Monday, August 29, 2011
Guess the Plot
1. When you're an editor, is there really any other kind?
2. Charlie, the lonely school geek, builds a beautiful robot companion to hang out with. When she develops an independent streak that he never programmed, he's not sure whether to press her off-switch or try to win her silicon heart.
3. Shy, geeky nerd Grover Washington hides in class, gets straight As and is routinely given wedgies by classmates. If only he were like Stormward, the Blood elf he plays in World of Warcraft where he's in a guild with Horace the Dwarf and Meg the Gnome. When he learns that they're in his math class, will hilarity ensue?
4. Cassia's father gives her the best birthday present ever: Annie, an android friend. When Annie protects Cassia from a bird attack, instead of fleeing as it was programmed to do, the android's inventor wants to dismantle it. Ha! Over Cassia's dead body!
5. It's the answer to the prayers of sad and lonely people everywhere: robots programmed to become their best friends! Roy's Robotics thinks they have a surefire winner on their hands. Then someone turns on the robots in the factory. And they all befriend each other.
6. Lonely programmer Wesley Walters invents the Friend3000, a robot with artificial intelligence that is a boon to the detached and disaffected. All is well-- until the Friend3000 wins the Republican nomination for president.
Dear Evil Editor,
When Cassia first meets ANNIE, her initial reaction is delight – not only did her absentminded father finally remember her birthday, he has given her a wonderful present. ANNIE is the latest prototype of the android FRIENDs, whose friendship "lasts forever", the perfect gift for a girl with few friends.
However, a freak accident at the park soon changes Cassia's joy to concern, not for herself but for ANNIE. As a prototype, ANNIE's primary programming should have sent the android away from danger, [;] instead she protected the girl from an attack of genetically altered birds. [Even if Cassia somehow knows the birds have been genetically altered, it's not clear in what way. Maybe they should be described as vicious or savage or monstrous or malevolent. Or birds that make Hitchcock's look like lovebirds.] The daughter of a scientist who works on androids, Cassia knows such programming cannot malfunction without shutting down the android itself.
What allowed ANNIE to override that programming? Cassia is not the only one who wants the answer to this question. Branston, the mysterious inventor of FRIENDs, [Mysterious in that he has only one name.] [Instead of Branston call him Brainstorm. Sounds more like a supervillain.] plans to investigate the matter thoroughly, even if it means dismantling the android. However, Cassia won't let someone [anyone] destroy ANNIE, not after what happened, and certainly not without a fight.
At 58,000 words, Artificial Friendship is a science fiction novel for teens. The completed manuscript is available upon request. Thank you for considering my work.
A nice query. To me it sounds like middle grade, even if Cassia's older, but of course I don't have the whole plot.
Perhaps the bird attack could be called an incident or an occurrence rather than an accident. And how much danger are these birds to an android?
If I invented an android friend, and I had to choose between programming it to handle danger by protecting its owner or by fleeing, I'm not sure how I'd justify choosing flight. Does this so-called "friend" also bully Cassia and steal her boyfriend?
I realize Annie's a prototype, but it's being given to a kid. It should be programmed to act like a friend forever, not a self-absorbed coward. What is Brainstorm's sales pitch when he sells Annie to Cassia's father? "It's just like the version that'll be in Best Buy, except I've programmed it to run away anytime your daughter is in danger."?
Now, if the android were programmed not to hurt humans, but shoved down a kid who was bullying Cassia, that would be a more controversial flaw. True, any flaw could mean there are others, but dismantling the kid's friend because it saved her from being pecked to death by ferocious finches? Not good.