Letter From The Editor - Issue 68 - April 2019

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Issue 6
Night of Falling Stars
by Steven Savile
Great Mother, Great Father
by William Saxton
The Price of Love
by Alan Schoolcraft
A Spear Through the Heart
by Cherith Baldry
From the Ender Saga
Ender's Stocking
by Orson Scott Card
Tales for the Young and Unafraid
Lost and Found
by David Lubar
This is Only a Test
by David Lubar
InterGalactic Medicine Show Interviews

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-   -   -   -   P   r   e   v   i   e   w   -   -   -   -

The Price of Love
Artwork by Nick Greenwood
The Price of Love
    by Alan Schoolcraft

Part One   (Part two will be in our next issue.)

The android was in love.

How it came to be in love is a wondrous story, full of life, joy, hope . . . proof, maybe that out there somewhere in the vast cosmos there sits a benevolent God, smiling down on all his creations -- for did not God create the hand which created the android? -- bestowing upon them all the knowledge and appreciation of everything that is. Yes, a wondrous tale, that one . . . but regrettably, this is not that tale.

"I love you," Alvin 039 said to its mistress one sunny Tuesday afternoon over coffee and credit slips. Alvin, of course, was not drinking coffee. It was ingesting credit slips through the intake slot in its solar plexus. Ingesting, inspecting, recording, keeping a running tally in its processing matrix. One of the multitudinous functions of the Alvin unit, balancing the old credit book. Quite the household commodity, the Alvin series, designed to be butler, maid, cook, babysitter, handy man . . . a big seller that series, in the beginning.

Valerie stared at the Alvin for a moment, confused. She'd heard the unit utter those words before to Karen when it played with her. Karen was so enamored of the Alvin . . . Karen always hugged the droid, telling it how much she loved it. And the droid responded with an immediate "I love you too, Karen" filled with just the right amount of personal warmth. And Karen would smile her snaggle-toothed six year-old smile, and hug Alvin's carapace with an affection usually reserved for Valerie herself. A couple of times, Valerie had felt a twinge of jealousy, which she'd immediately dismissed as ridiculous. After all, the droid couldn't really love Karen. Its programming only made it respond as if it did.

But this "I love you" was different, somehow. Just the right amount of hesitation, trepidation . . . She could even swear she'd heard a bit of quaver to the synthesized voice when it had said the word "love" -- a quaver one would expect to hear from a schoolboy announcing his desire to a classroom crush. Understandably, this took her aback for a moment. When she regained her composure, she blinked and said:

"Uhm, that is . . . sweet, Alvin." Not really knowing what else to say, still off-balanced by the droid's initial remark, she added, "I love you, too." The droid's optical receptors widened slightly. "You do?" It responded.

Even more confused by the droid's reaction, Valerie felt the need to clarify. "Well, yes, Alvin. Uhm, in a . . . person/android sort of way. Uhm. Yes. We all love you, love having you around." There. That should do.

She wasn't prepared -- like she had been prepared for any of this -- for Alvin's next reaction. It seemed to . . . well, deflate. Its receptor hoods furrowed in their plasteel tracks, and its shoulders slumped visibly.

"Oh," it said.

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