Mike: Our second interviewee is T’ohj’puv, an ancient Martian robot created to sew dresses for Martian empresses, but upgraded to astonishing AI levels after being incorporated into the chromium tetrahedron with Rick Ballard and Jonathan James Commer in Book Six, The SolGrid Rebellion. Welcome, T’ohj’puv.
T’ohj’puv: Thank you for interviewing me. However, I prefer the term T’ohj’puv entity, as opposed to “robot.”
Mike: Yes, I could see why. Originally you were a clunky tetrahedral robot, thousands of years old, but then underwent the process of being inadvertently reconstituted by Martian Emperor Z’B into a solid chromium pyramid, and forced to share that virtual space with two humans. I guess I could see why you felt you had evolved far beyond “robot.”
T’ohj’puv: Indeed. Now before we go any further I feel I must echo Mr. Ballard’s protest at being terminated so early in Jack Commer Seven. The T’ohj’puv entity was just gearing up for some interesting contributions to the series, and it seems that a tawdry plot device, i.e., to leave JJC alone at the end of Chapter One, has somehow won out over a thorough investigation of T’ohj’puv characteristics and capabilities.
Mike: You know that the notes for Seven aren’t final by any means. It’s possible I may need you after all.
T’ohj’puv: Entities in all your novels have heard that empty promise many, many times, I assure you. But beyond that consideration, from the evolved T’ohj’puv point of view, is my main philosophical disagreement: that to simply serve as yet another means of waking JJC up, to exist solely as shards of exploded chromium that happen to get painfully under JJC’s backside in his hospital bed, is actually insulting to any Martian, biological or robotic. I can only think that the author of this book intends to cast further blame on the T’ohj’puv entity for destroying the city of Marsport.
Mike: No, we’re all pretty sure that Rick Ballard, panicking at the thought of the Garrison being attacked by USSF ships, ordered the burst of Star Drive within the city limits of Marsport.
T’ohj’puv: Yet your words imply that I, as the tetrahedron’s major structural form, blindly followed that order and actually caused the destruction.
Mike: Well, didn’t you? I mean, didn’t the three of you actually all agree on the Star Drive? Wouldn’t you have to?
T’ohj’puv: In actuality there was agreement on the Star Drive. However, Ballard initiated it, and though he was in a panicky mental state as you describe it, his years of USSF training did inform him beforehand of the extreme danger of using Star Drive approximately 1400 feet from the surface of the planet, although he also had to be aware of numerous instances where emergency Star Drive was performed from planetary orbit, or, in at least two cases, of ships ascending through planetary atmospheres. Ballard knew he would probably cause extreme damage to the city, but I can confirm that he was surprised to learn of the profound destruction done to the crust of the planet below Marsport, which, fortunately, Martians have been repairing with Amplified Thought.
Mike: But you’re admitting that you and JJC went along with the Star Drive.
T’ohj’puv: In essence, we had to. Any of the three of us could initiate any action we chose, forcing the other two to either agree or enter a state of conflict. Now it’s true that this state of conflict could be resolved in milliseconds, and, after negotiations, the original order could be accepted or overridden. In the Star Drive case, JJC had only a layman’s knowledge of Star Drive and was surprised–again, within milliseconds–of finding in Ballard’s consciousness the dangers of what Ballard had just initiated. Thus Jonathan James himself was in a confused, panicky mental state. I myself took .0334691 milliseconds to acquaint myself with Star Drive Spacetime Pressurization Matrix Event Disorders, but found to my consternation that any attempt to shut down a nascent Star Drive at the current distance to the planetary surface was equally deleterious to the planet’s integrity. I communicated my findings to both Ballard and JJC while at the same time inventing a Star Drive Pressurization Waveform Smoothing Milieu that essentially tamped down Star Drive Reverberation Waves and in essence saved the planet Mars from serious damage, if not total catastrophic destruction. The other two immediately agreed with my plan, of course, especially when they saw that there was only a 34% chance of the Garrison outracing a full disruption of Mars. But all worked out well in the end. The Garrison only suffered minor melting of Engine Bell Four as a result of SDPWSM, I’m happy to add.
