Every first and third Friday of the month there will be two story excerpts from the Shine anthology. This is the fifth one: “Sustainable Development” by Paula R. Stiles:
Normally, selling peanuts in Boubara is a job mothers send their children to do in the marché. As the spider heads up the steps into the bar, I try the usual way of calling a child — crooking my fingers at the robot. “Tsst! Petit! Viens ici!”
The robot approaches me. Someone has left a carefully scrawled sign on the tray, “10 CFA par tas — 10 Francs per pile.” Village prices. I pull out a 50 CFA coin for all five tas and toss it onto the tray.
The robot tilts the tray forward until the tas begin to slip. It probably has a weight measurement control inside that calculates the coin.
“Prenez tous, grand merci — Take everything, thank you,” it says in a flat, metallic voice. I scoop up the tas and dump them on the dusty cement of the bar. After I empty the tray, the robot hurries off through the empty marché.
Talk about tech dumping. Who got the bright idea to dump intelligent robots in a small African village? My predecessor, that’s who. He got them to help the men grow cash crops. Scooping up my peanuts, I stand and follow it.
Excerpt from “Sustainable Development” by Paula R. Stiles. Copyright © 2010 by Paula R. Stiles.
Possessing a quixotic fondness for difficult careers, Paula R Stiles has driven ambulances, taught fish farming for the Peace Corps in West Africa and earned a Scottish PhD in medieval history, studying Templars and non-Christians in Spain. She has also sold fiction to Strange Horizons, Writers of the Future, Jim Baen’s Universe, Futures, @outshine and other markets. She is Editor in Chief of the Lovecraft/Mythos ‘zine Innsmouth Free Press. You can find her at: http://www.geocities.com/rpcv.geo/other.html or on Twitter (@thesnowleopard).