Mike: And now we’re interviewing Colonel Laurie Lachrer, one of our most successful series characters, noted for her amazing work in Book Five, The Wounded Frontier, as well as Book Six, The SolGrid Rebellion. A minor character in the first book, The Martian Marauders, Laurie went on to excel in the complex studies for the demanding physician/engineer position in the Typhoon spaceship series.
Laurie Lachrer: Well, thanks for letting me speak a bit here at the last interview. But before we go any further I do want to register an official protest at being cut from Book Seven. I see that the robot has been given my part and all I’m supposed to do, I guess, is wave at some of the main characters as they visit Iota Persei. I don’t even see that I have a single line of dialog. And after all I did for humanity in The Wounded Frontier, not to mention my important role in The SolGrid Rebellion, I just have to state that I’m … quite puzzled by your decision, to tell you the truth.
Mike: Hmm. Well, nothing’s set in stone–
Laurie: Well, we’ve all noted you say that to all the characters. I don’t even understand why I’m being interviewed as one of the twelve, then. At least Ballard gets a death scene. Why would you interview someone who’s going to wave at everyone from the sidelines like the Queen of England? I have to say this is actually insulting to someone of Laurie’s character and drive.
Mike: Actually, I wanted to include you in the notes to see how you and Laurie 283 compare, who would be best in the Laurie role in Book Seven.
Laurie: Well, I’m honestly somewhat offended by the idea of competing with the robot. I’m the original Laurie, obviously. I was the one who came up the Trans-Simultaneity equation that can destroy a star with a single thought. Even the traitor Draka Sortie knew that I had the necessary human intuition to do that.
Mike: I get that. And I do know that you’ve felt extremely honored to be part of the series, re-entering fully in Book Five, a surprise to everyone.
Laurie: Yes, yes, that’s all true. I was very honored to be chosen from among the minor figures in Book One to essentially lead Book Five. It was the role of a lifetime. But now …
Mike: Your interaction with your HAVOTT robot double Laurie 283 made for both tension and comedy in Book Five, and I guess what I’ve been thinking is that with your somewhat diminished role in Book Six, maybe the human Laurie’s character has been sufficiently explored and it’s time to see just what could be in the mind and soul of an upgraded Laurie robot.
Laurie: Her soul! She just had a major software glitch during her interview a minute ago. You really want to trust that?
Mike: Well, yes, I obviously saw what happened with her. That’s why I asked if she’d been experiencing any return of Runaway Programming Disorder.
Laurie: As if she would tell you! She wants the part so bad she’ll lie about anything. That’s what you get with such an upgraded robot! The ability to lie, and to lust for power!
Mike: Well, Laurie, I really had no idea you would take all this so personally.
Laurie: Right, right. Of course you had no idea. Do you even bother getting to know your characters? You’re so enamored of your comedy robot you don’t even delve into my soul! Okay, so I have a lousy sense of humor. I really haven’t had time for jokes, you know. I’ve been working my tail off for decades to master all this Typhoon technology. I don’t like to crow, but Phil Sperry, the greatest physician/engineer of all, said I’m even better than him! Can you believe that? So in Book Six I have a few scenes, but nothing really developing me.
Mike: I did put you in command of a spaceship at the end of Book Six–
Laurie: A crashed, lasered, antiquated piece of junk! The Typhoon II! With a crew of depressed loser rebels I would’ve locked up if I’d had a brig!
Mike: Jack was very impressed with how you handled yourself. He wants to get you your own ship to captain. Keeping your Air Force background intact, you’d be promoted to General.
Laurie: Huh. I didn’t know that. That’s not in the notes. Ranna isn’t the only character who’s read them all the way through, you know. I’ve even seen the handwritten notes you haven’t typed up yet.
Mike: Well, I’ve been considering that Laurie needs a ship. They can’t keep her a physician/engineer forever. The only problem is–
Laurie: She’s a techie. Not a leader. Not a ship’s captain. No way she could ever compare to Joe, for instance. I know that.
Mike: Exactly. So … what to do with Laurie Lachrer in Book Seven?
Laurie: Look, I don’t know any more than you at this point. I’ll certainly support the series any way I can. You know that. I at least share that quality with Joe. He knows he can be a leader even in the background. Everyone trusts him. I just think the real Laurie could do something major for this book, the last book in the series. I’m grateful you aren’t killing me off, and maybe I could be in a Book Eight someday, but I think the point is that everyone needs to concentrate on giving their best to Seven now, however it turns out.
