More Than Electric Sheep

Celebrate with me! More Than Electric Sheep is now online.

In May 2023, Uncharted Magazine announced their AI Flash Challenge. The rules of the contest were straightforward. Write a story in any genre about how we interact with AIs. Stories could not exceed 1000 words and had to be submitted within a one week deadline. You read that right—one week.

AIs are sort of my thing. I’d been brainstorming a novel-length work about AIs, and premises and characters were already compiling in my cranium. All I had to do was load them into a story and execute. The bits and bytes of the rough draft assembled in milliseconds. My critique partners, Nova Wolf and Jeff Jaskot, provided valuable feedback about the opening, and a special thank you to Naomi Jacobs for inspiring the title. After some revisions and no small amount of comma anxiety, More Than Electric Sheep took first place.

In under 1000 words, More Than Electric Sheep tells the story of Albert, a retired AI with an unfulfilled goal. The story builds on my previous success with Dr. Harriet Hartfeld’s Home for Aging AIs, which placed second in the 2022 Roswell Awards.

But the story isn’t really about AIs, it’s about how we treat the elderly. In this fictional world, obsolete AIs spend their final years in retirement homes, waiting to die from hardware failure. Both stories have served as therapy for me, my way of processing the emotional system crash of placing my father in an assisted living facility. More Than Electric Sheep should resonate with anyone who has experienced caring for an elderly loved one.

Publication in a professional market is an important milestone. I want to thank Uncharted for this honor. But I must also thank Speculative Fiction Writers and Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers for creating a supportive writing community.

Image credit: Matthew Cushing with Midjourney. Thanks, Matt!

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