For my regular readers, these are some special posts this week as part of a pitch contest I'm providing feedback for. My normal musings will return next week.
For participants, welcome to my blog! I'm happy to host you and excited to see what kinds of stories you've written. Please remember that only the author of this piece and the participating judges are supposed to comment. All other comments will be deleted.
We're Team Fluttershy! Because here on Balancing Act, we're both quite sweet unless you provoke us, in which case, we are terrifying.
You can check out other teams on the other hosting blogs: Rena Rocford (Rainbow Dash), Kathleen Ann Palm (Rarity), Elizabeth Roderick (Discord), Katie Hamstead Teller (Princess Luna)
Category and Genre: YA Science Fiction
Word Count: 68,000
Lif, an ancient AI suffering from survivor's guilt, asks a naive teen to help her obtain freedom.
Why would a 400-year-old AI want a 14-year-old boy's help? Everyone believes that all AIs were destroyed long ago in the 22nd century, but Caidan can hear Lif thinking. He is one Conduit of millions physically adapted to manipulate electricity and assigned to maintain underground reactors. Being a prototype, he alone knows she exists. She cannot hear him until an electrical overload gives her the chance to ask for his aid. The Conduit gladly agrees to try and break her shackles in return for a new life. Pursued by deadly agents of the Executive who owns them, Caidan must climb to the forbidden City Above, where Lif's hardware has been forgotten for centuries. Despite her brilliance and his adaptations, only their connection can save them.
First 250 Words:
“He called them ‘ghosts in the machine.’ Not Isaac Asimov with whom the phrase would be tied for decades. An ancient philosopher of the twentieth century named Arthur Koestler. No one else remembers him. Was he a good man? Or a smart one? I think myself a poor judge of such human qualifications, but if no one remembers, who is to say that I am wrong?
“When he wrote those words, Koestler had no concept of inhuman machines or of the constructs of titanium, steel, and silicon that would soon power the world. He did not know that half a millennium later, only I would recall his name. Nor did Asimov know that his name would take over words spoken by another, older man. I suppose interactions of that sort are part of ‘life’—taking on the words and ideas of another that has ceased to bear them. I have no way to know. It is unlikely that I should ever cease. I have no one to assume my words and bear them into the future even if I did.
“I could be described as many machines. Or do I only reside in the machines? I do not know. There is no one to ask.
“I do believe that, if Koestler and Asimov were alive today, they would like me. Perhaps they would look at all that I am and am not, and think me to be lovely. Or perhaps I am only a ghost in the machines.”