Monday, August 6, 2018

Topic for Discussion

For reasons too complex to explain now, we wound up listening to Surrealistic Pillow the other night, for the first time in decades. In the summer of 1967—the “Summer of Love” as it was called then, although a friend of mine who was living in Haight-Ashbury at the time says the “Summer of Lice” was more accurate—there were four essential albums that everyone was listening to: Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, by The Beatles, Disraeli Gears, by Cream, The Doors, by, well, The Doors, and Surrealistic Pillow, by Jefferson Airplane.

Frankly, it’s hard to understand the latter one, now. At best we can say: It was the Sixties. Drugs may have been involved. Aside from the hit singles, “Somebody to Love” and “White Rabbit,” Surrealistic Pillow is mostly full of forgettable schlock and things that sound like Mamas and Papas B-sides and Yardbirds outtakes—

Except for the last song on side two: “Plastic Fantastic Lover.” In those two minutes and thirty-nine seconds, Marty Balin reveals himself to be a genius and an unheralded prophet. I had to listen to the song twice, and then read the lyrics. Hearing that song again from the vantage point of fifty years later, it is so obviously a love song sung by Balin to his sexbot—well, except for the last verse, which disintegrates into Lawrence Ferlinghetti-like word salad. (Hmm. Word salad? Shouldn’t that be Ferlinghetti word spaghetti?)

Anyway, after listening to that song, it struck me: this is also so obviously a great idea for an SF theme anthology: My Plastic Fantastic Lover

I ventured into this territory once before, a very long time ago, in “AppliancĂ©.” I think this could be a very good book, addressing head-on the moral implications to be faced when you can, say, order up a sexbot that looks exactly like your ex-spouse...

Or it could be a big stinkin’ load of throbbing-tool robot porn, which is why I hesitate to say that I’m even considering doing such a book. I shudder at the thought of the dreck that will show up in my slush pile if I do.   

What do you think? Is it even possible to do such a book without going off into skanky roboporn territory?

The lines are now open. Let the arguments begin.  


Gary said...

LOL! Screams "multiple markets" to me. :-)

A.G. Carpenter said...

Specifying no erotica, and citing other old/rebooted/recent examples like Westworld as an exploration of the relationship between machine and human and machines who can behave and evolve (mentally and emotionally) like humans would probably help keep the slushpile interesting without delving into porn. (At least for those who read the guidelines.)

Could also approach the idea from the perspective of people who don't always feel like people. (I think Chuck Tingle's son has said that his father's attraction to objects as partners in his fiction is due in part to a disconnect with what is touted as "normal" human interaction.) So, if a character were having trouble connecting or relating to other humans, they might turn to something that has better defined rules for interaction - i.e. a robot.

Mark Keigley said...

I almost hate sayin' it, but I gots an idea for this one... ack, is this a confession I really want to make?