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Excerpt from The World Doesn't Require You by Rion Amilcar Scott, plus links to reviews, author biography & more

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The World Doesn't Require You

by Rion Amilcar Scott

The World Doesn't Require You by Rion Amilcar Scott X
The World Doesn't Require You by Rion Amilcar Scott
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  • First Published:
    Aug 2019, 384 pages
    Paperback:
    Aug 25, 2020, 384 pages

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Book Reviewed by:
Dean Muscat
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About this Book

Print Excerpt

The Electric Joy of Service

The Master's divorce became official the day following Independence Day. This is the first of the small ironies that I learned, over time, to appreciate. I wasn't around until the day following Insurrection Day the next year. My inner workings were so rudimentary then that I didn't understand much.

The Master used to bang about in his workshop. Little Nigger Jim, he'd say. Don't let me catch you trusting a woman.

If the Master had been a whole person, capable of giving and receiving love, he never would have sought to create me. I was born of his desire to be free of the small sense- dulling tasks of daily necessity. With his wife no longer there to complete those tasks, the Master had to manufacture someone to carry them out.

The week of my birth, the sky burned with fireworks set off by revelers celebrating the anniversary of the slave revolt that freed their ancestors. The loud sound caused a jitter in my system that I passed on to later models. When I asked the Master about the insistent popping— every few minutes a blast shaking the house— he mentioned something about the Great Insurrection and moved on without looking up. Back then I wore a shiny metal exterior with LNJ1 engraved across the chest. My movements were slow, awkward, and deliberate. In fact, the first joke I told was to ask the Master to forgive my robotic movements; since I am a robot there is no other way for me to move but robotically. I learned and adapted slowly, aided by near- constant software updates. The early fog of those frequent system crashes— like briefly lapsing into the cloudiest dementia. It's a wonder I wasn't scrapped and dismantled, my programming farmed out to less ambitious, easier- to-implement projects. My saving grace, I believe, is that I loved to serve.

Preparing the Master's foie gras, mixing his morning mimosas and his afternoon margaritas, cleaning the workshop, taking dictation, scanning files and projecting a hologram of the contents into the wide- open air— when I came to know joy, there was no higher joy than serving. It's a great sadness that later models don't share my excitement for the service arts, but this is the Master's fault.

I'm not sure why he pushed his business partners— Winston and Lucas— the way he did. He told them, Let's just paint these fuckers black. Give them big red lips; dress them like lawn jockeys. Sell them to white folks. They'll have slaves again and we'll get rich. Nobody gets hurt.

His partners chuckled, thinking the Master was making a joke until days before they were to meet with Meratti, Inc. That's when he presented the new me. Slate- black face, bulbous white eyes. White gloves. Fat grinning lips. Since then I've done research and understand how grotesque I look. The history of it all. That day the revulsion I inspired thoroughly hurt me.

We can't take that to Meratti, Winston said. They'll . . . they'll . . . God, look at that thing.

Bawse, if I do something wrong, I said. I'se powerful sorry. I'se just wants to serve ya.

How you guys liking the new language pack I installed? the Master asked. Look, you don't like the name? Fine. We'll turn it into an acronym or something, but this is the future.

My appearance was such a distraction, no one noticed my new software was about three- thousand-point- five-two leaps ahead of previous incarnations. I no longer needed the Master to write code or to issue upgrades, I could do that all on my own.

After that disastrous meeting, the Master knew Winston and Lucas would move against him. He arranged his own meeting with Meratti, Inc. The board members gasped when I walked in holding a tray of hors d'oeuvres. I made sure to lay thick the charm. I served drinks. I sang. I danced.

Rich whites will rush out to buy their own robot slaves, the Master said. And we can make these things any race the customer pleases. Little Asian Jims. Little Wetback Jims. Little Cracker Jims. Anything.

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Excerpted from The World Doesn't Require You: Stories. Copyright (c) 2019 by Rion Amilcar Scott. Used with permission of the publisher, Liveright Publishing Corporation, a division of W. W. Norton & Company, Inc. All rights reserved.

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