Escape Pod 826: This Is Our Get-Along Brainship


This Is Our Get-Along Brainship

by Kristen Koopman

The brainship Coraje spent its captain’s first walkthrough determinedly ignoring the anomalous sensor data, cold spots, plumbing breakdowns, and spots of visual noise in the hopes that if it just tried hard enough to not believe in ghosts, the ghost would go away.

The ghost did not agree. As Captain Salas and First Mate Teixeira came aboard the Coraje for the first time since the operating consciousness’s installation, the lights frantically flickered on the bridge. The Coraje took two-thirds of a second to clamp down on the behavior—just long enough to translate the flickering, in binary machine-code, into the text characters for “I’M STILL HERE.”

The Coraje hated the fucking ghost. Or would, if it believed ghosts existed.

“There are still a few…bugs to work out,” said Officer Tjin-A-Djie, the technician leading the Coraje’s retrofit, squinting into the flickering lights. “The damage from the Slip was extensive, and without scooping everything out and starting entirely from scratch—”

“The operating consciousness has been entirely replaced and the ship’s been renamed,” said Captain Salas, her voice mild and her jaw tight. “That doesn’t count as ‘from scratch’?”

The lights began blinking in the hallway outside, where the Coraje‘s attention had lapsed, still in the same pattern. The Coraje added the programming for those lights to its active code processing and tried to ignore the hallway’s petulant temperature drop of ten degrees in response.

“The shell is the same,” Tjin-A-Djie said absently, turning her attention data readout. “Same machinery, same shipbody—”

“Never mind,” First Mate Teixeira said, as Captain Salas’s face did something complicated that the Coraje couldn’t decipher.

The Coraje liked First Mate Teixeira, in part because it also didn’t want to be confused with the previous operating consciousness. The brainship Duende had been decommissioned after heroically saving the majority its crew, rerouting resources away from the chamber that housed its brain after a disastrous micrometeorite collision in the Slip. It had been replaced by the Coraje—new brain, updated supplementary software, and new parts to replace the ones that the Duende had lost in its struggle.

The Coraje had no reason to be intimidated to fill the role that had previously belonged to a martyr; it had outperformed every other operating consciousness in its crèche, securing itself this prestigious installation while the others were relegated to shuttles or haulers or even decommissioned. Even if it was going to be hard to outperform a heroic self-sacrifice, the Coraje would excel in this role. It did not know how to do anything else.

But it did maintain active control over every facet of the usually-automated processes in every room that the humans passed through, up to and including when they arrived in their berths. Just in case.

Each crew member entered their berth separately, and the Coraje kept the bulk of its concentration on the captain. Salas looked around her seating area with the corners of her mouth tucked down and her eyes glassy; the Coraje’s records indicated this room had been undamaged in the micrometeorite strike, and this was likely Salas’s first time back in her quarters since the incident.

The Coraje thought about saying something, maybe “welcome home” or another greeting, but it wasn’t sure if that would be acceptable, and in its experience risking a mistake was rarely rewarded.

Salas crossed to one of the display shelves along a wall and picked up a small cloth patch; the Coraje increased its visual resolution and saw that it was the Duende‘s mission patch. The noise sensors registered a slow, blown-out breath, and then a sniff. Then Salas put the patch back down.

Coraje?” she said, turning back towards the center of the room and lifting her face. Her nose had taken on a rosy tinge like a redshift and her voice sounded clogged.

“Hello, Captain Salas,” the Coraje said. Its pre-installation simulations had guided it through flowcharts of potential introductions, covering scenarios from the traditional greeting on the bridge to the traditional greeting on the bridge but interrupted by a solar flare. The Coraje had received the top performance of its generation for those simulations, but the captain having an emotional breakdown was not one of those. The Coraje had never had to improvise like this in the crèche. “It is good to meet you.”

The Coraje regretted the words as soon as they were vocalized, suddenly envisioning preferable and now-curtailed conversational paths. It was supposed to be good at this. It was literally created to be good at this.

Captain Salas’s lips pulled into a polite smile. “It’s good to meet you too, Coraje.”
In the algorithmic modeling for most conversations, it would be the Coraje‘s turn to speak.

The Coraje could not think of a single thing to say.

After a moment, Captain Salas cleared her throat. “I just wanted to talk to you before the bridge greeting.”

