I was stalling. I would have to interact with humans as an augmented human... I had imagined it as taking place from a distance, or in the spaces of a crowded transit ring. Interacting meant talking, and eye contact. I could already feel my performance capacity dropping.
Excerpt from Artifical Condition
by Martha Wella
This is a series about a self-described "murder bot", an intelligent, self-aware machine that dislikes being around humans despite having an addiction for all of the media we create.
Reviewers call Murder Bot "anti-social", although it clearly has a tendency to care for people.
As you know, I don't consider myself "anti-social". Only "unsocial". Yet I find "Murder Bot" highly entertaining. There are times when it needs to remind itself to respond to the humans, and also times when it needs to remind itself that humans want more than yes or no answers. I can relate. Remembering to interact is something easily neglected, especially while processing other stimuli.
There are also times when "Murder Bot" just wants to get away for some quiet time. Maybe, just maybe, the poor machine is simply introverted.
Not one of you was normal, I said, and I watched him push his plate of half-eaten food towards me as though he were a child in a tantrum. Yes, misfits, I said. My son gathered misfits, although he himself, despite everything, was not a misfit; he could have done anything, he could have been quiet even, he had that capacity also, the one that is the rarest, he could have spent time alone with ease, he could look at a woman as though she were his equal, and he was grateful, good-mannered, intelligent. And he used all of it, I said, so he could lead a group of men who trusted him from place to place. I have no time for misfits, I said, but if you put two of you together you will not only get foolishness and the usual cruelty but you will also get a desperate need for something else. Gather together misfits, I said, pushing the plate back towards him, and you will get anything at all – fearlessness, ambition, anything – and before it dissolves or it grows, it will lead to what I saw and what I live with now.
Excerpt from The Testament of Mary
by Colm Tóibín
I get that this is supposedly a woman's perspective, and that the best of men from this fictional point of view are the ones who keep silent, but I like to take things out of context. Being quiet is a rare quality. I'm sure many do so with clenched teeth.
I was a teenager, and I was working the night shift at a psychiatric hospital. All of the patients were tucked away in their rooms, and I was finishing up my notes in the logs while chatting with the nurse. I don't remember what we were chatting about or why she said it, but I remember it was the first time I had ever been called "cagey". I remember laughing and asking what that meant. I even remember writing a poem entitled "Feeling Kinda Cagey" sometime later, although I unfortunately lost the poem long ago.
Of all the words that have been used to describe me over the years, I could at least appreciate this one for the visuals it evoked. Perhaps I do cage myself up in a way, and even if my cages are ones that I impose on myself, I suppose they're still cages of a sort.
But with my cages, at least I hold the keys. I can choose to sometimes peek out.
We ate the rest of it in silence, enjoying the feeling of the cold morning air and hot food in our bellies.
That's one of the things I always appreciated about him. He didn't insist on small talk. He was just perfectly happy to sit quietly in your company, if that's what the situation felt like. I asked him about that once, in fact, and he said that he always thought of small talk as "one of those needless constructs we all inflict on each other to reinforce the idea that we belong".
Excerpt from Commune
by Joshua Gayou