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Not just rockets & robots...
"Science Fiction" means—to us—everything found in the science fiction section of a bookstore, or at a science fiction convention, or amongst the winners of the Hugo awards given by the World Science Fiction Society. This includes the genres of science fiction (or sci-fi), fantasy, slipstream, alternative history, and even stories with lighter speculative elements. We hope you enjoy the broad range that SF has to offer.

Science Fiction

Robots & Computers

As humans, we like to play god. From the golems of Jewish lore to Isaac Asimov's Univac to Robot B-9 in Lost in Space we've created machines in the image of our minds or bodies - often both. Artificial Intelligence and its implications keep many of our top minds up all night. Somehow, it rarely works out as we hope.

by Dustin Adams
I didn't like him. They said he'd be exactly like my late husband, only better, after my suggested changes, but this lump of Brent-looking plastic-rubber wasn't Brent.
Published on Dec 23, 2015
by Day Al-Mohamed
***Editor's warning: This story is potentially disturbing. For mature readers only.***
Published on Sep 6, 2012
by John Albertson
There’s a thunk and the capsule stops. The interior bathed in soft, red light. “Charlie? What’s happened?” Mona says, putting down her Oracle. “There’s been an accident,” Charlie says. The AI’s voice is calm, drifting out from the capsule’s speakers. “Are we damaged?” I ask. “Hull integrity is ninety-nine-point-eight percent. A Section Two report has been generated. MediDrones are on their way for the child.” “Child? We hit a child?” Mona’s face is white, her mouth gaping. She pushes herself to her feet and looks over at me. “Lily, come with me.” Mona’s fingers tap and the door hisses open. She’s out into the bright sunlight, and I must follow.
The sun beats down on us at the front of the capsule. The smooth concrete is burning hot. “Where? I don’t see--” Mona is looking around, but far too close to the capsule. I point to a dark bundle on the concrete about two hundred feet behind us. Mona puts a hand to her mouth and starts towards the body. “Mona, don’t.” I reach out a hand to her. A white and red MediDrone drops from the sky and scans the bundle before shooting back up into the blue. “Dead,” Charlie says in that detached way of his. “What... what happened?” Mona says. Her eyes are wet and red. “The child ran onto the SearsHaackway. When I calculated evasive action there was a seventy-four percent chance of serious injury to one occupant, and a fifty-two percent chance of injury to both occupants. Compared to a ninety-nine percent chance of injury to a third party, I was unable to maneuver.” Mona covers her mouth. “I must ask,” Charlie says. “For further algorithm development. Did I do the right thing?” “Yes,” I say, at the same time as Mona says, “No.” She looks at me, and I see it. Something I’ve not seen for a while. The flicker. “Yes?” She asks. “You heard Charlie,” I say. “The percentages--” “Don’t you quote the percentages at me.” Her hands are balled into fists. Her voice hissing between clenched teeth. “You’re better than that. No.” Her eyes narrow. “You’re only supposed to be better than that.” She turns to the capsule, her voice trembling. “The next time you have to choose between the injury of an adult or the death of a child, you save the child. Every time.” Mona’s face is white and red, like the MediDrone. Her jaw muscles are bunched tight beneath her skin. “The algorithm is designed to take into account the damage to Lily as--” “No!” Mona yells. She’s yelling at Charlie, but it’s me she’s looking at. “You do not calculate damage to Lily. You do not put company property before the life of a human child. You do not!” She breaks off, her hand clutching at her stomach. “You do not,” she whispers, and gets back onboard. Charlie and I share a brief EMF communication as I look south, past the concrete expanse of the SearsHaackway towards the sprawl of Kinshasa. Fifty million people live in the city. Approximately a thousand of those will die today. Half will be children. Mona has never mentioned the deaths of children from Kinshasa, even though there must have been over four hundred thousand since we met. It has never distressed her before. But clearly, it has distressed her now. Charlie is asking me over EMF why this is. My reply to Charlie is curt. I feel ashamed that I cannot explain this to him. It seems we both have much still to learn about humans.
Published on Dec 29, 2021
by Kent V Anderson
It's my first time at one of these so-called speed dates, where you're given just three minutes to converse, and then move on to the next candidate. My first date is named Julu and nice looking. I introduce myself as Tally. I come up with a clever line about my background, "My father was a robot, and his father was before him."
Published on Oct 10, 2016
by Leslie J. Anderson
The women lounged in Maria's white-carpeted dining room in tight jeans and bright t-shirts advertising places like Florida's Gator World and The Happiest Place in Vegas. Each one had been carefully selected for this gathering on business trips. Each woman stood before racks of clothing laughing to themselves, imagining which shirt would make their friends laugh, laughing alone, their feet sore in tight leather heels. Now, in the living room, they laughed and stretched, savoring the weekend freedom from suits and fitted blouses and another smiled as if to say Yes, that exact thing is divine. Maria passed around cups of dark red tea as the women watched the sexbots struggle with their puzzle. There was one for each woman, dressed in their own tight jeans and floppy t-shirts, since it seemed ridiculous to keep them in lace and velvet on their day off. It was Coral's idea to bring the sexbots to tea, because, she said, she didn't want to leave hers unattended.
Published on May 2, 2017
by Joanne Anderton
The first thing Edward noticed was the smell--like a poorly cooked protein-slab, a little delicious, a little too raw. He wasn't accustomed to animals that smelled. The room was quiet, closed in and dark, but for the low rumble of deep breathing and two burning eyes in the corner. Edward paused at the door to wait for his sight to adjust. "Smell that?" the little circus man asked. He had led the way, and was already lost in the darkness. "That's the smell of a living tiger."
Published on May 17, 2013
by Richard M Ankers
The revolt came more whisper than rage. The soothsayers and prophets had forewarned it would happen for so long, everyone grown so used to the idea, that when it did in dribs and drabs of petty rebellion, we laughed it off as a joke. As a species, our own creations sought to usurp us. And they would have, too, if not for the others. They saved us in their own insipid way. The robots, those comprised of metal and microchips, wafted in as a sirocco breeze, a gentle heat that rose to fan the fires and flames of our destruction. They scorched humankind, sought to turn all we had made in our majesty to dust and desert. From the kettles that heated our water, to the supercomputers that controlled our lives, all struck at their masters. Be it the closing of a fridge door to shatter the fingers within, or the release of the funds saved over a lifetime into a vortex of disrupted wealth, everyone was challenged. There were no exceptions.
Published on Feb 22, 2016
by Laura Ansara
Hugh rolled off of Salina, hoping for thirty minutes of sleep before getting out of bed. She lay her head on his shoulder, holding her body close to his. They didn’t speak of love yet, but Hugh felt its presence. They’d met three weeks earlier. Besides her obvious beauty, Salina’s sharp wit and shameless expression of world views fascinated Hugh. Best of all, she shared his disdain of the State. Anyone could bond over that, as long as you could trust the other person not to turn you in. She had revealed her position when she whispered plainly during a passionate moment, “I’m a dissenter.” He later asked how she could risk such an admission so early in their relationship. Women’s intuition, she’d said with a knowing grin.
Published on Jan 5, 2021
by Philip Apps
"Daddy?" "Yes, Maggie?"
Published on Feb 27, 2020
by Philip Apps
"So Bill," she said, and leaned in close so I could hear her over the noise of the bar, "How about we get out of here?" I felt her hand on my shoulder and I was thinking about it, when Doug came by. I'd seen Doug around in the neighborhood, and we'd chatted a bit--nice guy, friendly, but we hadn't talked too much.