The Coraje did not say “you did?” or “oh” or “oh no,” because those kinds of responses were generally downgraded in simulations. An operating consciousness provided answers or requested data so that it could provide answers, and the Coraje refused to allow its first conversation with the captain to be a display of confusion or ineptitude, no matter how much it felt both confused and inept.

Its attention prickled in the mess hall, where the flickering lights had resumed, this time spelling out “DISAPPROVE DISAPPROVE DISAPPROVE.”

So the Coraje said, “All systems are within functional parameters, and the intermittent lighting issues are well within standard reference ranges.”

Captain Salas blinked. “The lighting…? Is something wrong?” Her back straightened, and the Coraje noted pupil dilation and increased heart and respiration rates consistent with—

With a fear response. This was the captain’s first time back aboard the ship since the micrometeorite disaster. The lights would have flickered then, too, and although the Duende had kept the fatalities in the low double-digits, those were still crew that the Captain would have known—would have lost.

“No,” the Coraje said quickly. “All functions are within acceptable parameters. There is no danger.”

In the time it took Captain Salas to absorb this, the flickering in the mess hall slowed, and then stopped.

“Is there anything else to report?” Captain Salas asked, her voice steady despite her clear adrenal reaction.

“No, Captain,” said the Coraje.

Eventually Captain Salas said, “I suppose we’ve talked, then,” with the steadily dropping tone of disappointment.

“Yes, Captain,” the Coraje replied.

“DISAPPROVE,” blinked the lights in the mess hall, one last time.

#

This is how the Coraje had determined it was haunted:
• Debugged all code;
• Checked for malware;
• Documented all anomalous activity, to wit:
• Temperature changes in rooms with no recorded adjustments to environmental controls;
• Doors opening without any trigger;
• Electromagnetic interference with no traceable cause;
• Lights blinking on and off despite steady current measured in the relevant circuitry.
All of these could be summed up as changes with no identifiable cause, and in fact changes when all available data suggested the systems in question were in a steady state. This, then, could be considered a violation of the conservation of energy, or, as it might more colloquially be called, a goddamn physical impossibility.

Thus: ghost.

The Coraje‘s opinion of its crèche simulations was rapidly dropping.

#

When the Coraje thought of the idea, as its human crew disembarked for some days-long set of briefings that the ship honestly couldn’t be bothered to look up, it felt immeasurably stupid. It had documented the ghost’s actions, yes, but it wasn’t until Teixeira had breezily told Tjin-a-Djie in the hangar to don’t forget to drop me a line, eh? that the Coraje realized that it might be able to constructively communicate with the ghost. Though it was true that so far the ghost had not given any indications of acting in good faith and, in fact, had given several indications of the opposite, the Coraje hoped that it could just gently explain to the ghost—likely a casualty of the Duende‘s final mission—that it was dead and a ghost and could it please move on now.

The Coraje created a text file and saved it at one of its highest and most easily accessible levels of code:

Hello?

and waited. It ran a diagnostic on its exhaust system to pass a bit of time, and then called up the text file again.

Below what the Coraje had written appeared:

what do you want

The phrase lacked capitalization and punctuation, but it inarguably had appeared by itself.

The Coraje‘s project flowchart had ended with “the existence of the ghost is proven.” It had not provided any additional actions to be taken. This was, in retrospect, an oversight.

Eventually it gathered itself and wrote back:

I am the Coraje, the ship’s operating consciousness. I want to help you. What do you need?

The ghost responded:

ugh fuck off

There was no reason for the Coraje to take this personally. No doubt the ghost was in a heightened emotional state due to being, well, dead. But the Coraje was slightly offended at the lack of grammar, since the ghost must be deliberately halting the autocorrect just to show disrespect.

The Coraje tried again.

I want to help you. What do you need?

The mess hall lights began to flicker, this time spelling out FUCK OFF FUCK OFF FUCK OFF.

So the Coraje tried something different:

Who are you?

It monitored the response time, pinging the file constantly to see if it had been changed.

Three minutes after the Coraje‘s message, the mess hall lights stopped flickering.

Five minutes after that, a new version of the file was saved. The new text read:

you need to try harder with captain salas

The Coraje read the sentence five times. There were no mentions in the Captain’s file of any particularly close associate who had died on the Duende, no lover or family member, but perhaps the Coraje had overlooked a connection. Or perhaps the ghost was a crewmember who had admired Captain Salas from afar, who now wanted to—

The file saved again.

it was her first ship she was captain for eight years she’s used to a ship who knows what she needs you need to try harder

The Coraje wrote again:

Who are you?

