I have been thinking a lot about robots out there on the ocean, and the sirens they run into.
About a little robot who was built by someone maybe a long time ago (clock is not sure of date of manufacture, as awareness had not fully booted for an unknown time period), sold and sold again, tinkered with and updated so the line between robot and human is blurred into one, goes by Andy and is currently programmed to wash the deck every hour.
The crew on the spaceship around Andy is rough. Lots of kicks to where ribs would be. Sometimes they play a game to see who could turn off the android, their drunk fingers scrambling around while Andy beeps and pleads and bargains that there is no off switch, could they please stop, there is a job to perform and must be seen to. And they laugh and Andy never gets the joke because humans wake up on their own but androids don’t and the last time Andy went to sleep, new weatherproof panelling had been installed and now it itches all the time, although that is not quite the word for it (but a good word nonetheless, even if it’s not meant to describe robot sensations). Andy swabs the deck, Andy is strung up and hit with fists as target practice, Andy gets a hole in synthetic skin and someone sticks a finger into the exposed wiring and for six days as Andy preforms routine repairs on the skin (around chores, of course), Andy cannot beep out distress, and while that makes others less interested in causing hurt, Andy will let no one touch the exposed hole again, because being wordless in that moment had no android equivalent.
One day the astral storm is bad and Andy is sent to help the ship, feet clinging automatically with clamps to the slippery floors, unable to use vision.exe with the debris flying around, but able to simply turn off all unpleasant sensations - the screaming, the ship spinning, the blackness of space an untouchable ocean which knows and fears nothing.
And then silence. For a moment no one moves. Someone pushes past Andy to stare at the window. It is very bright out there: they are beside a small series of asteroid belts, purple and fluid and wavelike. Andy does not have real hands but sometimes imagines that the way space would feel between fingertips. It would be smooth, or like holding an exposed power cable. Sometimes the crew tried to use electricity to power off the robot body, and the odd sensation in Andy’s mouth after was somehow reminiscent of space. Andy would call it taste, but cannot taste, and so calls it a malfunction.
They ride carefully through the small rocks that glow in the light of the closest star. Space is sometimes colorful.
There is a noise. For a long time, Andy is unable to place the sensation, but after first checking auditory systems for damage, the backup net connection finds the word for it: music. Singing. It makes the ship ring. Andy is unsure what protocol is to be followed, but the crew is all at the windows, their eyes wide and searching.
The android beeps for command imput, but the captain is breathless at the helm. He swats Andy into silence. The singing grows louder. Andy has to adjust the audio sensors to be less sensitive, but the singing shakes the ship so it is impossible not to feel it.
One man steps into the airlock and releases himself. Andy becomes alarmed, tries beeping and pleading and begging the crew to bring back their lost friend - but one follows the other. Andy struggles to protect them, tries to override the airlock, tries to physically fight them. They all exit, down to the captain, who is grinning in a way Andy has never seen.
And then Andy is alone. The programming is to swab the decks, so Andy does. And always the singing. It becomes so loud Andy removes the audio interface completely, settling it down on the captain’s chair and whistling. Maybe they will come back. The ship is rattling.
Andy reads an error message that has been beeping urgently but has not been as important as the crew leaving. Unlikely phenomenon detected, engaging in net search.
There is no sound in space. Andy had known that, somewhere. Yet the ship and the singing… Beeping, Andy replaces the audio and has to quickly yank it out again from the loudness.
Andy looks up.
At the window is the most interesting thing. Blue and glowing, as large as the ship itself and larger again. A long tail, a small body. And singing. The figure is run through the net search. All that comes up are mythical beasts. Andy does it in two parts instead and discovers that whales exist and that the closest depiction of the upper half is a person called Artemis. After an extensive search, Andy uses the mythos. The being is called a mermaid. A siren, more specially, which is okay because sirens are loud and so is this creature.
She is not alone. Their starry tails float through space, their hair as long as they are, decorated with the stones they glide through. They are many and the ship hums. Andy, unsure, uses the ship to ship interface to key a message.
“Hello,” it says, “My name is Andy. Have you seen my crew?”
The singing stops abruptly, which Andy only knows because the ship stops humming. The replaced audio disk hears a series of quiet overlapping murmurs. Then there is screeching. Then there is silence. More screeching. Andy takes out the disk and waits politely until they figure out if they will respond. After three hours, he is able to put the audio in without fear of hurting.
