I like Ken Poyner’s work because he writes about men who don’t apologize. His characters don’t have bad relationships or mommy issues. There aren’t any quasi-metros or neurotics. They aren’t spineless twots, or sitcom divorcés “with a heart of gold.”
From The May, 2014 issue, Ken Poyner’s story, “Snake Oil Rights,” has a salesman who sizes up a synthetic human–a female form, his own design:
“…the thunder of her spiked heel nearly touches the floorboard as one blue sensuous snake of a thigh slithers carefully over the other, the lip of her mini-dress folding just a little back. I turn to look over the whole of her, and it takes commitment to this trip’s firm schedule not to stop the truck. But I need to get to wherever this place is. I am the new novelty, straight from the complicated cities. I am bringing progress, modernity, the life folks only see on their quaint hand-held view screens.”
He writes beefy characters so that actors like Gene Hackman, Charlton Heston, Eli Wallach, George Kennedy could have played them.
From Poyner’s latest coming in October, “Establishment”, an android barkeep eyeballs two customers engaged in discourse:
“You hate to see them waste their money on access when they could be wasting their money on maintenance, but I can’t control the bone and protein crowd. I’ve yet to figure out their programming, and I stay out of the mathematics of it when two of them are dealing.”
There it is, from both sides. The first, he’s acknowledging one of the base motivations for improving technology. The second, from the opposite viewpoint, is a unique combination of man/machine sensibility with genuine AI cynicism on what it is to be a man. He’s comfortable in both places.
His characterizations are perfect raw material for classic actors of the sixties and seventies who played some great sonsabitches who didn’t give a shit whether they got the girl or just who their ex-wife was tumbling now.
Ken’s very low-key about all this and prefers a discussion of “personhood” but as far as I am concerned his voice is clear. And we don’t see enough of this kind of work.