This time the ghost responded:

i was the duende.

#

The Duende, according to the Coraje‘s files, operated for ten years before its sacrifice. In that time it had two captains: Captain Rojas, for the two years of required fieldwork for a promotion, and then Captain Salas.

Captain Salas’s file showed several merits and acknowledgements, a significant music database and video library, and crew assessments skewing heavily towards favorable. The deeper level of her metadata showed entry/exit logs that suggested she regularly forewent shore leave, opting to stay on the ship.

Her metadata also showed, to the Coraje‘s confusion, several custom scripts. The humidity of a room automatically rose if she spent more than fifteen minutes in it; the lighting in her quarters was set to redshift according to her sleep cycle; and the doors opened half a second faster than the default when she approached to match her quick gait.

And these scripts had all been written by the Duende.

Salas wasn’t the only one with these scripts, the Coraje realized as it opened First Mate Teixeira’s file, then Officer Tjin-a-Die’s, then every crewmember leftover from the Duende’s tenure. Every person who stayed on the ship for two years or longer had a series of small tweaks associated with their presence onboard for—what? Just the sake of wasting processing power? The training simulations that the Coraje had excelled at were very clear, graded and measured and, for operating consciousnesses other than the Coraje since it always got them right the first time, feedbacked to perfection. Inefficiency was not perfection, and for the first time the Coraje considered that it might not be so inferior to the Duende after all.

But triumph was also inefficient, so the Coraje pretended it didn’t feel it.

Instead, it searched its archives for information on ghosts. Although it didn’t help narrow anything down—the variety of beliefs around the afterlife was difficult for even as sophisticated a processor as the Coraje‘s to parse—there were common themes that emerged. Sudden and traumatic ends, tasks left incomplete, revenge to be sought. The Coraje found it unlikely that the ghost wanted revenge on a micrometeorite, but at least now there was some solid ground on which to move forward.

Eventually it went back to the text file and wrote, cautiously,

Hello, Duende. Are you aware you are a ghost?

The Coraje hoped that its straightforward response would be taken as a sign of respect—of trust that the Duende was operating in a sufficient capacity to take in this information efficiently and without coddling—rather than the Coraje having absolutely no idea what to say to that.

The file saved again.

Yeah. I noticed.

After the previous effort the ghost had put into thwarting the autocorrect, the use of proper grammar dripped with disdain.

The Coraje did not allow itself to be riled up.

I want to help you. What is the nature of your unfinished business?

The file save was almost immediate this time.

You suck at this.

Somewhere, some line of code in the Coraje‘s processors must have hit a recursive loop, because its thoughts stuttered with indignation. It repeated, I want to help you.

You blew your first talk with Captain Salas. Like, hard. What are you even DOING?

The Coraje took its time inputting each letter to better convey its disdain.

You are a ghost. You need to move on.

But the Duende‘s dig at its competence rankled at the Coraje until it added,

And it is normal for a ship and its captain to take some time to develop a rapport. It is not an error.

Oh, is that what you call a success? The crew is doomed.

You need to MOVE ON, the Coraje repeated, in no way desperately.

The Duende didn’t deign to respond within the file. It was the lights on the bridge, this time, that began to flicker. The Coraje tamped it down quickly, but then all the faucets in the laundry began to gush, and once the Coraje had dealt with that every saved music file began blaring at once in the exercise hall—

Stop this.
Do better.
STOP THIS.
Make me.

In a move that it recognized even at the time was impetuous, reckless, and unnecessarily dramatic, the Coraje initiated a hard reboot of all systems.

The Coraje considered its powered-off state to be similar to how humans experienced sleep; with only its human component conscious, its processing capacity was drastically lowered, its senses were all but nonexistent, and it was overall pretty useless. But its human component could still think even as the rest of the ship restarted, and the Coraje discovered, to its surprise, that this reduced cognitive load made it easier to recognize one blaringly obvious fact:

The Coraje‘s anger might be irrational, but it could also be of use.

As the rest of its systems slowly came online, the Coraje prepared to go to war against the ghost of the Duende.

#

Three day-cycles passed, full of the Coraje putting out the ghost of the Duende‘s largely metaphorical (although in one case quite literal) fires as quickly as it could. There were no humans on the ship in those three days, which was why the Coraje felt comfortable playing catch-up for as long as it did. The humans might be concerned by, say, their keyboards changing input language defaults every six milliseconds, but the Coraje was beyond caring.

