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The Artificial Kid

by Bruce Sterling

Arti (or just "Kid" to his friends) is the number one "combat- artist" on his world. He's a violent, futuristic pro-wrestler who, for fame and money, beats other artists to a pulp under a strict set of rules. The Kid uses his numchucks, a sense of theatrics, and his floating cameras to document the heavily edited story of his life, his times, and his battles.

"The Artificial Kid" also explores the alien ecologies and the politics of Reverie, the planet on which the story takes place. And, there are lots of politics on this world, not the least of which concerns the ancient Cabal which toppled a "utopian" system set up centuries ago by a man named Moses Moses.

The Kid has some secrets of his own. One is that his current personality is the second one to inhabit his body. The man who had it before him, Rominuald Tanglin, was one of the most powerful men on the planet. The Artificial Kid may be one person, but he now has two sets of enemies. And, as the past begins to reveal itself, his fate becomes entwined with that of the entire world.

Originally published in 1980, "The Artificial Kid" is in many ways a story closer in tone to Michael Moorcock than William Gibson, foregoing strict realism for high adventure.

(A. Mayer)


The Artificial Kid
Bruce Sterling
Ace Science Fiction, 1980

Here is the TEXT POPUP for The Artificial Kid:

People use to ask me how I became a combat artist and why I'm called the Artificial Kid. People stopped asking such prying questions after I ruthlessly beat them up. Every formal interview I've given has ended with me "losing my temper" and soundly clubbing the journalist. Now, the days have passed when I found it necessary to establish a reputation for fury and volatile violence. Now I intend to tell all.

"...My Reverid pornstars are among the most accomplished sexualists in humanity. We could destroy your painful inhibitions with drugs, dear Saint Anne; and then you may fly with fiery wings into their embraces. I assure you that you would find you linkage entirely delightful. Many women would swear themselves into servitude for such an experience, but I offer it to you freely, in a spirit of liberating hedonism. Afterwards, we could see how many of your tenets you still held, and with what degree of firmness. Would you be willing to embark on such a journey of self-discovery?"

Saint Anne hesitated. Finally she said, "I feel that you mean me no harm, Mr. Manies; so I control my disgust and revulsion. I must ask you not to make such an offer again."

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