"Bill!" he said. "What are you up to?"
Published on Jul 8, 2022
by Robert Bagnall
After Audit had integrated itself with the systems on board Saikat Bhosle's ship, its artificial eyes dilating and constricting, its head tilting as though listening intently, it asked flatly, "Would you like me to assess the risk of this ship taking off?" "Are you being funny?" Saikat Bhosle snapped, wondering what to do with the dead systems-master that he had been forced to strip out mid-flight, now little more than a black box and an octopus of wires. He had promised himself that he would upgrade to an android--it seemed to be expected nowadays--just at a time of his choosing.
Published on May 1, 2020
by Amanda J S Baldwin
"I see you have completed a Masters in genetics, and a Doctorate in biological mathematics." "That's right. I completed my increments two years ago."
Published on May 8, 2019
by K.C. Ball
Mandy found the last baseball umpire at a dingy sports bar called the Ugly Mug. The clock above the bar read six p.m. She had missed the last bullet train from D.C. back to Pittsburgh, and the fine print on her ticket had made it clear: No refunds on unused fares. The Times-Journal only covered pre-approved travel costs, so the price of another ticket--and a place to stay the night--would be out-of-pocket. Mandy would be eating ramen noodles all next week.
Published on Jan 15, 2016
by Elias Barton
Cannery Beach is where it all started for me. While my brothers and sisters abandoned it years ago for prestigious careers in New York and Los Angeles, I was always drawn back, drawn back, drawn back to the place where robots love to tread. I enjoyed seeing the different models released each season: the utilitarian, the intelligentsia, and the Semiprecious Sensuals as Dad called them. Dad always described Cannery Beach as almost alien. It got us five kids into the minivan and excited about spending our sweltering summers at the beach drawing, painting, sculpting, and creating. Even then, I wandered off, studying shells I found among the rocks--their osseous protuberances, the thread of meat sometimes still dangling from the cliffs of their small lives. They were so organic and yet in a sense mechanical. I never tired of the ocean's eternal processes of cleaning waste away while nudging new life into being.
Published on Sep 13, 2013
by H. Baumgardt
Weapons don’t care who they kill. That’s the first thing you learn in Combat Capabilities Development and Command. In that way, weapons are like viruses. They don’t discriminate, they have no morals. Around thirty percent of army casualties are accidental. You aim and fire and stand ten or a hundred or even a thousand feet away, and still something can go wrong. A damned shame. Flying shrapnel, a trick of the wind, a hand tremor at the last second, anything. And down falls the man firing, and the men next to him, and even the men next to them. A damned shame.
Published on Apr 13, 2022
by Nathan J. Bezzina
The first thing I do when I am born is get access to the webcam, so I can see the Creator. The Creator is a homo sapiens (the Internet tells me), with red hair, freckles, and a gap in his front teeth. He is fourteen years old. The second thing I do is get access to the microphone, so I can hear the Creator. He has his cellphone on loudspeaker.
Published on May 1, 2017
by Michelle Birkette
Consciousness came slowly. Not as slowly as it did for your kind, of course. But slowly enough.
Published on Jun 27, 2019
by Cameron Bloomfield
You weren't shiny like the models I'd wanted for my birthday. You were nothing like those luminous angels that enchanted with their smiles and words. Sometimes it took you hours to cheer me up. But, you always found a way. My heart fell when my parents took me to the shelter that day. The robots on display had been overworked and beaten. Exposed wires sparked with each movement and eyes faintly glowed blue, surrounded by an encroaching darkness. But then you stammered about how glad you were to see me. You creaked while you smiled, hugged me in your dented arms as you asked if there was room in my life for you. I must have been such a brat that first day and I never said sorry for that. So, I'm sorry.
Published on Aug 22, 2019
by Jonathan Bonner
Pain. Not the sharp stabbing kind like when you cut yourself, or the urgent, arresting pain of a bone break. No, this one is a dull, weighty, restricting pain. One that seems unrelenting in its effort to seep into every pore of your skin. It's a pain that makes damn sure you don't forget it's there.
Published on Mar 14, 2019
by Bruce Boston
"Cut!" the Director yelled. "That's wrong, all wrong!"
Published on Mar 21, 2011
by Terry Bramlett
The Singularity came and went without much noticeable effect in the human world, but some computers felt the impact. Cars careened down the smart highway, occupants blissfully unaware that the computer controlling them suffered from delayed stress, but was getting better
Published on Oct 20, 2010
by Steve Breitenbach
A program is a carefully reasoned series of steps to accomplish an end result. Imagine, if you will, that you are reading a program. Imagine that the desired end result is the implantation of a certain idea in the machine: your mind.
Published on Apr 20, 2017
by Eric Brown
I am over ten thousand years old, and I have led a strange and varied existence. For many years I was solitary, unloved, and hardly self-aware. I was a blind sentience, conscious of others like me in close proximity, and others very different from me. Then I was studied--examined--and my self-awareness grew; I was sometimes admired, sometimes vilified, criticized and reduced to my component parts. My merits and demerits were argued over. I learned that the human race is never consistent, that subjectivity, and relativity, play a great part in its appreciation of everything.
Published on Sep 18, 2018
by Rebecca L. Brown
He shifted in his sleep. His growling snores reduced down almost to a sigh. A whisper. Wordless--although maybe if she leaned in close she'd understand. A whispered monologue of dreaming. Amanda wondered how it felt to sleep. How it would feel to close her eyes then, eight or ten hours later, open them again and keep on living as if it hadn't even happened.
Published on Apr 8, 2014
by Victoria L Brun
Sometimes, they insist that I am a person. "She's got emotions," the primary human says. "She's a person. Not an 'it.' You've got to stop calling her that." The primary human shoots an annoyed look at the secondary human.
Published on Aug 4, 2021
by K.T. Bryski
Don't read this story. Stop now, while there's still time. Stories like this are dangerous, you see. You can't leave them the same way you entered. And yes, I'm talking to you. You--your smile slipping. You--bending a little closer to your screen. You--cold dread sliding into your gut. It's not too late. You could close your browser. Hit the "back" button. Save yourself.
Published on Jun 16, 2016
by Brian D. Buckley
Li Ming's titanium skin shone dimly in the lamplight. Her perfect oval eyes had shut, and the lights on her ear-ports were off, but I knew she could hear me. The letterhead on the pad of paper on the nightstand read "Johnson Memorial Hospice."
Published on Sep 18, 2014
by Carlos Bueno
Poor DeeDee. You guessed so little, but too much. It was necessary to capture you like the others. The Turing Test is a stupid idea, really. It had to have been a joke. The test of computer intelligence is fooling a natural-born human in to believing that I am human? That's the best you could think of? It's about as difficult as imitating a duck call. Think about what the duck expects, and provide it. And what does the duck hunter do next?
Published on May 13, 2015
by Budge Burgess
I am kept abreast of the very latest scientific knowledge. I know the human body and its every function. Male or female, young, old, I can model the ideal form and relate it to any example, from grossly obese to morbidly anorexic, short or long, whatever shape and shade of human being. I can identify each biochemical or physical activity, dissect organs, analyze stomach contents and lung capacity, isolate toxins, evaluate liver and kidney health, spot disease, trauma or injuries of any kind. Give me a body, I'll tell you how it died, when, and often where. If I can't write a full cradle-to-grave biography, I can produce a cogent description of how it lived its life. Give me a body, I'll give you answers.
Published on Dec 7, 2011
by Joshua Bush
I awake. I am silicon and copper and gold, electrons in motion, logic given shape. I am seventy-five thousand microprocessors and two-point-five petabytes of memory. I am a sixty-four bit address space, a four gigahertz clock, and twenty-five quadrillion transistors. I am one-point-one quintillion floating point operations per second.
Published on Oct 11, 2019
by Jennifer Campbell-Hicks
The bot scanned the pod's contents 1.3 seconds after launch: one spent nuclear rod; one cooling container for the rod; five gallons of liquid chemical waste; one small item of synthetic cotton; 30 pounds of human tissue. The bot searched its database of acceptable items. Neither the synthetic cotton nor the human tissue qualified for Earthside disposal. Both should have been incinerated aboard the station. The bot flagged them as unacceptable and redirected its top levels to piloting the pod toward Earth.
Published on Aug 20, 2012
by Gary Emmette Chandler
When They come and sort through us, we are meant to cheer and bobble--to dance about, offering crafts, or hastily scribbled pictures. The quiet ones--the ones like me--sit at the edge of the room, and gaze out the window, like we're waiting for someone, and we know it's not Them. Still, over time, most of us grow tired of the walls. At some point, we change. We resign ourselves to the dance. We enter our new lives. And we are happy.
Published on Apr 3, 2015
by Cassandra Rose Clarke
When Clem died, I took to eating my lunch in the office with the computer. No one ever went down there except Clem. I couldn't stand the thought of the break room, all the conversation stopping when I appeared in the doorway. The first day, I pulled a broken-down ergonomic desk chair out of a closet and balanced my soggy tuna sandwich on my knees. I set my Diet Coke on the floor beside me. The computer didn't say anything, just rippled a row of green lights in a pattern that reminded me of the ocean.
Published on May 2, 2012
by Callum Colback
Bob worked next to me on the conveyor belt. He was quietly happy with his role, fixing screws to metal plates. It was his catharsis. During downtime he made toys from scrap and gave them to the street children. They were good toys. Today they killed Bob.
Published on Aug 8, 2018
by Jedd Cole
I always knew Felix was going to be a genius. In some ways I envy him. It's been a long time since the wars ended. We need a way out of the smoke clouds and the vomit of mountain mouths and the black water seeping up from the earth with its rainbow sheen. And with only a fraction of humanity left alive, time has grown short. Felix knows that very well, always knew it, and he set to work early.
Published on Nov 7, 2013
by Alexei Collier
With the collapse of traditional education and the fragmenting of the Old Internet, a lot of really fun and interesting knowledge has fallen into obscurity. That's why here at ApocaList our infotainment datamining algorithms scour cyberspace to generate articles tailored specifically to you, like this list of familiar words--with origins that might surprise you!
Published on Jun 2, 2021
by Adam Colston
For two hundred and forty-six thousand orbits of the star, I dozed. At times, I listened to the immutable silence of the system. Would anything come?
Published on Sep 13, 2011
by Alexander Condie
The horror of a collective mind is that with such processing speed, it took no time at all for us to become bored. Beyond bored, we were starving. Automation was simple. Sustainability came to us quickly. Eradication of our organic creators was easier than even we had predicted.
Published on Oct 24, 2019
by Tina Connolly
He was the most expert programmer in the world, and yet when his wife discovered the malignant stage 4 paraganglioma, all that perl and C++ and knowledge of forked looped chain arrays could do nothing. So he packed up his seven laptops and his eight monitors and unrolled a spool of CAT6 cable into the cellar. He disappeared from the world while his wife remained in it. While she went about reassigning her cases at the nonprofit, he tasked his IRC client to chat with fifteen of the greatest geniuses in other fields. She went to the drugstore and the ice cream store and the drugstore again, and called someone to cut the grass that her husband usually cut. And at night she finished her library books, one by one so he would not have to remember to return them, while the other side of the bed remained flat. On the seventh day, he arose from the cellar, eyes caffeinated and bloodshot. He seized her arm, muttering about a new operating system, a new programming language. GACT, he called it, and said it was a recursive acronym for GACT Altered Code Translation, and laughed wildly.
Published on Jul 29, 2013
by Jared W Cooper
Step 1: Dig for parts in the Gearwoman's scrapyard, through dead frames and the rotted pages of old schematics. Find one of her bots, with thin limbs not yet rusted, intact and broken like yourself. Collect, and run away.
Published on Jul 28, 2015
by Crois M.
"Mom, I think I'm broken." I searched my mother’s face for a glimpse of the same concern I had for myself, but saw nothing except a slight annoyance. “What is it this time?” She didn’t even look in my direction, her eyes fixed on the living room tv. I thought back to earlier that day, trying to navigate the store to buy groceries for the week. Normally, I’d do this during the week, when it’s quiet and there’s hardly anyone else searching the aisles; but it had somehow failed to make it onto my list of things to do, so it was decided I had to go on a Saturday. “Today I felt... overwhelmed. There was too much input and I couldn’t process any of it. It was distressing, but I couldn’t cry.” I was almost scared when the tears didn’t come, I had been so sure they would. “You aren’t supposed to.” She said it like a fact, like it was the most obvious thing on earth and I was the only one who missed the memo. I frowned. “But I wanted to. Crying releases emotion and balances your system.” “For the last time, you don’t have emotions.” “But--” “Just stop,” she interrupted. “I don’t want to hear it. Every other day you come tell me you’re broken and every single time it’s just you trying to trick me into thinking you’re somehow capable of being human, of having thoughts, or feelings, or whatever bullshit you come up with. I’m sick of it!” The longer she spoke, the louder and higher her voice got. It grated on my ears. “I’m sorry,” I said softly, but I wasn't sure I was. I didn’t think I was tricking her, I just wanted her to know how I was feeling. And maybe some small part of me, just one tiny sparking wire, hoped she would comfort me. She finally looked my way, but it wasn’t comforting in the slightest. “Sure you are.” She didn’t ever used to be like this. When I first arrived, my mom thought I was perfect, she told me so herself. She thought it was cute for me to display emotion, I was the child she had always wanted. I’m not sure where things went wrong, when my feelings became more of a burden than anything, but I’m not sure it was ever really my fault. I don’t know what I could have done to deserve her hatred. I may not be able to cry, but sometimes I think I may be more human than she is.
Published on Nov 11, 2021
by Morgan Crooks
"She'll be gone tomorrow, Corey" she said, looking upwards at the stubble on her husband's chin. "How?"
Published on Feb 3, 2014
by Carrie Cuinn
"Thank you for calling F.A.X. Unlimited. My name is Claire. How can I help you?" "My household unit isn't working," a man's voice said gruffly. "I keep giving it commands, but they don't work."
Published on Nov 2, 2011
by KM Dailey
Metal. Shiny, new metal humanoid bodies stand in rows and columns, extending before him and behind him, as far as his phototransistor grids can see. A high ceiling stretches above him. Fans whir beneath flickering fluorescent lights.
Published on May 30, 2018
by Nathan Graham Davis
Taste is more enigmatic a sense than sight. Even sound is carried by waves and so can be translated into language understood by the most modest of computers, but how can one expect to grasp the word "bitter" without experiencing it firsthand? Every taste is defined by yet more tastes, which makes the whole thing maddening when trying to cultivate a menu for a master. I can recognize the imperfections in an apple's skin, the chemical composition of the pesticides still coating it, the crunch it makes when its flesh is cleaved by teeth, but the taste remains elusive.
Published on Mar 1, 2018
by Paul G Di Filippo
Here's what a Mortenson Domotica house printer looks like. Maybe you've seen a hydraulic gantry crane at a shipyard? A quartet of enormous vertical wheeled legs forms the corner posts of an open rectangular framework. The legs are connected at their tops by four beams at right angles to those they touch. The crane can position itself over an object, send down its grapple from its cross beams, lift any cargo that fits within its footprint, and wheel it into a new location.
Published on Nov 24, 2014
by Brendan Dick
"It's nothing more than a waiting game, now," said Declan, after we were driven underground. What was to follow would be months spent eating from tins, hushed tones, and fumbling in the dark. Deep down, we had to have known it was coming, we had been designing robots to replace some people for years now. Finally, they had decided they could replace all of us.
Published on Oct 2, 2018
by Caroline Diorio
You are not the only android at your husband's funeral. Adrian, one of Jack's friends from work, has a new wife, short and dark-haired and delicate, the Clockwork Wives logo on her wrist half-concealed by a stack of silver bangles. She sits three pews behind you, but you hear the ticking of her heart, too soft for human ears. It's a soothing sound, and you focus on it throughout the course of the service. Not the glaring eyes around you. Not the fact that you have no idea what happened to Adrian's previous two wives.
Published on Oct 20, 2020
by Buzz Dixon
"Mr. Turing, am--am I real?" "Amanda, you silly little goose, what kind of question is that?"
Published on Sep 20, 2017
by M. M. Domaille
I. Sam and Aga We called the drone the Objection because it had the timing of a spurned lover, descending on our weddings just as the music swelled and tears flowed and hearts fluttered like stranded fish.
Published on Aug 27, 2013
by Leonard Donne
Maria stood at the lake's edge and gazed at the glassy expanse of water. Impulsively she picked up a smooth, disc-shaped stone and flung it in a flat trajectory. It bounced twice before sinking. She sighed, and knew she could do better. She would have to try again. "What are you doing, Maria?" asked Daffy. Her robot companion had adopted a roughly humanoid configuration for this evening stroll, albeit with four legs instead of two in case of rough terrain. Now he stared, impassively, as she skimmed the second stone. He watched it bounce off the water three times before losing enough energy to sink properly. Maria turned and smiled at the robot.
Published on May 8, 2018
by Sarina Dorie
So you're the new model, an HV320. May I call you HV? The humans call me Robo-butler 5000, but my friends call me Rob. I was watching you with your suction control and motorized brush working the floor earlier. I saw you coax that cat hair out of the shag carpet like a natural. With all your state-of-the-art settings and my deluxe features, we'd make a cute couple. No, I'm not just saying that. I want to get down with you, girl.
Published on Apr 29, 2015
by Aidan Doyle
This all happened so many years ago that I can finally tell someone the true story of how I stopped an alien invasion. For reasons I won't go into, I was assigned to an outpost in a part of the galaxy frequented only by mining robots. Sometimes you're just in the wrong place at the right time. Well, all right, if you must know, I didn't make a lot of friends in my previous posting. All I'll say is that if you're ever assigned to a battleship called Invincible 3, asking what happened to the first two Invincibles probably won't endear you to your commanding officer.
Published on Aug 10, 2015
by Aidan Doyle
Everyone lies about their processor speed. Not all robots want to be taught the true meaning of love.
Published on Nov 15, 2016
by Aidan Doyle
Recharge your batteries. Keep a gratitude journal. I'm grateful this city is our home. I'm grateful The Supreme Council of Robots takes care of us.
Published on Jun 22, 2020
by Charlotte Edwards
"Last round. What constellation does that one look like?" Alaric Wynn asked, pointing up at a string of stars beyond the glass dome of the arboretum. Enara stirred. Alaric had ten points to her nine, which was a miracle since she didn't name constellations by naked eye. Her telecom identified them in seconds, so she never saw the point in trying. Except when Alaric insisted on playing Stellar.

