Tor.com content by

Daniel H. Wilson

Fiction and Excerpts [2]
All

Fiction and Excerpts [2]

Small Things (Excerpt)

, || Humans beware. As the robotic revolution continues to creep into our lives, it brings with it an impending sense of doom. What horrifying scenarios might unfold if our technology were to go awry? From self-aware robotic toys to intelligent machines violently malfunctioning, Robot Uprisings brings to life the half-formed questions and fears we all have about the increasing presence of robots in our lives.

Daniel H. Wilson on the Short Film Adaptation of The Nostalgist

Almost exactly two years ago I was busy shopping for plane tickets from Portland, Oregon to London. At the time, the film adaptation of my first novel (Robopocalypse) was scheduled to begin filming soon. Spielberg was signed on to direct, Chris Hemsworth and Anne Hathaway were starring, and the film was straight up greenlit. I was ridiculously excited… right up until the film was delayed indefinitely. That’s Hollywood.

But there was a silver lining. There was another director in London, and he was primed and ready to start production on a short film called The Nostalgist based on my first short story. I had given Giacomo Cimini (who wins for having the most Italian name ever) the film option on The Nostalgist, assuming that nothing would probably ever happen. It turns out he had been quietly and meticulously preparing to shoot an adaptation of the short story for months.

So, I ended up buying that planet ticket to London. And I’m so glad I did.

[Read More]

Small Things (Excerpt)

Humans beware. As the robotic revolution continues to creep into our lives, it brings with it an impending sense of doom. What horrifying scenarios might unfold if our technology were to go awry? From self-aware robotic toys to intelligent machines violently malfunctioning, Robot Uprisings brings to life the half-formed questions and fears we all have about the increasing presence of robots in our lives.

With contributions from a mix of bestselling, award-winning, and up-and-coming writers, this anthology from editors Daniel H Wilson and John Joseph Adams meticulously describes the exhilarating and terrifying near-future in which humans can only survive by being cleverer than the rebellious machines they have created.

Robot Uprisings is available April 8th from Vintage Books. Read an excerpt from Daniel H Wilson’s novella “Small Things”—one of the stories in the anthology—below!

[Read an Excerpt]

The Nostalgist

This story is also available for download from major ebook retailers.

He was an old man who lived in a modest gonfab, and over the last eighty hours his Eyes™ and Ears™ had begun to fail. In the first forty hours, he had ignored the increasingly strident sounds of the city of Vanille and focused on teaching the boy who lived with him. But after another forty hours the old man could no longer stand the Doppler-affected murmur of travelers on the slidewalks outside, and the sight of the boy’s familiar deformities became overwhelming. It made the boy sad to see the old man’s stifled revulsion, so he busied himself by sliding the hanging plastic sheets of the inflatable dwelling into layers that dampened the street noise. The semitransparent veils were stiff with grime and they hung still and useless like furled, ruined sails.

The old man was gnarled and bent, and his tendons were like taut cords beneath the skin of his arms. He wore a soiled white undershirt and his sagging chest bristled with gray hairs. A smooth patch of pink skin occupied a hollow under his left collar bone, marking the place where a rifle slug had passed cleanly through many decades before. He had been a father, an engineer, and a war-fighter, but for many years now he had lived peacefully with the boy.

Everything about the old man was natural and wrinkled except for his Eyes™ and Ears™, thick glasses resting on the creased bridge of his nose and two flesh-colored buds nestled in his ears. They were battered technological artifacts that captured sights and sounds and sanitized every visual and auditory experience. The old man sometimes wondered whether he could bear to live without these artifacts. He did not think so.

“Grandpa,” the boy said as he arranged the yellowed plastic curtains. “Today I will visit Vanille City and buy you new Eyes™ and Ears™.”

The old man had raised the boy and healed him when he was sick and the boy loved him.

“No, no,” replied the old man. “The people there are cruel. I can go myself.”

“Then I will visit the metro fab and bring you some lunch.”

“Very well,” said the old man, and he pulled on his woolen coat.

A faded photo of the boy, blond and smiling and happy, hung next to the door of the gonfab. They passed by the photo, pushed the door flaps aside, and walked together into the brilliant dome light. A refreshing breeze ruffled the boy’s hair. He faced into it as he headed for the slidewalk at the end of the path. A scrolling gallery of pedestrians passed steadily by. Sometimes the fleeting pedestrians made odd faces at the boy, but he was not angry. Other pedestrians, the older ones, looked at him and were afraid or sad, but tried not to show it. Instead, they stepped politely onto faster slidestrips further away from the stained gonfab.

“I will meet you back here in one hour,” said the old man.

“See you,” replied the boy, and the old man winced. His failing Ears™ had let through some of the grating quality of the boy’s true voice, and it unsettled him. But his Ears™ crackled back online and, as the slidestrips pulled them away in separate directions, he chose only to wave goodbye.


[Read more]