I am honored to have Jillian Boyd as my guest today, she is an amazing editor and writer…simply out of this world!!! Without hesitation, here she is:
I adore sci-fi. Like, really blimmin’ adore it. It’s a genre with a seemingly endless scope, a genre that fits in with many of the other genres I’ve come to love as a reader. A space station romance? You got it. A terrifying, unknown creature from a distant planet, stalking unsuspecting victims? Shut up and take my money. Space westerns? Curse your sudden yet inevitable betrayal! Ahem.
But for me as a writer, sci-fi has always felt a bit like both a gift and a curse. You have the whole universe to play with. To shape and manifest your wildest dreams and most horrid nightmares in whatever pocket of time and space you want it to be set. It’s such an immense power… and I had somehow managed to convince myself that sci-fi was way, WAY beyond what I was capable of writing.
So when House of Erotica posted a call for submissions for a sci-fi erotica themed anthology, I spent a good while dismissing it. I could do erotica, of course – it’s all I’ve been blimmin’ doing for the past three years. But my strengths lie in contemporary erotica! I can’t do genre like that!
I repeated those two sentences in my head for about a month. And then I had a thought.
Earlier in the year, I went to see a movie called Ex Machina. It tells the story of a programmer who is invited by his employer to administer the Turing test to an android with artificial intelligence. The movie is, in essence, a three-hander between the programmer, the employer and the android, named Ava.
I was quite taken by the movie, and the basic idea of someone being asked to administer a Turing test (in the end, I was also inspired by the similar, but fictional Voigt-Kampff test from Blade Runner) to an AI android stuck in my head. Also, around that time, the British TV channel Channel 4 was in the early stages of promotion for a series called Humans – it’s not where I got the title of the story from, but the notion of a parallel present in which AI androids are mass-marketed as home help blended in with the Turing test idea.
Maybe… just maybe… I could actually write something that wasn’t in my safe contemporary erotica comfort zone?
The end result is a story called Human. It’s set in the very near future, just 20 years from now. No utopian society, no dystopian destruction. It’s London as we know it now, but the technology has advanced. London has always felt a bit lonely to me – I’ve lived here for three years now and I can testify to the fact that you can easily go an entire day without having a conversation with anyone. I tapped in to that feeling of loneliness for my main character, a robotics engineer named Kit Calhoun.
A kid of parents from my generation, she got into science and robotics due to her innate sense of curiosity. She wants to help technology evolve, but is frustrated that things are evolving so quickly without her having been a part of it. It’s a feeling that, even though this story is set in the near future, is occurring to plenty of 80s and 90s kids right now – the last generation before the internet became such an intrinsic part of our lives. Kit, like me, often finds solace in the things she remembers from growing up, like repeats of old TV shows she used to watch, and big bowls of cheesy pasta.
When she gets called to the offices of George Adaire, a brilliant young scientist who, a year before the story is set, was one of the people involved in a terrifying accident in the (at that point in time) disused Piccadilly Circus underground station, Kit is surprised to find out that George wants her help on a personal project he’s developing in secret…
“February 18th, 2035. National Cyber Line London, basement vaults. My name is Kathleen Dale Calhoun, employee of In Media Res Technology London. This is session one of a proposed seven sessions with the fully humanoid android named ADI-208X, in which I will attempt to determine whether this prototype could, one day, be mass-produced as a viable sexual surrogate, either on its own, or via allowing its users to physically and mentally link up with the specimen and conduct full physical relationships with their partners using the specimen as a middle-man. Well, middle-bot, really.”
Kit flicked her hand and adjusted the hover cam, bringing George into view. He gave a small, silly wave, leaving her repressing the urge to giggle.
“I will be assisting Mr. George Adaire, as it is his creation, and hopefully we can make this project work as well as he has intended it to. All progress will be filmed by hover cams, with footage to be used as evidence, if need be. The first six sessions will focus on seeing whether ADI-208X can viably function on its own, with the focus shifting towards the neuro-link set up at the end of the proposed set.”
One finger-click later and the camera whirred as it shut down and descended onto the table. Kit grabbed the cam and followed George down the hallway. In the basement vaults, where George had his own experiment room, state-of-the-art LED Plus lights tinged the white walls a pleasant shade of soft blue. They hummed as they made their way to a door at the end of the corridor, marked with the word ADAIRE on a small gilt plaque.
One hand scan later, Kit stepped into the room and came face to face with what she’d only seen on blueprints so far. Instinctively, she grabbed on to the nearest stable object she could find for support… which, in situation, happened to be George’s shoulder.
“Kit Calhoun, meet ADI-208X. And maybe hold on to the table instead of my shoulder… you’re squeezing a bit tightly.”
“Oh,” she breathed, retracting her hand and unconsciously rubbing her fingers as she took in the sight in front of her. “Sorry.”
She turned to him just in time to see his own hand lingering on the shoulder she had touched, a breath hanging in the air. Then he continued.
“In the file you were given, you should be able to find most of the important technical information. Speech patterns, voice recognition, skin materials and so forth. You clearly know how to work a hover cam, so any information that somehow doesn’t make it on to your notes, you’ll be able to access via recording – these ones download directly onto any attached computer system, so you’ll be able to keep recording for… well, quite some time. I’ll be in the next room, observing on the monitors, and I also have the controls to the polygraph. If you need any assistance from me or sense that something’s going wrong – or even if you feel like you can’t go on with this – there’s a button under the table. Push it, and I’ll come.”
Kit nodded, trying to ignore the flutter in the pit of her belly, the little devil on her shoulder that chirped you don’t have a clue what you’re doing in her ear. Her palms felt sweaty and she almost, almost whimpered for George to please just stay in the room. Almost. Because deep down, she did know what she was doing. And she knew that she was about to do it damn well, too.
“Booting up specimen. He should be online in a few seconds.”
George’s voice crackled over the intercom. She could practically hear him grin in the other room. And he had every reason to. Because not two seconds later, ADI-208X hummed to life in front of her own eyes.
“Good morning. I am ADI-208X. What’s your name, miss?”
I.Lover – a sexy sci-fi erotica anthology from House of Erotica. Five scintillating science fiction erotica stories, spanning across galaxies and times for your pleasure. The future is bright. The future is erotic.
Featuring stories from Jillian Boyd, Jessica Taylor, Jim Lyon, John Bauer and Helen J. Perry.
Buy I.Lover from the following places:
Jillian is awesome, and will give copies away of I.Lover and Flappers, Jazz and Valentino! Answer this question: Who plays the part of the android Ava in the movie Ex Machina, the movie she saw? Leave your answers in the comments, first and second commenters will get a copy of one anthology. Third time is a charm, so I will give away a copy of Spy Games to the third commenter! Good luck!!!