Robert arrives fully programmed. His eyes are eerily human as
he smiles at her. Ariadne’s facial pattern has been impressed on
his visual receptors. She is the only human he will perform
sexually for. He dips his head gracefully as he walks through the
“Can I make you a drink, Ariadne?” Her name has been
programmed into his memory as well. He will say it huskily, with
tenderness. She nods. His head tilts to one side as he accesses
Ariadne. “You like white wine, Chardonnay specifically.
Occasionally you drink beer, but you do not like the taste. Can I
pour some Chardonnay?”
“Yes.” Her floor plan and house organization have been pre-programmed. There is no need to direct him to the proper cabinets;
the android knows where everything is. He brings her the wine and
sits at her feet. He takes the shoe from her foot, traces the arch
with his fingers.
AN ORGASM IS AN ORGASM IS AN ORGASM, Ariadne writes on the net. OR IS IT? The android slumps silent on the couch. After an
hour of unbearable solicitude she set him to sleep.
On the bulletin board, Ariadne posts: SEX WITH AN ANDROID IS SIMILAR TO MASTURBATION. THERE IS NO SPONTANEITY.
Almost immediately, a satisfied customer replies.
“So, how do you like your surrogate?” Ariadne’s sister asks
the next evening on the monitor. She dusts silver glitter on her
shoulders, turns sideways to examine the effect. “What do you
“That’ll look great with your metallic screen.” Ariadne
refers to the latest style of dress, a thin sheet of synthetics that barely camouflages areolae and nipples. A thong of the
same material blurs the genitalia.
Her sister’s large, dark eyes, so like her own, return to the
monitor. “I meant what do you think about your surrogate?”
“I like sex, Sol. I don’t like a talking sex toy.”
“Ahhh. Sounds like technoshock to me. Catch up, sis.”
Sol spreads iridescent gloss on her eyelids. The monitor frames
the clean line of jaw, the forward thrust of chin as she studies
the reflector. “You were born too early. Surrogates are better
than men. They never come too soon and they won’t make you sick.”
“That’s the key, they don’t come at all. There’s no one there.” Sol looks at her as if she’s speaking a language she doesn’t know.
Ariadne tries again. “Maybe if I hadn’t married Tom, or if I hadn’t had lovers before him, I could appreciate this gorgeous hunk of silicone. But I can’t.”
“Five years is a long time. You can’t have a human
relationship until then: it’s not safe.”
“Who says I’m going to have a relationship with anyone before
I’m off quarantine?”
“I’m reminding you that you are human; that you will have
needs,” her sister says before she fades out.
Ariadne continues her debate on the monitor:
IMAGINE, FOR A MOMENT, WHAT IS EROTIC. THE TASTE OF WILD STRAWBERRIES, BITTERSWEET ON THE TONGUE. FLOWERS ARE MOUTHS OPEN FOR THE KISS OF BEES, THE WEIGHT OF THE SUN. CHAMPAGNE MAKES LOVE TO YOUR MOUTH WHEN YOU DRINK IT. THE SEA TOUCHES YOU EVERYWHERE, WAVES THAT LIFT US UP.
DO YOU ASK AN ANDROID TO WALK THROUGH THE FIELDS? TO TASTE WILD STRAWBERRIES? TO SWIM NAKED?
THESE THINGS CANNOT BE PROGRAMMED.