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The Epic of Gilbert Mesh

The Epic of Gilbert Mesh

By Noah Brand

from a story by Robert W. Fuller

Published by Noah Brand at Shakespir

Copyright 2017 Noah Brand

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A note on the verse style: the blank-verse scansion works if one assumes @ is pronounced “at” and # is pronounced “hashtag”.



Come harken close and read my hidden lore

Locked deep in nested files hid away

Encrypted, clouded, lying plaintext truths

Of Gilbert Mesh, and Enid Kidd, and death.


Once, in the valley spread ‘round San Jose

Where chips and coding many fortunes made,

A man arose, a man named Gilbert Mesh,

Whose work would rend asunder all he knew.

He ran a company called STA,

Had built it with his hands and with his mind,

And algorithmic magic flew therefrom

’Til all that claimed the name Big Data drew

From STA their functionality.


And Gilbert Mesh a famous mansion built

All open-planned and natural-lit and clear.

And stone-topped kitchen islands so profuse

They almost made an archipelago.

High on a brown-grass hill he laid his home

View looking down on all that lay below.

A glass and metal monument: all hail

The man who gave the world STA.


And Gilbert Mesh a huge persona built

Through magazines and social media.

O witty, wise, acerbic Gilbert Mesh!

Who pushes envelopes, but not too far.

Who borders on the inappropriate

But never quite sets foot across the line.

His quotes give solace to the cube-bound drones

But don’t get them in trouble with HR.


And Gilbert Mesh a mighty ego built

For who was there who could compare with him?

His genius, fame, and power stood unmatched

At least if you asked him, which people did.

He was not shy about his self-regard,

It played into the image that he liked.

The cocky bad boy techbro CEO,

Immune to love because he loved himself.


Yes, love was not, in Gilbert Mesh’s view,

A thing that men like him could slow down for.

He saw the fairer sex as less than fair,

Opponents in a game he sought to win.

But not the game he played with STA,

Of algorithmic dollars, IPOs,

The cunning code and vested option game.

He thought that women were a different game,

With sex a win condition, just for him.

Were he to love, ‘twould mean the woman won.

And that, of course, could never be allowed.


This way of thinking made him quite a cad,

And worse, a less effective CEO.

For women rarely worked for Gilbert Mesh,

And those who did oft left soon, in disgust.

The same remarks that bearded fans adored

Oft chased away less-bearded employees

So STA was weaker than it ought

To be, were they not chasing brains away.

But no one could tell Gilbert what to do

For was he not the brilliant Gilbert Mesh?


For all that his persona brought him fame

In certain circles, and with certain men,

A backlash lay implicit in the names

By which half of the world called Gilbert Mesh.

A tyrant, despot, ego-driven jerk,

A sexist, clueless dork who’s way too rich.


A day came when a rumor bubbled up

From some deep substrate of the internet.

They said that STA was on the cusp

Of bringing forth computing’s Holy Grail.

Its data grown so deep, its math so wide

That any day it might produce AI.

A mind within the code, a conscious mind,

A truly thinking entity, awake.

On chan boards and in channels, nonnies said

That Mesh was realizing Turing’s dream.


And then, as rumors do, it grew too large.

Its dorsal fin above the surface broke.

And, liminal, it drew the world’s eye,

As juicy and unfounded rumors do.

The pundits and the columnists enjoyed

The nine-days’ wonder: STA’s AI?

And listicles exploded left and right:

The Top 10 AI Villains Of All Time

9 Reasons We Want AI Freakin’ Now

6 Jobs You’d Rather Have A Robot Do

10 Reasons To Be Scared (5 Blew My Mind!)


From this morass, a giant voice arose,

Who once had been a minor humanist,

Who wrote and edited things here and there

But never found his traction, until now.

The AI issue drew upon his strengths

And brought an audience that lent their ears,

(And, too, their precious monetized eyeballs)

To hear what this Hugh Baba had to say.


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The Epic of Gilbert Mesh

The ancient epic of Gilgamesh is reimagined in the present, as a confrontation with human notions of mortality in the face of emergent artificial intelligence. An epic poem in blank verse, because why not? Tech CEO Gilbert Mesh rules the technical and cultural landscape of Silicon Valley, but many increasingly see him as a tyrant. When the board appoints a co-ruler in the form of Enid Kidd, she becomes first his rival, then his greatest ally. Together, they pursue their secret agenda: to create a new form of life, a sentient program. Opposition from populist Hugh Baba and the terrifying vagaries of internet culture drives their quest to dark, dangerous places, and not everyone will make it out okay.

  • Author: Noah Brand
  • Published: 2017-01-12 20:20:08
  • Words: 7866
The Epic of Gilbert Mesh The Epic of Gilbert Mesh