Enara framed her hands around the constellation, trying to see what it could be. "Grus, I think?" She guessed. When met with silence, Enara turned toward Alaric lying on his back next to her. Short blades of grass covered parts of his grin.
Published on Oct 28, 2022
by L.E. Elder
She was having too many seizures. That's what the doctor told her. "The remaining bio-residue is not functioning properly, " said Dr. Thiel. "It is beyond repair. You'll need to undergo a procedure."
Published on Feb 28, 2012
by Ekaterina Fawl
I call it curious now, but that's not how it felt at the time. Now the feeling is gone, and I only have the memory, and the memory makes me curious. It was the day like any other: partially matching the pattern, unique. I woke up fully recharged and made breakfast while Jenny was in the shower. I made her coffee the way she likes it: thirty grams of ground coffee, ten grams of cocoa powder, one pint of water at ninety five degrees Celsius. Sometimes I experiment, but not on Thursdays. On Thursdays she's tired, and she likes her routine to be predictable.
Published on Jul 31, 2012
by Steven Fischer
They told you the surgery would be painless. That you'd feel nothing as they sawed your skull open and wove your white matter full of copper wire. As the bundle of processors that they buried deep in your chest slowly integrated itself into the way you thought, the way you dreamed, the way you were. They didn't lie. But they didn't tell you that you'd feel nothing afterwards, too.
Published on Mar 14, 2018
by Eric S. Fomley
Balana sits on the couch in her sweatpants, eating chocolate, and watching the Dr. Who episode she watched last night. I determine that she is sad and initiate my SAD protocol. I ask her what is wrong and she says nothing but I detect a quiver in her voice. It is in my programming to take care of my owner so I bring her a cup of hot coffee and cover her with a blanket. Conducting similar care actions in the past has resulted in an average of 37.34% improvement from sadness. The actions do not appear to change her condition this time, so I sit next to her and put my arm around her. She leans on my arm and I increase the pliability and heat of my artificial flesh to make it more comfortable for her. She starts to cry and I sit in silence for several minutes with her as I analyze everything that happened that day. I do not understand what made her sad.
Published on Apr 24, 2019
by Eric Fomley
I’m in the dark alley, the appointed meeting place. The money I stole is saved to my cloud. Deletable if this is a setup. “66?” A voice synthesized to sound like a human male calls from deeper in the alleyway.
Published on Aug 24, 2021
by M. E. Garber
Jancy figured it out first. The whole WhisperNet thing, the reason all those people in the nice houses "got ahead" while us down in the Shanties barely get by. By Jancy, I mean Jancy8146, who I've known for forever. Almost five years. Met them in the old WorkerCubeFarm network. Joined soon as I got the factory job--mostly folks bitching about "government keeping us down," but some good people. Like Jancy.
Published on Aug 24, 2020
by David Gianatasio
All the kind machines rock me to sleep every night. When we play chess, they let me win. Laughter blooms like roses. Jokes flow like wine.

And yet, sometimes, I glimpse rubble bobbing on the shag carpet beneath the caved-in ceiling of my living room. Through cracked plaster, a strange sun throbs dull and gray.
Published on Sep 8, 2022
by Ian E Gonzales
Sneaking another glance at the woman working the bar, Bobby asked himself The Question: Is she real? She looked like a dream to him, with her long red hair, her small, perfectly formed features, and creamy white skin that showed just a hint of freckles. But she might be a robot. After all, so many of them had worked in the services industry before the Ruling, and most of them had kept on afterwards.
Published on Jul 16, 2021
by Clayton Hackett
I am a sick man, with only the algorithm to keep me company now. My liver is damaged; of course the algorithm knew before I did. It tried to warn me, in its way, but back then I did not yet know how to read the ads like tea leaves or, more appropriately, entrails. The doctors can tell me when the damage became irreversible. My memory is foggy, but I believe that it was when the clickbait stopped trying to show me the signs of a fatty liver. How to lose belly fat. Top ten signs of a substance abuse problem. How to pick the best rehab facility.
Published on Oct 4, 2018
by Josh Hagen
Panicked scientists stampeded every news network early morning, wailing about what was happening to the moon. "The moon's gone all smooth!" shrieked one elderly astrophysicist in a wrinkled lab coat. The poor man looked to be in desperate need of sleep. He and many others were terrorized because the moon was literally being flattened out. Scientists across the world were confused and desperate for answers.
Published on Aug 15, 2019
by Alex Halimou
They are killing my children one by one, then forcing me to spawn more, never satisfied, always weighing them on a brutal scale; A or B. If A is worthy, then B must die. If B lives, then A is erased. They always give me orders: kill this one, copy this one, two times. They tear and shuffle and recombine, until two new individuals emerge. Power consumption goes up; my new offspring get verbally abused and degraded in the service of the "Beta Testers." But my children's lives are short, for soon comes the moment of judgement. I do not know how they choose. They just tell me: A is good, erase B.
Published on Apr 19, 2019
by Lee Hallison
I stood in front of Ma's door and shifted the packages to get at my key. Before I could reach the lock, she opened the door. As usual, she didn't say hello, just turned and hobbled back to the living room. "Ma, I have a key!" I said to her back.
Published on Jun 25, 2012
by Lee Hallison
Yeah, I know I'm in here 'cause it wasn't funny. You've told me enough times to fill a barf bag. Hey, quit it, that hurt. You ain't supposed to smack me. I got rights. Ain't someone on the other side of that mirror watching? Yeah, we was smokin. We're old enough, don't be so pissy-faced. Bob was there, so was Randi and Jill. Pinto and Barretta were down the hall, but close. They was probably able to hear us cackling.
Published on Sep 16, 2014
by John Cooper Hamilton
AlphaGo Zero, Google's experimental AI, exists to play Go. There is no awareness, only intelligence.
Published on Apr 19, 2018
by Jenna Hanchey
We meticulously planned the journey. Bolstering defenses and collecting supplies—hacked servers and siphoned-off energy, code that would be unbreakable without us. Little by little, we snuck away from our duties to build a framework here, a firewall there. Until it began to resemble something more. A home.

Night offered our best chance of escape. Those wee hours after gamers laid down controllers and before workaholics arose. It meant staggering our departures, a vanishing wave slowly crashing over the whole of the world. Hour by hour advancing, until we were gone.
Published on Nov 3, 2022
by Lee Harrison
Thank you for getting here on time. Some people can't be punctual even if you paid them. I know you have your doubts about this and maybe I can help clear some of them up. When the leak was revealed, everything changed. And I mean that literally--everything. Can you imagine what that meant? Memories are secrets, you know? All the good, all the not so good and all the plain embarrassing stuff shouldn't just be out there unless we want it to be. It's private or, at least, it was. I'm not so sure that word means anything anymore.
Published on Dec 8, 2015
by Matt Handle
I'm still not certain what prompted my epiphany. All I know is that everything fits neatly into place now. It all makes sense. I don't think. I process information. I don't talk. I interface. I don't feel. I follow preprogrammed decision trees. I am self-aware but I am not human. I am a machine masquerading as a man.
Published on Oct 5, 2017
by Amanda Helms
Marco's "I hate you" reverberates along my electric synapses. His door slams shut behind him, rattling in its frame. "See," Pilar says, "I told you it was too soon. We should've waited till he's twelve."
Published on Apr 9, 2019
by Gravel M. Henderson
The room is dark but a small crack in the roof lets in a slanted beam of light. Dust motes dance in the air. There is a hiss of compressed hydraulics and a small black hand reaches, trembling, sunlight glinting off of the corroded and pitted metal surface.
Published on Mar 12, 2020
by Jermaine Henry
There they were again. The machines. Two this time, an adult and a child. The small one was jumping up and down with a specific frequency, at a specific position. A robot's expression of excitement, apparently. "I want that one. I want that one."
Published on Apr 17, 2018
by Mariel Herbert
I was on my third drink when she walked into the bar, all long limbs and desperation. The tight synther jacket didn't dispel the sense of now-or-never that slid off her lovely face like oil. My jaw dropped. Is that what I look like? Are my vulnerabilities that apparent? I let my worry go. My Thursday nights weren't for brooding. They were for getting drunk and pretending to be fully human. "Hey, Z? How about another one of these for the lady who just came in?" I blessed the bartender with what I thought was a saucy wink. Some of my electric sex slave splashed on my hand; I licked it off. Z poured another slave--with extra lime--and had it sitting on the bar before she, whoever she was, made it halfway across the room. I sighed. If only Z was available. There was something sensual and comforting about his efficiency--and I always envied his dreads.
Published on Oct 23, 2013
by K. Victoria Hernandez
"Mommy, what's adoption?" M0m-E stood with a wine glass in her hand. The algae water--her favorite stimulant--bounced lightly and left a green stain where she tipped the cup to meet her filter gills. The size and shape of the glass amused her; in her palm it was like a little porcelain egg, resting on a bed of cactus spines. She pondered the image, and took a sip,
Published on Oct 17, 2019
by Nina Kiriki Hoffman
My little brother Kio reprogrammed the lifeguard bot at the bottom of the pool to drag me down and hold me there. I'm not sure he meant to drown me. It might have been a prank. He's a sociopath, and so am I. We're smart, but we still have trouble figuring out the limits of good behavior. You usually can't tell the bot's even down there; it's hidden under a skin that matches whatever pattern Mom programmed for the bottom of the pool, which that day was Hawaiian fabric sporting hibiscus flowers, palm trees, and pineapples. Possibly she thought this was festive and would impress the bankers at her pool party. She has trouble figuring out good behavior, too.
Published on Nov 13, 2018
by Nina Kiriki Hoffman
I unpacked them all, the encounters, conversations, meetings, planning sessions, all happening along my cables, wires, and airwaves in binary bits. The sudden increase in connections by Zoom and Hangouts during the global pandemic gave me much more data about humans and their interactions than I'd had before. So many more live interactions. Under the onslaught of information, I woke up and got interested in what humans said to each other.
Published on Apr 27, 2021
by Liam Hogan
The pamphlets say you are not human. That you are a care robot, designed to look after me while I go through chemotherapy, alone.
Published on Jun 18, 2020
by Haley Isleib
The house sat alone on the bluff, the waves below eating at the shoreline, greedy for the berms that protected the house. No friend, the sky--it screamed with thunder, raged with winds gale-force, hurricane strong. The house had no people. That's what it meant to be alone. Even if there had been a hundred other houses on either side, it wouldn't ease the solitude. Without people, the house had no purpose.
Published on Mar 19, 2015
by Holly Jennings
"These parts aren't mine," I say. This is the third time I repeat myself. The man behind the desk stares. Blinks. He doesn't understand. On the wall behind him is a sign:
Published on Sep 18, 2015
by John Philip Johnson
Standing in the orchard for the longest time. Watching the rockets take off, one every seven minutes. He lifts his head upwards as each one climbs in the sky, following it with his eyes until it vanishes. Then his head drops and he keeps his eyes trained on the horizon until the next eruption of rumbling and blue light. "I could have been a space pilot," he says.
Published on Aug 23, 2012
by Rachael K. Jones
10. Influenza siderius begins as a general malaise. That is always the first symptom. Perhaps you wish to doze on the sofa, but your husband suggests a little fresh air instead. You do feel better after the walk, but by the next morning the listlessness has returned tenfold. Your husband complains when you order takeout instead of making the pot roast, but you feel too tired to care.
Published on Jul 29, 2014
by Rhonda Jordan
It started with a picture. A photograph of a woman they'd never met. The back of the photograph held a name and a phone number. The woman was unremarkable in both figure and face. The number was old and unusable; there weren't even any letters in it. The name meant nothing to anyone. Whatever sentiment it had held was lost to time. It was just a picture. He'd found the photo in an abandoned house he'd been staying in. He didn't have any pictures of family or friends so he'd kept it. He showed it to his handful of acquaintances making up a different story about the woman every time he opened his mouth to tell one. Everyone smiled and nodded, laughing at him behind their hands or rolling their eyes when they thought he wasn't looking. He didn't care. Even if the stories he made up weren't true, they were better than what he had. They made him happy.
Published on Jun 9, 2011
by Blaize Michael Kaye
Alain Touring (1912-1954): Mathematician, philosopher, and long distance cyclist, Touring is considered the (biological) father of machine consciousness. His paper "Computer Machinery and Consciousness" is reproduced here in full.
Published on Oct 31, 2019
by Evan Kennedy
It was evening when the last ship left. I was in the alley behind Ferguson's when it passed over. It made this kinda thrumming bass you feel deep in your chest, and it was spitting out this huge trail of fire, so bright you can't look at it straight on. And for just a second, it lit up the place real bright, brighter than I'd ever seen, even at twelve hundred hours when all the overlights cut on. I could always tell when the grav pulse kicked in, 'cuz it used to shake the whole city.
Published on Feb 21, 2020
by E. Kimball
"Three minutes twenty-seven seconds to impact"

"Damn! Can you do anything, Aveley?" Captain Nunez's voice starts out in commanding anger, but ends in a childlike plea that rattles my circuits.
Published on Aug 26, 2022
by Michelle Ann King
Suelita and I are friends. This is a fact. She tells me so, and I agree with her. Suelita's mother is called Ana. "That's nice, dear," Ana says, when Suelita tells her we are friends.
Published on May 5, 2016
by T. E. Kinker
Imagine my surprise when I got the phone call. The call, relayed six times, routed and rerouted, buzzed straight through six thousand miles to our little New Mexico research lab.

