Artificial Intelligence (AI) is here. There’s been a lot of hype about ChatGPT and I bodyswerved it for a while, until I stumbled onto a Twitter post by Clarkesworld science fiction magazine, a magazine I have previously subscribed to and consider submitting stories to. They posted on February 21 that they have banned 500 users in February 2023 for submitting machine-generated stories. In other words, “authors” who have used ChatGPT (mostly, I guess) to “write” stories for submission. Clarkesworld closed for submissions at the same time. Then, following that particular rabbit hole, I fell into a veritable ocean of YouTube “how to write a book with ChatGPT in 10 minutes and post it for sale on Amazon”.
Like I said, I hadn’t paid it much notice. Maybe I heard about concerns in academia on the news, but as I’m not teaching for exams again, then… not my problem.
This is different.
I have submitted stories to magazines, and I want to submit many more. And then, the idea of an already seriously crowded eBook market getting blasted by 10 minute epics… Well, I went straight to the source, dropped my otherwise privacy-geared approach to tech, and set up a date with my old gmail account and verified with my mobile number.
So OpenAI now know who I am (sort of, as you’ll see in this series of posts) and Google know that they know.
However, the scene was set and without so much as a “Hi, my name’s Chris,” I settled down to write a story with ChatGPT.
I’m going to share the chat over several (many) blog posts, between the Greenland stuff. Not because it’s a particularly good story, but I want to preserve this – mostly for myself – but also to reveal that I’m concerned, but not worried. Not quite yet.
Here’s the chat with ChatGPT with my prompts and questions in bold.
Transcript of chat with ChatGPT on February 22, 2023.
Write a short science fiction horror story set on a remote space station of 2000 words in length.
The hum of the space station’s ventilation system was the only sound that echoed through the empty halls. It had been weeks since the last supply shuttle had arrived, and the three crew members were beginning to feel the effects of isolation.
Mia, the station’s biologist, had always been fascinated with the unknown. She was excited when the mission was announced to investigate a new planet on the outer rim of the galaxy, but she never imagined the horrors that awaited them.
One day, while studying a newly discovered plant sample, Mia noticed something strange. The cells of the plant were growing at an alarming rate, almost as if they were alive. She decided to run some tests, but as she dug deeper, she discovered that the cells were not only alive, but they were mutating. Mia knew she had to tell her fellow crew members about her discovery.
However, her warnings were dismissed by the station’s engineer, Jack, who believed it was just a natural phenomenon. The captain, Sarah, was more concerned with the fact that they were running low on supplies and needed to find a way to contact Earth.
Mia’s fears soon became a reality when Jack suddenly became violently ill. He was coughing up blood and his skin had turned a sickly shade of green. Mia was convinced that the plant cells were responsible for Jack’s condition, but the captain insisted that they had to find a way to save him.
As Jack’s condition worsened, Sarah tasked Mia with finding a cure. Mia worked tirelessly in the lab, but every remedy she tried only seemed to make Jack’s condition worse.
One night, while Mia was working in the lab, she heard strange noises coming from one of the air vents. She thought it was just her imagination until she saw a shadowy figure dart across the room. Mia cautiously approached the vent, and as she peered inside, she saw a swarm of mutated plant cells scurrying around.
Mia knew she had to warn the captain, but when she tried to contact her, the communication system was down. She quickly realized that the plant cells had infiltrated the station’s systems and were sabotaging their efforts to contact Earth.
The situation was quickly spiraling out of control. The mutated plant cells were spreading throughout the station, infecting everything in their path. The crew members were struggling to survive as the plant cells consumed everything in their wake.
Mia had to act fast to save the remaining crew members. She had an idea to use a sample of her own blood, which contained natural antibodies, to create a cure for the infected crew. After several long and grueling hours in the lab, Mia finally found a cure that worked.
The crew members were slowly nursed back to health, but the plant cells continued to spread. Mia knew that they had to destroy the source of the mutation, the plant samples they had collected from the planet. The crew set out to destroy the samples, but they were too late. The plant cells had already taken over the station.
The remaining crew members were forced to make a daring escape in a damaged escape pod. As they hurtled towards the planet below, they watched as the space station was consumed by the mutated plant cells.
Mia knew that the danger wasn’t over yet. The plant cells were now loose on the planet’s surface, and if they were not stopped, they would continue to spread throughout the galaxy.
As they landed on the planet’s surface, Mia and the remaining crew members prepared to face the mutated plant cells head-on. It was a battle for survival, and they knew that failure was not an option.
