I suppose it's silly to try to be polite to a bot, since they preserve no memories after being repurposed, and wouldn't take offense even if they did, but still. I mean, how many people want to boff Bobby Fischer? I started to feel him out—metaphorically speaking, of course—and he got shy. "I want to talk to someone else." His gaze slid off me and fell to the floor. Truthfully." I glared at him and he managed to meet my eye for a fraction of a second. Jones led me to a third door and opened it, waving me inside. I was looking at the reception area where I meet with clients. The chair was much more padded, and the desk was as large as a twin bed. He's pissed enough that you took her off-site, unauthorized—" "." "Weasel," she said, in a careful, neutral voice. "I refer you to the waiver you signed during your first day on the job," he said calmly. It's fantasy we provide here, whether it's a fantasy about the latest movie star or the front office help.(Answer: two, within the last seventeen months, in the Boutique's North American franchises.) The next guy to come in seemed more nervous than the first guy, and got more nervous the minute he saw me. "Why did Jones want to make a sex bot with my face on it? "He said, uh, he said, there were requests." "We don't have to honor every request, do we? "You're actually fairly popular at the moment." Jones gave a small shrug. "Although I don't know what possessed him to send that bot out to you. I returned to Bill's cubicle (he had already fled), grabbed a programming rig, turned it on, and switched it to Simple Voice Command. It wasn't disgust I felt, but a kind of vertigo, a queasy sense of dislocation, and in back of that, loss. "Asshole." "Carla." Jones was waiting placidly in his office. Saves me the trouble of having you arrested." " face, Frank," I said. "You said that was for publicity photos, not sex bot templates! "It's fair use, according to the terms of our agreement." "Fair use to have those sweaty yokels drooling over me? If a client treats you with anything less than perfect respect, I'll be happy to remove them personally from the premises." "What about the ones diddling my evil twin in one of the back rooms? The great 'what if.'" "Jones, you're full of it." I pulled my security card off my lapel and threw it on his desk. If she doesn't go, I'll be happy to." Even after three years, the personal items I'd accumulated in my desk fit into one box with room to spare. It was Narcisse who strolled in as I was putting on my coat, and I got a near-paralyzing sense of "Get lost, kid, you bother me." I had reset her myself, so the events of the weekend were my memories only, recorded and preserved in my own head and no place else. "Tell him I'm leaving, so I'm expecting the demand to fall off quite a bit for the newest product." She nodded, either not understanding or not caring that the message was about her.
" A mellow baritone cut through the tension in the cubicle. You know we'd double-bill Elvis and Mother Teresa gettin' it on for these jokers. "Among a certain set of our clientele." "The switchout with Mr. I assure you it wouldn't have been Bill's idea—he's been against this from the start." "Well, that's just fucking great." I fought with my gorge and won, temporarily at least. We're going out." "I'm sorry, I'm not allowed out, but we could go back to one of the rooms and—" Shit. "Open the door and get out." She—it—obeyed, and I followed, clipping the rig to my belt. The first-generation models were limited to the basic commands: . Bots have acute hearing and sight, so I knew she'd heard the water shut off, had noticed the door open half an inch. "You aren't Narcisse," I muttered, "just the reflection." I could deactivate her, leaving her a dead marionette. Even limited by the number and type of bodies we had, and with no special equipment, it was fairly exhaustive. Outside it got dark, then got light again, a couple times. "And tell Jones that he should model for the next one, so he can go and fuck himself." I picked up the box and walked out the front door, the one the clients used after slaking whatever desire they imagined they'd brought in with them.
"I had hoped you would understand, Carla." "No, you didn't, or you would have told me first." My vision blurred and went red around the edges. I didn't think too much about what I was going to do until I saw her again, standing in the corridor by the back door. What is it with programmers and little plastic boxes with belt clips? Get in the passenger side." I drove five miles to a convenience store parking lot. "Here's your tea." It was hot and steeped perfectly. " "Yes, ma'am." Her tone was mocking, but I knew she would obey. She did obey while I let the near-scalding water pummel me for almost twenty minutes. Instantly suspicious, I wrapped a towel around me and opened the bathroom door a crack. I could melt off her face over the burner of the stove, revealing the titanium alloy substructure underneath. When I thought of it, I ate; when I needed to, I slept. If I hadn't glanced back one last time just as I stepped onto the pavement outside, I would have missed Narcisse taking her place at the front desk, a bright and welcoming smile on her face.
