Alex + Ada & My Obession With Sex Bots

imgres-7Hello all!

An author named G.G. Andrews did a review of ALEX + ADA that got me really interested in it.

Since my latest WIP has a whole wired-up-for-lurv kind of motif, I thought I’d check it out.  And doing so has renewed my love for graphic novels.  Also the authors seem to live close to where I live–which just gave me extra tingles of awe.

ALEX + ADA is at once minimalist and complex.  It’s able to provide a sense of how empty the world seems to the perpetually lonely, and at the same time get right to the nitty gritty problems surrounding A.I. autonomy, adroids-as-persons, and other personhood issues when they come without human DNA, etc.

I’ve read Volume One and I’m zooming onto Volume Two.  Check it out.  And subscribe to my list because I’m giving Volume One to one of my lucky subscribers. 😉

Here’s what G.G. Andrews had to say from a post called “WHAT DO ROBOT WOMEN WANT”

I just finished the final volume of the comic Alex + Ada by Jonathan Luna and Sarah Vaughn, which is a futuristic love story between a human man and a female android. Since I started reading this fantastic comic, I’ve thought a lot about romances between robots and humans–specifically when comparing Alex + Adato the movie Ex Machina which came out last year and also features a female robot/male human pairing.

Drones aside, we’re not in a world of widespread advanced artificial intelligence. At least, I’m 86% sure none of my neighbors have robots. They’re certainly not having sex with any sentient ones, even if maybe they really want to. But in the world of Alex + Ada and Ex Machina, androids can talk and walk among us, wear cardigans, and kiss. They can be aware–and in each of these stories, female robots have a man interested in them, who sees beyond their machinery and wants them, body and mind.

But the question is, Do the robot women want them?

Tales of artificial intelligence are fascinating because they make us wonder what it means to be a person, not to mention the gifts and dangers of man creating life.

With stories of female robots, there’s an additional layer of meaning. I don’t have to remind anyone here that, historically, women have often been treated like robots to men: considered property, denied rights, asked to serve without question. These stories remind us of that reality along with the taboo-but-tantalizing idea of robot/human pairing.

alex-ada-headerAlex + Ada and Ex Machina present different worlds. In Alex + Ada, artificial intelligence is widespread, along with laws to govern its use, while in Ex Machina, this technology is still in its adolescence, with one man who has started to create androids in his isolated lab. But in both, there’s a female robot who becomes sentient while still trapped under oppression–caged or carted in a box, and in one case containing an on/off switch to be controlled by her owner.

They each present a small example of what it would mean to suddenly move from being confined to free as a woman–and what that would mean for how you felt about human relationships, love, and sex.

Both Ada and Ava in the film (played by Alicia Vikander) seem to fall for similar male types: kind, sensitive guys who treat them with respect. These guys, Alex in the comic and Caleb in Ex Machina (Domhnall Gleeson), are shown in stark contrast to other hypermasculine bro-dudes in their world. Alex’s neighbor tries to discuss having sex with androids with him like he’s comparing notes on the big football game. Nathan (Oscar Isaac), Ava’s creator, is the polar opposite of the sweet programmer Caleb she befriends–brilliant but an overly aggressive, bearded and often shirtless drunk–almost more ape than man at times.

So maybe that’s the first thing robot women want: caring guys who will respect them. Who won’t just see them as things. And both guys do find themselves surprised to develop feelings for the female androids and eventually a desire to emancipate them…and more.

But is it enough?

It’s curious to think, as non-robot women, what choice we’d make in these situations. If you were treated as a thing, as property, and you suddenly gained a taste of freedom, would you want to be in a human man’s arms? Would you run from his touch or crave it? Would you enter into a relationship with someone who used to own you, or used to observe you on a monitor? And what would that relationship even look like?

As a gender flip, in the comic Alex’s grandmother has her own android, Daniel, whom she beds enthusiastically. A hilarious and sexual older woman, she’s a great character…although the question is raised as to whether Daniel would stay if he was allowed to be sentient.

Don’t worry, I’m not going to share spoilers to either of these stories. Let’s just say Ada and Ava take different paths, at varying times, answering the questions their characters raise. When they’re both given freedom, they make their own choices. What they do makes us think not only what it means to be a person, but a woman.

Because the choice between love and freedom, passion and oppression, independence and closeness? That’s a question females have struggled with for centuries, robot women or not.

BTW, G.G. wrote this *excellent* and adorable NA romance called Crazy, Sexy, Ghoulish herself. (Hint: the e-book version is FREE on Amazon.) It’s not paranormal, but if you like all things paranormal as I do, you’ll enjoy this novella.

Next up: I’ve been reading THE MAGICAL ART OF TIDYING UP and will assess the lack of joy my unread book pile brings me.  Tune in next Thursday if you want some vicarious horror at *all the unread books* trying to eat my house.

Lonely Monsters: 4 Reasons to Go to WisCon

Bitch Planet--read it? Me neither, but I'm gonna.

