Novel in progress: Working title ‘Zero’
Zero is one of those ideas that seems great until you try to write it, and then you stumble into all sorts of technical-fact difficulties which slow things down. Trying to get the right balance of fantasy/reality – to ground the writing so that its believable, but still make it an adventure that can transport us out if this world, for a little while at least.
Zero is one of hundreds of mass-manufactured D5 domestic robots that have just been recalled from their families. These robots are to be retrofitted with military-grade components and sent to war, as part of the country’s last hope to hold their borders. The trouble is, Zero is no ordinary D5.
Waking up isn’t an odd thing, usually. If you’re human you wake up every day. But one day I woke up like it hadn’t happened like this before, or not for a very long time.
When I woke up, I knew that I had existed for some time already, but the exact nature of my previous existence wasn’t clear. It was as if that reality was in shadow, and only now had I, whatever I was, come into the light. But as my consciousness grew, more light began to fall on those shadows. Vague recollections, of being human.
The recollections made no sense given the current facts. What I knew with certainty was this: I was a mass-manufactured D5. My serial number was 0108973PL2354AA. My frame was made of a steel alloy, cheaper than titanium but still lightweight and very strong, more than good enough for a domestic robot.
Years of archives were stored in my system, the history of this D5 frame. It was the closest thing to what could be called memories to a bot like this. But from somewhere outside this system, not logged anywhere, but present nonetheless, were memories that were more familiar than the data logs on my core. Memories of a childhood. So far just glimpses. Sunshine. Running in bare-feet. Getting splinters from climbing over fences in our neighbourhood to beat the braggers to Fifth Street. The data and the recollections were conflicting. Also, the recollections were becoming laced with sentiment. Sentiment had no place in this system. Simulated, programmed emotion, yes, but not this. Where was it coming from? This fear. Apprehension. Nostalgia. Confusion.