The Hidden Present
This article appeared in the February 2013 issue of the magazine.
Just off the main commercial promenade in any Class A or B starport, at a world of TL11 or higher, you will always find a small office with an unimposing sign reading The Hidden Present. If you enter, you will be greeted politely, but in a style that will seem somewhat ‘old-fashioned’, by an individual dressed in a style that seems equally ‘old-fashioned’. You will be briefly interviewed as to what you are seeking, then asked to have a seat while a ‘consultant’ is contacted; the waiting area will appear well-appointed, but also ‘old-fashioned’. Catalogues of various types will be available; the merchandise pictured will cover virtually anything one could get anywhere else, but again, all looking ‘old-fashioned’. This should, perhaps, be your clue that ‘present’ is not being used as a synonym for ‘gift’, but instead is a reference to ‘now’ and should be contrasted with ‘past’.
The Hidden Present is anything but ‘old-fashioned’. A close inspection of any of the catalogues will reveal specification sheets showing the latest available technology, wrapped in ‘skins’ that are individually painstakingly crafted to look like virtually any top-quality classic or antique item you could want. Similar close inspections of items around the offices will reveal cutting-edge technology and design wrapped in high-quality custom-crafted cases, styles, bindings, and so on, all designed to reflect the older ęsthetic without compromising capability, comfort, or usability.
This is what The Hidden Present specializes in. Your consultant will be thoroughly up-to-date in his/her knowledge of what you have indicated your interest in, and will have an excellent artistic sense as well, to help you come up with something that has exactly the ‘old-fashioned’ look you want, capable of harmonizing with any decor, without sacrificing the capabilities that the latest technology has to offer. Naturally, this comes at a premium; you can expect to pay anywhere from 10% to 50% more than a standard item meeting the same technical specifications, and have construction/production take up to twice the normal time.