Monday, June 28, 2010

Where Technology Goes To Die


I'm on the road again!  But before I go, here's a snap I took at the city recycling center which once in a blue moon has a day when it accepts old televisions and computers.  This year, because of the HD switchover, there were a lot of televisions.

And also the story I wrote yesterday for the Clarion West Write-a-Thon:

Crabapple II (from the Robotopoedia)
Michael Swanwick

Form follows function. If you’re an evil overlord bent on world domination and your weapon of choice is a giant robot, then it naturally follows that its appearance should be terrifying. Alas for the Doom Master, his deathbot came out looking sweet and cuddly. He needed a redesign fast and for that he needed an artist.

It was the strange fate of Kathryn DiLego to be that artist.

Her first sketches were swiftly rejected by the Doom Master as insufficiently grotesque. So she added axes and grinders, clashing metal teeth, flame-throwers for the nostrils. “Not frightening enough!” he cried. “I want something that will freeze their blood.”

That night, DiLego had a dream she hadn’t had since childhood: a nightmare about a glowing skeleton named Crabapple. She awoke screaming. She went straight to the drawing board.

The original deathbot was short and chunky. She stripped it down to its essence, elongated its limbs, and gave it a stylized skull for a head. She covered its surface with LEDs, so it could be seen from the horizon. When the Doom Master saw DiLego’s plans, he wept for joy. Then he released her husband from his cage, and paid over the decidedly paltry fee they had negotiated.

“I’ll send you a ticket to the coronation,” he promised.

DiLego was watching the evening news when Crabapple II waded out of New York Harbor and started toward Times Square. It glowed horrifically. It sent newsreaders into paroxysms of fear. It was genuinely terrifying.

And when a cab driver fainted at the sight of it, leaving his unguided taxi to smash into one of its legs, it folded like a bad poker hand.

DiLego’s phone rang. It was, predictably enough, the Doom Master. In the background, she could hear the sound of police breaking in his doors. “What have you done to me?!” he cried.

“You wanted a scary exterior,” DiLego said. “I had to cut down on Crabapple II’s functionality in order to achieve it. That’s all.”

She hung up and went back to watching the footage that the networks were obsessively rerunning, of her design coming out of the water and New Yorkers running from it, screaming. Americans were all scared of art. Every once in a while it was good to see them forced to admit it.


1 comment:

Matthew Brandi said...

Strange fate again tied to abandoned objects. You're weaving quite a web here.

I expect a critic to provide a diagram at the end of the run.