An Arctic Cruiselish

Jessica Powell
2 min readJul 30, 2022
Photo by Hans-Jurgen Mager on Unsplash

Years ago, I found myself at a tech conference standing next to some billionaires. While tech billionaires are often portrayed as socially awkward, they are in fact actually very good at speaking to each other:

“This will happen in the future.”

“Yes, that will surely happen!”

“Life will be good for everyone.”

Most of their conversation was about how automation was going to change everything for the better, and would free us all to become musicians and artists (or yachters, as one of those billionaires has since become).

The conversation stayed with me, not because I’m against all automation, or because I think work won’t change. I was more curious about what an achievement and job-obsessed society like America would feel if the classic conversation opener, “What do you do for a living?” no longer had an answer.

I wrote two short stories pondering this question, and I’m thrilled to share the first — An Arctic Cruiselish, just published in VICE’s terraform, one of my favorite places for sci fi and speculative fiction. It’s a quick read — a bit funny, a bit literary, and a bit sci fi; with clowns and preserved polar bears and a healthy dose of existential dread. I’d love it if you read and/or shared it!



Jessica Powell

Technophile, technophobe. Music software start-up founder. Former Google VP. Author, The Big Disruption. Fan of shochu, chocolate, and the absurd.