Today I am Paul • 2015 • Near SF short story by Martin L. Shoemaker


Synopsis Medical Care Android BRKCX-01932-217JH-98662 is caretaker to Mildred, slowly degenerating with Altzheimer in her own home. The android is capable of emulating different persons and change not only its behaviour but also adapt appearance. It does so to replace family members who don’t have the time to visit Mildred regularly – whenever it seems appropriate, it slips into the shoes of Mildred’s son Paul, her stepdaughter Susan, granddaughter Anna and other folks:

“Is that you, Paul?” Today I am Paul.

Review I loved the notion of A.I. urge to go „sleeping“ to maintain its neural network. The story is told from the android’s perspective, so you know its inner workings and reflections. Well done idea! Also the interferences between different emulation targets where you never knew if Paul’s undiplomatic correctness would win or the machine’s care for Mildred. Introduced in a calmer scenario, it works perfectly in the action part.

Of course, things get complicate when the emulated person enters the scene and Mildred doesn’t recognize the person. This gives lots of room for relationship development between the android and the other people. Highly emotional!

One random idea: the android’s „name“ starts with BRKC which I associate with Berkshire Hathaway stocks (cf Warren Buffett); they probably had to introduce somewhere in this near future scenario yet another baby stock after BRK-A and BRK-B called „BRK-C“…

And then the last line. Boy, I should have seen that coming. But I didn’t, and the leading path towards it was masterfully woven.

Meta: isfdb. This Near SF short story was published August 2015 in Clarkesworld. It hit three BestOfTheYear anthologies (by Strahan, Horton, and Guran) and also was nominated for the Nebula Award. It is available online.



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