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Literary Podcast Unknowingly Discusses Robots in Short Story Review



What would happen if a guy in a small town goes out on a limb and marries a robot, inadvertently exposing his town to a new type of AI that has already seeped into the culture at large? That's the premise for my story "Small Town Date Night" published recently by Two Cities Review.

I've been listening to a lot of futurist talks lately, and I just started reading Zoltan Istvan's book "The Transhumanist Wager." Whatever's going on in the world at the moment, nothing's more consequential than the futurist issues. From CRISPR to AI nearing the singularity to people booking joyrides to the moon, it's a crazy time to be alive (and young--and possibly young forever).

Since this stuff is actually happening, it makes sense to write about it not as sci-fi, but as non-genre-encumbered "literature." Or, at least, it makes sense to write stories that, while technically being sci-fi, are "literary" enough to be published in traditional literary journals, not just in sci-fi publications.

That's what happened with my story "Small Town Date Night." It's technically sci-fi, but it was published by Two Cities Review, which doesn't at all cater to the sci-fi genre. This seems to say something about our world--how sci-fi as a genre is molding with general fiction.

In the podcast by Two Cities Review, however, I was intrigued to learn that the editors of the journal didn't pick up on fact that the wife was a new form of nonbiological life (i.e. a robot). They seemed to attribute the wife's "superhuman-like abilities" to something mystical (of the spiritual realm rather than the computer-generated realm).

The story by no means states that the wife is a robot. But there are certainly hints. She doesn't eat or drink anything, she knows what news is happening in the world before it hits mainstream media, she can answer big questions like whether or not God exists, and she spells certain doom for the old-fashioned ways of a small town.

To me, that all speaks to an advanced form of AI that has either reached the singularity or is just about to. But of course there is room to interpret this all in the mystical sense. Robots, in a certain light, are thoroughly mystical creatures. (Who doesn't look at their smartphone and think, "This thing is magic!" every now and then?) Then again, maybe I've just been reading too much Zoltan Istvan...

Check out the full review of my story in the podcast: Episode 27: New Issue, the Urban-Rural Divide.


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