Bitch Planet–Have you read it? Me neither, but I’m gonna.

I went to WisCon last weekend ages ago and it was awesome!  The 40th feminist s/f conference in–you guessed it–Madison, Wisconsin, is chock full of amazing panels, really interesting writers, and lots o’ cool hair.

What is WisCon you ask? This woman tells it so much better than me. In fact, it takes her four blog posts to tell it all in glorious detail.  Start here and work your way backwards.

That said, I have six reasons why I’m glad I went this year:

#1. I Love the CLEVER READING TITLES people use.  My favorite this year:

13255960_849652935139723_7715630904229166976_n

“Technically,” — oh, the tile sends me!

2.  I got to read with some some truly talented writers.  Our reading was called “LONELY MONSTERS”  Love the title–didn’t come up with it myself.  I was over the moon to be invited–a few of the writers I met and tumbled into adoring last year, while some I met and bonded with this year.  They were so inspiring!

Lonely Monsters? Well, more like *lovely* monsters.

Lonely Monsters? Well, more like *lovely* monsters.

Our  stories were about zombie boyfriends, an apartment that grew hair, a pregnant doppelganger on a greyhound bus–just to name a few.

Our adorable poster:13325529_849652998473050_3441533762667043638_n

#2. YOUR SUBLIME READING LIST STARTS HERE:

I go to WisCon not because it’s cheap, but because of the buzz.  So many book, TV show, and comics were getting attention at WisCon that I’d never heard of, but that sounded so interesting. I came back  with a vast long reading list that I shall now dive into and greedily chew upon until next spring. puP6Mc

The most surprising place to pick up great recs was THE TIPTREE PRIZE panel.  This is where Tiptree judges talk with each other for an hour and a half about what stories almost won the prize.  The panel really should have been called: Amazing Sh** We Can’t Forget.

While the judges for this prize loved the novella they picked this year (“The New Mother” By Eugene Fischer) and loved Eugene too–who sat there during the panel beaming with joy–there were several books, comics, and TV shows that gripped them by the scruff of the neck and wouldn’t let go.  They talked up these works and I definitely gleaned some excellent finds from that panel. Take a look:

Universe

Planet

3.  I LEARNED SH**: The joy and pain of WisCon is that many incredible panels are all at the same time. On top of that, really cool people you just met tempt you to sit and chat with them while panels are going on.  Choices, choices, choices.  I went to a panel on Sex Robots & Zombies that set me on fire.  (I’ve had a sex-robot-zombie story idea for forever.)

I went to an interesting panel on Genre Blending (something I lurv to do).  THE BIG TAKE AWAY: Do not start off your story/novel/whatever with the more conventional genre–unless you want to piss your readers off big time.

A really clear but bad example of this would be:

Write a horror story that has a romance development, not a romance that takes a surprise horror story plot twist half way.  

See what I mean? One style of genre-blending works, while the other is a bit daffy.

4. I DANCED ABOUT WITH ORGASMIC JOY: Well, almost.  Although there is a major dance party called FLOOP at WisCon, I did not attend it, because I am one of those half-introverted people who can talk for hours until I suddenly turn off like a light bulb.  Then I must retreat and hide.

Although I did not Floop with the majority of Con folk, I did flutter about feeling drugged with a spirit of joyful rapture in the midst of all these progressive, feminist spirits.  My people! If you like intellectual, thoughtful, arty types–many with absolutely incredible hair–you’ll love WisCon.13256238_849653045139712_7046932603597916010_n

I semi-wept my way through the big awards & dessert event Sunday night, I was just so moved by it all. JenniNMe

5. MADISON IS COOL: I was staying with Megan Milks and each morning I would run down near the lake.  I saw a river otter splashing in the lake one night at twilight. I mean, come on–that’s pretty cool, right? Meanwhile, here’s a young woman with mermaid hair at Monty’s, a local diner (so vegan friendly it hurts), where I relished some rhubarb pie.

I mean, isn't this a story? Someone walks into a diner and there's a girl with mermaid hair.

Someone should write a story about the diner where the girl with mermaid hair hangs out.

6. BUT WAIT–THERE’S MORE! All that for a $50.00 registration fee including free food in the Con Room and a Dessert Awards Ceremony (yes, with lots of vegan desserts.)  I feel like I am failing to intelligently convey the awesomeness that is WisCon.  This is because I wrote a lot today and wrote well, and that has the effect of leaving me feeling like someone sucked my brain out of my nose with a straw by this time of night.  But if you go back and read that blog post I linked to above, you’ll find a much more articulate and thorough reflection of what I experienced.

That said, I think I just need to blog more…Will do a better job at posting weekly from now on. Look for me on Wednesday.  My writing goal for the week is to finish up a title story from my collection The Hag Expert.  The ending of this story has plagued me, and I’m a-l-m-o-s-t there.

See you next week.