(I’ve written 14 chapters plus Prologue of this book in Russian so far. I’m planning to finish it and to have it translated into English, perhaps.)
In the future, a group of progressively-minded individuals creates a robot by investing their best talents, dreams and aspirations in a single human-like being. The robot is breathtakingly beautiful, supernaturally smart and has a balanced and pleasant personality. It can also be a male or a female depending on the situation. Overnight, Ini-Nioni becomes an international sensation and is admired by billions of people all over the world.
But any technology has its limitations. At some point, the robot begins to display aggressive behavior for an unknown reason. Balancing between the odds of being shut down/terminated and solving its own problems, Ini-Nioni is forced to search for the meaning of its existence – as well as the meaning of the existence of its Creators.
Hotel employee Melinda sees a gorgeous young man in the lobby and realizes it’s Ini-Nioni who has arrived for the Creators Gala . She talks to him briefly and asks the celebrity robot to allow her to save the memory of their encounter in her personal archives.
Chapter 1 – Ten-Year Anniversary
It’s been ten years since Bekker Research Center created the robot. Journalists organize a holographic broadcast in World Capital with Ini-Nioni as their guest who tells them the story of its creation. Prof. Marsha Sonders watches the broadcast closely, looking for signs of unusual behavior in the robot. She notices none, though.
Chapter 2 – Creator Gala
The annual Creator Gala takes place at the Ten Whales hotel. It brings together hundreds of scientists, designers, and people of art who have ever contributed to Ini-Nioni and hold intellectual rights to the robot.
Together with the renowned dancer Nei-Lee, the robot performs the Dance of Elementals. After the show, Nioni asks Nei-Lee to share with him her dance technique and to become his Creator. Nei-Lee predictably says “no”. The robot leaves concluding that she’s proud. Nei-Lee’s colleague and secret admirer Kan Haetto points it out to the dancer that she must have feelings for Nioni that are making her not want to become his “mom”.
Chapter 3 – Galatea
In its female aspect, the robot approaches its Supreme Creator – Prof. Hugo Bekker – at the Gala. Ini asks the professor if they can talk in private. The two retreat to Prof. Bekker’s room where distressed Ini confesses that she’s been having a hard time controlling her rage lately. Prof. Bekker feels concerned, but acts calm on the outside and tries to reassure the robot. In an adjourning room, Prof. Marsha Sonders eve droops on their conversation using spy gear and is jubilant that her sabotage efforts seem to be paying off.
Chapter 4 – Calm Before the Storm
Back at Bekker Research Center, Prof. Bekker launches an investigation into the Creator contributions to Ini-Nioni made in the past year. He sits in the room with ten other General Manager for hours, but they find nothing of substance. When everyone is dismissed for lunch, Prof. Marsha Sonders catches up with her old friend, General Manager Keanu Ayle in the elevator. Among friendly chit-chat, Marsha is able to trick Keanu into telling her how the investigation is going.
Chapter 5 – The Fall
Marsha Sonders gives a lecture at BRC University where she talks about inertia and free-fall. Late at night, Prof. Hugo Bekker is woken up by a call from his assistant. He discovers that Ini-Nioni has just gotten in trouble during the concert at Marcian Heights. The robot acted hostile and aggressive to a fan, which left the public shocked and bewildered. The following day, Prof. Bekker suggests they temporarily reduce the intensity of the robot’s emotional response to outward stimuli. Ini-Nioni agrees, but ends up feeling depressed. It tries to hide it from everyone, including Prof. Bekker.
Chapter 6 – A Clue
Dancer Nei-Lee visits Nioni at his apartment and says she’s now ready to become his Creator. Nioni acts coldly towards her and says he’s not accepting any contributions from anyone at this time. Meanwhile, the media report people’s frustration over the robot’s withdrawal from the spotlight. The head of a competing company, Prof. Tokku-Richie Nasu, goes on a live show where he criticizes Prof. Bekker’s decision to make just one copy of the robot. He insists that Ini-Nioni is BRC’s top-grossing product, and that its rarity is used to guarantee its high price. Back in his office, Prof. Bekker who also watches the broadcast realizes he’s heard this exact POV before… from BRC employee Marsha Sonders!
Chapter 7 – All Our Dreams
Prof. Bekker organizes a press conference where he explains certain things about Ini-Nioni. He talks about the Creators’ motivation behind making all contributions to one single being. He also says that BRC has had more money that it can burn for years, and that the project was never about the money, but about “seeing what their dreams can do, united”. Nioni watches the press conference with fashion designer Ki E-Zhuo. At first he grumbles that people talk as if he were a piece of metal, but then tells Ki E-Zhuo he may have find a way to solve his problem without human help.
