I was greatly inspired by science fiction novels and short stories during my youth in the 1970s and 1980s. The works of authors Ray Bradbury, Isaac Asimov, Arthur C. Clarke, Frank Herbert, Richard Matheson, Harlan Ellison, Ursula K. LeGuin, Robert Heinlein, Phillip K. Dick, to name a few, beguiled and fascinated me beyond description. I knew one day I would try to attempt my own stories.
One author, the brilliant Isaac Asimov, so captivated and inspired me, that I decided as an ambitious 18-year-old, to write a robot story of my own in the late 1970s. That initial story titled, TROUBLES, is the basis for my new science fiction novella and tenth book, ROBOT TROUBLES, which is available on Amazon and Smashwords . It is also available in a paperback version on Amazon in the same format as the books that originally inspired me. Below is the paperback cover.
This novella, which is my first published science fiction work, has only been 38 years in the making. The original story focused on the awakening of a robot assembly line worker model called AL-357 who eventually escapes the factory to discover a human world beyond the factory confines. After the robot returns to the factory and is inspired by what it saw, AL-357 begins to question its purpose further and has an altercation with a company foreman. The robot’s creators Luther Allison and Dr. Elaine Corkran are forced to take it off the line and put it to sleep by the end of the story.
Now, as an audacious youth, I was so taken with my story I boldly sent it to Isaac Asimov’s science fiction magazine in Philadelphia dreaming of my story being published by one of my science fiction heroes.
You can imagine my disappointment when the rejection note arrived a couple months later. However, the note from the publication’s assistant editor John Ashmead was hardly encouraging, but it seemed to make sense to me at the time.
I have enclosed the note below. I hope you don’t mind the stains as this is was kept in my files for many years. I am glad I kept it, though.
However, looking at the editor’s note many years later, I have to disagree with his main premise that a robot couldn’t have an awakening or feelings just as another appliance or machine such as a lawnmower wouldn’t. It is strange his lack of imagination considering his magazine featured science fiction stories about fantastical worlds, etc. Also, in many other subsequent books and short stories I read since his note, there was no explanation as to why inanimate objects would gain intelligence and awareness. In the great writer Stephen King’s book of short stories NIGHT SHIFT, he never explains in two of his stories why trucks and toy soldiers spring to life to torment his stories’ human protagonists. Yet those stories had a huge impact and influence on me as an aspiring writer and didn’t suffer because Stephen King didn’t add in some real-world explanation for this occurrence in his stories.
Why couldn’t an assembly line robot experience a breakdown and question its purpose?
However, when I decided to update the original short story about 10 years ago, I added in explanation and motivation of why AL-357 experienced its awakening. Once, I had updated the original short story and retitled it ROBOT TROUBLES, I was so impressed with the results I decided that one day I would expand it into a three-part novella using the first story as a launching point. However, for years, I avoided tackling this novella idea as I worked on other novels and poetry collections. I believe it was out of fear, which is truly the worst enemy of a writer, and this has kept me from pursuing my writing dreams more times than I would care to recount.
Not too long ago, I was laid off from my public relations job and decided to finally tackle my science fiction novella idea. This coincided with my recent discovery of the liberating benefits of indie publishing. There was nothing to stop me now except my own fear, but the first draft came quickly and I never looked back.
ROBOT TROUBLES is a science fiction novella set in a dystopian future where a ruthless authoritarian global elite government runs a corporate society driven by robot labor while most of humanity lives in squalor outside sleek cities in tent camps. ROBOT TROUBLES takes place in New Los Angeles, a future version of the famed city. The story’s protagonist and unlikely hero is Luther, a former infamous hacker and robot technician at a robot factory located in New Los Angeles. Once imprisoned by the government for his hacking activities, Luther is released from prison to work at the factory under the watchful eye of famous robot inventor Dr. Corkran. Unbeknownst to Dr. Corkran and the rest of the factory’s executive management, Luther has been quietly conducting a sabotage campaign at the factory for years, creating small “robot troubles” that slowed down the factory’s robot project. Driven by guilt for playing a part in the government’s robot labor initiative and feeling as if he has let his fellow humans down, Luther hatches an audacious plan to ignite a robot and human revolution against the ruthless authorities. Luther begins creating a series of robots, each more advanced than the next, to escape the factory and to reach his brother Ezekiel, an activist who has been banished to the tent cities, with his rebellion plan. One of Luther’s robots, AL-457, does escape and contacts Ezekiel with his plan but is captured by authorities. Luther knows time is running short for him as he is temporarily suspended from his duties by Dr. Corkran. After things begin to fall apart at the factory without Luther’s expertise, Dr. Corkran is forced to bring back Luther to set things right again.
Yet knowing it was probably his last chance, Luther developed an advanced robot model, AL-BR88TOR, which proved a kind of “robot whisperer,” to advance the final phase of his plan.
Will Dr. Corkran finally become wise and turn in Luther to the authorities?
Will Luther’s rebellion work?
Will the robot AL-BR88TOR team up with Ezekiel to set off a robot and human revolution to overthrow the brutal government?
You’ll have to pick up a cover of my latest intriguing book to find out more.
The cover created by the team at Word to Kindle actually came out great as well. I wanted a book cover that looked as if my novella was published in the late 1970s and 1980s when I first created my short story the book is based on.
Also, please note that this book is adult with complex themes, but it is not an adult erotica work. In these pages, you find no depictions of raw sex and erotica and the only mention of sex is just an aside of how robots were being used for sex and in brothels in the world the book is set in. Also, there is some cursing in the story but not too much. This is not a repudiation of my erotica books and past writing of which I am very proud of. However, this time, I wanted to go in a different direction and write a book that is more accessible to a wider range of readers in dealing with adult themes.
With ROBOT TROUBLES, I feel I have finally come home as a writer, tapping into my youthful love for science fiction and its endless possibilities.
Enjoy and stay tuned for more novels, short stories and poetry collections over the coming year.