Androids, Steam and Chains.
This article was first published in the 1784 Newrose issue of the Ariaist Times, a magazine known for its radical and Ariaist leanings.
A century ago, no one could imagine the wonders we now have. Technology that does things that once only the most expensive arcane magic could create. Photography can let anyone hold a portrait. Factories have mass-produced goods that would've surprised our forebears. A century ago they have paid high bit of coins for same. Steam engines, too. They have begun to enable fast travel that once only held to conjurers or those with the right kind of luck. But not all these wonders are just, some are slaves chained to our whims.
Even greater are the wonders that blend technology and magic. The best example of this is also one of the more controversial. Androids. More Androids are in the City of Curses than any other part of the world.
Androids. They provide cheaper labor. Cheaper than even the mistreated Unsorcerous or Tieflings that have filled factories before. The process of forging new Androids takes the better part of a year. This is the only thing restraining their numbers. Even then, the Wax Forges birth a hundred new androids each year. Advion Tyranus, the owner of Wax Forges, is intent to expand his forges into Maliph and Southern Ith if he can.
A New Slave Race?These are exciting times. My worry is that we've been blinded by the shine of our new goods to miss the creation of a new slave race. The Tinkerer, Nikolai Ripley, never intended for the use that Advion Tyranus is selling Androids for. I've interviewed the woman three times. Each time Ripley gives the same statement on her creations.
"They are people." Ripley says, always looking into the eyes of others. "They aren't tools. Androids are a masterpiece, not shovels or motors."
That's key to understanding my point here. Ripley has always opposed the mass production of Androids. Despite this, the Ithic Senate has upheld Advion Tyranus's claims that Androids lack intelligence. That they aren't the same as an adult human. My personal experience with Androids leaves me thinking they are children. At least in my experience.
"It's a mistake to think of them as any more than toys, really." Tyranus mentioned to press earlier this month. "Speak with them. They parrot your words back at you. Besides, truly gifted Androids are set aside, it's rare to find one as cunning as a dog, really."
At the University of Crux, I've run across more than one Professor who has taken to tasking Androids. Often those tasks are cruel ones. I always ask them why they obey. Or if they understand what's going on. Each android always sounds the same to my ears. Scared. Worse, they sound as though they think that's what is normal.
"He asks and I obey." An Android, 8511, once told me. She worked as the assistant for the late Professor of Necromancy Studies. "I... He made me go down there by myself. I did what he said. I fell. I hurt. I obeyed. That's good isn't it?"
She isn't the only one. Androids are given numerical designations for names. They think their mistreatment is normal. The Ithic Senate claims Androids lack the same faculties as others. That ignores individual androids like 8511. It mistakes their ignorance for stupidity. It makes it possible for others to take advantage of it.
"Factory Drones"The other side of this is saddening too. Unsorcerous and others staff most of the factories in Ith. For Crux, more and more of these workers are being replaced by Androids. Factory drones, is the term most often applied to these androids.
The Glowing Threads Textiles Mill or Glower's Mill, is an example of this sadder side. When the women workers of Glower's Mill went on strike to unionize, a hundred Androids replaced them. Factories all over Crux are using this tactic over and over. Business is business, one supposes. But Androids need no sleep. They don't need food or water. They lack the experience to know when to even ask for something for themselves. Unlike humans or tieflings or ursyklon, Androids rarely leave the factory. It's another tool to harm workers. Other workers refuse to even try to unionize with Androids.
That's not the only worrying thing about it. One rainy morning I watched Ragwalkers cut down Androids lynched the night before. Nary a sad word spoke about the Machineks. No. Just six dead girl Androids tossed into the gutter. Their mechanical heart guts dangling out from their chests. Their expressions still linger in my mind. They looked frightened, like they didn't understand.
But to another, just a lost investment.
~Maralda Inculti Tyranus is a Dhampr Bard and writer from Crux.