Mike: I wonder if we need to stretch Laurie a bit, get her out of her comfort zone.
Laurie: I know Book Six had me more or less safely ensconced as the master physician/engineer who was also tapped at the end to deal with the rebels. Of course the way I got to the rebels was by Ballard taking me there as a hostage, so nobody appointed me. After the chromium pyramid incident, when it came time to for someone to step up and take over, sure, I took command, by the book. I think any sane person would’ve stepped up and done it at that point. It showed a little of my character, but not a whole lot. But as for stretching beyond that … I just don’t know. Do we bump her upstairs to some administrative position overseeing quantum Typhoon development with the Ywritt?
Mike: What about the concept I came up with a couple days ago that while everyone thinks that Laurie 283 has been appointed copilot of the Typhoon VII, what really happens is that Jack has you masquerading as Laurie 283? Everyone thinks they’re dealing with a robot that can do a perfect Laurie, but in reality, the real Laurie is pretending to be the robot that’s supposed to be a perfect replica of Laurie.
Laurie: What? Is that in the notes?
Mike: I don’t think I’ve even written it down so far.
Laurie 283: No! Forget it! That’s the most idiotic idea you’ve come up with yet! I’ve contracted to do the Laurie part in Book Seven and that’s final!
Laurie: How did she get in here? I mean, it?
Mike: Okay, Ms. 283, this is Laurie’s interview. And I’m sure I locked that door!
Laurie 283: Oh, that’s child’s play for a robot! Listen, I just killed Rick Ballard! What a rush! I just had to come in and tell you!
Mike: I won’t ask how you did it, either! Ms. 283, please leave. Laurie and I are discussing an interesting new plot development.
Laurie 283: No! I forbid it!
Mike: Note that your contract includes the provision that you, as the Laurie Lachrer 283 robot, fully acquiesce in authorial plot decisions. If we go with Laurie masquerading as you, you as the robot will be in on the secret and will cheerfully support the plan when Jack asks you to step down as Typhoon VII copilot in favor of Laurie here.
Laurie 283: This is the most stupid idea I’ve ever heard in my life! Your goddamn series is doomed!
Laurie: Look, I really don’t know about this masquerading thing anyway, to tell you the truth. It’s kind of a scary idea … outside what Laurie would do and all …
Laurie 283: Well, obviously the stupid servile robot is going to have to remain behind and pretend to be the so-called real Laurie! Wait till I get hold of your boyfriend Will! He’ll be in worse shape than Ballard back there!
Laurie: Oh, God, forget it. He’s got almost all his Amplified Thought back together. He’d see through you in a second.
Laurie 283: Don’t be so sure! He’ll definitely be amazed when I totally outperform you in bed!
Laurie: You can’t outperform me in anything!
Mike: Ladies, ladies …
Laurie: Does Laurie 283 need to be dismantled? That would make a great plotline. If you’re not careful she’ll take over Book Seven, and that would definitely be a poor ending to this series.
Mike: No, I really don’t want to dismantle her.
Laurie 283: He loves me! He would never dismantle me!
Laurie: Look, you’ve obviously got a robot out of control here. We have to make sure that we, the humans, retain control. And then you could milk her death for as much tragedy as you want.
Laurie 283: You admitted I could have death! That means you know I’m real! Sentient! Alive!
Mike: What I’m seeing here is some interesting psychological underpinning to the Laurie 283 robot character that none of us were aware of. Or maybe we suspected it, who knows? But in any case, as the author I’ll be able to rein all that in where necessary.
Laurie 283: Of course, of course! He knows he can trust Laurie 283! He knows I’ll faithfully act out any part he thinks of! Unlike some people I could name!
Mike: And note, Laurie, if you are to masquerade as the Laurie 283 robot, you need to be aware of all these underpinnings and ramp up your own sense of humor.
Laurie: Okay, dammit! I’ll do it! I’ll do your robot masquerade! I’ll stretch myself however it takes! I know we all need to grow, even in a final book of the series. You’re always wondering which character needs completion, but that’s not the point. The point is to grow. Look, I’ll even offer to seduce Ballard. He’s obsessed with me, I lure him to his horrible death in Chapter One–
Mike: Okay, okay! I see Colonel Laurie Lachrer taking some chances!
Laurie: I want the part!
Laurie 283: No! It’ll be me! I’ll masquerade–as the masquerade! Everyone thinks Jack is switching me with Laurie, but at the last minute–
Mike: No, forget it! This is priceless! I see I need to keep both of you!
copyright 2018 by Michael D. Smith