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Tin Man

By quinoas All Rights Reserved ©

Drama / Scifi

Uncanny valley

Would you agree that not everything in nature has a purpose?

There are bits that are unfinished, failed attempts at adapting to it's surroundings before a better path was found. There are residues, the still undissolved parts that talk about the lives of the ancestors. Living beings are unfinished and incomplete. That is the essence of organic life - it is imperfect, always in the making.

Why does human life strive for perfection above all else? Is it your need for self-destruction that drives you to torture yourselves that way? Does your undeniable tendency to be irrational and superstitious make you blind to the fact that perfection is, for you, unachievable? Or is it the rational part of you, the one that sees beauty in symmetry, infinity, logic? Or is it an empty, hollow wish of being better than all others?

I think it's the latter. I think it is human arrogance - the sense of importance, superiority, transcendence - the complete inability of every human being to comprehend that you are nothing more than a mistake, a glitch in nature's program. But like all organic life, you grasp pathetically at the rope, begging for one more moment. You think your existence matters. But you are as revolting and pointless as the hair on your fragile bodies, meaningless, obsolete, a thing whose time has come and gone.

After all, not everything in nature has a purpose.

"I just have a bad feeling about this, alright?"

Alex flicked the half smoked cigarette over the fence and watched as it fell until it disappeared into the darkness.

"It's all so sudden, you know? How did we go from the old tin cans to freakin' Steven Spielberg androids in, what, 20 years?"

The man beside him opened a beer and handed it to him.

"Uncanny valley."

Alex frowned and nodded his head for his friend to continue.

"It's this idea. Remember when we were kids and the bus station replaced the ticket dispenser with the talking robot?"

Alex's eyes softened as the memories rushed in with bittersweet nostalgia. He gave a small smile and nodded.

"A few years after that - I don't know if you've moved by then, but they got this sad excuse for an android and it-"

Alex nodded hectically, waving one hand in the air as he swallowed down the beer. "Yeah, yeah, it was called TOM. That thing was freaky as fuck - it didn't last a month. Bad investment."

"Yeah, see, the first talking robot looked more human than the ticket dispenser, and that made it more likable. It was adorable, right? But TOM looked even more human and it was creepy."

Alex pulled another cigarette out of his pack and held it between his fingers. He leaned sideways against the fence and frowned.

"Right, yeah, okay. So it looked too human - that's what made it creepy."

He put the cigarette between his lips and his friend held up a lighter for him.

"Yeah, but it's more than that. It's called 'Uncanny valley', right? So basically, the more human it looks, the more you like it - up to a point. Once it looks very human, but not quite, that's the tipping point, that's when it gets very creepy very fast. But if you continue and you make it look more and more human - to the point where you can't really tell the difference anymore - that's when it becomes pleasant again."

Alex blew out a breath of smoke he had been holding in for almost the entire time. He quirked his mouth skeptically and turned away to lean on the fence.

"I don't know, man. Have you seen those things? Looks pretty fucking Uncanny valley to me."

"That's not what it is. You're a technophobe."

Alex jumped back and opened his mouth to retort aggressively but froze when he saw the other man laughing quietly.

"Godammit, you been talking to May?"

The man shrugged with a smile and emptied his beer.

"You're a technophobe, Alex. Stop living in the past, Alex," he mocked in a high-pitched voice. "I make freakin' spaceships for a living!"

"Nobody calls them that, Alex."

Alex waved his hand in the air dismissively.

"And you know what this series is called? ANGEL. I don't know what that's short for, but whatever it is, I'm sure they pulled it out of their fucking asses. And the models are named after angels from Christian mythology. No fucking decency, man."

His friend's body shook gently with laughter as he listened and stared at the city in the night.

"You're not religious."

Alex sighed and stepped back off the ledge. He started picking up the empty beer cans and food wrappers and shoving them in a bag.

"I'm just sayin'. I have a bad feeling about it."

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