I am sure there is a Sci-Fi Short Story out there where a man follows the directions of his handheld life assistant or something that tells him where to go and what to do. He blindly follows its instructions which ultimately leads him to a hotel room…I can't remember the title or author of this story…please help!

  • And what is "UbiComp"?
    – Mr Lister
    Commented Jan 3, 2014 at 18:49
  • I vaguely remember the name of the device being something like UbiComp… (this is Brian)
    – Brian
    Commented Jan 3, 2014 at 22:40

2 Answers 2


Could it be "Mythological Beast" by Stephen Donaldson?

"Norman lives a perfectly sane, perfectly safe life as a librarian, in an age when violence has been eliminated by eliminating the causes of fear. Not that many people can read, or that anyone uses the library. He can't understand why the new nub of horn on his forehead doesn't register as anything odd on his biomitter, or why nobody seems surprised by his other gradual changes."

As I recall, the "biomitter" gives him instructions which he follows blindly until his changes reach a point where he realizes the system is out to eliminate him, at which point (IIRC) he hides out in a hotel room.


Perhaps "Maneki Neko" by Bruce Sterling?

It was the first story from his short story collection "A Good Old_Fashioned Future".

I also found the text online in an issue of LightSpeed, an online SF&F magazine.

The main character of the story is Tsuyoshi Shimizu, and the handheld device is called a "pokkecon". It seems like the Internet has evolved into one or more AIs called "the network". The network basically manages a "favor/gift economy" between pokkecon users - someone drops off a jar of pickles for Tsuyoshi's pregnant wife, Tsuyoshi is told to buy an extra coffee and hand it to a person in the street, etc.

The network gives Tsuyoshi's wife an assignment to drop off a gift box containing a maneki neko (the japanese waving cat statue) at a hotel. Since she is pregnant, and Tsuyoshi is going out to get his hair cut near the hotel, she asks him to drop it off for her.

At the hotel Tsuyoshi is then instructed to enter the elevator with the bellboy and place the gift box into a bag the bellboy is transporting. In the end, it turns out the network is using Tsuyoshi and others to enact a campaign of harassment against an American politician staying in the hotel. The politician had one of the network machines shut down and considers the network to be a "criminal conspiracy" due to lack of taxes paid on transactions in the "gift economy".


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