A short, patterned song. The ship takes in the vibration and runs it through the universal translator.
“We are. Not your . Alive type. crew , lost.”
“Yes,” keys back Andy, “I know you’re not my species but I was hoping you’d seen my crew and I apologize for the interference.”
Again a series of wails and humming.
“What. You are ?”
“Android V.694, software component: Lemon cake.”
“What . You want?”
Andy has to think. “What is it like to want?”
Silence. And then one very impressive song. The computer did not translate, unable to.
Andy sits in a chair. “I am alone now. Can you be my friends?”
They spend days there, learning about each other. Andy has to explain that although there is a human skin, there is no gender assigned, because Andy is not human. They have only one gender in their language, translating to the feminine. Andy and the mermaids. A crew which is funny and terrifying and starts bumping the ship along, out of the field, carrying him to a planet which is good and kind to androids. Andy thanks them, but has no programming but to upkeep the ship, so they bump along, telling stories about the galaxy. And take Andy. They like having someone to listen to. They spend millenia together.
Andy sees space until the ship comes apart. Steps into the airlock and jumps. In the seconds before the liquids in the vessel of Andy’s body freeze, Andy sees the wild pack of friends in their big bodies. Andy solves two puzzles at once: what is beauty, and what it is to want something. Andy realizes that wanting is complicated. Andy wants to spend a million years travelling the ocean with the blue bodies of giants.
Andy doesn’t have fingers but as alarms flash and things power down, Andy touches space. It feels smooth.
Do you have your plans for New Years Eve secured or you’re just going to lay low? No matter what’s in store, step into 2015 in a stylish new get-up. From a dressy club night to an outdoor adventure, see four looks for every type of celebration below.
If you bought tickets to a New Year’s Eve celebration and you’re ready to party all night, dress the part! Put some effort into your look and enter the New Year in a sleek outfit. Make sure you wear a blazer and button-up (at some clubs, it’s a requirement), and pair it with a nice pair of black jeans and dress shoes.
If you’re being more on the mellow side and having a nice dinner with your loved one, keep it simple and sophisticated. Wear a modern overcoat, classic button-up, slim jeans and leather boots - nice socks are always a plus too!
If you’re a family guy or don’t really like all the New Year’s Eve crowds (we get it!), stay comfy in the doors of your own home in something warm and lounge-worthy. Light a fire, put on your Netflix and look good while you do it.
If you want to start the New Year off with a clear mind in nature, we have just the look for you. Head to the woods in an explorer jacket, cable knit sweater, blue jeans and hiking boots with wool socks.
Each week, we scroll through our new arrivals and choose five of our favorite pieces - a hand-picked selection of this season’s best clothing and accessories to shop now or add to ‘your loves’ section to shop later. View the best new products below and see why you need them in your closet stat.
Why You Need It: A nice camel coat will always be a seasonal staple. Zara’s new style combines the popular, ever-classic double breasted style with a waist tie and black buttons, proving it’s well worth the investment.
Why You Need It: This week, make room in your closet for a new suave standby. This blazer from Forever 21 looks much nicer than its $55 price tag, plus, it’s made with a velvety fabric, one of the season’s most in-demand textures. Scoop it up in navy, black or burgundy and you’ll be looking sharp in no time.
Why You Need It: It’s no surprise that one of our favorite new sweaters is made by none other than cool French brand Eleven Paris. The white chunky knit panel stands out against the black speckled half, making for an interesting yet understated pullover. This sweater is all you need for a style upgrade - keep the rest of your outfit simple.
Why You Need It: You probably have a dozen or so plain shirts for work or whatnot, and while they’re great and versatile, it’s fun to have something a little different for when you’re bored of the basic button-down. This Band of Outsiders shirt plays on the classic but still looks nice enough to wear for any occasion.
Why You Need It: You can never have enough ties. This silky feel of this burgundy tie from ASOS, combined with the simple silver cufflinks, make the set a perfect seasonal purchase. Plus, the wine color and subtle striped pattern go with just about everything.
My favourite baby jumper so far, this is the Little Cabled Crew Neck Sweater from “The eighth little Sublime hand knit book”. Again there was too much sewing for me to really enjoy the finishing, but the yarn, pattern and buttons go together so well I can’t wait to dress my little one in it!