Wednesday, August 12, 2009
Please welcome author, Icy Snow Blackstone...
who has a special treat for us today! Hi, Icy.
Hi, everyone. I'd like to thank Dayana for having me as a guest.
And thank you, Icy, for dropping by. Now tell me what you've got up your sleeve. I noticed that mischevious twinkle in your eye.
Today, I'm interviewing Darius, one of the characters from the novel Earthman's Bride. Thank you for agreeing to be here today, Darius.
Darius: (settles himself into the chair beside ICS. He's tall, drop-dead handsome, with sky-blue eyes, shoulder-length hair the color of dandelion floss--and a wicked smile.) Thank you, Icy Snow--may I call you that, if you don't think it's being too personal?
ICS: (simpers) Uh...no, of course not...just call me Icy.
Darius: Thank you... (looks deeply into her eyes)...Icy...
ICS: (recovers, coughs to hide her embarrassment) Tell my readers a little about yourself, Darius--what's your last name by the way? In all my notes, there doesn't seem to be any mention of it.
Darius: I suppose that's because I don't have a last name...unless you wish to call my my Maker's surname.
ICS: (frowning) Your...Maker's...name?
Darius: Dr. David Marx. He's the one who created me.
ICS: (frown deepening) I'm confused. Did you say created you?
Darius: Why yes, don't you know...? (a frown of his own creasing his perfect forehead) My apologies, Icy. I thought you were aware...
ICS: ...of what?
Darius: ...that I'm an android.
ICS: (swallows rather noisily) Actually, I wasn't.
Darius. Ah. I see. Well. Then, may I introduce myself properly...Darius AIX-501 I was created by Dr. David Marx at the California Artificial Intelligence Center. I was a historian at the Martian Space Library before joining the crew of the Condor for its exploration voyages.
ICS: (has recovered nicely) That's certainly interesting Darius. Most of the robots I've seen were metallic clunky critters. I must say you're the most handsome android I've ever met.
Darius: I thank you, but I can't take credit for my features. You see, Earthmen have a belief that everyone has a double somewhere so the roboticists at CAIC make certain of it by making their projects in their own image. I look like Dr. Marx--except in my case, I've never aged. I believe he's about seventy-four now. (leans forward as if to impart a secret) Now, both he and I have white hair! (laughs)
ICS: (joins in laughter) How old are you--if I might ask?
Darius: I spent twenty years at the Library and was thirty years on the planet Tusteya with Lieutenant Philip Hamilcar, the Earthman who was with the landing party which invaded Tusteya. He was ordered to stay behind after the planet was conquered and he asked that I be left, also.
ICS: So you're about...
Darius: Fifty-three years old now.
ICS: (mutters) We should all look so good when we're fifty. (aloud) I understand you were tutor to the Lieutenant's son?
Darius: (smiles) Yes. Philip, Junior. He was a good pupil--bright, questioned everything--a joy to teach. Philip and I got along well. He even wanted me to teach his own children some day.
ICS: You're very fond of Philip, aren't you? In fact, you seem to have real affection for him.
Darius: That's because I possess an empath chip. It enables me to experience human emotion. Dr. Marx said I was the closest to human an android could be...and yes, I'm very fond of Philip...again.
ICS: Again? Were you not fond of him once?
Darius: There was a brief period. While I was Rebeka Spearman's bodyguard. When I was ordered to kill Philip.
ICS: My goodness. That sounds sinister. Could you explain that?
Darius: When Philip was fifteen, he succeeded his father as governor, and it was decided he no longer needed a tutor. I was dismissed from my duties and allowed to fulfill my hobby of classifying the flora of the planet. I used to wander for days in the foothills picking flowers and studying them. That proved to be my undoing because one day I wandered into the path of a hail of rocks wielded by some young Tusteyan rebels. They battered my circuits into shreds, causing total cessation of my motherboard and buried me at the foot of Mount Scar under a couple of pounds of red clay.
ICS: In effect, they...killed...you?
Darius: That's correct. Some months later, one of the other rebels, Dr. Martin Celcius, dug up my body and dragged it back to the village the rebels had in the foothills. I think he dragged me through every briar and bramble between the mountain and his hut! Relly tore up my backside. (places a hand on one muscular hip) Would you care to see the scars?
ICS: (eagerly) Well, I... Uh, no, I guess I'd better not. W-what happened then?
