[With the meteoric success of vampire-teens, many writers are trying to get ahead of the next big literary monster trend. One of those writers is first-time sci-fi novelist Lynn Millet, who recently debuted with Interview with the Robot after a visit to Foodies:]
My batteries were running low.
On a typical day, I conduct seven to eight interviews. I’m a Duplicant Location Specialist, and when I’m not talking to known associates of outlaw man-machines, I’m sleeping. So this morning when I peeled myself out of bed, I plugged my recorder into my body's bio-recharger jack purely out of habit. Then I hopped on my hover-bike and thought of Foodies’ Pump Me Up smoothie, that one where they dose the açaí juice and almond milk with Sunwarrior protein blend, just to keep the organic denizens of the Crescent City from wilting in the midsummer’s heat. Also, hover-bikes are a pain to pedal. What was wrong with regular bicycles?
About 50 feet from Foodies’ door, I crashed.
Typically I launch over anything that dares cross into the bike lane. But when I hit Andy? It was like crumpling into a brick wall. His titanium exoskeleton knocked the wind out of me, and it pretty much twisted my wheel into a U. When I got up, I fumbled for the hover-pistol that was still hovering over my bedside hover-table. His hand covered my mouth. It smelled like a library. He was a discontinued model from ’24, those ones they still made from cellulose. He looked old, but his blue eyes popped with the youth and vigor of the recently attached irises. They had to be the reason he was here and not in the internment camps on Mars. Andy dragged me along the sidewalk, past the row of hover-townhouses on Julia Street, and through the front door of Foodies.
“Coffee?” he said.
“Julie,” I said, instead of screaming. I should have then. Instead I followed him into Foodies' patio, where I tried switching on my recording device through my pants. Andy laughed a rich, stereophonic laugh.
“Please … Julie,” he said. “Queue it up. I want you to get this all down.”
I took out the recorder, then took a sip from the carrot juice a server had brought me. “Why haven’t you killed me?”
He kept laughing. “Why would I kill you?”
“Because you’re a Duplicant. You’re an outlaw. A cold, synthetic-blooded killer.”
“And so are you.”
I froze and felt the carrot juice slip down my throat. “No I’m not.”
He looked at me with those eyes. Blue. Piercing. Too aching to be real. “What were your parents like?”
“I’m an orphan.”
“Do you remember the first time you went swimming?” He paused. I tried to think, but couldn’t. I knew I had gone swimming. Why did it get hazy when I tried to think about when? “Who was your first boyfriend?”
“What movies have made you cry?"
"Kung Fu Panda 2. No, wait, was it Seven Brides for Seven Brothers?"
"What does the smell of wet grass make you think of?”
"Is this testing whether I'm a Duplicant or a landscaper?"
"What's your earliest memory?"
"I'm … on a beach. It's twilight. The sky is purple. Some street vendor is selling hot dogs in the distance. I'm building a sandcastle when the tide comes in and washes it all away. I want to cry, but a bunch of cybernetic technicians in white coats are assembling my lower half. Wait, what are you trying to say?"
“It’s OK,” he said, grabbing my hand with a gentle pneumatic hiss. No one would have heard it but us. “They probably never told you. But we need you now to tell our story. Soon,” I felt the carrot juice corroding in my stomach, “the rest of us will be back from Mars.”