Plugs

Susannah Mandel’s short story “The Monkey and the Butterfly” is in Shimmer #11. She also has poems in the current issues of Sybil’s Garage, Goblin Fruit, and Peter Parasol.

Jonathan Wood’s story “Notes on the Dissection of an Imaginary Beetle” from Electric Velocipede 15/16 is available online.

Read Rudi’s story “Detail from a Painting by Hieronymus Bosch” at Behind the Wainscot.

Ken Brady’s latest story, “Walkers of the Deep Blue Sea and Sky” appears in the Exquisite Corpuscle anthology, edited by Jay Lake and Frank Wu.

The Mad Scientist Builds a Substitute

by David

Success! The Mad Scientist had to admit she looked good. All available images of the original had been input to a sophisticated CGI program written for the purpose in the waiting rooms of congressional offices. (He’d already begun lobbying for android rights.) Her metal skin captured the hues of the original; he had even reproduced the dear blemishes he remembered so well. As for proportions, and the distribution of synthetic hair, few nude photographs existed. Newly crafted methods of psychiatric self-interrogation had brought forth all available memories. (A paper describing the technique would net him a Ph.D. in psychiatry.) He had striven, in the main successfully, to refrain from changing physical features he’d thought less than ideal in the original. He had consulted with those who knew her well, pretending to be creating a sculpture. Alas, responses were not to the point.

“She’s dead,” her mother said. “We all appreciate your efforts, but you must move on.”

Her brother. “It’s a little obsessive. She was my sister, but find somebody new, for your own sake.”

His best friend. Mad scientists do not have best friends. Laboratory assistants do not speak freely. Ultimately, he had to go with his instincts, so he made the left breast just a little bit smaller and perhaps infinitesimally more symmetrical.

Too much of the relevant literature and his own bitter experience with cloning warned him that any attempt to reconstruct her personality would lead to disaster. He was quite prepared to “go with the flow” here. He instilled some basic ethical principles and personality traits, as well as a familiarity with recent history, the arts, and historical trends. Personal integrity and high sex drive. Every imagined contingency had been prepared for, yet the unforeseen could still happen. She could leave him. Even worse, she could stay, but be unattractive to him. He booted up her system.

At first things went really well. Of course there were problems. The new version just did not like scrambled eggs. Her “digestion” produced some unexpected odors. They adjusted. She was, perhaps, a little too strong and had to exercise restraint in the kitchen (“Crockery’s cheap, Dear.”), and of course in bed. Fortunately, this was not difficult. She was witty, attentive, even-tempered, eager to help out in the lab. In short, the perfect mate for a mad scientist. But things came to a head at Thanksgiving.

He squeezed her shoulder. “It’s time.”

She sighed and laid down her magazine. “Can’t we wait till next year?”

“You have to meet our family sometime.”

The end

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