Rated PG. Contains slight profanity, long flirtations, and excessive Zen. Watch for falling metaphors.
Robots and Falling Hearts
By Tim Pratt and Greg van Eekhout
I paused to tie a loose shoelace and a squat robot, like a dirty white trashcan on tank-treads, trundled out of an alley toward me. A red light on top of its domelike top blinked erratically. It said, in a high-pitched voice, “Klaatu barada nikto.” A small panel slid open in its front, and a pole with a cup on the end telescoped out. There were a few coins in the cup, mostly pennies and nickels, and the robot jingled the cup significantly.
“Take me to your leader,” I said, wishing it could be that simple, knowing that these things are never that simple. The robot beeped at me and jingled its cup harder, the coins rattling.
“It won’t go away unless you give it some change,” said a woman standing on the corner. “It followed me all the way to work one day, and hung around outside the door like a dog for hours.”
About the Authors
Tim Pratt is the author of over 20 novels, most recently Philip K. Dick Award finalist The Wrong Stars. As T.A. Pratt he wrote ten novels in the Marla Mason urban fantasy series. His stories have appeared in The Best American Short Stories, The Year’s Best Fantasy, and other nice places. He’s a Hugo Award winner for short fiction, and has been a finalist for World Fantasy, Sturgeon, Stoker, Mythopoeic, and Nebula Awards, among others. He’s a senior editor at Locus magazine, and lives in Berkeley CA with his family. Every month he writes a new story for his Patreon supporters at www.patreon.com/timpratt.
Greg van Eekhout is a novelist of science fiction and fantasy for audiences ranging from adult to middle grade. His work has been selected as finalists for the Sunshine State Award, the Andre Norton Award for Young Adult Science Fiction and Fantasy, and the Nebula Award. His novels include Cog, Voyage of the Dogs, and the California Bones trilogy. He’s also published about two-dozen short stories, several of which have appeared in year’s best anthologies. He lives with his wife and dogs in San Diego, California, where he enjoys beach walks and tacos.
About the Narrator
Alex Wilson is a writer and actor in Carrboro, North Carolina. His stories have won the Eagle Award in comics and Writers of the Future in science fiction prose, with work appearing in Asimov’s, Analog, Outlaw Territory II (Image Comics), The Florida Review, and elsewhere. He was a writer on the critically acclaimed console video game Life is Strange: Before the Storm (Deck Nine/Square Enix). Publisher’s Weekly has praised his “sharp ear for dialogue,” and Locus Magazine called him a “promising new writer.” He’s originally from northern Ohio. He attended the last ever Clarion Writing Workshop in East Lansing, MI before it moved out to California.
You might know him as “Alex.”