The other day my friend lent me The Best American Short Stories (2003) chosen by Walter Mosley asking me to read a few of the stories she liked and wanted my opinion. One of them was the beautiful Why the Sky Turns Red when the Sun Goes Down by Ryan Harty.
It is a story about a world where instead of adopting children people have robotic children. The robot child, Cole, that the protagonist Mike and his wife Dana has is having loads of problems with its functions and breaks down on a regular basis. Mike’s wife wants to get an update on Cole while Mike knows that if they do indeed update him, Cole is going to lose much of his personality. This issue has been going on for years and its has slowly but surely created a big raft between the couple.
Instead of focusing on the robots, Harty is making them a part of the society without engaging more in the reason for these robots he is instead showing how a couple is trying to coup with having a child with problems. The sacrifices they are willing to make for their child and how they accept what life has given them. It tells the story from two different perspectives even if it is written out of Mike’s perspective. It is very effective to use a robot child because we are willing to see both their sides, and empathize with both of them without the guilt. He is showing the fear, the helplessness and the hope that something will change that is, in some cases, a constant battle of having a child that is not “working” as other children.
You can read the story by clicking on the link, and let me know what you felt about it.