Set in a near-future LA, a man falls in love with a beautiful androidbut when she is kidnapped and sold piecemeal on the black market, he must track down her parts to put her back together.
Bad luck for Eliot Lazar, he fell in love with an android, a beautiful C-900 named Iris Matsuo. That's the kind of thing that can get you killed in late 21th century Los Angeles or anywhere else for that matter – anywhere except the man-made island of Avernus, far out in the Pacific, which is where Eliot and Iris are headed once they get their hands on a boat. But then one night Eliot knocks on Iris's door only to find she was kidnapped, chopped up, sold for parts.
Unable to move on and unwilling to settle for a woman with a heartbeat, Eliot vows to find the parts to put Iris back together againand to find the sonofabitch who did this to her and get his revenge.
With a determined LAPD detective on his trail and time running out in a city where machines and men battle for control, Eliot Lazar embarks on a bloody journey that will take him to the edge of a moral precipice from which he can never return, from which mankind can never return.
Judd Trichter's Love in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction is a science fiction love story that asks the question, how far will you go to save someone you love?
|Publisher:||St. Martin's Press|
|Product dimensions:||6.20(w) x 9.30(h) x 1.20(d)|
About the Author
An alumnus of Yale University and the Horace Mann School in the Bronx, JUDD TRICHTER worked as a child actor in the film BIG and many other TV and theatrical productions. His first published work was a column called "Filth" written for the Idiot Magazine and later for Tucker Max's Rudius Media. He has written a TV pilot for Lawrence Bender/Fox TV, interviewed fighters for a boxing magazine, and directed the short film "Damn You Stephen Hawking." He currently resides in Los Angeles.
Read an Excerpt
Love in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction
By Judd Trichter
St. Martin's PressCopyright © 2015 Judd Trichter
All rights reserved.
Heartbeats and Spinners
A rusted scaffold from a long-abandoned restoration project twists about the charred ruins of the Hollywood sign. It rattles as a flying train arcs over the hills and plunges into the vast iridescence of a damp L.A. night.
Eliot Lazar lies beside Iris Matsuo on a slant of undergrowth beneath the blackened H. His hair is mussed, his body thin, his chapped lips default to a grateful smile. With his left hand, he rubs the pain in his right shoulder where a prosthetic has replaced the arm that was mangled in an explosion when he was young. It's a well-made arm, smart metal amalgam—you'd never know it's mechanical if not for the scar on his back that marks the border between the part of Eliot that's metal and the rest that's made of flesh.
"The island formed from a volcano that erupted in the Pacific," he tells her. "People came for the black-sand beaches and the surf. Heartbeats and spinners cultivated the land. They built windmills and dams and solar roofs for juice. They planted orchards and palm trees. They coded hemp to grow synth-skin. They imported gen-modded livestock to trim the blue-green fields."
"What kind of livestock?"
"Some cross between a goat and a sheep. My mom says it's got a goat's face, but it's furry like a sheep."
"You mean woolly."
"Right. Woolly. Whatever."
"Tell me more." She hangs on his every word describing Avernus, an island he has never seen—she knows he has never seen it—though she likes to hear him describe it.
"And the Avernians share everything. All property is communal. They trade with the ships passing along the cargo routes. And if the ships won't trade, the Avernians attack."
"Just like 'em," he tells her. "And at night, they camp along the cliffs and bang drums around a fire. They sacrifice their woolly goats. They eat a big feast and sing and dance and drink rum 'til the morning comes."
A locket hangs loosely from her neck. The oval stone is brown with a red fleck on the edge, an echo of the red flaw in her left eye. Otherwise, you'd never know Iris isn't a heartbeat. You never can tell with these late-model androids, not unless you're looking at their outlet navels or feeling their wrists for a spinning engine pulse. But the red flaw gives her away. Some bot fucked up on a Hasegawa assembly line and the C-900 got stuck with it. The flaw became her namesake, Iris, she likes to joke, like a Dalmatian named Spot.
"They have a leader called the Admiral," he tells her, "who doesn't allow any tourists. No runways for a plane to land. You can't dock at the port unless you're invited or taking cover from a storm."
"But you're invited," Iris reminds him. "Your mother invited you."
"She said I can work on the boats, and you can teach an art class."
"She said that?"
"She said they need an art teacher at the school. Someone to teach the kids how to draw and paint and sculpt."
"You told your mother about me?"
"Not everything. Not on a brane. Not when someone could be listening."
Lying on her side, she stares out past her feet across the valley where the police floaters and drones hover over Hollywood. "I always wanted to teach children," she says, "ever since I first came out of the factory. I always wanted to see the world through a child's eyes."
