“A pale and sickly moon hung over the darkness of Colombo, Sri Lanka. Spires, many of them old, shell-blasted hotels, reached out to the sky. They made shapes in the skyline: A, B, C, black silhouettes on gray.

THE BLUETOOTH DEVICE IS READY TO PAIR, blared a voice in this awful darkness.

The little girl woke up, her mouth frozen in a soundless scream.

THE BLUETOOTH DEVICE HAS CONNECTED SUCCESSFULLY, announced the voice. It had a slight Chinese accent.”

This morning I penned the last couple of thousand words on the new manuscript. This is the part where I put the book down and get back to studies.

It’s been very interesting. To me, the best part about science fiction is getting the research right, and weaving around it a cast and a world and a motley crew, so to speak. How does one express the old Chinese Room argument in artificial intelligence over iced tea and drinks? How would a lawyer argue the definition of life in a courtroom? How would a roboticist from a colonial Sri Lanka react to an expert who works on Her Majesty’s army of Tin Soldiers, whose word outweighs theirs because of the color of their skin and the guns at their backs?

Like I said, it’s been very interesting, and I’ve learned a lot. I don’t know if I’ve got everything working perfectly: in a month’s time, I’ll come back to this script, and read it with fresh eyes, and restructure it, because as Neil Gaiman once said, the first draft is you telling the story to yourself.

What makes a human? What makes life? People eat, said Ekanayake. People grow and reproduce. Robots do not.

“Fire consumes, fire grows, fire spreads and reproduces,” Eraj Ekanayake shot back, his mouth spinning the words before he was even half aware of them. “Is fire alive? Hamudhuruwane, the opposition’s definition of life needs rethinking.”

And now, back to work.


Art by Tithi Luadthong, an incredibly talented Thai artist who, if the gods are good, will someday work on a cover of mine.

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