A Good Home by Karin Lowachee
"A Good Home" by Karin Lowachee
I read this story from the anthology "The Best Science Fiction of the Year Vol. 2" edited by Neil Clarke.
This story was a touching story of two war vets. What made them slightly different is that one of them was an artificial intelligence. The other was crippled from war and bound to a wheelchair. With time, patience, and a little understanding these two war vets came to grips with the horrors of war together.
During the time the story took place wars were being fought by androids of sorts. They were sentient beings, but created by humans. They were programmed with everything needed for war, but were also given emotion. For one android the horrors of war became too much for him.
After the androids fought in the war they were brought home to be rehabilitated. They were tested to see if their software was functioning properly and were fit to be around human society. If all the software diagnostics checked out and the psychological testing proved acceptable then they were placed with a foster caregiver. Someone to watch over them, help them readjust to life in a human society and give detailed reports to the government about their behavior and actions.
Tawn decided to be one of those foster caregivers for an android. He was given an android named Mark, but there was a catch to this particular android. Mark didn't speak. The experts and software engineers all said that there was nothing wrong with his programming or vocal functions. It was a voluntary action on Marks part to not speak.
So they spent the next weeks getting used to each other. Tawn attempting to communicate with Mark and Mark just sitting by the window staring out at nothing, or so it seemed. Eventually Tawn was able to introduce Mark to books and read to him on a consistent basis. They also started to play the game scrabble. This is when the magic happened.
While playing a game of scrabble Mark started to communicate by spelling words. They each spelled words to each other and this became their main mode of communication. Every now and then Mark would take out the scrabble board. Sometimes they would just play a game of scrabble, other times they would talk.
Scrabble was the beginning of the bonding that these two war vets eventually came too. There was patience required from Tawn that a lot of other people probably wouldn't of given him. It took a war vet to know another war vet. With time everything came together.
This was a touching story. It was a reminder of the horrors of war and the toll that it takes on the soldiers. Not just the human ones, but even the robots that we create to keep humans from war. The story was a deep look at how two war vets came to trust each other when they had little left to look forward to in life.
I would definitely recommend reading this story. It was a an interesting way to approach the subject of war and the costs of war on society. Too many times I think people forget what happens to the vets that come back from war. Scarred and broken. They have seen and done things that most of us would never dream of and it affects them in profound ways. This story was a perspective on that.