research * the future * culture

"The Chair" is (a)live! (And in NATURE!)

One chilly morning in January, I phoned Squid for his birthday. As I padded barefoot between the living room window and the kitchen talking about how far up the simulated brainstem one might nestle robot :: human affective bonding, I casually made reference to a story idea I had.

“Oh, wow,” he said. “You have to write that story.”

“It’s a one-liner,” I said. “It’s trite.”

“But it’s great! You can do it in a thousand words. Come on, you have to.”

...At lesser provocation have wars been waged and empires built. Be careful what you wish for, people, especially when what you wish for is a story about a very clever piece of furniture who loves, really loves, a brilliant physicist.* (Also there are origami cars and a household “Internet of Things” and talking toilets that can do pregnancy tests. But those are just icing.) Otherwise I might just demand your help revising the story, relying on your superior prose skills for assistance, only to call you halfway through the editing process just to say “WE SHOULD MAKE FICTION BABIES POST-HASTE.”

Speaking of which, you know what’s good for that? The Missionary Position.

*Note: The story should also be available in the print edition of Nature, on the back page in the “Futures” section. Granted, you will have to find a newsstand or bookstore which carries it, or hit your local library.

3 ResponsesLeave one →

  1. Rene

     /  May 17, 2009

    I went over to the Nature website to read the story, but 32USD is just too much for me to read a single story. Do you know if it’s in the print version?

  2. It should be, on the back page. 🙂

    • Rene

       /  May 18, 2009


      I’m more willing to pay the (way more reasonable price) for a paper copy


  • Madeline Ashby… a science fiction writer, futurist, speaker, and immigrant living in Toronto. She writes a column for the Ottawa Citizen. She is represented by Anne McDermid & Associates, and Jason Richman at UTA. You can buy her books here.

    She has worked with Intel Labs, the Institute for the Future, SciFutures, Nesta, Data & Society, The Atlantic Council, the ASU Center for Science and the Imagination, and others. Her short fiction has appeared in Nature, FLURB, Tesseracts, Imaginarium, and Escape Pod. Her other essays and criticism have appeared at BoingBoing, io9, WorldChanging, Creators Project, Arcfinity,, MISC Magazine, FutureNow, and elsewhere.

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