Concept Art Writing Prompt: A Beach Vacation with the Robot Family

Illustration for article titled Concept Art Writing Prompt: A Beach Vacation with the Robot Family

An unusual family takes a vacation day in this week's Concept Art Writing Prompt. Will they have to deal with the usual family drama—with a robot twist—or will they encounter more nefarious forces on the beach? Come up with your own tale of these oddball beach-goers.


Alexandre Diboine painted this piece, titled "Vacation Shot" (via The Art of Animation). As always, if this inspires you to write a bit of flash fiction, please post it in the comments.

Here's my story:

Hemmy pulled on his leash. "Daddy!" he yipped. "Daddy, I want to run!"

I knelt beside him, grabbing him by the scruff of his shirt as I snapped off the leash. "Hey, sport. See those doggies?"

Hemmy bounced and nodded, clapping his hands impatiently.

"How would you like bodies like those? You'd be all furry and you run around like that all the time."

He flashed a surprised emoticon across his screen and I let go of his shirt, letting him bound over to a pack of bioloid mutts, their fur sandy and wet with ocean spray. Cerise smacked the back of my head. "You can't just convert our son to a pet!" she said, though she was grinning.

I shrugged, a gesture I had acquired from too many years with a bioloid bride. "He might be happier that way." Cerise was a bioloid, but she'd been vat-grown from the finest parts, and her brain and been carefully constructed and seated by artisan bioroboticists. I'd never understood why she'd insisted on having a uterus installed. Those things are unreliable even in the best of circumstances, and Ford knows what chop shop printed off the sperm. We'd already had to reseat his brain in a mech-skull, which honestly was for the best. Bad enough to have a kid who couldn't tie his shoes; worse to have people mistake him for human.

"See?" Hemmy was tussling with a giant creature who looked like a German Shepherd. "He's happier out there with dogs."

Cerise unfolded a chair and nestled it into the sand. "So are lots of boys his age. It's just a phase."

I smoothed a towel on the beach and sat beside Cerise. I'd rescued a bioloid transplant catalogue from the recycler, debating whether to hide it in Hemmy's room. Now I'd made up my mind. The boy should get to choose for himself.

By the time Cerise fell asleep, Hemmy had joined the dogs in an endless game of fetch. Owners would hurl tennis balls from the beach and Hemmy would charge with the dogs into the ocean to retrieve them. But gradually, the number of dogs dwindled and dwindled as their owners leashed them up and took them home. Finally, a towering android with a shaggy terrier glanced from the tennis ball in his hand to Hemmy. He pulled the ball back behind his head and pretended to throw.

Hemmy, as eager as ever, dove into the water, hunting for a ball that wasn't there. I leaned forward and watched him swim and swim until he was little more than a dot growing ever smaller on the horizon.



i feel like this picture is asking less for fiction and more for a cultural criticism essay of the sexual dimorphism of robot renderings.