"And we'd be safe in Avernus," he tells her. "No one will threaten us there. We'll be treated no different from any other couple, and we'll be together so much you'll be sick of me."
"I'm sick of you now."
She smiles, and he kisses her thinking, I had heard about love, I had read what the authors and poets wrote about it, but I never expected it to happen to me. The relentless force of it pulling me by my back teeth toward another being. In thirty years, I neither expected nor sought love, but it came to me nonetheless, despite my having done nothing to earn or deserve it. It came like some grand inheritance from a relative I never knew, and now I couldn't imagine life without it. I wouldn't want to. I have seen the world with love, and I have seen the world without it, and I have made my choice in which world I want to live.
"Now all we need is a boat," she says.
A stick breaks in the bushes. Their bodies tense until they see the coyote's eyes. The animal turns back into the dark woods to look elsewhere for its prey.
But what if it hadn't been a coyote? Eliot wonders. What if it had been a cop or a Militiaman or an Android Disciple discovering us in the woods? He has seen the hanging, burnt, dismembered bodies of interspecies couples, tortured and put on display. He has heard the radio ads offering rewards for information. He knows it's only a matter of time before their relationship is discovered.
"Someone's been following me," she tells him.
"I don't know."
Rain taps on the roof of Eliot's car parked a few yards away.
"What's he look like?"
"Whoever's following you."
"I haven't seen him," she says. "I just got a sense."
"Androids don't get paranoid; we do the math. You heartbeats feel an emotion then find a way to justify it. Bots work the other way around."
"And you're being careful?" he asks.
"Have you told anyone about us?"
"Maybe you should stay at my place for a few days, until things settle down."
"It's too risky," she says, rolling to her side as she turns away. "What if your neighbors see me? What if they report us both?"
"I'm not saying to move in. I'm just thinking a few days."
The soft ends of her hair graze his face. Oriental Agrisilk, black #42. Used to come standard on a Hasegawa C-900. She backs in close to him and pulls his arm around her body.
"One big deal," he assures her, "and I'll be able to buy that cabin cruiser for sale in the marina."
"What about a loan?"
"I got two busts on my record."
"Can you ask your brother for his?"
"Shelley loves that boat. He'd never give it up."
Their fingers intertwine. His nails are pink and clean while hers are short and black from years of grinding metal.
"Monroe Extraction is coming in at the end of the week," he tells her as she turns her body into his. "I make that deal with Dale Hampton, and we can get out of here."
She wipes a raindrop from her cheek lest he think it's a tear. He slides his hand inside the back of her jeans. She moans for a moment, her eyes close until they open in a sideways squint. She props herself up on one elbow and pushes him away.
"How do I know you're serious?" she asks. "How do I know you're not just leading me on?"
"I'm not just leading you on."
"How do I know you're not stoned, and this isn't the drip talking?"
"I don't need the drip when I'm with you."
"You promise you'll quit?" she asks.
"And you'll take me to Avernus?"
"I'll marry you on Avernus."
She closes her eyes and buries her face in the crook of his neck. His shoulder smarts as her engine spins madly against his chest.CHAPTER 2
In a men's room stall at the Global Assistance Corporation (GAC), Eliot pops the top off a sample vial of cologne he uses to hide his drip. He pours the contents into a handkerchief, holds it to his face, and flushes the toilet to cover the sound of a long, deep inhale.
Ah, there it is.
The shoulder pain dissipates into the ether along with the vapor of his breath. He screws the top back on the vial and folds the hanky into his pocket. He exits the stall. Confidence restored. Ready for the kill. He washes his hands in the sink. Splash of water for the face. Runs his hands through his thick, dark hair. Wait a minute, what's that? Glance at the mirror reveals a hickey on his neck. Little hello from his android fiancée. A good luck perhaps. He lifts his tie knot to prevent the blemish from peeking above the collar of his shirt.
"Hey, Dale, sorry to keep you waiting." Eliot saunters into the showroom reserved for GAC's more elite prospects. "Let's get you something to drink."
Sally, the secretarybot, uses a cocktail wand to ionize two glasses of water into bourbon. As she sets them on the table, a smirking Dale Hampton slides a hand between her legs and cops a feel beneath her polka dot skirt.
"Why is it you left-coast types prefer your gals built like altar boys?" The burly, crew cut Texan has gained a good twenty pounds since the last time Eliot saw him. Tailored navy suit with a starched white shirt, his red tie matches the rosacea of his cheeks. "Where we're from, we prefer a little more paddin'. Ain't that right, Malcolm?"
