Rossum’s Universal Robots. U.S. Robots and Mechanical Men, Inc. Marionettes, Inc.
There’s a long line of robot corporations in the literature, producing menials, helpers, even substitutes for humankind.
Let me introduce you to Oxted Corporation. Of course, they manufacture conventional robots in chrome finish, with glowing red eyes. They’re a bit clunky, almost comical. Oxted also produces some more sophisticated models, to service a rather unusual market…
Oxted Corporation is founded on Neil Oxted’s bluntly phrased beliefs that “every human should have the opportunity to raise a young ‘un” and “life’s too short to waste it doing boring c**p.”
Hardly the glib phraseology of corporate culture, but Oxted Corporation isn’t your typical corporate giant. Put it down to the quirky Scots nature of our founder, but those two phrases infuse our corporate culture.
Of course, it also defines our products. From our domestics to our heavy industrials, our classic robot designs relieve humans of the drudgery of the mundane, freeing them to…be human. To create, to innovate, and to experience the sublime.
And in a world where biological parenthood is becoming rarer, Oxted also offers the chance to experience the sublime, through its Teknoids. A Teknoid delivers the joys of parenthood—and a share of parenthood’s challenges, too. Parenthood is one of the things that makes us human.
Oxted isn’t your typical corporate giant, but even Oxted Corporation has a Marketing department. They asked if they could write something on our web page. They wheedled and they begged. Eventually we gave in and said they could write a slogan. Three words, max, we told them.
“Realize Your Humanity”
We kind of liked it.
Who can apply for a Teknoid?
Oxted accepts applications from anyone who is medically certified as unable to bear children.
How much does a Teknoid cost?
Teknoids aren’t for sale. They can be leased for up to 18 years and you should expect to pay upwards of 150,000 Basics.
My domestic robot doesn’t cost anything like that much—why are Teknoids so expensive?
Teknoids and domestic robots are very different. The neurotronic nexus or web, also called the cognitive matrix, is common to both, but everything else is very different. Teknoids are designed to occupy the same ecology as humans. That means they can eat the same food, wear the same clothes, and as far as possible, do everything and experience everything a human can. That’s why they’ll fit so well into your home, because you’ll treat them almost exactly like a human child. Unfortunately, that level of technology makes a big difference to the price.
Can I get financial assistance?
Yes. Oxted Corporation administers bursaries on behalf of a number of charitable and philanthropic organisations. Neil Oxted believed “every human should have the opportunity to raise a young ‘un” and the Oxted Corporation was founded on that heroic aspiration.
Can only married couples apply?
Anyone can apply, so long as they can provide a stable, loving environment. It doesn’t matter whether you’re single, partnered, married, or grouped. Oxted Corporation does not discriminate on grounds of gender, ethnicity, creed, or sexual orientation.
Can I choose the gender of my Teknoid?
Yes, of course. Many parents choose, others ask to be surprised. Naturally, the Teknoid will embody a blend of the physical traits of the carers.
About the Book
It is the year 2049, and humanity is on the brink of extinction….
Tania Deeley has always been told that she’s a rarity: a human child in a world where most children are sophisticated androids manufactured by Oxted Corporation. When a decline in global fertility ensued, it was the creation of these near-perfect human copies, called teknoids, that helped to prevent the collapse of society.
Though she has always been aware of the existence of teknoids, it is not until Tania enters high school that she realizes many of her peers and friends might not be what they seem.
Driven by the need to understand what makes teknoids different from humans, Tania goes looking for answers. But time is running out. On their eighteenth “birthdays,” teknoids must be returned to the Oxted factory—never to be heard from again.
From the Tor/Forge April 21st newsletter. Sign up to receive our newsletter via email.
More from the April 21st Tor/Forge newsletter: