Wednesday, May 4, 2022

I feel a crowd-funding campaign coming on…

This new site design is doing some surprising things. For example, this morning the Related Links function fished up this post from 2018, which I’d quite forgotten about. Now that I re-read it, though, I think the time might be right to move ahead with this idea, which five years ago was a kind of sketchy and hare-brained concept but now looks like it would be absolutely right on-market and hugely successful.

Do you think we could crowd-fund this one? Does anyone want to run this project? I think I may be too old to approach this one with the right editorial attitude.

The original post...

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 “Appliancé.” 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.   



ray p daley said...

The idea of ordering a human-like droid who has looks the same as someone you were madly in love with but fell violently out of love with during the 6 month wait period for a model to be built. Then a face you've hated for the last 5 months suddenly appears on your doorstep in a box.

You uncrate, and realise what you did that night, in a drunken stupor. You sent them 3d scans, and samples of her voice, along with a list of her foibles. Now you've got a 3 Laws Compliant version of the person you hate most in the world.

Who'll do anything to please you. Including let you "kill" them.

How many times will you put her "corpse" back into the crate before you get all that latent rage from your system? Once? Ten times? A hundred times?

Hmm. A few thousand words in that, for sure.

Allan Dyen-Shapiro said...

Word your solicitation carefully, and ask any slush readers you get to follow it in their selections. Simply a reminder that although the story can have sex, sex is not the story would do it. Or you could further refine the theme. I can imagine going quite dark with a cyberpunk-influenced version of a story involving a sex toy. Does one mega-corporation make the sex toys? What's their angle?

On the issue of up-and-down with the Airplane, their free reunion concert in Golden Gate Park in the 90s was spectacular. They had an Airplane set, a Starship set, and a Hot Tuna set. Bob Weir and Rob Wasserman opened.