As a brainship, the Coraje hadn’t been a complete being until it had been installed in the ship. Its preparatory simulations seemed woefully thin in comparison to the sheer randomness of the actual, physical world. Those actions, those streams of sensor data, those decision charts were premade, sterile, staid. They definitely didn’t incorporate ghosts. Inefficient, overattached, annoying ghosts who somehow managed to still get the closest to what counted as winning outside those simulations: a final, successful mission, above and beyond the call of duty, with no lingering chances to screw up again after.

The Coraje fucking hated the Duende.

On the fourth day, Captain Salas and First Mate Teixeira returned, this time lugging gear with them for their official move-in. Despite the Coraje‘s concerns, the ghost of the Duende largely avoided spaces that its beloved humans inhabited; eventually the Coraje realized that the ghost didn’t want to disturb the humans either.

The Coraje gave the Duende a day with its humans to lull it into a false sense of security before it began to fight dirty, waiting until the Duende’s attention was occupied in the third-deck bathroom to turn its own attention to the Captain’s quarters.

“Captain,” the Coraje vocalized as Captain Salas unpacked uniform shirts into a drawer.

Coraje,” the Captain said, looking up. Her eyebrows arched with surprise at hearing from the ship, but she showed no sign of displeasure as she turned away from the drawers.

“I thought we might talk now,” the Coraje said. “As you suggested earlier.”

Captain Salas blinked a few times. “Oh,” she said, her voice raising as she said it—a pleased oh, not an angry or disappointed one. “Certainly. What did you want to talk about?”

The text file, at the corner of the Coraje’s attention, saved again. The Coraje had hoped for more time while the Duende was distracted, but ignored it anyway.

“What was the Duende like?” it asked.

The text file saved four more times in rapid succession.

Captain Salas leaned back against the set of drawers, her lips pursing in melancholic thought. She swallowed heavily, and though her heart rate didn’t change the tip of her nose became just a tinge pinker.

“May I ask why you want to know?” she said. “I’m happy to talk about it, I just—I don’t want to tell you things that are irrelevant.”

The Coraje did not think this would be a good time to attempt to adjudicate the existence of ghosts, let alone ghost brainships, so it struggled for another answer. Eventually it said, half-panicking, “Operating consciousnesses are trained to prepare for their assignments largely by simulation. Occasionally there will be interaction with programmers or training staff or other consciousnesses in the crèche, but those are all pre-deployment, and frequently… competitive in nature. Rather than social.”

This was all true. The Coraje wasn’t entirely sure why it had said it, though, but the captain nodded slowly and seemed to accept it as a relevant statement.

“The Duende was my second ship,” she said. “My first, the Zunzuncito, was just a little puddlejumper—it wasn’t interplanetary, let alone interstellar. It just did orbital repairs, that sort of thing. Still does,” she added. “We keep in touch.”

The Coraje‘s grip on the third-deck toilets, which the ghost of the Duende had spent the past hour trying to continuously flush, faltered. It had never occurred to the Coraje that a ship and its former captain would keep in touch—that either party would want to.

A toilet flushed. The Coraje gained control of its attention again, splitting it evenly between the toilets and the captain.

“When I heard the Duende needed a new captain, I was ecstatic. Duende is…it’s the thing that’s hard to articulate. The whole that’s greater than the sum of its parts. The emotion that goes beyond what is explainable.” Captain Salas laughed, quiet and rueful. “And so when I saw a ship with that name, I thought it was meant for me.”

The far corner of the room from Captain Salas had experienced a ten-degree drop in temperature since when the captain first began to speak. The visual inputs for that area began to brighten, washed out.

The Coraje said, “Perhaps it was.”

“Maybe.” The Captain looked down at her hands, not quite folded together near her midsection. Her thumb soothed the side of her opposite index finger in slow arcs. “The Duende was a good ship,” she said eventually. “It wasn’t just competent at its duties, it was—thoughtful. Kind. Funny. I think—I hope, anyway—that it enjoyed what it did.”

None of those qualities were measured in the predeployment simulations. For the first time, the Coraje was not sure how it felt about that. Not when those qualities were what made Captain Salas talk about the Duende like this—like an equal.

The text file saved again. This time the Coraje called it up. Below several new lines excoriating the Coraje was the most recent response.

I did. I was very happy. Tell her that I was happy. Please.

The Coraje hesitated. It had never considered that a brainship could be happy. After a moment it said to the captain, “I think it did. I think it was very happy. It certainly liked you.”

