EXCERPT: I Used to Love H.E.R. by Maurice Broaddus

Maurice Broaddus has neither robots nor girlfriends—his wife of fourteen years and two sons prefer it that way. He whiles away his hours toiling in his own secret laboratory capturing stories for such places as Asimov’s, Weird Tales, Cemetery Dance, and Apex Magazine. Every now and then he puts on his editor’s hat for the Dark Faith series (Apex Publications) and Streets of Shadows (Alliteration Ink), the latter of which was Kickstarted. Mostly he’s known as the author of the urban fantasy trilogy, The Knights of Breton Court.

I Used to Love H.E.R.

(a/k/a Help Engineer and Rebuild My Robot Girlfriend Roommate)

The Indianapolis Recorder

The Nation’s Oldest Black Newspaper

Indianapolis, Indiana—October 7, 2005


Taking the human brain and placing it in a mechanical body is the next phase in extending our lives past “death.”

My name is Sophine Rachel Willouby Jefferson, and I am considered by my peers to be a machinist of the first order, with access to a level of instruction few of my station would dare hope to attain, as The Royal Academy of Science sponsored my admission into Albion’s finest institution of higher learning, Oxford University.

Though The Royal Academy’s sponsorship opened many doors for me, I have had to work against factions within the university who for unknown reasons deemed it necessary to block my plans at every turn. Despite this, many of my professors have begrudgingly called my design work “daring.”

Any of a dozen different projects jostle for the attention of the Oxford University administration at any given moment, and department funding is often awarded to those who play politics and curry favor. Thus I have deemed it necessary to circumvent the usual academic funding mechanisms entirely and plead directly with you, the people.

If Winston Jefferson passed down any lesson to me it was this: Any system built can be circumvented with enough ingenuity and industry. Which brings us to my plea: Help fund my most challenging endeavor to date—transplanting my roommate’s brain into a robot shell.

Join the revolution: The opportunity to forge a biomechanical future!

I must first say that my dear roommate, Ms. Floretta Velis, isn’t technically dead. She merely experiences the pause of sleep. I do not wish to get into the tragic set of circumstances which led to her unfortunate condition, so let us leave it at that.

She and I worked together long into the night many a time debating the nature of memory storage and the location of one’s true heart. Do not let the Romanticists fool you: the brain is all—the total sum of who you are, warehoused in three pounds of tissue. Remove the liver, remove the dermis, remove all distracting organics, and one could still go on living so long as the brain remained intact. Of her essence—her spirit—I cannot speak, but Floretta’s memories remain stored in her brain (which has been preserved in a nutrient bath).

Enough time has passed with me being able to do little more than stare at her membranous flesh bobbing in its murky jar, awaiting its final disposition. The predictable chorus of objections arose. My work was deemed abominable, as if it had sprung from the mind of a heretic.

My argument remains the same: our society has already accepted prosthetic limbs. My proposed technique represents merely the next logical step.

Floretta’s current mechanical body lacks the suppleness of her God-created, organic original, but it can be refined. A hydraulic network, supported by a Barrington coil, along with a clockwork network of gears will power it. Flexible tubes run through her robotic body’s neck into her chest cavity. Rubber capillaries will carry the brain nutrient bath through filters, oxygenating it as they went before returning to the cranial chambers. A parallel system of venal tubes will similarly transport, expunge, and reinvigorate the machine lubricants. The trickiest element would be the interface between organic and inorganic, the fusion of metal and flesh where brain meets machine. My original plan was to capture the electrical signals of her brain through my encephalo-patterning process then transfer them to a mechanical seat, essentially running her memories much like one would translate sound for a phonogram. However, inspiration struck me with the errant flitter of fingers of lovers denied against one another. The bath itself would act as an interface, a liquid membrane by which electrical signals could pass. I have done some early work along those lines, having used the brains of abandoned dogs and placing them in robotic shells. I have a cinescopic reel of these experiments; alas, I can only provide the abstract here:


The Canine Cranial Anastomosive Venture

The first brain transplantation linkage was attempted without spinal linkage using a weaned puppy. The direct cephalic exchange was achieved with the use of fusagens, artificial membrane fusion cyberglycoproteins which facilitate cybernetic linkage to an automata body. “K9” attempts one through six had limited success as the host body shut down soon after awakening. The current theory is that the canine brain was incapable of accepting its new context. K9 series seven, Buddy, had a more familiar body casing crafted and achieved longer lasting mobility. Nearly a week elapsed before it [. . .]

[Full article available upon request.]


Aesthetically speaking, no one wishes to be reminded of the state of the brain bobbing within its glass chamber. However, the nature of my research impressed not only the Royal Academy, but also the Philosophie d’Alchemie in Paris. My early research attempts were also where I realized just how expensive such experiments could be.

So now I call upon my brothers and sisters to join me in this endeavor—to create for ourselves not only a new system to finance our dreams via crowd-sourcing, but to re-claim our natural mantle as philosophers, scientists, and engineers, a history that traces all the way back to Egypt and beyond, no matter what Albion’s history books may teach.

You may wire funds directly to my KickStarter account: Freedmen’s Bank. Indianapolis, IN. NWA19892004.



Read the rest in HELP FUND MY ROBOT ARMY!!! and Other Improbable Crowdfunding Projects!