Does Sentience Bestow Basic Rights? Unveiling Erin K. Wagner’s An Unnatural Life

Erin K. Wagner explores difficult questions of personhood in the science fiction novella An Unnatural Life, coming from Publishing in September 2020. Check out Will Staehle’s cover below!

Lawyer Aiya Ritsehrer struggles to obtain an appeal and new trial for her latest client, a robotnik identified as 812-3. 812-3 is convicted of murdering a human worker but claims that he did not do it. It is Aiya’s task to determine grounds for an appeal and uncover the true facts of the case.

However, robotnici have only recently been awarded legal rights on Earth, and the military complex on Europa is resistant to the implementation of these rights on the Jovian moon. Aiya’s must navigate her own interpersonal drama and prejudices while struggling to make the right decision.

Cover art by Will Staehle; design by Christine Foltzer


Erin K Wagner is an English professor in the SUNY system, an Appalachian transplanted to the Catskills. Her short stories have appeared in a variety of publications, including Apex and Perihelion, and her poetry has been published in Abyss & Apex and the South Dakota Review. Her novella, The Green and Growing, was just published by Aqueduct Press. She blogs for Luna Station Quarterly on the topic of overlooked women in the speculative field.


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