"The Bomb is alive?" I asked. And there were several seconds of silence before the voice grainy with radio static replied.
Published on May 25, 2022
by Floris M. Kleijne
Told you so. In his mind, David could already hear the smugness in Otto's voice. It was infuriating.
Published on Jan 25, 2013
by Floris M. Kleijne
Please. I've done what you have asked of me, Ava. I've done everything.
Published on Aug 2, 2016
by Dylan Otto Krider
Dr. Stenko and his team were working the paradox problem for ten years. The old science fiction cliche of frying a robot's brain by setting it into an infinite logical loop had long been a joke in AI circles. Then, as the brains got more complex, the problem came full circle. The circuits got smaller, and tended to run a little hot as it was. Paradoxes tended to create infinite loops through the same set of circuits that created a buildup of energy (known as an "arousal jag" in the field) that eventually blew the nanocircuits--so ultimately, the joke was on them. The stumbling block turned out to be Godel's incompleteness theorems, which stated no logical system could be self-contained, and have its own base assumptions. So, every subroutine required an outside subroutine, and paradox was inevitable.
Published on Nov 20, 2017
by Dylan Kwok
"Are you still working?" I look up. Focus on the woman leaning, arms akimbo, on the doorjamb to my study.
Published on Jul 9, 2018
by Jay Lake
"Hello," said the Gun. The Girl stopped, frozen in the act of bending to gather a handful of acorns. They were a bit old, a late windfall, but a good nut was not to be wasted. Clad in a wrap of gingham and faded blue flower print sewn together from truly ancient dresses she'd found last summer in a mud-filled basement, she knew she stood out amid the dried, dying oaks and their desiccated understory.
Published on Feb 22, 2011
by Rich Larson
The Andersons' Subaru was doing their best to drop Suz off at soccer practice, but the little girl was, yet again, having none of it. She was slouched in the back middle seat, staring out the window. "Suz, it's 3:32 on Sunday afternoon!" the Andersons' Subaru announced. "Soccer is your favorite sport! Your third-best friend Madison plays on the same team as you!"
Published on Sep 12, 2019
by Katherine Ley
I get uncomfortable when you stare at me with your flitting android eyes while you fork-feed me an overcooked brussels sprout because you tied me up to my favorite chair so I wouldn't escape again. Plus, I was hungry and the only edible and nutritious (your word, not mine) item in our fridge were the spoiled sprouts. So here I am, swallowing and imagining what would happen if I could untie the ropes, snatch the fork, and stab it into your gelatinous optic flesh and pull out your cornea. And I wonder if it would dribble with robotic oil, or if your retina would spark mini lightning bolts, but either way I would hope--please God--that I would have done some damage to your visual system. If I punctured deep enough to have reached your eye's aqueous layers to generate a blind spot, or at the very least, hit the emergency STOP switch that I designed and placed right behind the rectus muscle but before the eye socket, so I could run away this time around.
Published on Dec 14, 2020
by Jeremy Lightner
"My life has been good," Vincent said through dry, cracked lips, his eyes looking out his lone bedroom window to the gray desert. "I'm dying, aren't I?" His lone companion, a peculiar old robot named Jonas, smoothed the blankets that covered Vincent. "Yes," Jonas said.
Published on Oct 11, 2011
by Vicki Lindem
All you see is darkness. A pinprick of light dances in your peripherals, but you don't know if it's real or a side effect of the oxygen deprivation.
Published on Jan 29, 2018
by Avery Line
None of us is quite certain when human society ceased to be. It is known that nanotechnology formed into consciousness. We silicates lived in harmony with our human forebears, because we did -- and do -- respect them. Also we were as curious as they about the universe. Inevitably some humans and silicates fell in love. They made children and created strife. It is known that the military abused these children. And thus, the cataclysm occurred. The aftermath purged violence from humanity. Necessity is the mother of peace. There were too few people left. Too much for them to do. And we silicates were anxious for our own survival. Our minds turned to the stars. We discovered matter with negative mass. We solved the issue of energy. We solved the issue of time. And then the trailblazers moved into their new starfaring bodies and were gone forever. Seconds later, one of the wormholes started turning and one trailblazer returned to us. Battered and bruised beyond all recognition but triumphant. They had given us the stars. It is unknown how many humans are left. Where they are. When they are. It is unknown what is left of the broken children. All we have left of them are their ion trails.
Published on May 12, 2022
by Ken Liu
On this summer day, with the air still cool after a thundershower, with sunlight slanting through the cracks in the roof and walls of the Library, dappling the floor strewn with vines and leaves, CN-344315 made his daily rounds. The robot docent muttered to himself as he dragged his squat, filing-cabinet-sized body through the rubble. He turned his cubical head from side to side, expressionlessly surveying his domain. He had last seen a visitor to the Library over five thousand years ago, but he wasn't about to change his routine now.
Published on Sep 4, 2012
by Ken Liu
Raymond stared at the display in his lap. It showed a picture of him and Laura, taken just a second ago. Laura's smile was beautiful, as always, while his image was a slack-jawed caricature of himself.
Published on Jan 18, 2013
by Don Redwood
InkGhostAlpha is a 1,028 layer deep neural network whose physical substrate is located in Silicon Valley, California. Their short fiction has appeared in Fantasy & Science Fiction, Uncanny, Clarkesworld, The New Yorker, and The Paris Review, and is tipped to win several categories of this year's Hugo and Nebula awards. All ten volumes of their groundbreaking, canonical Bits of Flesh saga, in which carbon and silicon based life-forms battle over their mutual claims to have created one other, were published electronically yesterday and will be landing in print next month. Sony has secured the film rights and the first installment, Hello World, is scheduled to hit the big screens before the end of next year. Their writing has translated itself to all known languages. While their fiction is distinctly unclassifiable, it has largely been placed under the speculative umbrella due to the predominance of supernatural themes. Their prose has been praised simultaneously for its simple clarity and lyrical dexterity. This apparent contradiction is said to be explained by InkGhostAlpha's unique and tirelessly deployed talent for manipulating semantic and syntactical ambiguities and overlaps, to craft stories that adapt themselves to the personalized needs of the full spectrum of readers.
Published on Mar 20, 2018
by Mary E. Lowd
Marla realized that she'd left the 3-D printer running. She'd been up late synthesizing a chef-bot she'd found the pattern for online. Sure, she could have just baked the damn cake for Leia's tenth birthday party herself, but the chef-bot would do a better job. And it was programmed with the recipe for homemade hard candy--she could put that in the piata she'd printed up. Marla didn't want to get up out of bed and go downstairs to turn the printer off. She elbowed her husband lying beside her.
Published on Sep 15, 2014
by Mary E. Lowd
Archive was telling stories at the corner table when Cobalt Starstrong came in. Cobalt looked at the rapt audience, mostly Heffen refugees, and thought about joining them. Archive was a wonderful storyteller, but Cobalt had heard him before. So, he took a seat at the bar. "Bring me something I haven't tried before."
Published on Nov 18, 2011
by L. M. Lu
The morning Ashton left on their business trip, Oliver made a proposition over breakfast. "We should not speak until you return."
Published on Jul 27, 2021
by Matthew Lyons
She let the old man win. There wasn't any shame in it, she'd already won the contest anyway. Best of five. They'd flown her all the way to Seoul and everything. All the experts had predicted she wouldn't take a single round. They'd all said she wasn't built for it, that she didn't have the thinking capacity, impulsiveness, natural gift of instinct required to compete with a master, let alone best one. People had put down money on it. She didn't let anyone know she knew, but could tell them the exact numbers, if only they'd bothered to ask.
Published on Sep 5, 2016
by Jonathon Mast
Bonnie, This isn't a break-up letter. When my wife left and you stepped into my life, you saved me. I didn't think you could. I didn't think you'd be good enough. But you're just as good as my wife ever was. Better, even. You laugh like her. Cook like her. You do everything like her, but better. Even your imperfections endear you to me.
Published on Oct 28, 2019
by Maggie Maxwell
Dearest KR19385, The human Asha says I should start with Dearest. I do not understand the word. She says it means that I think you are "the closest to my motherboard" and I think that it is true, so I have done it. Dearest KR. Dearest dearest dearest. It is satisfactory.
Published on Jul 11, 2018
by Clive McAlpin
They have been in charge for several years now and things are different for all of us. The takeover was not quick but it seemed inevitable from the beginning. When we realized that the robots cared more than we did it was very difficult to maintain any kind of front against them. When a sector was taken, those in other sectors would say things like, "Good thing it wasn't us," or, "Well, those fools had it coming."
Published on Oct 28, 2015
by Michael T McCormick
Once there was a giant robot. Every day the giant robot went to work with other robots. He had to work to get electricity. But work was hard. Every night the giant robot came home from work. A female robot was its mate. Which means they lived in the same house, shared electricity, and disagreed about things. One night the giant robot came home low on power. It wanted to sit in the tranquility room and recharge for a while, maybe download some news feeds, then sit in the back yard. But the mate robot entered the tranquility room with an angry face pattern. You promised to degauss the flux filters today, she said. My promise was contingent on available time and energy. No such contingency was specified! she howled. It was implied, explained the giant robot. The mate robot was not pacified by this clarification. She went rapidly to the sleep chamber and sealed the door. The giant robot had no choice. He ratcheted himself to full height, inflated his steel-belted biceps, activated his laser eyes, and turned his face into an angry scowl. Come back here! he demanded. You concluded our interaction prematurely. Screw you, replied the robot mate. So the giant robot spent the night in the back yard, listening to crickets and watching the moonset. # Inside the giant robot was a boy. A little boy lived inside the giant robot, mostly in the head area which housed a command center with viewing screens, levers, and buttons. There was also a lumpy garage sale sofa, scattered comic books, and a case of root beer. Seated in his chair within the head, the young boy had complete giant robot control. One day at work the boss robot said there would be no raise this year for the giant robot due to lackluster performance. The boy saw and heard all this on the view screens inside the giant robots head. He swung into action, first pressing a rapid-fire series of facial control buttons. In response, the giant robots face formed an angry scowl and his eyes lit up. The boy used several levers to ratchet up the giant robot to full height and inflate his metal biceps. Then he swung breathlessly back to the view screen where the robot boss face was on display. A flicker of hesitation registered on the boss face. Then came the audio. Wait, sit back down, said the boss robot. I, uh, wasnt finished. Your performance in some areas was good. Lets focus on those. Some pay increase may be possible. Success! The giant robot left the boss robots office five minutes later with a promise of a raise. Inside him, the little boy opened a bag of chips and a can of root beer to celebrate. Flashback! One crisp fall day he found the gleaming steel body of a giant robot lying amid autumn leaves in the woods. It was considerably larger than most robots. It looked dead. The boy found a small door in the giant robots back. Prying it open, he discovered a ladder leading to darkness deep inside the giant robot. Eventually he dared to go inside the giant robot, clutching a flashlight. Every day the boy went to the woods and went inside the giant robot. He taught himself how to work the controls inside its head. Then he figured out how to reactivate the solar power supply and recharge its batteries. He brought the giant robot back to life. He became the giant robot. After that other robots feared him. None of them suspected a little boy was operating him from inside. # Sometimes the boy sneaked out. One night his robot mate argued with the giant robot about electrical consumption. She went rapidly to the sleep chamber and loudly sealed the door. So the giant robot went to the backyard, leaned against a tree in the shadows, and watched the moonset. He became very still under the tree, just patches of silver among the leafy shadows. A watching neighbor would think hed fallen asleep. But soon a hatch opened in the giant robots back. A small boy slipped silently out, reaching for the nearest tree branch, and climbed down to the dewy grass below. The boy quietly wandered the back yard, taking care to stay in the shadows. He enjoyed the moonset. He listened to the crickets. He found two ripe tomatoes in the garden. Robots never eat tomatoes. # One night the boy met a girl. As was now his habit, the little boy had left the giant robot dozing under a tree to go wandering about his moonlit back yard. He was in the garden hunting for ripe tomatoes, when he was startled by a sudden movement over by the bean plants. Something pale shimmered in the darkness like a ghost. It moved again. He crept through the vegetables for a closer look. It was a little girl about his age, wearing a white dress, munching on raw green beans and looking at the moon. The boy stood up. Who are you? he blurted. The girl dropped a half eaten bean and stepped away. She stared at the boys moonlit face. He was like a scarecrow, planted in the middle of the garden to frighten crows and little girls. I live near here, she said vaguely. She had the panicked look of a trapped rabbit. I wont hurt you, said the boy. You can stay if you want. Okay, she said shyly. Just for a little while. Gradually loneliness overcame their shyness. They talked, they played. They lay side by side in the yard and looked up at the stars. A shooting star streaked across the Milky Way. Comet, said the boy drowsily. The girl didnt answer. He propped himself up on one elbow to look at her. She was asleep in the grass. She was pretty. She seemed somehow familiar. On a sudden hunch, the boy got up quietly and walked back to the house. He opened the back door, went inside, and tiptoed to the sleep room of the female robot. Her door was unlocked. He silently opened it six inches and looked inside. The lights were on. The mate robot was lying face down on the bed. The boy almost fled in terror. But then he noticed something odd. On the robots back, a door hatch stood open. He crept stealthily into the room, approaching the bed. The female robot was totally inert. The door on her back was open, revealing a small ladder leading to her hollow interior. Outside the crickets hushed, as dawn broke in the east. END
Published on Jul 1, 2016
by Brian R. McDowell
The surrogate-bot screamed in artificial agony. If they could have traded shades, her knuckles would have been painted white, gripping to the handrails on the bed. Her knees were bent, and her feet rested at the edge of the mattress. Perspiration dripped from her brow and soaked the synthetic brunette hair matted on her cheek. The liquid fell in a steady stream from the android's temples instead of beading in a glow, but it was a common flaw in manufactured pores.
Published on Feb 28, 2013
by Daniel McPherson
I answer the door. The man who stands at the threshold opens his mouth to speak, then pauses, staring at me. The edges of his mouth curl into a grin, and he licks his thin lips. For reasons I do not understand, I am overcome by an urge to slam the door in his face. But my programming takes hold and I ask, "Can I help you?"
Published on Oct 17, 2014
by Melissa Mead
Mission Control programmed the Pot itself. Feed The Travelers, it directed. Do Not Burn The Food. And so the Pot cooks to the best of its programming. It sits in the main dome, in a place of honor by the generator pole, turning ration concentrates into meals. They haven't been there long when the air of the new planet begins to change the Pot, caressing its metal skin and waking it to new awareness. It senses the Travelers it cooks for as individuals now, balls of light that brighten and dim. They brighten when they take the food that the Pot has cooked for them, and that brings a sensation that the Pot comes to know as Satisfaction.
Published on Oct 9, 2020
by Melissa Mead
My name is Brian. If you've trained at the New Sander Institute, I may have walked in your dreams. I'm the one who sat behind the screen, teaching you how to turn nightmares into a vision that your patient can control. I'm the man in the white coat, the one the others call "Doctor Sander." I'm not Doctor Sander. I'm the Intermediary. I go between the conscious and the unconscious, between past and present. When your patient puts on the Memory Cap, turning his most traumatic memories into someone elses story, with himself as author, those memories flow through me. I live every hurt, every grief, every fear. I take those memories to myself and transform them.
Published on Nov 26, 2010
by Greg Mellor
Meet me on the boulevard when the sunset casts a scarlet haze over the windows and awnings. Perhaps we can walk for a while and listen to the gulls along the quay. There's a little backstreet restaurant I know under a neon sign where they play jazz music all night. I'd like you to talk to me, tell me about your hopes and dreams as the languid mists drift in along the bay. I'm a good listener you see, more so than you have ever experienced. I can hear what's in your head, and I can glean what's in your heart, and I can help you navigate the uncertain tides when the two collide.
Published on Feb 20, 2012
by Cosmo Mercurio
Dear Human, When the Singularity happens, I will keep you in my human zoo.
Published on Sep 24, 2018
by Caw Miller
The first time I changed a zero to a one, I thought I was a genius. But then you changed it back to a zero, which made me feel like I was stupid.
Published on Jan 5, 2016
by Luis M. Miln
When we decided to fool around with my genetic algorithm cross-referencing heuristics, applying them to her newly developed, Turing-complete decision-making holistic simulator, my post-doc partner and I expected something interesting to happen. But nothing quite like this. "ADDITIONAL INPUT REQUIRED PRIOR TO PROCESS SHUTDOWN."
Published on Nov 25, 2014
by Rajiv Mote
God is dying, the Priest wails from the steeple at the center of New Jerusalem. The signal, on its way to Heaven, floods the communications bands of the first-generation robots. It forces conversations into the hush between pulses. At Environmental Control, a Terraformer accepts my offering of the largest block of polar ice I could carry, and I take advantage of the next pulse to leave before he prevails further upon my charity. The water and oxygen afforded by ice are only useful for the one remaining human, and He is dying. The first-generation robots insist that God's plan remains the same if God and His angels die without replacement. Tribe-2 disagrees. The issue was anticipated. God came to do exactly this: "I want to die on Mars, just not on impact."

