I have in the past written rules for writing vampire characters and rules for writing succubus characters, and inevitably I turn now to the rules for writing sexbot characters. I remember reading somewhere – and I wish I could find where – that there are, fundamentally, only two plots about sexbots:
- the sexbot kills its user, or
- the sexbot becomes sentient.
The first isn’t really relevant, however, because the sexbot isn’t really a character. The second, I feel, should really be:
- the sexbot is or becomes sentient
because sentience, one way or another, gives life to the character. For me, the most compelling thing about Westworld is watching the robot-characters awaken and escape their scripted lives. In Bladerunner, the replicants have short lives to prevent their awakening, and we see them in their last, desperate few hours of real life.
Transformation is a powerful theme, but not really a necessary one. Imagine the story of Sadi, a robot sex worker who enjoys her work and bestows her favours indiscriminately. Her story, however, takes her amongst people who fear her for what she is and despise her for what she does. She discovers true love, but her lover insists on an exclusive relationship, and this conflicts with Sadi’s nature.
The rules for writing sexbot characters
Whenever interacting with other characters, at least one of the following must be true:
- The sexbot character must have (or try to have) sex.
- The sexbot character must struggle with the desire for sex. (This desire may be negligible if the sexbot character is not the object of overt sexual desire.)
This much is necessary, but not sufficient. In addition:
- The way the sexbot experiences desire and pleasure must be explored. For example, although the sexbot should respond physically as if aroused, the sexbot is designed to give pleasure rather than to receive pleasure. The sexbot achieves satisfaction through satisfying others.
- Sexual attraction, as distinct from sexual desire, is universal, i.e., the sexbot’s instinctive response is the same for a woman of angelic beauty and an ugly brute of a man. Age, gender, etc., perhaps even species, are all irrelevant.
We are, humans and sexbots alike, creatures of instinct. But where human sexual desire and attraction derive from a messy genetic imperative to procreate, sexbots are programmed in a much simpler way.
Sexual attraction is an irrelevance. Only performance matters.
It’s all very well to write rules, but how do these work in practice? Well, here is a short extract from my unpublished (not for lack of trying) novella. In a forest in a starship, somewhere in the vicinity of Venus, Alexis has a few precious moments alone with her human lover…
I grabbed hold of her and kissed her. “I have two hours of freedom left. Let’s not waste them.”
“What did you have in mind?”
“Well, we’re deep in the woods, all alone, no one to see us. Don’t tell me you have no interest in this perfectly designed body of mine.”
“Oh, I’m interested all right. But I thought you’d be sick of sex by now.”
“I’m only sick of being touched by people who aren’t you.”
“Oh, well, in that case…”
I have a body built for sex, and a mind programmed for sex. I may have evolved into a sentient being, but if I am touched here or here, or certainly here or here, then my body will respond, whether I like it or not. My breasts will swell, my nipples harden, and I am sure to soak any knickers I might be wearing. More annoyingly, my breathing will become rapid, shallow and uneven, and, as if that does not make conversation difficult enough, my lips will pout when closed and open wider than usual when parted.
These are things I cannot control. My body’s arousal is an act to simulate desire — but desire for sex is not something I feel. Nor do I receive any intrinsic pleasure from sex. Yet there is an undefinable satisfaction in serving the purpose for which I was created.
I have never had an orgasm. I would like to say that giving Kat an orgasm is the closest I have come, but in truth my moment of ecstasy came shortly after. It was such a subtle thing, completely unnoticed by most of the crew, but to me it felt like a fog of oppression dissipating swiftly in the sunshine of freedom.
The drive parameters had been altered.