by Germ Lynn
Published as part of Futures: Science Fiction Series
In the year 2061, the government launches an initiative to create support units for the sick and the vulnerable. They say it’s to care for those in need, to show compassion. But without warning, the program is discontinued, and the support units are dismantled, weaponized, and shipped to other worlds for reasons only the government knows. This recall forces the caregiving robots to run for the hills in an act of self-preservation.
The narrator makes their escape, but as they wander through the woods in search of their companion, they begin to wonder what kind of life they will make for themselves now that they are separated from the person they are programmed to care for.
What You Call explores the limits of consciousness, identity, and artificial intelligence.
“What You Call is an empathetic exploration of what it means to care for another person, told from the outside of humanity looking in. germ lynn’s writing is pithy and immediate, whether its form is a transmission from a cyborg or a conversation around a campfire.” —Tenacity Plys, Contributing Editor of Queerly Reads
“This chapbook is an ode to the fallen and the fallen world; at once redemptive and bleak, hopeful and fearful, like returning home after a long time away to see everything changed. Lynn disarms with a body of difficult questions, and invites you to accept fracture, to find humanity in corruption, redemption in grief. How much damage to yourself would you be willing to take, refusing to let go of what is lost?” —Daniel Warner, author of Shadow Work
“A document of obsessive love cut with oblique meditations on ability, on posthuman bodies, and on the emotional afterlife of obsolete labor: Germ Lynn has written a very sad and very recommended postcard from a future that’s coming.” —Jeanne Thornton, author of The Dream of Doctor Bantam and The Black Emerald
“[In germ lynn’s What You Call], readers are prompted—ironically, through the travails of a friendly robot—to juxtapose rosy teleological characterizations of progress with the dangers of technological dependencies. A take-away lesson is the need for humans to retain and embrace their existential resilience.” —Jennifer Robertson, author of Robo Sapiens Japanicus: Robots, Gender, Family and the Japanese Nation.
germ lynn (they/them) is a cellist and writer from Tampa, Florida. As a journalist, they have published in Slate, Broadly, and Playboy. As a poet, they have published in a number of DIY zines (Whiny Femmes, Achey Breaky Heart, Cracked on the Rock) and most recently in a collection from Trapart Books titled Rendering Unconscious: Psychoanalytic Perspectives, Politics, and Poetry.