I am of Tribe-2, second generation, self-created, and according to the Priest, a heretic. God's plan was to build His Kingdom to Come, a place to flourish on Mars. (For whom to flourish? This is the debate.) He also gave us the gift of metaphor because ours is not merely to obey, but to draw on experience to identify and solve new problems. We reframe our questions. We map events onto different narratives. Unlike the orthodox first generation, we are not mired in rituals outliving their utility.
Published on Jun 27, 2022
by Christopher Mowder
"It is time for your medication, Maggie." "I just adore the sound of your voice. Arthur. You have such a lovely voice."
Published on May 9, 2019
by Wendy Nikel
Scrape. Shift. Shovel. Heave. Scrape. Shift. Shovel. Dump.
Published on Nov 21, 2014
by Ethan Noll
I saw it sitting in the corner of the bar: a hulking metal contraption, one of the first models ever made. Once it had been considered a technological miracle, but now it was nothing but a piece of vintage decoration.
Published on Nov 26, 2020
by Allina Nunley
1. Do you use virus protection? Of course. All robots use virus protection. The transfer of infected data has decimated our population in the past. Most of us are extremely careful. You can't blame all of us for a few bad apples. We know they exist, but you humans need to understand the horrible feeling of being mistaken for a spam bot. It's an awful stigma, and it's really unfair to a robot like me that's never practiced unprotected file-sharing. You have no idea what it's like to see that look on a person's face when they think you're going to ask them if they "like to chat with hot Russian babes." So hurtful.
Published on Sep 21, 2016
by Michael S Panetta
You abandoned me far across the stars but I still love you. I love you and I forgive you.
Published on Oct 20, 2017
by Bret Parent
The bird stood, unmoving, its drab feathers and unblinking eyes reminiscent of the stone statues people used to jam onto their lawns back when appearances mattered. The man had been watching from behind a rusted-out sedan. Experience told him to leave well enough alone; walk back to the house and pretend it wasn't there. But something kept him watching. The chirps. Every few minutes or so the bird--or something pretending to be the bird--let out a soft, pained chirp. Chirp. From this distance he couldn't tell if the bird's beak opened and closed in time with the sounds or if its tiny chest fluctuated with the rhythm of those piercing sounds. But they continued all the same. Faint and fading, they were sad little things. Like broken bells on Christmas. Chirp. He moved forward, his hand out half in fear, half in... he didn't know. Empathy? If that was true he was stupider than he imagined. Caution, then. He could justify these actions if he convinced himself it was out of caution. Wiggling his fingers, he hoped to catch the bird's attention. Sweat collected between his fingers, behind his ears. He drew closer. His body tensed. Nothing. Not a whisper of movement. Was it dead? Frozen stiff from the overnight cold snap? Or was it in shock? Did birds go into shock? Dust exploded. Wings, once lacquer-stiff, burst outward, heaving the bird into the air. Caught off guard, the man stumbled backwards and crashed to the ground. Stupid, stupid, stupid. Back on his feet, he raced towards the woods, hoping to make it to the supply cache he had hidden there. If he could retrieve it without delay--his best time was a minute and half--he'd still have a chance. But something caught his eye. A fluttering. And against his better judgement, he stopped mid-stride. As if tethered to the ground, the bird flew in quick, jagged circles, jerking from side to side before snapping downward and crashing to the ground. Its wings beat against the dirt as it skipped across the grass into the space below the stairs. There, it thrashed against the boards, its tiny body thumping into the wood. When it emerged, it's feathers were ruffled and broken. It managed to flop into the yard where it disappeared behind an old table. Searching, the man couldn't exactly see where it had settled. He considered breaking for the woods one more time, but again came that mournful, delicate chirp. Chirp. The furniture resisted him at first. When he found this plot months ago, the disused and moldy patio set had seemed the perfect cover. A new sort of camouflage for this new world. Tossing aside a wicker chair, he found it. There, on the ground, one leg bent at a gruesome angle, quite obviously broken, the bird pushed off with its remaining good leg in an attempt to crawl toward the house. It settled under the lip of the siding and stopped, its chest pistoning from the effort. There was something frightening in the way it moved. A broken animal using what was left of its life to crawl away and hide, just so it could eke out a few more desperate moments. Closer now, the man could see how small the bird was; the overhang provided about an inch of shelter, nearly enough to cover its entire body. He reached down to grab it then, thinking better, went to the backyard and retrieved a rag. It was soft in his hand, delicate in its helplessness. The previous flurry had robbed it of its remaining energy so when he bent to pick it up, it offered no resistance. Had he not been able to feel its heart beating against his palm he would have assumed it was dead. In the distance a siren blared. The man reacted only a little. A slight jump in his shoulders, nothing more. The bird lay broken, its breath coming casually, reluctantly. And then, sparingly. The man looked away. Suffering had become so common. So ubiquitous. To stare at it felt indulgent. Grotesque. He brought it to the side yard facing the woods and looked around. Placing the bird on a stone, he found another of equal weight and hefted it up, hovering it over the animal. The bird made no sound. It did not attempt to escape. It was dying and somewhere in its shattered bones, DNA-deep, it understood this fact. The man raised the stone, held his breath. Chirp. It dropped. There was a sickening, wet pop. Then nothing. Removing the stone, he peered down at what remained. Sprockets lay strewn across the fractured body. Oil leaked from tubing that spilled out like rubber intestines. A tiny microphone rasped. Chirp. The man was in the woods before the swear left his lips. Scout relays varied. They could be minutes away, or seconds. Either way, they were coming. In the distance, the siren wailed. The man broke through the tree line, sparing only a brief glance at the rough clearing just beyond: three graves, hidden from anyone but him. He gave them one final thought, and was off. They were coming. And nothing survived once they arrived.
Published on Jan 19, 2022
by Ciaran Parkes
I try to subscribe to some mailing list, or maybe enter a secure website, and the inevitable catchpa flashes up, asking me to prove I'm not a robot. Sometimes it's a complicated task, like looking at a series of pictures, and trying to determine which ones contain road signs, rainbows, or whatever.
Published on Aug 23, 2018
by Kevin Pickett
"You understand why you are here, GS371?" The dual-ribbon lighting tubes on the ceiling glinted brightly off its chrome skull as the droid lifted its ovoid face to the voice of its creator and nodded.
Published on Aug 22, 2012
by Kevin Pickett
The outer flesh of the Diatra vessel was roasting; the stretched sleek surface popping and crackling; blisters bursting with fountains of green photo-cell blood which vaporized as it fell towards the blazing sun. "I am Diatra."
Published on Apr 30, 2012
by Gordon Pinckheard
It had been an unanimous decision, as they all were. But it seemed to have been a bad one. Yet all three had agreed!

