EXCERPT: Jerome 3.0 by Jason Gurley

Jason Gurley is the author of Eleanor, The Man Who Ended the World, Deep Breath Hold Tight, and the bestselling novel Greatfall, among other books. He lives with his family in the Pacific Northwest, and can be found at jasongurley.com.

Jerome 3.0


Funding Canceled. Funding for this project was canceled on August 2.


14
Backers

$73
Pledged of $180,000,000

Reunite a widow with her late husband, and help write the final act to a love story that transcends death itself.

What is Jerome 3.0?

I suppose that should say who is Jerome, shouldn’t it? What sounds too . . . antiseptic. The word what undermines everything I’m trying to do here.

By now I think most of you know Jerome almost as well as I do. For the uninitiated, a short recap: My name is Roberta Heisengel, and I am the widow of the lovely and brilliant Jerome Heisengel. (Or “the Robot Widow,” as The New York Times has referred to me.)

Jerome was, you might say, nobody special, except that he was very, very special to me. We had no children, and I was his only family. He was a product of the system, raised in foster homes until he came of age. He worked hard at his unspectacular job, and earned just enough money to keep the lights on. We met in a field in the rain, and that lovely moment captured all that our life would be from that moment on: mud, thunder, and the two of us in the middle of it all, together. I loved him dearly. My life has little meaning without my beloved Jerome to warm it.

Jerome 3.0 is my attempt to bring him back.

I have his memories, his essence, saved to a file on my computer.

I want to implant that file in a robot’s core. I want to bring my husband back to me.

Project History

As you may guess from the version number, this is not the first time I have asked for your help. When Jerome passed away in 2024, we were one of the 500 lucky couples selected by the human preservation foundation conscio•US for memory recording. As you may know, the foundation ran out of money and was shuttered amid a storm of criticism. What you may not know is that 11 of the 500 couples had successfully imprinted their brains before the foundation toppled. Jerome and I were among them.

By 2026, I was painfully lonely. I had thought I might live a life worthy of Jerome’s memory, but nothing I spent my time on satisfied the ache I felt. I won’t beat around the bush here—I thought of killing myself. Who wouldn’t? If you’ve known love, and lost it—well. Perhaps you might understand.

That year I received Jerome’s file in a last email from the foundation. It was smaller than I had expected—I almost deleted it. I thought it was spam. I’m so glad I didn’t.

Jerome 1.0

I started my first crowdfunding project a week later, almost on a whim. I didn’t expect anybody to help me. I asked for enough money to purchase a simple household assistant-bot, one I might load Jerome’s memories into. It wasn’t much, just $14,000. I was overwhelmed by the response—thousands of you wonderful people gave from your hearts, and helped me raise over three million dollars. With that money I was able to purchase a maker-bot, one that would assume Jerome’s physical characteristics. I promised to share Jerome and his new life with the world.

But Jerome 1.0, as I called him, never arrived. The maker-bot was stolen right off of the delivery truck somewhere in Topeka, a thousand miles from my front door. Three million dollars and months of patience, gone. My heart, which had been warmed by so many others, ached with this fresh loss of my husband.

Jerome 2.0

The talk shows and media carried the story for weeks. I didn’t want to give interviews, but I did. Someone suggested I try raising the money again. After all, I still had the original file that was emailed to me. What could it hurt? I worried that I might be asking too much of the world that had shown such generosity to me, but I missed Jerome too much to give up.

My second crowdfunding project overshot its modest goal as well. I had again asked only for $14,000, expecting to be quite content with the assistant-bot I had originally hoped to purchase. After all, I wished only for it to keep me company and talk to me each evening.

The world gave me eleven million dollars, enough to purchase an elite maker-bot. I shared every update from the factory—each photo they sent me of Jerome 2.0’s progress through the customization process, every video of his features being sculpted in animated latex. Every day I received emails and letters from people around the world who had also lost their loved ones, and who were living vicariously through my journey of resurrecting my Jerome.

A sinkhole opened beneath the factory floor in late 2027, swallowing up not only my Jerome 2.0, but causing hundreds of millions of dollars of damage and, sadly, claiming seventeen lives. The loss of my husband for this, the third time, paled next to the loss that so many other families suffered.

Once again, my funded project had failed.

 


~ END EXCERPT ~

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