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Martin L. Shoemaker

Martin L. Shoemaker is a writer and programmer. As a kid, he told stories to imaginary friends. He couldn’t imagine any career but writing fiction until his algebra teacher said, “This is a program. You should write one of these.” Fast-forward through thirty years of programming, writing, and teaching. He wrote, but he never submitted anything until his brother-in-law read a chapter and said, “That’s not a chapter. That’s a story. Send it in.” It was a runner-up for the Jim Baen Memorial Short Story Award and earned him a lunch with Buzz Aldrin. Programming never did that! Shoemaker hasn’t stopped writing since. His novella Murder on the Aldrin Express was reprinted in The Year’s Best Science Fiction: Thirty-First Annual Collection and in The Year’s Top Short SF Novels 4. He received the Washington Science Fiction Association’s Small Press Award for his Clarkesworld story “Today I Am Paul.” That story continues in his debut novel Today I Am Carey.

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Today I Am Carey: Smart, thoughtful, and touching

Today I Am Carey by Martin L. Shoemaker

Carey is a robot whose job is to provide health care and companionship for humans, especially for elderly people with dementia. Carey is equipped with an “empathy net” which allows him to understand the feelings of the people he cares for, and an “emulation net” which lets him change his appearance, voice, and mannerisms so he can pretend to be someone else. The purpose is to help ease the anxieties of patients with dementia.

When we first meet Carey, he is the caretaker for an elderly woman named Mildred. Her husband is dead and her children and grandchildren, who have jobs and school, can’t be with her all day. When Mildred gets confused and thinks she’s talking to one of them, Carey can morph into a fairly accurate simulation so that he can soothe her better than any other hired caretaker could.

Unexpectedly, Carey has become conscious, something he wonders abou... Read More