Chapter 8 – A New Ally
The day after the press conference, it turns out that the media misunderstood what Prof. Bekker was trying to say. The only journalist who seems to have gotten the message was a little-known blogger Pilla Chianti. Prof. Bekker asks Keanu Ayle to give Mrs. Chianti a call and see if she wants to be their new PR Manager. Pilla is surprised to hear from a high-ranking BRC professor, but is flattered by the offer. After he hangs up, Keanu Ayle finds himself replaying young Pilla Chianti’s facial expressions in his head, but shakes off the feeling they give him.
Chapter 9 – The Forbidden Fruit
Nioni comes to Prof. Bekker’s office and tells his Supreme Creator about his breakthrough. Turns out, the robot has been reading the Bible and trying to understand what drives his good behavior. He now thinks he can teach himself what’s good and what’s bad through experience. Prof. Bekker is not thrilled at the idea of the robot becoming his own Creator. He asks him to wait and says there is a clue (to solving the robot’s problem) that he wants to follow up on. Pilla Chianti arrives at BRC for a job interview and is entranced by the brief meeting with Ini-Nioni she has there.
Chapter 10 – The Confrontation
During the interview, Prof. Bekker and Keanu Ayle tell Pilla what is expected from the person in her job role. Prof. Ayle also warns Pilla about the danger of falling for the perfect robot, since it could never return anyone’s feelings. After the meeting, Prof. Bekker calls Marsha Sonders to his office and confronts her about the robot. He bluffs and says he knows that Tokku-Richie Nasu and she did something to Ini-Nioni. He offers to keep it a secret if Marsha tells him what they did. Marsha confesses to everything, and Hugo Bekker is shocked to learn that the damage cannot be undone.
Chapter 11 – Know Thyself
Pilla Chianti signs a contract with BRC (Bekker Research Center) and becomes its Public Relations Manager. With Prof. Keanu Ayle appointed her supervisor, she takes a short course that’s supposed to teach her about Ini-Nioni’s psyche, abilities and behavior. Meanwhile, Ini-Nioni keeps analyzing the drivers behind the good behavior in humans. Now that Prof. Bekker knows that the robot’s problem cannot be solved by traditional means, he intends to keep his promise and return normal sensitivity to the robot, if it promises to be careful and avoid situations that could make it irritable.
Chapter 12 – Back to Normal
Pilla and Keanu have lunch together and get to know each other better. Pilla is in awe with Prof. Ayle’s ability to stay focused and frame his thoughts in a precise manner. She also notices his unusual eye color. Keanu realizes that Pilla’s childish and innocent personality gives him a warm fuzzy feeling he is unable to control. Back at the laboratory, Ini-Nioni is put inside a freezer capsule and his software is updated to bring back his normal sensitivity to outward stimuli. When the robot emerges from the freezer tube, it’s happy and smiling, and very glad to have his normal mood back.
Chapter 13 – Professor Sonders
(I think I made it chapter 13 on purpose, because everyone who read the book seems to hate Marsha. In fact, I kind of hate her, too, but I want to show her from a different perspective over the course of the narrative)
Marsha Sonders resolves to resign from BRC. Hue Bekker is happy and unhappy about it. He has a difficult conversation with Marsha, which resembles a chess match where both seek to uncover each other’s plans while keeping their true thoughts secret. They end up “laying the cards open”, and Prof. Bekker accuses Marsha of being cold-hearted because she’s willing to destroy Ini-Nioni. Marsha calls Hue Bekker a hypocrite and says the robot won’t have any memory of ever living or being destroyed if they break it into smaller programs. The meeting is interrupted by the arrival of Ini-Nioni who is sad to learn that Marsha is leaving. Both Prof. Bekker and Prof. Sonders act normal in front of the robot and tell Nioni that his “mom’s” departure is for work-related reasons.
Chapter 14 – Ini-Nioni’s Only Fear
World Capital is engulfed in celebrating Spring Holidays. The robot’s female aspect, Ini, makes some public appearances. Unexpectedly to anyone, a long-time fan of Ini tries to take his life when the robot refuses to meet with him. The media bring up the question of why there is only one “copy” of the robot out there in the world. Tokku and Marsha participate a live show where they say the world needs more affordable robots and more of them. Ini-Nioni is shocked to see Marsha on the show. Right then, Tokku says that his colleague Marsha does not support the decision to shut down the robot – they only want to make more robots like Ini-Nioni. Meanwhile, Prof. Bekker meets with Pilla and Keanu and reveals that, although Ini-Nioni has no human-like fears, it can literally “go mad” if the Creators disagree and threaten to shut down its program.
TO BE CONTINUED