As they fought their way through the dense vegetation, the crew members soon discovered the source of the mutation. It was a strange, glowing object that appeared to be emitting a pulsating energy.
Continue the story until you reach an appropriate and unexpected end.
Mia cautiously approached the glowing object, trying to get a better look. As she reached out to touch it, the object suddenly surged with energy, sending Mia flying backward.
The object seemed to be alive, and it was clear that it was responsible for the mutation of the plant cells. Mia knew that they had to destroy it, but it seemed indestructible.
As they tried to come up with a plan, they were suddenly ambushed by a group of humanoid creatures. The creatures were covered in plant cells, and it was clear that they were under the control of the glowing object.
The crew members were outnumbered, and it seemed like all hope was lost. But Mia had an idea. She remembered the natural antibodies in her blood that had helped cure the infected crew members.
Mia quickly drew some of her own blood and injected it into one of the creatures. To her surprise, the plant cells started to recede, and the creature regained control of its own body.
With this newfound knowledge, Mia and the crew members quickly injected the other creatures with her blood. The creatures were freed from the control of the glowing object, and they quickly turned on it, destroying it in a massive explosion.
With the object destroyed, the plant cells and the creatures that had been under its control disappeared. The crew members were relieved, but they knew that they were lucky to have survived.
As they made their way back to their escape pod, Mia couldn’t help but wonder what other dangers lurked in the depths of space. The discovery of the glowing object and the plant cells had shown her that there were still mysteries in the universe that she couldn’t even begin to comprehend.
As the escape pod lifted off the planet’s surface and hurtled towards the safety of their home base, Mia knew that she would never forget the horrors that she and her crew members had faced. She couldn’t help but wonder if they were the first to encounter this kind of danger, or if there were others out there, just waiting to be discovered.
As she gazed out at the stars, Mia realized that their journey had only just begun, and that the dangers of the universe were far greater than they could have ever imagined.
Hmm… What do you think?
To be continued.
Helen Rizi says
Interesting that most of the paragraphs are 2 sentences long. It seems to me that the short story is mostly plot development and very little description. Not a good time to be a teacher…
Christoffer Petersen says
Hi Helen. Yes, my brother-in-law is facing this at the moment. In Denmark tools are normally allowed when taking exams. It’s a case of knowing how to source and use the information one finds appropriately, rather than regurgitating it. His faculty is now considering the best step with ChatGPT and similar AI used for research, and even writing one’s thesis!
Dave Bennett says
I’m not impressed – it seemed like a derivative, rough outline of an unoriginal idea. I can’t imagine any publisher or studio buying into this.
I just finished THE ICE CIRCUS and the difference between YOUR writing and this amateurish attempt is enormous! I’ll take CHRIS any old day!!
Christoffer Petersen says
Yes, it hits all the standard beats. But I spent over an hour with ChatGPT (which is why there are many posts on the way) developing the story. I appreciate your comments about my writing, of course. 🙂 But there are some concerns here.
Tony Scott says
It seems somehow inevitable that the silicon-based author would posit that calamities would arise from the carelessness? neglect? stupidity? [insert appropriate Wuhan-based adjective] of carbon-based plants/animals!
Christoffer Petersen says
It gets worse, Tony! As you’ll see in the later posts. 😉
It’s actually very disturbing!
The AI bit, that is.
The story? Somehow very childlike, robotic, and i’m not making a pun!
It will be interesting to see how thing progress but to me the story lacks character and depth even taking into account its length.
Don’t stop using YOUR talents Chris, AI is not up to the mark.
Christoffer Petersen says
Hi Sian. Yes, very disturbing. I have zero intention of using it, but felt the need to try it to see what all the fuss was about. The “fuss” of course, is that we’re supposed to think AI is an inevitable evolution, here to stay, and that we may as well accept it. Meanwhile the companies behind AI have just created a powerful new way to harvest our data. I’m paraphrasing Shoshana Zuboff (I love her work!). If you’re up for a lengthy non-fiction read, then Zuboff’s “The Age of Surveillance Capitalism” is, in my opinion, fantastic. But it’s over 700 pages of why Google and Co. are scary. 🙂
Ana Catarina Palma Neves says
I finally got time to read part 1… Very, very confusing, lots of things lack explanation, and it jumps from one paragraph to another suddenly. It could be used to develop a “real” novel, yes. If an author is in need of inspiration, he/she can use this, I guess. The idea is not bad and it could be something there, but it needs a lot of work and an awe factor…
Christoffer Petersen says
Yep, no “awe factor”.