outcast in the very same city where his former likeness had made a comfortable home.
Stick the data up ur nose