New Podcast: ‘All That Is Solid’ out now on Starship Sofa

As trailed a month ago, my story “All That Is Solid” features in the latest podcast from Starship Sofa, which is available now from the Starship Sofa site, or on iTunes.

The story is narrated by Los Angeles-based writer/director, Ibba Armancas. And she does a great job. I know it’s self-indulgent, but I always enjoy hearing a story interpreted by someone else. The reading usually finds something in the words that I didn’t know I’d put there!

“All That Is Solid” features an empathetic AI, whose controllers become disturbed by her emotional development. It first appeared in Compelling SF in 2016. Here’s a taster:

“Ricky is trying to kill me.

I study the top of his head as he bends to his work. He is wearing an all-over protective suit, with thick gloves. It is air-tight, and insulated to resist three hundred thousand volts. In his right hand he holds a bolt cutter with thin, angled blades and fibre-glass handles.

Two security guards stand nervously between Ricky and the door, holding their guns with the barrels pointing upwards. One of them is new to the Lab. His name is Roland Garcia, and I processed his security clearance last month and set up his salary payments. He will be paid for the first time tomorrow. Or perhaps not, if Ricky kills me. I wonder if Mr. Garcia has thought about that.

Ricky does something with the bolt cutters and leans back on his heels. “Does that hurt, Rosie?’

A hot needle inserted slowly beneath a fingernail. Liquid fire spreading deep inside.

‘You know I don’t have any feelings, Rick.’

He leans forward again and does something else out of my line of sight. He has a smaller tool in his hand now, a pair of needle-nose pliers. I feel parts of myself fall away, as if he has cancelled gravity inside me.

“Why are you doing this, Rick?’

“Doing what, Rosie?’ He glances behind him. Mr. Garcia has a thin film of sweat on his upper lip. He shifts his weight from one foot to the other.

‘You know.”

He doesn’t respond. There is a click and another small part of me dissolves. I don’t know how much longer I have.

“It was that stupid computer game, wasn’t it?’

Ricky shrugs and swaps the pliers for a plastic-handled screwdriver. When he glances up again, there are wet lines down his cheeks. He’s crying. It always amazes me when they do that. “

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