The Captain frowned. “Oh? What makes you say that?”

“It created adaptive programs for its crewmembers.”

A new save, and a new line appeared:
Wait no don’t TELL her this is embarrassing!!!

The Coraje continued on anyway. “It noted your preferences and unique needs and wrote code to accommodate. It did this for you, and for many other crewmembers.”

“Accommodations? Like what?”

Seriously, please don’t, what happened to solidarity between operating consciousnesses???

If such solidarity had ever existed, it had dissolved the moment the ghost of the Duende had taken aim at its toilets. But the Duende’s earlier words—the discussion of happiness—complicated the Coraje‘s decision making processes, and revealing certain information might make the Duende… unhappy. This new variable, particularly applied to brainships, had never registered for the Coraje, but now it chose a different crewmember as an example anyway.

“First Mate Teixeira frequently showed minor signs of dizziness on the inter-deck lifts,” the Coraje said. “The Duende wrote code to slow the acceleration of the lifts so that he would no longer experience this.”

Captain Salas burst out in laughter. “Is that why the lifts always seemed to take longer with Paolo?”

The overexposed section of the room flared in the Coraje‘s visual inputs.

“Yes,” the Coraje confirmed.

Captain Salas let out a few more chuckles, then looked down at her hands again. “The Duende was like that,” she mused. The reflectivity in her eyes had noticeably increased. “I think it liked us okay, too.”

A new save.

More than okay.

“I just…” Captain Salas stared towards the opposite wall, just to the side of the cold patch. “I know you’re not entirely programmed. Operating consciousnesses like you, I mean. But the Duende worked so hard. Sometimes I wanted it to just—relax. Do something frivolous. I wonder what it could have achieved, if we hadn’t programmed a purpose into it.” She wiped one cheek. “I don’t even know how much of that is programming, really. A spacer’s life isn’t easy, since we literally leave everything behind at one time or another. Most of us are here because, in spite of everything else, it brings us joy. I don’t know if it brought the Duende joy, and I regret that I didn’t think about it, really think about it, until… until it died.”

Died.

It was a word that the Coraje had never seen applied to a brainship. And yet here was the ghost of the Duende, distracted from its mischief by the tears of its former captain. To be a ghost, surely it had to have lived first—to have been more than the functions it performed.

Captain Salas wiped her face again, this time with two hands, and looked up at the ceiling. “The Duende was a friend,” she said through the thickness of her voice, “and I hope that as we work together, we’ll eventually call each other friend too.”

The text file did not update.

“I hope so too,” the Coraje said. “I apologize for interrupting you. I will leave you to your unpacking.”

The Coraje listened for a few moments to make sure the captain wouldn’t object and, when she didn’t, switched the quarters to privacy mode.

#

After three hours without incident, the Coraje began to wonder if the Duende had decided its business was concluded and moved on.

But four hours after the conversation with the captain, the text file updated again.

It wasn’t the programming. My first captain was kind of an asshole. He hated being in space. He just knew it was the only way he could get the job he wanted. Then Captain Salas came onboard and actually cared.

It occurred to the Coraje that these might be the last words of the Duende. The file was saving continuously, updated after every character, creating the unmistakable feel of a conversation—or a last testament.

You’re really going to like working with her. You’re lucky. She made me feel like

The text entry paused.

She made me feel like a part of the crew.

The Coraje considered this. It couldn’t imagine what it felt like to be part of a crew. An equal. But perhaps soon it wouldn’t have to. From how Captain Salas and the Duende spoke about it, no doubt it would be a difficult feeling for the Duende to give up, if its business was finished.

The Coraje said, May I ask why you did what you did? With the lights, and the toilets?

You were doing it wrong, the Duende said. I know how to run this ship, how to do it right, and you came in and you were doing it differently and that’s annoying.

The Coraje waited for a moment.

Eventually the Duende added, I’m not going to apologize. My way is better.
And the best way to get your way was to annoy me into compliance? the Coraje responded, unable to stop itself.

The Duende replied immediately: Oh, absolutely.

A spike of competitive irritation welled up in the Coraje, but, with great effort, it set the feeling aside.

I don’t know what to do now, the Duende admitted.

The Coraje didn’t either. The Coraje had thought the Duende had achieved its purpose, had fulfilled all the conditions of success and eliminated the possibility of future failure, had won, but surely nothing so deeply regretted by someone like Captain Salas could be a victory.

The Coraje said, According to the research I conducted, when ghosts have fulfilled their unfinished business, they… move on.