"Yessir," says a bald, bug-eyed man in a pinstripe vest. He stands as if expecting to be struck by a sudden and arbitrary blow.
Eliot crosses to introduce himself, but Dale Hampton interrupts. "Don't worry 'bout Malcolm. He's just my tin monkey. I dress him up as a lark."
The android casts his gaze toward the floor rather than insult a heartbeat by looking him in the eye. Eliot shrugs, wishing he had taken a second hit of drip in the bathroom. A sober meeting with an asshole like Dale is more than he can stomach.
"Still living in Houston?"
"Three now?" Eliot whistles as he sits on the armchair perpendicular to Dale's couch.
"Two boys and a girl," says the Texan. "Got one of them Swedish nannybots taking care of 'em. Taking care of me, too, when the wife's not around." He winks and takes a noisy sip of his bourbon. "What about you, Eliot? Got somethin' to sink your dick in?"
"Not at the moment."
"You oughta get on that, friend. Lifespans for us heartbeats gettin' shorter and shorter. Wait too long, you'll miss the boat."
The two men met years before, back when Eliot worked at Daihanu, the company his father, Hiram Lazar, helped build. Then as now, Dale was procuring androids for Monroe Extraction. The deal he and Eliot struck for a mining concession on the moon resulted in a disaster that caused the bankruptcy of Daihanu and rendered worthless the value of Eliot's inherited stock.
"So what brings you to L.A.?"
"Christmas shopping," says Dale, crossing a leg to lay a tasseled loafer on his trunk of a thigh. "That and a new seam on Europa might have the sweetest trove of rare metals in the solar system." His lips wet and his eyes close with the thought of it.
"Well, congratulations. How far along are you on the survey?"
"Survey, Hell. We know where the ore is, we just got to pull it out the rock. I need three thousand bots for five years, and I need 'em on their way to Jupiter's moon by January. I'll need miners who can cut ice, move dirt, and break rock. I'll need construction, maintenance, logistics, servers, transport, and executive security. Might as well throw in a couple of botwhores, too, one for every two hundred men. And a couple of sissybots for the spinners that swing that way."
"Or the executives when they visit."
In fact, Eliot would rather not send three thousand bots to work on an outer moon of Jupiter in weather that's two hundred degrees below zero for a company with a safety record as poor as that of Monroe Extraction. On the other hand, the commission on a three-thousand-bot lease would allow Eliot to buy that cabin cruiser he needs to get to Avernus. It would take a good six weeks to get paid, but if he combines his savings with what he can ask for as an advance, it's possible Eliot could be on the high seas within a week. The very thought of it brings Iris near him, like she's in the room beside him seeing the blue-green fields and black-sand beaches of Avernus loom large beyond the windows of the office tower.
"Sally, show Mr. Hampton our extraction series."
The secretarybot closes the blinds and crosses to the first tableau. She pulls back a screen to reveal a male android wearing a hard hat with a bulb in front and a power-ax slung over his shoulder. His face is covered with coal dust while behind him a large brane projects a background loop of an active mine on a distant planet.
"The GAC-50s are your best bet for the miners and construction crews," says Eliot. "Their skin's made of a Bortec-asbestos fiber that protects them in any climate. Battery lasts fourteen hours. They need about four hours of sleep per twenty-four-hour cycle during which they can do a recharge through an outlet navel."
On cue, the android picks up his shirt and plugs a botcord into the space where his navel would be.
"For transport," says Eliot, "I recommend the GAC-20 Teamster."
Sally opens another screen to reveal a bot wearing a plaid flannel shirt and a mesh trucker cap. He sits in a low-gravity ATV, which he pretends to steer as the brane behind him displays a rugged mountain terrain.
"The 20 has the top safety record in the business. He drives fast and recharges from a car battery to give you an extended day's work. And we improved on the last model by limiting his speech card so he won't talk so much."
"That's fine. Just fine." Dale seems tickled by the presentation.
Sally opens a third tableau to show off an android wearing a white button-down shirt as he sits at a desk in a mobile office.
"The Torell-9 can handle all logistics. He isn't the best thinker we carry, but the 50s and Teamsters seem to work better with the Torell than they do with any of the newer ..."
"What about the whores?" Dale interrupts.
The drip dulling Eliot's senses fails to inure him to Dale Hampton's poor manners. He'd like to tell the burly Texan to go fuck himself, but a show of pride won't buy Eliot a cabin cruiser that can cut through the Pacific sludge. Pride won't get him and Iris to Avernus; a commission check will.
"You'll have to look elsewhere for the whores," says Eliot. "We don't manufacture females at GAC."
"You did at Daihanu."
"And Daihanu is no more," Eliot reminds him.