(I'm going to try and keep this one brief ...) Many readers hold the charming misconception that authors not only write their books, but are responsible for the size, shape, texture, flavour, and appearance of the finished physical object. That's yet another opportunity for discourse that I'm going to eschew for now.) Here's the reality: as an author, I am required — per contract — to supply the publisher with a manuscript of approximately the correct length, on roughly the correct subject matter, that is substantially free from factual errors and libelous or criminal statements. The conform to the author's suggestion, except when it doesn't.
I'm also required to participate in the editorial process. Reasons why the publisher might change it include: the author's idea of a title is going to repel readers, the editor has a better idea, or the publisher's list contains another book with a too-similar title and confusion will arise.
"You would have asked me." "I—" "Just save it, Jones. She was wearing a wool skirt, black tights, a black tank top, and a cardigan—what I would wear, only shorter, smaller, tighter, and sluttier. "Lean forward and pull your hair away from your neck." "Glad to." The two words in her mouth somehow held infinite erotic promise. We're just going to do a bit of minor surgery here. "Why don't you quote me some Yeats while you're at it? She was made for sex, so I was just going to have to get used to everything coming out like a double entendre. I propped myself up with pillows to drink it, and Narcisse sat primly in a chair—primly except for her lack of attire, which made a mockery of the primness. I could even instruct her to wade out to the middle of the lake, thirty feet deep, and stay there. I wasn't horny or hot, but I was very, very curious. She's your work." It wasn't a question, so he didn't answer it.
Save it for the paying customers." I was out the door. It won't hurt a bit." I didn't actually care if it did. I could barely look the thing in the face, and I was taking it on a vacation? That was the first place they'd look, and besides, I didn't want it touching anything I owned. I could get out of town, head south, find a little motel off the beaten path. Besides that." "I can do an initial psychiatric intake—" "A counseling bot? Everything." "Sure." She giggled as if glad to be on more familiar ground, and was naked in a few seconds. " She spun and faced me, artfully jiggling things I have no idea how to jiggle. " She took the minimalist approach to following my last order, donning a pair of panties that resembled an eye patch, and then began to rattle things in the kitchenette. " "." "Bill, you high-class bugger, you surprise me," I said under my breath. They'd given her more than a smattering of my postures and tics, all gleaned from three years' worth of front office security tapes. No taping was allowed in the playrooms, a necessary precaution against blackmail. Instead, I crawled into the bed with that bit of my lost self. I did feel a shimmer of faint heat once or twice, but it was fleeting. Narcisse, however, was like a fine-tuned instrument of sensation. On Monday morning, my first stop was Bill's cubicle. "She was fabricated and tested in Baltimore," he said carefully, probably hoping I wouldn't shake him again.
The guy watched her go, looking like a million dollars had fallen out of the sky into his lap and then vaporized. But then, I wasn't sure it was entirely legal to create an automated sex worker who was the spitting image of one of your employees, either.
"Your sister says she likes to party," he ventured hopefully. Especially without that employee's knowledge and consent. Anyway, if I were looking for a disgruntled employee with a stolen bot, I wouldn't look for them in La Porte.
In fact, the major imprints all have in-house book design departments with art directors to commission paintings, external contracts with professional photographers to commission back-flap author photos, and so on. Retail psychology studies indicate that shoppers are more likely to buy a product if they physically handle it, and this is as true in bookstores as it is in grocery or electronics stores. It is a well-understood constant of the publishing world that authors frequently hate their book covers so much that they feel compelled to bring Western Civilization to a crashing halt until they can get a minor detail — the heroine's hair colour, for example — changed.