“I have never been the most mechanically inclined of men. / Wrenches, screwdrivers, or shovels / have never made nice with me.” – David Tomas Martinez, “The Mechanics of Men”
It started with my father. He got into the business of naming the things after the war. It was his father’s way to build things, constructing them out of whatever spare parts he could find. During the war there were all sorts of cast-off cyber parts then, the demand for cyberforming troops being what it was. Parts were cheap. He built things from scratch, some you wouldn’t want to see at night in a dark alley – or by day, either. He built and sold them and then my father started naming them.
It was naming them gave my father the power. Like Adam in the Bible, my father named them all. There was the Alpha series, the Vulcan series, the Desireé series. Some seemed built for pleasant tasks, some not so pleasant.
That was a time when your so-called traditional robots hadn’t been popular for a long time. It was when the cyberforming technology – making men, and women, into super-men and -women from the meld of human and machine had far surpassed robot technology for anything but vacuuming and lawn mowing, so nobody cared any more about robots who looked like humans. People were afraid of them. But that didn’t stop my father. When he named the things he became the ruler of his own kingdom.
My father’s father built them but my father named them. They were already out in the field, bought and paid for by the few who wanted them – mercenaries, crime bands, even a few foreign governments.
That’s when the trouble started.
The scientists came to me, my father’s daughter, for help. Like Eve, I had to unname those terrible things my father had named, those things his father had created, those things the mechanics of men had formed.
About this post: Thank you to Ursula Le Guin, for “She Unnames Them” (Jan. 21, 1985).