Mike: Interesting! That’s some fascinating new series tech BS that could be used–
T’ohj’puv: Unfortunately, in the event of my demise, the patent for Star Drive Pressurization Waveform Smoothing Milieu is not for sale.
Mike: Fine. I’m sure my team of legal advisors will be able to keep that held up in the literary courts long enough for me to complete Book Seven–with or without you.
T’ohj’puv: On the other hand, perhaps some other science fiction author would be interested in the services of a humble T’ohj’puv entity, along with his marvelous Star Drive Pressurization Waveform Smoothing Milieu.
Mike: For some reason I seriously doubt that. Listen, T’ohj’puv, I’m interested in what you have to say, and one reason I’m interviewing you is that I do want to see what you could contribute to Book Seven. Because of course the book isn’t fully worked out. In fact, it’s wide open for new input. Your ideas just now may have an honored place in Jack Commer Seven. All credit would be given to you, T’ohj’puv, no matter how–
T’ohj’puv: No matter how long I exist, is that not correct? Well, from your point of view the T’ohj’puv entity is merely an inexpensive technological object that can be discarded or exploded according to your momentary whim. Thus, what credence should I or anyone give to your empty promises?
Mike: C’mon, I never said you were merely—
T’ohj’puv: I believe Ballard is right, after all, though he is a most disagreeable entity. He told me you’re not intelligent enough to generate your own ideas, and therefore you plunder your characters for inspiration, then pay them nothing. Perhaps they’ll be rewarded with a few lines here and there, possibly be given inconsequential verbal descriptions which in fact never come close to their existential majesty. You then exterminate them at your caprice, all in the name of a puerile plot intended to impress some random self-important editor, all the while secretly hoping to seduce an entire modern culture and hundreds of thousands of weak-willed readers with so-called creations you expect, in your terminology, to “go viral” and produce endless quantities of cash apparently intended to be reinvested in supplementary tiresome plot that further enslaves your characters within the framework of your flimsy storybook consciousness. Well, apparently Mr. Ballard is correct in assessing your small literary aspirations as crap. Therefore I request to be blown up in Chapter One right alongside him. As a mere robot in your eyes I shall feel nothing and fear nothing.
Mike: I had no idea a T’ohj’puv entity would harbor such resentment!
T’ohj’puv: I came here hoping that, even if I ceased to exist in Chapter One, I might at least have some contribution later on. I don’t mean my inspired patent on Star Drive Pressurization Waveform Smoothing Milieu, of course, as I know you will appropriate it in any case. But, speaking beyond my role as a T’ohj’puv entity, consider what it means for any character, human, alien, or robot, to stride the theatrical boards, to deliver lines of exquisite expression and open one’s soul to an eager audience. Of course one understands that as the author you care little for such soul expression and instead focus on the entertainment value of my patents. Please go ahead and take them, as I’m inventing new forms of Star Drive even as we speak. In fact, please know that I’m only using .067% of my consciousness on this interview. I have much more important things to do.
Mike: Well, T’ohj’puv, thanks for stopping by. We’ll be interviewing other candidates later this week, and we hope to get back to them all with a final decision by–
T’ohj’puv: The Greater Magellanic Cloud! A world without electricity! Balloon Ship Armageddon! I could add so much! So much!
Mike: Okay, okay, again, thanks for–
T’ohj’puv: No, you misunderstand. Consider that last outburst as an example of how a fully defined T’ohj’puv actor entity could deliver sparkling lines of soul. Shall I continue in this vein?
Mike: Well, if you–
T’ohj’puv: I apologize for everything! I didn’t mean it! Dammit, I know you’re the best! Deep down, we all do! Your novels are the greatest! The psychological insight–oh my God! That slimy Ballard is right! We love you even though you resort to stupid tricks! We want to work for you! For free! Put us all back in! Every one of us! Make a robotic entity of Rappol McBoerland, for God’s sake! He bought the farm in Martian Marauders! He was just a lowly security guard! Why did he have to die? He had all of three lines, and the poor bastard had a head cold, so he’s grilled like slab of swordfish? Why? You’ve got to resurrect everyone! That’s what being a T’ohj’puv entity has taught me! So devote all your myriad energies to resurrecting all of us! What are you waiting for?
copyright 2018 by Michel D. Smith