Dale stands and carries his drink to the tableaux to get a closer look. The bots move in various expressions of work, showing off their physiques, their strength, and their balance.
"What do you think, Malcolm?" Dale asks his assistant. "This look like top-of-the-line metal?"
"Yessir," says the android.
"They made better than you?"
"Don't know 'bout that, sir."
"Why, Malcolm"—Dale turns menacingly on his heel—"are you saying Mr. Lazar's bots are shit?"
Malcolm's chin sinks as he hunches over in fear. To distract Dale from his drunken bullying, Eliot continues his pitch. "All GAC androids are manufactured in-house without any counterfeit, recycled, or after-market parts. This ensures our bots have the lowest crime and radicalization rate of all the major brands."
"I ain't worried 'bout that," says Dale, pulling at the side of his jacket to show off the pistol holstered at his waist. "We don't stand for no mess in no Monroe camp, do we, Malcolm?"
"Hell, you don't even know what 'radicalization' means."
"Then how you gonna say we don't stand for it?"
The bot retreats, so once again Eliot continues. "The other way we maintain discipline is by ensuring our bots are afforded the best services and accommodations available wherever their working environment might be."
"Forgive me, Eliot"—Dale struggles to hide his disgust—"but I'm running a mining concession on Jupiter's moon, not a spa for a bunch of tin men. I'm offering eighty ingots per day, per spinner for a five-year contract. Bonuses if they exceed quota on production. As far as services and accommodations, the bots will sleep where they fall and shop at our company store."
Dale signals to Malcolm, who hands Eliot a notebrane that unfolds to reveal the financials of Monroe's offer. Eliot examines the figures and considers the split that would pay his androids forty per day while GAC pockets the other forty as a fee. Hard mining in two-hundred-below weather would require a large expenditure of power, and with Monroe running the generators, who knows how much the mining conglomerate would charge the bots for juice? Forty ingots per day would leave no room for upgrades or spare components for damaged limbs, of which there would be many the way Monroe drives its bots. That means the androids, in order to survive, would have to purchase black market metal that runs a high risk of failure, corruption, or infection. That could lead to a depreciation in the value of the bots or, worse, an outbreak similar to the one on Mons Bradley that bankrupted Eliot's previous employer. Finally, the commission on Dale's offer would only get Eliot halfway to what he needs to buy a boat that can cross the Pacific.
"I think there are labor providers who might take this offer." Eliot stands and hands the brane back to Malcolm. "But GAC isn't one of them. Thank you for considering us, Dale. It's always a pleasure to see you. Give your wife and kids my best. Sally, please show Dale and Malcolm back to their car."
The Texan smiles and laughs off what he guesses to be a bluff.
"Now, now, let's not get our panties in a twist." His chins jiggle as he slaps his glass on the table and sits back on the couch. "Malcolm, does it seem to you like we've upset Mr. Lazar?"
Excerpted from Love in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction by Judd Trichter. Copyright © 2015 Judd Trichter. Excerpted by permission of St. Martin's Press.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Table of Contents
1. Heartbeats and Spinners,
2. A Salesman,
3. The Younger Brother,
4. Camilla's Brothel,
5. The Situation on Beverly,
6. Enter the Detective,
7. Drip Kills,
8. Made in Heron,
9. Orpheus and Eurydice,
10. A Date,
11. Pound's Antiques,
12. The Gun Club,
13. Pound's Antiques II,
15. The Hunt,
16. Rampart Division,
17. The Standard,
19. An Unexpected Guest,
20. The Catch Basin,
21. Titty Fat,
22. The Chumash Resort and Casino,
24. The Boat,
25. Pound's House,
26. A Drip Deal,
27. Office Politics,
28. A Spectacle,
32. A Confession,
33. The Girl,
35. The Canal,
About the Author,
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
I thought this story about a man on a quest to reassemble the robot/woman he loves was fascinating. There were moments along the way I found shocking, thought-provoking, touching, and laugh-out-loud funny. One of the things I found most intriguing was that many of the parts he's searching for have been incorporated into other or new robots, with their own personalities and goals, which often don't include giving back the pieces he's after.
Did I enjoy this book: It’s big. It’s full of heavy, weird, awesome stuff, and I’m still not sure if I liked it. Trichter’s prose is at times unsettling, but then again, so is his story. Love in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction is full of troubling ethics that we might do well to start pondering sooner rather than later. Would I recommend it: Yes. Please read it — I need someone to have a drink with me and help dissect this one. As reviewed by Melissa at Every Free Chance Reviews. Disclosure: I received a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
Just a great fun sci-fi book. Story is awesome.