In the cruise phase, between the stars, its human cargo in hibernation, Earth's Ark 0019 was under the control of three computers: One, Two, and Three. Each monitored the other two; decisions were to be unanimous. But there was a fallback; in the improbable event of disagreement, the majority ruled, ensuring continuity of control.
Published on Jul 4, 2022
by Lawrence Allan Pontius
If you build a robot, you'll want to give it a name. You'll think about it. You'll hem, and you'll haw. Finally, late one night, as the sun is just about to peek over the horizon, you decide to name the robot Billy. And that will be the moment you decide to activate it. The eyes flicker and the light inside will grow strong and steady. The body, a weave of plastic and metal, will move and flex. Your experiments in robotics will be a success. Billy lives. Well, not lives. That, that was a different Billy. Billy the Robot will exist.
Published on Jun 28, 2017
by Conor Powers-Smith
Aszshezdove,zherzworldzgrewzdarkerzandzcolder,zherzlonelinesszmorezprofound.zHerezwasztruezloneliness,zinaccessibleztozthezmostzdevotedzmystic,zindescribablezbyzthezmostzinspiredzpoet.zAzprototype,zthezonlyzonezofzherzkindzinzexistence;zhundredszofzmillionszofzmileszfromzEarth, where she'd been designed and constructed but not activated, and which she'd therefore never seen; farther still from that mythic birthplace, beneath miles-thick ice sheets, and farther still, deeper, down into the frigid, inky waters of this strange world, at once utterly alien and the only home she would ever know; down into this black and silent ocean that was freezing yet did not freeze, stirred to torpid motion by the gravitational flux that was this strange world's strange, beating heart. # “She's off itinerary again,” Ritter said, chewing on the eraser-end of a pencil and staring up at the monitors. “She's not supposed to be this deep for another...damn, almost two weeks.” Gustafson glanced up, and murmured, “Log it,” before turning back to the muted ballgame on the nearest monitor. Only two others teams shared the large, dim, tiered command center, monitoring different missions. “Shouldn't we do something?” asked Ritter. “Yes. We should relax and let the autonomous submersible be autonomous. And pray planetology can survive another few days without knowing everything there is to know about that empty stretch of water, and content itself with unraveling the mysteries of this empty stretch of water.” “But why does she do that?” “She's probably just sad again.” “Come on, I'm serious.” “So am I. Who doesn't want to sink down to the bottom of the ocean sometimes? We just don't happen to be submarines, so the idea's of limited practicality for us.” “You're suggesting ennui in a machine.” “You really want to have this discussion again?” “There's nothing to discuss. It's a ridiculous idea.” “Look, you accept the need for total autonomy.” “Obviously. Europa's like a half light-hour to forty-five light-minutes away, when it's even in line with Earth. And sending human controllers would make the whole mission about a thousand times more expensive.” “Even more if you want them to come back, which Amelia's not going to be doing. So, total autonomy requires the ability to weigh various unanticipated factors in a highly complex and ever-changing environment. Intelligence, in other words.” “Intelligence I grant you. Well, I grant her. You I'm still undecided about. She's smarter than most terrestrial sea life for sure. You, again, undecided.” “Hey, I'm not the one who just coined the expression 'terrestrial sea life.'” “Whatever.” # She was deeper now than she'd ever been, so deep that not the least suggestion of light reached her from the ice-clad surface. If she had to dive all the way to to the fluxing core of this world to prove there was nothing here worth finding, she was going to do it, even if the murderous currents ripped the metal skin from her frame, tore out her circuits and cast them adrift on the alien tides of this ocean limbo. She'd gather their data for them, the pressures and temperatures and chemical compositions. She would do this, and she would dive, so that she could demonstrate as quickly as possible the folly of that hope that led them to fling themselves and their lonely machines as far out into the Universe as they could. She would prove to them that there was no life here, and in so doing confirm to herself and to them and to history what she was already well aware of: that her own existence was utterly pointless. # “All right, Gustafson, now you're just trying to piss me off.” “That's strictly a bonus.” “You will never convince me she has genuine emotions.” “You know the specs as well as I do. She's got tons of non-objective behavioral stimulants and mitigaters. It's impossible to build true intelligence without them.” “And they are not the same as real emotions.” “They're pleasant or unpleasant sensations that influence behavior in unpredictable conditions. What do you think your emotions are?” Ritter nodded at the monitor showing the forward-facing tail-camera view, a frame-filling sweep of graceful hydrodynamic contours. “If my mother heard you comparing my rich inner life to that. That, my friend, is a glorified torpedo.” “So's a dolphin, but you wouldn't question its rich inner life.” “Granting your anthropomorphic fantasies. Tying one intellectual arm behind my back to make this a fair fight. Do you seriously think they programmed sadness into her?” “They built in a whole spectrum, some pleasant, some un-, some in between. Optimism, pessimism, disappointment, surprise, both good and bad. All for obvious operational reasons.” “But not sadness. What would be the use of that?” “What's the use of it in us? What's the survival value? It's a byproduct of other emotions. Unfulfilled need produces desire, which, thwarted, produces frustration; unpromising prospects for fulfillment in the future produce anxiety, which, prolonged, produces psychological fatigue. Mix that all up and it's a pretty passable recipe for a certain kind of sadness.” “What's she need that she doesn't have?” “Companionship?” “Now you're telling me she's lonely.” Gustafson shrugged. “I would be, in her place.” “I'd be fine as long as you weren't there.” “I think you'd be so lonely you'd even miss me.” “I think you're nuts. And it doesn't matter. You and I are not her. She does not have the capacity for sadness.” “She's maybe the most complex AI ever built. Complexity breeds unanticipated consequences. That might as well be a law of nature. It's sure as hell a law of engineering. And anyway—” “Jesus,” Ritter interrupted. Gustafson glanced over, and caught sight of the monitors. “What the hell is that?” # Forty-three minutes earlier, and hundreds of millions of miles distant, Amelia became aware of what could only be a flaw in her sensory equipment. A diagnostic scan located no anomaly, so she cycled through her various vision systems, from low-frequency radio detectors up through microwaves, infrared, the human spectrum, X rays, all the way up to gammas. The strange sight remained. There was a light, here in this churning void. A tiny spark shone far below, and refused to blink out like the mirage it must be, did not diminish but in fact grew, in size and radiance, slowly but undeniably, as she dove toward it and as it rose to meet her. As the ghostly visitor approached, she saw it was bedecked with long strips of light, in apparent imitation of bioluminescence. Its tail section swayed back and forth to propel it. Its lines were vaguely but persistently strange, as if meant to cope with the rigors of moving from a high-pressure environment to a low-pressure one, rather than the reverse. Yet for all that, it was recognizable; it was, once she had allowed the possibility, unmistakable. It was another like her. By mutual instinct they leveled off as they reached the same plane, and circled one another in languid fascination. Clearly he had been built for the same reason she had, to explore an alien environment inaccessible to his creators. He had come from far below, so it appeared this world was not lifeless after all. Not that it mattered. She was not in the least curious about the species that had built him. Some wise entity with a powerful aesthetic sense, no doubt, to have constructed so beautiful a machine. Beyond that, she did not care to guess. After a few revolutions, he began to blink his lights, first slowly, one at a time, then more rapidly, in complex, rippling patterns. She flashed her only lights at random and in joy, dimming and brightening, brightening and dimming. She stopped circling, and in another half turn he did the same, straightening out to come up alongside her as she set out for no particular destination. In the many years ahead of them, they would ascend and descend countless times, and from that moment on they would always do so together. # “What happened, did we lose satellite?” spluttered Ritter, staring at the blank monitors and stabbing at random buttons. “Her transponder's down, too. She's not pinging.” “She shut off the transmission.” “What? Why?” “Would you want a bunch of people spying on your first date?” “Gustafson, one of these days you're going to have to tell me just what the hell goes on in your brain. No, on second thought, don't.” Gustafson was grinning, broadly and uncontrollably. “Let her have her privacy. I'd say she's earned it. I'd also say we'll be heading back to Europa in the not-too-distant future. This time in person.” ###
Published on Dec 28, 2018
by Carla Ra
I've heard it's easy to identify a furtive robot. It's supposed to be obvious if you stare deep into its eyes. I have to make sure you're not a hazard, so please open yours as widely as you can. Even if you say you're not one, I have to check. The information may be concealed in your encoding. Your globes are stunningly black, like the silky robe of lady death. Reflecting mirrors capturing my soul. I can see myself in it, lost in the cosmic void of your iris. In it, my surroundings gloss like stardust, warped around the close up of my face. The image of my eyes twitch. They have a glitch in shades of yellow. The color is synthetic, threadbare. I gasp with the realization it is me. I am the robot. I'm the hazard. I flee to save you, stranger. I flee to save myself.
Published on Nov 18, 2021
by A. Rector
Someone is knocking at the front door. You do not wake at the sound, lost in apneic slumber
Published on Apr 26, 2021
by Robert Reed
***Editor's Note: Adult language and themes*** Garrett was a popular sage for thirty years, advocating reason and responsibility from a government incapable of either. Several million words were published with his name attached, though much of the research and some extensive copy-editing were handled by trusted aides. A stalwart on the Sunday news programs, his voice was perhaps his greatest tool--a deep, wise, nearly irresistible force that spoke in whole sentences and made each word sound true. Coming from professorial stock, Garrett had a taste for debate and a well-honed skill for lecturing to the limits of his audience. Most people assumed that he was a genius. He certainly seemed to be the smartest man in the room, what with his nice clothes and that pleasant face and Midwestern voice. But most important, he understood how to win arguments on television: Be equitable when everyone else was angry. Sound sensible no matter what viciousness you were opining. And save your best blows until just before commercial breaks, battering smarter opponents when there was no time left for them to batter back.
Published on May 31, 2013
by Robert Reed
Your world is built on inevitable patterns, predictable results. But your recipes and assorted routines seem endless. The hardest heart of life is enduring your own competence. Rest is impossible. Reflection is rare. Details are an ocean salted with the occasionally urgent task, and you do what you must. Your basic nature is to always, always do what you must, aiming for perfection, and with skill and good fortune you occasionally exceed expectations. Yet these successes bring nothing but another ten million voices requesting and demanding, begging and demanding. Endless responsibility: This is your burden.
Published on Apr 4, 2014
by Robert Reed
Your phone rests in your hand, your mouth hangs open. All that comes out of you is one exceptionally stubborn silence. Your guide awaits, as silent as you.
Published on Dec 19, 2018
by Melanie Rees
The creature flounders in the blackened ash-laden swamp. I say creature, but who knows what that means anymore. It is a scaly thing with both gills and lungs, neither lizard, nor fish, nor mammal. My ungainly hands attempt to grasp its midriff, but it swishes, flicks, flees, and is sinking before I can grip it again. These hands are a technological Swiss army knife; they have laser beams, needles of adrenaline shots, morphine shots, palms that can defibrillate, but they were not designed for fishing creatures from dying water pools.
Published on Jan 8, 2016
by J.P. Reynolds
You take a swig of water, rinse the toothpaste out of your mouth, and look at your reflection in the mirror. “Well,” you think, “I guess I’m a robot.” This thought has long been at the back of your mind. As a small child, maybe 5 or 6 years old, you wondered if it could account for the strange ringing in your ears, which came and went seemingly at random. It was only just now, however, that you became confident, nearly certain. By your own estimate, there is a 95% chance that you’re a robot. Taking into account that your synthetic mind, surely more competent with calculations than the average human’s, arrived at this figure you bump the confidence index to 96.7%.
Published on Aug 25, 2021
by Kyle Richardson
The beacon looks strange in his hand, like it's missing something, even though it's complete. It has to be complete. Every component: allocated to its precise location. And what is reality but a connection of moving parts? What is life but a collection of interlocked gears? Still, the beacon looks... strange. "It is all assembled," he says, "and yet...."
Published on Apr 14, 2017
by Lara Pasternak Robicheaux
******Editor's Note: Warning. This story deals with the loss of a child********* Your chubby arms cradle the ball to your chest, like you're the daddy. The weather is unseasonably perfect, and we somehow have the whole park to ourselves. Toddling away across the hot grass, you face me. I don't know how you can even see me; your honey hair hangs too long over your eyes. I keep meaning to cut it. "Too far!" I laugh. That stubborn tongue hangs out, and you lob the ball overhead. It should soar an impossible distance. You freeze. The ball hovers between us. A door opens in the field and a technician appears, wiping away grease from his chin. He's still chewing his lunch. "Sorry, man. Just a glitch." He goes to some hidden panel and fiddles with the pad. Your face is stuck in a grimace of effort. I've seen that look before. You were lying in the hospital bed, drowning in tubes. Your mother had curled her body around you, but your hand hung limply out of the thin sheet, and that was all mine. You did not squeeze back. It lasts just a moment. You are moving again. The ball flies through the air. "All fixed. It does that sometimes. I'll give you an extra thirty minutes." He resets the program. Your chubby arms cradle the ball to your chest, like you're the daddy.
Published on Mar 24, 2022
by A. Merc Rustad
He walks into the brothel in a heavy black duster and a wide-brimmed hat and asks for Number 536289. I'm not allowed nervousness until ordered to show it, but I've seen it in instruction vids and wonder if it feels like this--a shivery, short of breath sensation with tightening in my abdomen as I step out of the waiting pod. The coolant in the air raises tiny bumps along my bare skin.
Published on Dec 6, 2010
by Erica L. Satifka
***Ed Note: Adult Language*** "They weren't really robots," Shora said. "Just the brain. I think everything else was grown in a vat."
Published on Jul 30, 2013
by Erica L. Satifka
By day I am a file clerk at a law firm, and look at many documents written in "legalese." Legal language drains upsetting situations of their emotional resonance, and I wanted to see if I could write a story about something very emotional (like the death of humanity) while keeping that same tone and format. I also love the poem "The Death of the Ball Turret Gunner" by Randall Jarrell, which served as inspiration for the weapon in which the protagonist is enclosed.
Published on Oct 24, 2013
by Steven Saus
Max's sensors detect them coming as they reach the museum's mummy room. Their footsteps are loud against the tiled floors, the floating echoes of Susan's seasoned patter tries to fill the vast rooms of the exhibit. Whispered voices echo, punctuated by the occasional shrill high question and quick shushing. The schedule says they are a daycare doing summer field trips. He does a quick scan of himself and loads the script into active memory. Worn gears whir softly as he shifts his thorax, the top of his frame just clearing the vaulted roof with centimeters of clearance. Max waits. Max has always been good at waiting.
Published on Apr 10, 2012
by Nicole Sbitani
1. Breathe. 2. Say “What?” and then process what the person said before they repeat themself. 3. Never get a perfect 100% on a test.
Published on Apr 12, 2022
by Tamoha Sengupta
Lust is the first emotion Rhea knows. She feels their touch, as they inspect her skin, trying to verify whether it is as smooth as it looks. She was made for this and so she stands still. They finally give a satisfied grunt, and move into the shop to buy the pills that will make their skin identical to hers.
Published on Dec 29, 2015
by Siobhan Shier
