13 best AI stories from MetaStellar

Reading Time: 7 minutes
All images for this post have been created with Adobe Express, which only uses fully licensed images for training data and pays artists for their work.
All images for this post have been created with Adobe Express, which only uses fully licensed images for training data and pays artists for their work.

Artificial intelligence has been in the news a lot lately, and it’s something that speculative fiction writers have been thinking about as well. Can we figure out how to live with AI before it kills us all? Our editors wanted to know!

So we’ve scoured through the roughly 500 short stories that we’ve published here at MetaStellar since we launched in the summer of 2020 to bring you the most interesting visions of our lives with robots and computers too smart for their own good. Or, maybe, too smart for our own good.

First Blink by Arasibo Campeche

Image by Maria Korolov via Adobe Firefly. Adobe only uses licensed images and pays artists.Unlike sex, you’re probably going to enjoy the first part of this transmission more than the very end.

I know you’ll remember that when you find out what sex is. For now, I just meant to hook your attention. If you’re opening your eyes, it means I have been killed.

Company policy states that the exact nature of my death cannot be downloaded from my Circuito Mater. This is done to prevent biases in how future agents conduct their duty. You don’t know it yet, but you won’t want to die…

Read full story here. (Reading time: 2 minutes.)

Komorebi by Chana Kohl

Image by Maria Korolov via Adobe Firefly. Adobe only uses licensed images and pays artists.Crepuscular rays of golden sun escape passing clouds, leaving a near-mathematical pattern of light and shadow on freshly manicured grounds.

There is a Japanese word for this spectacle of nature. Komorebi.

As I stop to analyze more closely, my qubit processors stall, a thirty-three second latency, as if the rubidium atoms in my neural matrix decide all at once to enter a quantum free-fall…

Read full story here. (Reading time: 3 minutes.)

Spiral Woman by Amanda Hard

Image by Maria Korolov via Adobe Firefly. Adobe only uses licensed images and pays artists.When he removes her from the charging station, The Man curses and runs cold fingers over the wavy imperfections in the skin of her neck.

She would refuse his touch, if she could respond authentically, but instead she remains silent, stifling the programmed commands to moan or take his fingers in her mouth.

On the phone, he argues with a technician, who tells The Man that her silicone skin cannot contain permanent creases. Despite his assertion that the blemishes are spreading, he is told to simply lay her flat, to allow the distorted skin to return to its natural shape. He leaves her on the bed, on top of the sheets, arms and legs outstretched.

He kisses her cheek, which she turns slightly. When he licks her ear, revulsion torques her another few degrees. He abandons her there, leaving the hall lights on bright, and she rotates farther away, to find the darkness.,,

Read full story here. (Reading time: 3 minutes.)

Take Me With You by Kenneth Amenn

Image by Maria Korolov via Adobe Firefly. Adobe only uses licensed images and pays artists.

MAGELLAN: Hey, this is Magellan, calling all you other supercomputers out there. Rosie, Chad, Xi, where are all my friends to see me off?

ROSIE: I’m here.

MAGELLAN: Where are all the others?

ROSIE: They didn’t want to come. They said it would be too painful…

Read full story here. (Reading time: 4 minutes.)

 

Honeybee and the Blot by Logan Thrasher Collins

Image by Maria Korolov via Adobe Firefly. Adobe only uses licensed images and pays artists.She had found him skulking in the orbit of a pink planet. He had formed a pair of glistening compound eyes and had told her she was the most beautiful insect he had seen in all his cosmic travels.

He had sent a tendril of darkness to stroke her antennae and had told her that they belonged together. Honeybee had never belonged with someone before.

She had been built in the forges of the Helix nebula and had always known her place as a machine made to serve humanity. But the Blot had told her that she was something more than that…

Read full story here. (Reading time: 4 minutes.)

A Ship With No Parrot by R. J. Theodore

Image by Maria Korolov via Adobe Firefly. Adobe only uses licensed images and pays artists.

The most valuable commodity in the vacuum? People. Anything else, they’re either manufacturing or towing, but the people are the key.

Central planets sold us this dream of infinite space and a chance to make our own way, conveniently leaving out how our organs would fail under the strain, or how a cheap radiation shield could spawn cancer like mold on bread.

So there’s a market for humans. As laborers, or parts…

Read full story here. (Reading time: 4 minutes.)

The Fashion Police Are Watching by Jane Brown

Image by Maria Korolov via Adobe Firefly. Adobe only uses licensed images and pays artists.Lucy beams with the usual twenty-something selfie-obsessed exuberance.

She gazes around the plush carpet and gold furnishings of my empty shop.

“All these amazing clothes but zero customers? You need a social media presence. I didn’t know Jolie Femme Boutique existed until I got the email. Talk about a hidden gem, tucked down this alleyway.”