Darius: Using what records he'd been able to salvage after the attack on Tusteya, Dr. Martin put me back together, reprogrammed me, and made me Rebeka's guardian. Rebeka's father had a plan, you see, and Dr. Martin felt an android would come in handy, since I knew the governor's palace inside and out. Rebeka's father was going to call for peace, marry Rebeka to Philip as part of the treaty and as soon as Philip trusted her, she was to kill him. I was to make certain she got back to the village safely after it was done.
ICS: Why that's awful! Sending a young girl to marry a stranger and then to kill him!
Darius: Awful, yes, but Rebeka's father felt there was no other way to rid his planet of the invaders.
ICS: And how did you feel? About helping to bring about the death of your pupil?
Darius: I'd been re-programmed. My loyalty lay with Rebeka, so I didn't care. I existed to protect her and that was all...at least that was what they thought.
ICS: What does that mean?
Darius: It means that none of the Tusteyans except Dr. Martin knew I had an empath chip. None of them, Rebeka included, knew I could feel emotions as sharp and genuine as any human. He made me promise not to tell, but there was something even Dr. Martin didn't know...
ICS: And what was that?
Darius: (looks away, as if ashamed, blue eyes closed) That I had fallen in love with Rebeka.
ICS: (flabbergasted) Uh...
Darius (earnestly) You won't tell, will you? Rebeka thinks I'm an unfeeling machine. That I merely simulate emotional reactions so she'll feel comfortable around me. She confides in me, tells me her secrets. She's even said she's glad I can't feel because she'd be embarrassed because of some of the things she's said to me. If she knew...how I really feel...that seeing her every day, hearing her laugh, the way the sunlight sparkles in her eyes... Well, I think you understand. She walks in beauty, like the night of cloudless climes and starry skies; And all that's best of dark and bright meet in her aspect and her eyes. (blushes deep red). My apologies. That's a glitch I developed after having my circuits pounded to shreds by those young men. Some kind of weird word association, I think. I suddenly burst out with this phrases, and sometimes they're most inappropriate.
ICS: (sympathetically) It must have been very difficult for you, knowing the woman you loved was going to be married to a man she'd never met while you--the so-called machine--had to look on.
Darius: That was one of the most difficult moments of my life...at least, I thought so at the time, but there were many, many more trying ones to come in my association with Rebeka Spearman and her husband, Philip Hamilcar.
ICS: At this point, I think it might be appropriate to read an excerpt from the book Earthman's Bride. If you don't mind?
Darius: Of course not. Please.
EXCERPT FROM EARTHMAN'S BRIDE:
Dressing in the wedding gown that had been packed in the little trunk the guard brought from the gate, Rebeka put on her makeup and did her hair and laid out the wedding veils on the bed so they would be nearby when she was called. Her father had said he would see her married before he returned to the village with the treaty.
"Do you think I look all right?" she asked suddenly, and her voice sounded so loud she almost jumped. "Will the Governor like it?"
Darius studied her a moment, blue eyes critical and serious. "She walks in beauty, like the night of cloudless climes and starry skies; And all that's best of dark and bright meet in her aspect and her eyes." He smiled, and spoiled the compliment by adding, "Hamilcar will go to his death willingly!"
She turned away, closing her eyes.
"A mind at peace with all below, a heart whose love is innocent," he went on.
"Don't say that!" she ordered, angry that there were tears in her voice.
"How long will your mind be at peace or your love innocent if you use it to kill?"
"Why are you doing this?" Rebeka flung at him. "You know it has to be done. It's the only way. Why didn't you say something sooner if you disagreed?"
"Because I can't actually disagree. Because your father and Master Martin were set on this course. My loyalties may have been forcibly changed but I can still extrapolate what is going to happen. Still, I'm only an android, Rebeka--a machine. I may hold more intelligence in my databanks than all the men on this planet, but if they don't want to listen to my counsel, they won't. So I've kept silent."
"But you think I'll listen?"
"He could actually love you, you know," Darius persisted. "I turned him away your door three times this morning."
"I heard," she retorted, and now her smile was sardonic, "and your excuses were a little lame. Really, Darius--sleeping all night and all day? It's a wonder he didn't think me ill and call a physician! You should have thought that out a little more!"
"It worked, didn't it?" His smile matched hers in its cruelty. "Kept him from seeing you, whetted his appetite. I thought you were going to be the lamb who was slaughtered, Rebeka, but after the way the Governor's acting, I realise that he's the lamb in this story!"
Earthman's Bride is available as an ebook from Lyrical Press.