Tris Matthews’s story “When the Last Friend is Gone” was published in Metaphorosis on Friday, 16 November 2018.
I did cognitive science at university and became fascinated with what consciousness and cognition are, how they emerge in animals, how we will achieve this in robots, and the possibilities this will open, such as the solution to currently unimaginable questions and the shift to a hive mind society with utterly different desires and goals. Along the way, I also got very into Asimov’s stories, which deal with some matters.
However, ‘”When The Last Friend is Gone” came about as the result of a writing exercise: I was doing stream of consciousness to improve dialogue (which I found intimidating at the time). As such, the story and themes are quite reflective of the kind of thing that bounces round in my subconscious, and I remember thinking ‘ooh, this is nice!’ as the story unfolded in front of me.
There’s a major theme in there about responsibility (for whatever you choose) giving you purpose and happiness. This is something that’s been on my mind since a year I spent in the north of Japan, where I saw how much pride people took in their communities and work. So, when I noticed this theme emerging in the story, I really ran with it.
It didn’t take long to write, but when I’d finished, I had all these ideas for a set of stories spanning the evolution of human-robot interaction, focussing on different aspects of what it is to be conscious, and utilising different genres. These currently exist in various states of disrepair awaiting the author to enter the state of consciousness associated with finishing what you start.
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