[This column apparently leaked through an illicit time-warp from an interactive holographic edition of SFX dated Christmas 2048.]
It's been a year of exciting science-fictional developments like nanoflakes, scrotties – how come no sf writer ever predicted scrotties? – HyperViagra, and the Even Newer LibLabCon Alliance's introduction of surveillance cameras in all British houses to safeguard us from illegal acts. (That last one was actually predicted in George Orwell's forgotten novel 1984, now a prohibited book under the 2016 Freedom of Information Act.)
What better way to celebrate such a thrilling year than by getting absolutely smashed over Christmas? Luckily, there are several new technologies for dealing with humanity's ancient foe, the hangover ...
Nanoware cures are being heavily hyped this winter. We all know how they work – the medicine may look like thick white goo, but a teaspoonful contains tens of millions of microscopic nanomachines which rapidly spread through your aching tissues, dismantling surplus alcohol molecules and neutralizing their toxic breakdown products. The market leader NoCrapula promises to eliminate your hangover in 8 seconds – but if you don't mind waiting half a minute, rival brands are much cheaper.
Remember, it's vital never to exceed the stated dose. As doctors warn us, our bodies' chemical processes use small amounts of alcohol, and removing these entirely may lead to unfortunate side effects such as death. And it's no fun spending Xmas banged up in your local hospital's Intensive Resurrection Ward!
Specially interesting is the GoodTimes morning-after remedy, which not only zaps that hangover but erases all embarrassing memories of last night's office party. Make sure your boss takes it too. Boxes of chocolates spiked with GoodTimes are now employees' number-one choice as Xmas presents to management.
However, be warned that the much-hyped Deep Freeze Cure is little more than an urban myth. It might have worked back in the early days of cryonics, when crude revival techniques would often give an illusion of improvement by killing off many of your nervous system's pain sensors. But nowadays the technology is too good: if you wake up with your head splitting and rush to spend a week in cryonic storage, I can guarantee that your hangover will still be with you – perfectly preserved – when you're defrosted.
Beware also of cowboy microsurgeons who go from door to door over the Christmas and New Year period, offering instant relief by means of a head transplant. It may help in the short term, but many punters later regret their decision.
They say, of course, that prevention is better than cure, and the best way of all to avoid those morning-after collywobbles is to have your digestive system rearranged by retroviral gene-splicing (not available on the National Health Service). The economy version introduces a new pre-stomach organ known as the Partypooper, which breaks down ethanol into harmless sugars before it can reach your bloodstream or affect you in any way.
More expensively, the Scrooge biotech organ stores all the alcohol you consume in a teflon sac and allows it to be drained off through a small tap for later resale, or for immediate use as a passable vodka substitute. The trouble with both these amazing developments is that hardly anybody wants them, since so few of us can face Christmas at all without getting newted.
Some old codgers still swear by an old-fashioned method which sounds primitive, barbaric and dreadfully twentieth-century. Before going to bed, you take a teaspoon of sodium bicarbonate and drink a huge amount of water to counter alcoholic dehydration. The traditional snag is that anyone who really needs this treatment is in no state to do anything so complicated before falling into bed. But not any more! Although it's technically illegal, a bootleg chronowarp unit lets you jump briefly back through time and persuade your drunken former self to gulp all that water and bicarb. Take care not to violate causality, though, or the Time Police will be down on you like a ton of scrotties.
Lastly, there's Newphoria – that low-cost synthetic alcohol substitute developed in 2004, which according to scientific tests is harmless, non-addictive, produces all the short-term euphoric effects of booze, and never, ever gives you a hangover. Naturally, therefore, it was immediately banned as a dangerous drug. Possession or consumption of Newphoria is a criminal offence punishable by life imprisonment as slave labour in the scrotty factories. You know it makes sense.
Our "David Langford" AI's Christmas 2048 column was sponsored as a public service by the Brewers' and Distillers' Association.