Clever readers find many ways to express their appreciation of an author’s work. Some of the more creative outlets include fan art, fan fiction and cosplay. Last night during a storytelling event in Second Life, I was delighted to learn that my books have an avid fan. Not only has he read my books aloud during library events in Second Life (yes, there’s an extensive virtual library system), but he’s also built a virtual version of a tikkerbot – the semi-intelligent robots of my world. I was gifted with my own copy of his tikkerbot last night. I could not be more delighted.
Meet the Grand Sterling Building’s Hatcheck Lady,
brought to life by Gyro Muggins!
Clicking the pictures gives a larger view.
If you are not familiar with this character, here’s an excerpt from The Flight To Brassbright, in which Constance, our befuddled protagonist, tries to cope with the limited intelligence that all tikkerbots seem to possess.
I stood still and let my eyes grow accustomed to the muted lighting. To one side of the foyer, I spied the now-recognizable double doors and push buttons that meant this building also had an elevator. To the other side, a dark wood counter displayed colorful brochures, a bowl of candy, and to my amusement another tikkerbot behind the counter. This one was designed to look like a lady. Her corkscrew curls were made of thin ribbons of bright copper curved round and round and bolted to her head. She wore a fancy black dress, with frilly white lace around the collar and mid-length puffy sleeves.
Having successfully fooled one tikkerbot, I felt ready to take on another. I walked closer until she brightened up and swiveled to face me. Unnaturally bright blue eyes stared at a point on my cheek.
“And isn’t it a lovely evening for the…” her voice paused as internal gears turned, and I heard a sound that reminded me of playing cards being shuffled. “…Accountants convention at seven o’clock on the ninth floor, turn right as you exit the elevator, or the Thackerton Wedding Reception at half past eight on the Vista View level, may the happy couple enjoy decades of wedded bliss, or this evenings literary indulgences at The Inkwell, on the lowest level at seven o’clock sharp, sharp as a quill!” She tittered at her pre-programmed joke, a shaky tinny effort, but still an amusing noise.
“Yes, The Inkwell!” I cried.
“May I take your hat and coat for safe storage until your delightful evening has ended? Please insert your card into the slot in my hand for deluxe hatcheck service!”
“Er, no thanks, I’m not wearing a hat,” I explained, testing the machine. I leaned in a little closer, bringing my rather large, difficult-to-miss ladies’ hat directly in front of her bright eyes.
“Please insert your calling card into the slot in my hand for deluxe hatcheck service!”
I sighed, rolled my eyes, and shoved Max’s card into her delicate hand.
“Please place your handsome hat upon the counter for deluxe hatcheck service Max Dodgson!”
I retrieved Max’s card, then picked up the candy dish and set it on the countertop in front of the overly-helpful tikkerbot lady, placing it precisely in the center of a round brass plate bearing the instructions ‘Place Hat Here’.
As the weight of the candy dish settled onto the brass plate, her eyes glowed brighter, shifting to a rich amber color. Her head bobbed jerkily in an imitation of enthusiasm, and her bright curls wiggled stiffly. “I will keep your hat safe until your glorious evening concludes Max Dodgson!” Her forearms bent up and her hands pivoted inwards to pick up the candy dish, then she swiveled at the waist to face the hat shelves behind her. With her arms ratcheting upwards at the shoulders, she brought the candy dish perfectly level with one of the upper shelves. And then, about six inches from the edge of the shelf, she released the dish and it plummeted to the floor, scattering candy everywhere.
A mature male voice called out across the foyer, “The day they can tell a candy dish from a hat, we’re all in trouble. Luckily they’re about as bright as a sack of bolts, but not nearly as useful.”
I turned to see who was talking. A kindly looking older gentleman shuffled towards a staircase I hadn’t yet noticed. “Don’t trust the elevators much either, myself. What’s this world coming to, I ask you? Next there’ll be metal arms on the restaurant tables to cut my meat and feed me. Good evening, miss!”