Tuesday, June 21, 2016

"And Then I Remembered Everything"

"Brisk Money."
By Adam Christopher (born 1978).
First appearance: Tor.com, July 23, 2014.
Novelette (39 pages).
Online HERE.
(Parental caution: Strong language.)
"Raymond Chandler famously hated science fiction, saying 'They pay brisk money for this crap?' However, it has recently come to light that Chandler secretly wrote a series of stories and novels starring a robot detective. He then burnt all the manuscripts and went on writing his noir masterpieces. Unknown to Chandler, his housekeeper had managed to save some of these discarded manuscripts from the grate in his study, preserving the tales for future genera-tions. The first of these stories was recently unearthed by author Adam Christo-pher. On the topic of how the manuscript made its way from Chandler’s study in California to Christopher’s home in England, Christopher is suspiciously quiet."
Your typical private eye is resilient, persistent, observant, and gifted with a good memory. Raymond, our central character, has all of those attributes but one; for him, life lasts for only a day: "Every twenty-four hours," he tells us, "I was born again." And with that "rebirth" go all of his memories . . . no, not quite all of them; there's this lingering fragmentary image of that night in the rain, of a nervous little man who couldn't stop talking, of a paper parcel full of money and a gun—and of the two men killed with it . . .

Principal characters:
~ Raymond of the Electromatic Detective Agency and our first person narrator:
   "I don’t think you’ll find anybody as good at this job as me, Ada."
~ Ada:
   "Her voice was calm and measured and smoky, like it always was. She didn’t sound worried or afraid or angry, but maybe she couldn’t, even if she was."
~ The finger man:
   "'I work for a lot of people. Point out things, right? Give people a little push in the right direction.' At this, he put his hands out and mimed pushing somebody. Whether it was down the street or in front of a bus, I couldn’t tell."
~ Professor Thornton:
   "He looked happy to see me and worried at the same time. After all, he never expected to see me again and I never really expected to be here. He took the pipe out of his mouth but he didn’t say anything."

Nifty passages:

   "The man nodded towards the windshield, towards the rain and colored lights. Then he lifted the gun up and tapped it against my cheek twice. Don’t ask me why he did it, but after he did he smiled like he was pleased with himself and the dull metal-on-metal tapping sound his action made, then he nodded forward again."

   "I wasn’t sure that was right but he was the one with the gun so I wasn’t going to argue. I also wasn’t going to point out that the gun wouldn’t be much use against me, even point-blank. He seemed like a nice class of crook and I didn’t want to disappoint him."

   "The guy with the gun reached inside his jacket and pulled out a hip flask. It was silver and I got a good look, but there was nothing on it. No monogram. No initials. No name, address, phone number, social security number. Unlike me. I had some of those at least punched onto my chest plate. Next to the detective shield."

   "Clients seemed to want their private detectives to sit behind big desks, like they were ship captains behind the wheel. The desk in the outer office sure was big enough to sail away on."

   "See, that’s detective work. I didn’t get my detective shield in a cereal packet. Is that how it goes? I don’t know. I’ve never opened a cereal packet or eaten the contents."

   "Sometimes there was data left, stuck to the surface of my mind like burned grease stuck to a frying pan."
- Adam Christopher, who has "penned" two tie-in novels to the Elementary TV series and one (so far) book featuring the Electromatic Detective Agency, has a webpage HERE, while his Amazon page is HERE.
- They're the usual places to find useful info: HERE (Wikipedia), HERE (the SFE), and HERE (the ISFDb).

The bottom line: "No one knows when a robot will approach human intelligence, but I sus-pect it will be late in the 21st century. Will they be dangerous? Possibly. So I suggest we put a chip in their brain to shut them off if they have murderous thoughts."
Michio Kaku

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