How I invented Twitter
On page 1 of my 2005 novel Lady of Mazes, Livia Kodaly wakes in the early morning and boots up her Society. This appears as a crowd of virtual people around her--friends, family, famous people of interest--and they're all chatting.
A hum of voices welled up around her and ghostly figures began appearing above, below, all about; some seemed to stand on the air above the gardens. Each luminous person acknowledged her with a wave, a smile, or a bow. Some were engaged in conversation, some stood alert but motionless. Livia didn’t want to talk to any of the real inhabitants of the estate right now, so she excluded them from her sensorium. For now, she was alone with her phantoms.
Sound familiar, twitterites? She strolls through the apartment, accompanied by the Society:
Conversations bubbled around her as she cowled at the mirror. Some dialogues were happening now in the manor, but most were the Peers, laughing and chattering in diverse places back home. Some voices were real people’s; some were imitations performed by AIs. They were filtered for relevance by Livia’s agents so that she only got the gist of what was happening today: “Devari has a new opera, but he won’t show it to anyone. Claims he’ll fall out of the manifold if he does!” (Laughter.) “We went flying yesterday. You should have seen Jon! He was practically blue.” “What, he’d never been before?”
“Livia, we all heard about your performance last night. You’ve finally mastered that Mozart aria, congratulations!”
“Have you heard? Aaron Varese has vanished!”
A lot of readers were disoriented, annoyed, or deeply startled by this opening when Lady of Mazes first came out. That's only a couple of years back, but I wonder, would anybody coming to the novel today have such a reaction? Or would they instantly understand Livia's Society, and just keep reading.
Sometimes it seems that "sense of wonder" is the most fragile element of science fiction.