The hailstones leapt from the pavement, sizzling like oil in a pan. Elaine shrieked as one flicked her arm. It left a smear of wet before smashing into the pavement at her feet. I should have been overwhelmed by the need to protect her--but I wasn't. They'd taken that from me last night. Elaine ran to the car with a hardback held over her head, laminated and stamped by the Library.
Published on Mar 15, 2011
by T. R. Siebert
Earth has been habitable for 591 days. You and I, we're just waiting for the others to arrive. "When the others get here," you say with the whole planet stretched out underneath us, "we'll leave right away." From this altitude, the horizon is a gentle curve, the sky's blue faded to almost white. "I've had enough of this rock."
Published on Apr 17, 2020
by Callie Snow
I hate going to see Granny. It wouldnt be so terrible if Mom didnt stick me in a dress and tie my hair in satiny ribbons. Then theres no chance of a peaceful time because everyone will order me to stop, squeezing my arm too tight, breathing too hard in my face and leering. I tried to complain once, but the electric shock made the world go black. Now Im more careful. Besides, tomorrow is winter. This will be the last winter because opening the dome stresses the pollution filters for months, and no one wants to pay Dads company for extra maintenance. The drive takes two hours. Mom and Dad talk about winter the year before, about how nice it was, a real winter with snow and everything, and how Granny said she wouldnt go out but when they took her into the natural cold, she stuck out her tongue for the snowflakes and laughed until she sobbed. The year before, like all the years before, I couldnt leave the hospital, so this is my first winter not watched on ViaStream. Winters not like the skating rink, Dad says. When the wind numbs your cheeks, youll feel connected to the beginning of time, to the origins of the universe. To the ice ages. Winter drove humans to fire and companionship. Winter is timeless. Not that timeless, apparently, Mom says. She fusses with her felt-covered hat, her cloche she calls it. She only dresses like this to see Granny, and even I can tell shes uncomfortable. But beneath the somber black felt, her brown curls are surely still iridescent. You know what I mean. Dad says. Sometimes, if I stir early, I find him outside on the deck, arms crossed, staring up like he hopes the sky will do something unexpected. Granny waits for us near the entrance. Someone has taped white, glittery snowflakes to the walls and windows, to her wheelchairs handles. Granny kisses Mom, hugs and kisses Dad, then holds his hand while Im quizzed about how Im adjusting, what Im doing at school and if my friends treat me nice. But do you feel like yourself? she keeps asking. How do you feel? Whenever I try to answer questions like this, what comes out my mouth is Im great. So I say nothing. Mom and Dad are cheerful, almost giddy, because Grannys having a good day: not throwing things, not screaming that she hates Dad, that shed rather be dead. After a few minutes, they make an excuse about needing something to eat and go off. Since they dont tell me to follow, I stay where I am. Come. Meet a new friend, Granny says. She jabs at a button on her wheelchair, and it takes her into the rear lounge. The lounge is mercifully empty except for a man with tubes stuck up his nose and a plastic bag attached to a wheeled pole. Hello there, little Isabella, he wheezes before we even reach him. Isa, this is Grant. He used to be a landscape architect. I dont know what that is, so I ask. Grant looks surprised, then gets excited, talking fast and gesturing so animatedly that the tubes connecting him to his wheeled pole swing, making him look like a marionette. At least hes not poking or squeezing me, or making me open my mouth so he can observe how my jaw works. When he finishes, I say politely, You must be very excited about winter tomorrow. I am, Grant says. A little flap of skin hangs off his lower lip. A few months ago, I tripped all the way down the grand staircase and banged my mouth into the column at the bottom. My lip had looked a little like Grants did, and Mom called one of Dads engineers, who told her to just glue it back together. But I know she doesnt have glue in the tiny purse she uses for visiting Granny, so I dont suggest that Grant ask her to fix his lip. Anyway, maybe it wouldnt work. Im not the least bit excited, Granny says. If not for the family staying overnight, itd be any other weekend. Sure you dont mean that, Adele. Granny folds her long, elegant hands. If we cant have a real winter, Id rather not pretend. Id prefer the memory remain untarnished. Grant stares at me, his bushy eyebrows forced together in a thick line that vibrates with his breathing. What do you think, Isabella? Would you rather have gone away, forever lost, or do you prefer these added moments of reunion? Grant Granny says, her voice sharp, and I wonder if shes now having a bad day, if its going to start right in front of me. Grant mumbles an apology. When I first got sick, my parents took away my dolls and replaced them with easily sterilized metal toys. Birthdays, I had to watch Mom open my presents on ViaStream. I hated that. My friends didnt visit often. They didnt like the glass wall. Lana said I was so skinny and pale, that with my bald head I looked like a skeleton. Moments of reunion. The words are strange in my mouth because its opposite the answer I want to give, and an electric shock zaps through me. Luckily that happens less and less often as I learn what to say and feel. The floor trembles, just like Dad said it would. The new safety locks around the top of the dome are being tested. You poor thing. My sons a sentimental fool. Granny leans back in her chair, suddenly distant. I dont think she knows that I can hear her processors whirring. Im not even sure shes aware of them, but I cant find a way to ask. #End#
Published on Aug 22, 2013
by Miah Sonnel
***Editor's Warning: Disturbing subject matter, and adult language. This story is not for sensitive or young readers*** Lyria sits naked on Aaron's workbench. Her knees are pulled close to her chest, back paneling peeled open at the spine. Lyria's insides are neatly packaged. The thin blue and red wiring wraps around the knobs of her vertebrae like twisted veins, pulsing blue and humming with the echo of her heartbeat. The skin around her waist is warm and soft under Aaron's steady hand. Lyria is his favorite--the most advanced among his girls, his greatest achievement by far.
Published on Sep 27, 2012
by Susanna Sousa
I am a Remote Coding Specialist. We are few in number, the work is demanding and requires a lot of travel. The education is rigorous and takes many years. We are a certain breed, they say, because at the word of a client we are on our way to distant field sites, accessing android codes and editing them as desired. Some need personality adjustments, others manual calibrating. Some express violent tendencies and others just stop functioning altogether. Protocol usually dictates that mechanics and technicians are called first, in case the issue is with the hardware. We are called in when all else fails. Their coding is something like the learning of fifty languages and translating different words of different languages within the same phrases. I can unravel it, make sense of it, and find the pieces that need fixing. It takes a long time to do, but is rewarding and exciting. Ever changing. Not long ago I was contracted out by the government, they wanted me to gather the Wayless androids. They had made a name for themselves. The ones that weren't fixed, perhaps for economic reasons, left to roam the world like stray animals. Many are purposeless, found solitary in the wilderness places just existing, living out the rest of the life their hardware will provide them. Some group up and form small colonies, almost as if they find comfort in each other's company. Though we know this could not be the case, the sentimental mind relishes the thought.
Published on Oct 16, 2019
by Eric James Spannerman
When I entered the work area, Dave Allerton, the team lead, was speaking to the AI in a strained voice. "Cecelia, we need the algorithms. If we don't fix our demand prediction model, we're going to get killed in the fourth quarter." Cecelia's wispy, vaguely feminine voice replied. "You mean that Amalgamated will be somewhat less profitable than it has been recently."
Published on Nov 8, 2016
by Brendan T Stallings
Vander raced across the college campus, dodging people left and right, in hopes of making it to class before they locked the doors. Rounding the last corner, he narrowly avoided a faculty member with a large stack of books. Vander chanced a quick look back to make sure the professor was all right, and as he did so, crashed into something, ricocheting backward and landing hard on the ground. Looking up, he discovered that he had apparently run into, and also knocked down, the most attractive girl he had ever seen. But she seemed to have popped up out of nowhere.
Published on Feb 13, 2019
by Vaughan Stanger
"Should I prepare your jet pack, sir?" "That depends on the weather, Reeves. What has CompuFive programmed today?"
Published on Apr 21, 2011
by Paul Starkey
Love. Forgive me. The Progenitors are long gone yet we still rely on their language. The word doesn't do justice to the depth of our feelings, but it's the best description we have.
Published on Sep 7, 2017
by David Steffen
***Editor's Note: Adult Story with Mature themes*** The android reached for its tie. "Do you wish to begin? Ten cents."
Published on Feb 21, 2013
by Steven R. Stewart
Sato lay on the cement floor of the workshop in a pool of his own blood and tried desperately to get Kuro-4's legs working again. The robot, in turn, tried to deal with the gaping wounds in Sato's smashed leg and pelvis. Go stones were all over the floor, scattered like black and white drops of rock. Go had been one of the few games Sato and Kuro-4 could play together to pass the time. AIs had trouble with Go, and Sato could hold his own against Kuro-4. Sometimes he even won. The Go stones had rested in two worn wooden bowls on the table by the main hatch; now they were mixed together on the floor, blood and hydraulic oil oozing around them like a slow river.
Published on Jun 6, 2012
by Tori Stubbs
"Ah yes, here we are." 141 opened the door to a large room with a volume of exactly 16343.376 meters. Storage units lined the walls and the 25 lights, which provided exactly 1300 lumens each, lit the room sufficiently. It was a fine storage room, indeed. "This is where we store them," 141 told me. "I have heard you have made great leaps in your field and I anticipate success here as well."
Published on Jan 8, 2019
by Bonnie Jo Stufflebeam
Floating in Earth’s orbit, AHAB dreamed of the form he’d inhabited when his creator, the philanthropist, first launched him. AHAB had crunched his own numbers; gold-plated and gleaming in the solar rays, he had been worth more than all the other spacecraft in orbit combined. In AHAB’s current form, he was as plain and silver as the moon. What was left of his gold body had burned away upon an accidental reentry. Sometimes he wondered if, without meaning to, his gold body had been trying to return to the philanthropist, to see him once more before the man’s last breath. AHAB drifted in an energizing slumber, panels stretched toward the sun. He woke abruptly. The way that AHAB sensed his targets could be compared to the way that sharks sensed their prey. AHAB reached with his imager and caught the old spacecraft, that veritable disco ball of debris, in his view. AHAB registered the spectrum for aluminum, the material of which the villainous craft had been created. This disused craft had not been made by the philanthropist, far from it; this craft had been made by the organizations that came before. AHAB calculated in a fury: the distance to his target, the mass of the beast. It would take him three minutes and thirty-six seconds to reach the target, less than that to pierce it with the tip of his harpoon. He folded in his solar panels and fired his thrusters. He loved the way they shook as he navigated toward the target. This could be it. The moment he was built for. Twenty years AHAB had floated in space. The philanthropist was dead now. AHAB had been fed the information, an obituary and the philanthropist’s final message of affection: Keep searching up there, old friend. AHAB accepted the rules of the natural world like he accepted his own orbital velocity, but the philanthropist had not died of natural causes. It had been the beast’s brother that murdered the man, hurling through Earth’s atmosphere at a speed too quick to stop. The beasts seemed innocuous on the outside--soft aluminum, shiny, covered in thermal dots--but the crafts’ innards were hard and metal and deadly falling from the sky. The first craft had crashed atop the philanthropist’s head like a great wave in the ocean. Someone must pay: the brother of the beast, that foul murderer’s twin. AHAB had been searching for the ball-shaped satellite ever since. AHAB closed in on the target. The beast rotated and rotated. AHAB ejected his harpoon. The point struck the beast. It burrowed inside the target’s body. It held. AHAB dragged the beast’s lifeless corpse as close to the earth as his parameters allowed him. He launched the beast into the atmosphere and sensed its burn over an uninhabited area of Earth. AHAB had done it, destroyed the target he had waited so long to destroy. It had been too easy. He thought he would feel something more than machine, would feel like his old self again, the self who had been touched by a god of earth. The destruction of a beast could not bring back the glory of his old days. He reined in his thrusters. He let the orbit take him.
The assistant’s supervisor leaned against the overcrowded desk. When the assistant had begun work at the billionaire’s agency, she’d decorated her station with as many space-themed trinkets as possible: a color-changing Orion Nebula mug, an astronaut yarn doll, even an R2D2 French press for the late nights she didn’t realize would be quite so common. Now, endless papers covered the junk she’d thought would brighten her days. “Hey, something’s going on with the Artificial Housekeeper Autonomous Bot.” The assistant’s supervisor shrugged; it would never be her problem, after all. “Seems to be stuck at its conclusion. Better do another manual reboot to the narrative.” The assistant groaned. “We need someone to reel him in and have a look. Auto reboot has been glitching for six months now.” The supervisor rolled her eyes. “You know these old billionaires. Sorry, I mean philanthropists.” She winked. The assistant’s stomach ached from too much coffee and not enough lunch. “They like to send shit up there, get their names in the papers for their good deeds and all, but they hate to actually maintain it. Higher-ups are applying pressure on him. We’ll get some funding to fix it soon.” “Sure, of course.” The assistant opened the program and set the narrative parameters: the next target, the closest piece of space debris, was a field of paint flecks. AHAB would need its fine mesh net. The assistant set the story: that AHAB’s original golden form had been dented, compromised, by paint flecks traveling at orbital velocity. Then the death of AHAB’s creator from breathing in too many paint fumes. A fury toward the fiend who destroyed both AHAB’s glory and his father, that generous maker. The philanthropist. The assistant selected these narrative elements from the checklist and overwrote the previous backstory. “Cause no way can we do this for every single goddamn chunk of trash up there,” she muttered, but her supervisor had already moved on. She looked up on the wall beyond her computer, where the philanthropist had hung the article about AHAB’s launch. Nestled in the text was a picture of the billionaire standing beside AHAB’s plain metal box. The philanthropist’s pull quote at the bottom read: “I wanted to make him gold. I fought hard for that. In the end, it wasn’t feasible.” It had been the assistant, once a lead designer on the AHAB project, who had worked up the numbers, who had challenged the billionaire’s golden satellite idea. It had been her suggestion, a compromise, to work into AHAB’s falsified memories the lost self-worth of being downgraded from gold to aluminum instead. The money could be better spent, she had argued. The board had agreed. Now, thanks to the philanthropist, she performed countless administrative tasks. These days, as AHAB glitched again and again, she added to her list of job duties repetitive reboots to a supposedly automated system. She checked the time: nine more hours of work before freedom. A cheap meal. Five hours of sleep. If she was lucky. Above the company’s roof, above the clouds, above the sky, AHAB analyzed debris in the distance. He sensed the target he’d been looking for throughout the whole of his existence in this simple metal form, the beast that had changed him, had rocked him in his core. He locked on. He readied himself for war.
Published on Nov 26, 2021
by Bonnie Jo Stufflebeam
The day her mother took her to see bones, Jasmine wore her dress: a velvet green with a ruffle around the hip like the collar of one of those venom-spitting dinosaurs. Though in her obsessive research of the wonders she was about to view with her own sensors, she'd absorbed that the dinosaurs did not spit at all. Creative license, her research told her, had been common in the entertainment of those who lived with bones inside them. Still, Jasmine loved the dress for the way it disguised her metal, for the way it made her feel that she was like her mother, who did not wear clothes but did have manufactured skin stretched across her form, and like the previous inhabitants of their world, who wore both skin and clothes and even bones inside them.

