Rudy Rucker is one of our best science fiction writers when it comes to imagining a future where technology enables a higher level of weirdness. And now he's done it again, with the story "Apricot Lane," about a world of networked matter and micro-payments.

Check out an animation above, featuring art by Daniel Martin Diaz, and listen to Rucker talk about his story. The actual story begins:

Julie went to yoga with Dan Joiner this afternoon,” said the girlish voice of Julie’s shoe. The shoe was a high-fashion item, a skintight flicker-cladding foot glove with a polka-dot finish, the shoe lying on the floor of our tiny apartment. Thanks to the Quarpet interface, the shoe’s voice was in my head, along with a flexible little icon that postured like a cartoon character.

“I don’t like hearing that,” I told the shoe, not out loud, just thinking the words. “Please be quiet.”

“I stepped on chewing gum outside the studio,” continued the shoe, ignoring my request for silence. “I wish you’d clean me with soap and water, and a stiff brush.”

“Use me!” urged a scrub brush from under our kitchen sink, its icon and its raspy voice also inside my head. The brush icon had rolling eyes; he wore his bristles like a silly mustache. I ignored him.

“Ask Julie to clean you,” I told the shoe. “Meanwhile she’s out jogging. To her office. There’s a big meeting.” Julie was a rental broker for Welsh & Tayke. These days more and more things were for rent. Efficient resource allocation. Handy because hardly anyone could afford to buy something new.

Read the rest over at Institute For The Future. [via Boing Boing]