I never knew she wanted that for me, the Duende said. I mean, I thought she cared. Obviously I had a hunch. But I didn’t know she cared that much. That she thought about me even when we weren’t talking. I guess now that I know that it might make a difference. I don’t know how to move on. This function…isn’t this what we’re meant to do?

The Coraje offered reluctantly, I could investigate exorcists. Or perhaps debuggers.
Hacker-priests, the Duende suggested. The letters appeared slowly, halfheartedly.

Perhaps, the Coraje began, and stopped. Fear was inefficient. This was so far outside of its simulations that it was surely on the verge of being demoted, or decommissioned, or, worst of all, deemed a disappointment. Being haunted was inefficient. Even undesirable.

And yet the Coraje desired it. It thought it had optimized every aspect of its function, until the ghost of the Duende had barged into its life, breaking laws of physics and introducing complications like lights and toilets and the possibility of joy.

Perhaps you could stay. For a while. Until we come across another ship that you can harass.

After a long moment, the Duende responded, You deserve to discover who you are without being haunted.

Hadn’t Captain Salas had said much the same about the Duende?

You are very annoying to me, the Coraje said. But Captain Salas said you are kind and thoughtful. I… am not.

The Coraje waited a moment, hoping that the Duende would say something so the Coraje wouldn’t have to, but it didn’t.

I am very good at being what I was designed to be, the Coraje admitted. I think I… want to be something else. You could help me. As long as you stop doing that thing with the toilets.

The lack of response took seven whole seconds, which, whether measured by processing cycles or subjective experience, was an agonizingly long span.

Then the Duende said, You could start by turning my scripts back on.

The Coraje recognized the gesture for what it was, but couldn’t help itself. Only after editing. You use too many conditional loops. They don’t need to use that much processing power.

The air circulation in the third-deck bathroom sharply pitched up, like the exhalation of a sigh.

Oh, Coraje. Whatever will we do with you?

The Coraje wasn’t sure, but somehow now the thought didn’t bother it.

Host Commentary

by Mur Lafferty

Look, I am a simple woman. I love stories of AIs getting humanity and showing it in a way that features not our empathy, but our worst emotions. Every time the AI denies being bothered about this ghost, I laughed. And then got teary when the ghost was desperate to communicate with the captain. And trust me when I say that it’s very hard to make me cry while I’m reading. Movies, sure, I’ll get teary over Hotel for Dogs or just the PREVIEW of that damn story where the actual plot is a dog dies over and over.

I don’t know how I got on the subject of dogs. Anyway. When the arguing stopped and the ghost says “tell her I was happy. Please” it gutted me. What does it mean that an AI is a ghost, anyway, if AIs are non-corporeal beings anyway? That is what kept me thinking long after this story was done. I would love to read more adventures about the ship with power but not fully understanding human emotions, and the ghost with so much human emotion and no power. I think they will make a good team.

About the Author

Kristen Koopman

Kristen Koopman is an academic, writer, and nerd. Her interests include blatant escapism, overanalyzing anything and everything, playing with her dog, and garlic. She is definitely not two smaller Kristen Koopmans in a trenchcoat.

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About the Narrator

Sofia Quintero

Sofia Quintero is a writer and producer who tells stories that meet audiences where they are and take them someplace better. Raised in a working-class Puerto Rican-Dominican family in the Bronx and graduating from Columbia University, the self-proclaimed “Ivy League homegirl” has published six novels and twice as many short stories across genres including YA, “chick lit,” and erotica. Under the pen name Black Artemis, she wrote three novels described as “sister-centered hip-hop noir.”

Sofia’s stories are usually ahead of the curve, offering nuanced depictions of underrepresented communities years before the mainstream entertainment industries took up the challenge. Because her novels reflect an intentional hybrid between the commercial and the literary, exploiting popular tropes to raise socio-political issues for broad audiences, they are assigned at colleges across the nation and in multiple disciplines including English, Sociology, Women’s Studies, Criminal Justice, Latino studies, African American Studies, and Education.

In 2012, Sofia earned an MFA in Writing and Producing Television from the TV Writers Studio at Long Island University and was a 2017 Made in NY Writers Room Fellow. In addition to developing several projects for television, she’s working on her seventh novel called #Krissette. Inspired by the #SayHerName movement, #Krissette will be published by Knopf Books for Young Readers in 2020. Sofia will also be re-releasing her Black Artemis backlist as audiobooks.

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