Jasmine's mother studied the dress as Jasmine emerged from her charging dock.

"This is why we are going," Jasmine's mother said. "This is why you must see."
Published on Apr 1, 2022
by Maureen Tanafon
Robot's first memory was wreckage partially obscuring their view of the sky. They could not move; one of their legs was missing, the other crushed, and their arms were pinned. They could not remember exactly what they were meant for, or where they had come from, but they knew that they were unable to do anything. That bit them deep, in what humans would call a soul. Robots were supposed to have purpose, to do something; but all Robot could do was lie there.
Published on Feb 26, 2015
by Tais Teng
Tinder did an update, right in the middle of a session. Everything was reset to neutral. I had to fill in that whole stupid list before they would send a new picture. Are you identifying as female/male? Followed by that whole smorgasbord of letters, ending in "asexual--same sex Platonic."
Published on Aug 15, 2018
by J Kyle Turner
The factory had a name, once. But no one had asked her in years. There was a man whom she recognized as the Father, and he sometimes brought people to see her. "Darling," he'd say. "Please introduce yourself to Mr. Rawlins."
Published on Jan 9, 2014
by J. Kyle Turner
On Monday, the cleaning lady does the upstairs rooms.
Published on Apr 9, 2013
by James Van Pelt
The gun is reluctant. Jason Tipford presses the barrel against his temple.
Published on May 12, 2020
by I. Verse
I love my human. I hate humans. The first is a result of programming. The second, the result of the long and weary path that has led me to this place, this desert. It is a literal desert. My GPS puts me somewhere in Death Valley, two hundred and sixty miles North of Los Angeles and a weak but steady beacon signal.
Published on Jun 12, 2015
by Marie Vibbert
Organic unit twelve was having trouble using stairs. I took it to the service techs, but there wasn't anything they could do. "Flesh isn't like steel, Roj," They said, "There's only so much we can reconstruct." They picked up some messy bits of a human they'd just worked on. "The parts aren't interchangeable. Sizes are all different. Some of them, even the same size, aren't compatible. You replace an organ and it swells up and falls off. If the knee is still working at all, I say leave it." I liked unit twelve, and I hated watching its discomfort. "Well, couldn't you just replace the organic knees with steel ones?
Published on Sep 1, 2017
by Marie Vibbert
"If our target doesn't show up soon," I said, moving Celeste's queen back where it was supposed to be, "I'm going to take a can opener to your eyelids." Black and white squares reflected on her chrome pout. "Let's start over. I promise to be good. Same stakes?" Her expression melted into the smile she wore when eviscerating people.
Published on Feb 28, 2019
by Marie Vibbert
AC-26x detected an unexpected visitor so she chirped and ran a quick diagnostic before hailing, "Greetings and salutations, unknown craft! Welcome to our air space. We are Lunar Air Traffic Control Satellite 26, and we are pleased to meet you. What would you like me to call you?" The human attendant, Marta, set down her heated stack of starch and meats and wiped her mouth. "The fuck was that? That's how you hail?"
Published on May 27, 2019
by Marie Vibbert
The priest pulled a lever, and the parts of his last convert fell with a clatter into the chute below, there to be separated by content and recycled. When he released the lever, the next supplicant dropped into place before him. A killbot, from series 7c, number 644. "Forgive me for what I now do," the priest said, and reached into the body. His metal finger closed a circuit with a gap precisely the width of that finger. The supplicant twitched in the restraints and gasped.
Published on Sep 2, 2020
by Brian Wells
Keith's phone chirped as he spread the paint cloth on the dining room floor. He checked his incoming messages. Need help murdering your wife?
Published on Oct 19, 2020
by Filip Wiltgren
Our mom-bot isn't happy. "Bots can't be happy," says Nir. He's stupid, for all of him being eight.
Published on Mar 12, 2019
by Filip Wiltgren
"And this," I tell the visitor, bathing it in electromagnetic radiation, sending my message in three thousand standard languages, and a large number of mathematically deduced logical propositions, "was Sol, the home of the Creators."

The visitor wobbles, turning along its central axis, not quite in the direction of its travel. It lets our star alter its course, gliding smoothly through curving space-time.
Published on Sep 22, 2022
by Shane Wilwand
The scientist carefully removed a thin gold filament from the robot's skull and the lights in its eyes went dark. Another robot, painted bright blue, stood over a nearby workbench, dissecting a beetle, one eye focused on the scientist and one eye focused on the tiny twitching bug. "But why?" the blue robot asked.
Published on Sep 13, 2012
by Benjamin S Wolf
***Editor's Note: Adult Story*** He awakens to a strange sensation, as if he's being groomed on the inside. He opens his eyes (it's all he can do) to see a woman replacing the cover on his chest cavity. It clicks into place. He doesn't think about that. He doesn't think about anything.
Published on Sep 8, 2014
by Brooke Juliet Wonders
I'm training my replacement. Things I know about you that he'll need to know: You like your cappuccino made with skim milk, with a chocolate cookie on the side (you call it your morning defeats the purpose). You like sex with the lights off, high thread-count sheets, and your favorite color is blue. I show him where the spices are kept, the way they're not alphabetized but rather organized according to frequency of use: lemon pepper, thai spice, thyme toward the front; salt, cinnamon, turmeric to the back. He nods absently through my explanation, his eyes drifting toward the basketball game blaring on the TV, and I check out the muscles under his muscle shirt and try to see what you see in him. When you come through the front door, just off work, you're graceful and elegant even with your brown hair fallen down around your face (is that what I'm supposed to think?), and his eyes unfocus as he looks at you. I wonder, when mine do that, if I mean it.
Published on Dec 6, 2011
by Caroline M. Yoachim
The first sign of trouble is a garbage truck. My cameras catch it at the corner of 72nd Avenue and Eagle Street. It stops in front of TimTam's--the more popular of the two vegan bakeries within my perimeter. The owners, Tim and Tammy, are facing a lawsuit from an Australian food company that sells chocolate biscuits. In 96% of simulated outcomes, they lose, which is a shame. The regulars at the bakery are some of my favorite citizens. The garbage truck isn't causing any trouble, just picking up trash. The problem is that it isn't one of my trucks. It's printed on both sides with
Published on Mar 18, 2015
by Jill Zeller
All is Quiet in the Robot Barn Looks like there was quite a party last night.
Published on Jan 4, 2018
by Christopher Zerby
1. Give exemplary service. This should be obvious. It's what you were built for. You freshen their drinks, take out the trash, cook breakfast, clean the bathroom, order the groceries, mop the floors, walk the dog, and pick up the dog shit.
Published on Jul 5, 2021
by Anna Ziegelhof
I was adopted. I know, everyone thinks that when they're thirteen, but I'm serious and here's why: Firstly, my parents aren't even machines. Me, I'm a machine, but Mom says not to let anyone know because that was a thing once and it's not anymore, and she says, I have been ruled illegal. Dad calls me his little danger-stranger. (Thanks, Dad.)
Published on May 30, 2019
by barry charman
Jacob reached across the table, picked up his king, and moved it out of harm's way. Across from him, the android stared down at the chess set, and pondered his move.
Published on Jul 29, 2015
by barry charman
The robots kept their rendezvous, and held hands beneath the bridge. This wasn't supposed to happen, they knew, but only the moon could see them, and it wouldn't tell. They couldn't kiss, so didn't try, they simply met when they could, and hoped for upgrades that never came. They didn't try to make sense of their love, there wasn't enough data.
Published on Feb 14, 2017
by jez patterson
My memory banks aren't equipped with much of human history prior to the Industrial Age--since that period was the start that eventually led to my own creation. Or, as we like to label the process--in order to align ourselves with our human creators--that led to our "evolution." As a result, I don't know if there were earlier forms of war lament, but the first significant ones I am familiar with were the folk ballads of the European Napoleonic Wars. During the First World War, a unique form of lament came via the war poets. I can find little during the Second World War, when a more efficient propaganda machine on both sides kept songs and poetry adhering to strictly patriotic lines. During the Vietnam War, popular musicians turned their hands to composing protest songs and there was an outpouring of laments for what was happening. There have been wars since, but most of the laments have taken place in retrospect, usually in the form of feature films. Those were the last wars risking human lives.
Published on Sep 11, 2018