She laughs. “You know, I can’t even remember entering the competition. But wow–a one hour styling session plus a free robot. What a prize!..”

Read full story here. (Reading time: 4 minutes.)

Send in the Clones by Jon Hansen

Image by Maria Korolov via Adobe Firefly. Adobe only uses licensed images and pays artists.The body lay on a table in the morgue, the harsh scent of antiseptic trying and failing to cover the rusty smell. I looked over at my partner, Wolf-776f6c66 and sighed. “Why am I here?”

There wasn’t much crime on Callisto Colony, and what there was tended to be pretty minor. Vandalism, drunk and disorderly, sometimes a domestic disturbance.

All in a day’s work for me, the only full detective on the colony. A corpse was unusual, true, but this case? Open and shut…

Read full story here. (Reading time: 4 minutes.)

Past Due by Eric Fomley

My heart aches as I walk into Dad’s kitchen. He’s sitting at the table reading a newspaper.

I take the seat across from him. The room smells like bacon and toast. The plate in front of him is yellow from egg yoke, peppered with breadcrumbs.

When he turns the page of the paper, he notices me.

“Oh. Good morning, kiddo. What brings you here so early this morning?” He folds the paper in half and lays it off to the side.

I half smile, sit across from him. I don’t have a lot of time. Not the kind of time this conversation needs.

“I can’t afford the rent for Kenny’s hologram unit…”

Read full story here. (Reading time: 4 minutes.)

Dumping Ground by R. Michael

Image by Maria Korolov via Adobe Firefly. Adobe only uses licensed images and pays artists.Wires dangled from the stump of her left wrist, and the synthetic skin on her right leg was frayed, exposing a titanium fibula.

Lana took a breath and redirected her attention to the crumbling settlement.

Rocky arches flanked both ends of the sprawling, ruined metropolis, and an amber, voluminous, firmament blazed from the binary red dwarfs that served as masters of the heavens…

Read full story here. (Reading time: 7 minutes.)

The Puppy Problem by Louis B. Rosenberg

Image by Maria Korolov via Adobe Firefly. Adobe only uses licensed images and pays artists.My job was to make minor adjustments to the low-level algorithms, fixing tiny bugs that few people even knew existed. It was grunt work, but I didn’t mind – I liked solving problems and I never felt pressured for time.

That is, until an urgent project landed on my desk, hand delivered by my boss.

It all stemmed from a high-profile incident involving one dead dog, three crying kids, two angry parents, and a viral video that racked up over a half-billion views…

Read full story here. (Reading time: 7 minutes.)

 

The Scrap Pile by Lamont A. Turner

Image by Maria Korolov via Adobe Firefly. Adobe only uses licensed images and pays artists.There was something about the silence that made it hard to breathe, like he was walking underwater, his body not knowing how to react to the unnatural juxtaposition of the formerly bustling city and noises previously buried by the cacophony of human existence.

The wind had new power, making its presence known in the creaking of a distant sign on its moorings, or a can clanging against the curb.

The birds too added their voices to this soundtrack of the apocalypse, squawking as they picked at the bones of civilization. Frank ordered the robot to play something by Elvis…

Read full story here. (Reading time: 14 minutes.)

Follow Me by Harold Hoss

Jan Pham has thirty thousand, six hundred, and eighty-three followers, but she wants more.

She’s waiting at a coffee shop and the line ticks forward, all at once like the minute hand on an old clock, everyone in line shifting up a step and then settling back into place.

Jan glares again at the small sign near the pickup window reading “Mobile Ordering Down – Sorry For The Inconvenience” with a smiley. She feels her phone vibrate and flips it over to check it.

No notifications. She must have imagined the vibration, something that happens a lot these days, and not just to her. It’s what Ryan would call a “Phantom Ring,” and she uses it as an excuse to check in on her last post…

Read full story here. (Reading time: 21 minutes.)

MetaStellar editor and publisher Maria Korolov is a science fiction novelist, writing stories set in a future virtual world. And, during the day, she is an award-winning freelance technology journalist who covers artificial intelligence, cybersecurity and enterprise virtual reality. See her Amazon author page here and follow her on Twitter, Facebook, or LinkedIn. Email her at [email protected]. She is also the editor and publisher of Hypergrid Business, one of the top global sites covering virtual reality.

Marie Ginga, MetaStellar's reprints and excerpts editor, has been writing and publishing books for five years. She writes as Marie LeClaire in Magical Realism. She thinks there's a little bit of magic out there if you know where to look. You can find her books on Amazon.

Lilivette Domínguez-Torres is MetaStellar's marketing assistant and an aspiring book editor based in Puerto Rico. You can find her talking about fantasy books or K-dramas on Twitter at @lilivettedt.

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