The Author

SFX - - First Read -

Tues­day. Just an­other beau­ti­ful morn­ing in Hol­ly­wood, Cal­i­for­nia. The sun came in through the win­dow be­hind me. It was al­ways sunny. It had been sunny for as long as I could re­mem­ber. Which cur­rently was about two hours, ten min­utes, and a hand­ful of sec­onds not worth men­tion­ing.

I sat at the ta­ble in the com­puter room. I was read­ing the Daily News. Around me Ada clicked and her lights flashed and her tapes spun. We were killing time while we waited for a job to come in. It was Au­gust 10, 1965. I knew that was the date be­cause it was printed across the top of the news­pa­per in a very con­ve­nient man­ner.

There was a head­line splashed all the way across the front page and the ar­ti­cle that went with it was all about a film called Red Lucky. That got my at­ten­tion. Movies, even in this town, rarely mer­ited such prime news­pa­per real es­tate. I was obliged, I felt, to keep read­ing just to see what all the hoopla was. “Lis­ten to this,” I said. Ada made a sound like she was putting out a cig­a­rette in an ash­tray that was in need of emp­ty­ing, and then the sound was gone. If it had ever been there in the first place.

“If it’s about Pres­i­dent Kennedy and his trip to Cuba, I’m not in­ter­ested,” she said. Her voice came from some­where near the ceil­ing. I wasn’t quite sure where ex­actly. I was sit­ting right in­side of her.

I frowned, or at least it felt like I did. I scanned the front page again and saw what she was talk­ing about: a piece – rel­e­gated to the bot­tom half – that was a lot of hot puff about Kennedy’s week­long visit to Ha­vana and how well the ne­go­ti­a­tions were go­ing to put some good old Amer­i­can-made nu­clear mis­siles down there. Just in case. Af­ter read­ing it I wasn’t quite sure whether I was sup­posed to hang a Stars and Stripes out of the of­fice win­dow or not.

Huh. Ada was right. When all was said and done, world af­fairs were a lit­tle be­yond my in­ter­ests, too.

“So,” I said, “do you want to hear about this cin­e­matic mar­vel of the mod­ern age or not?” “Sure, why not?” I found my place and I started read­ing. It was pretty in­ter­est­ing, ac­tu­ally. This was no or­di­nary movie – Red Lucky not only had an A-list cast as­sem­bled from across dif­fer­ent stu­dios, which I fig­ured was quite some­thing

What would a sci­ence fic­tion story writ­ten by Ray­mond Chan­dler look like? this thrilling spec­u­la­tive noir fol­lows the Pi turned hit man Ray, the last robot in the world.

given most stu­dios seemed to be at each other’s throats most of the time with their ac­tors tied up in ex­clu­sive con­tracts as tight as Ada’s purse strings, but was go­ing to be the first na­tional film pre­miere, the pic­ture beamed into the­aters all over the coun­try thanks to some new de­vel­op­ment in cin­e­matic magic. The red-car­pet pre­miere was due to be held at Grau­man’s Chi­nese Theatre this com­ing Fri­day, but reg­u­lar folk could grab a ticket and pop­corn and take up space in the­aters in twenty ci­ties stretch­ing from here to New York.

Seemed like a neat idea. I won­dered if Ada could maybe give me the night off and I could go take a look. There were three other the­aters in LA alone host­ing the open­ing night beam-in. Couldn’t hurt to ask so that’s what I did.

“It’s been quiet, Ada,” I said, then I stopped as I won­dered if it re­ally had been quiet or whether that was just me not re­mem­ber­ing be­ing busy, but I’d started my query so I de­cided to fin­ish it. “And if it’s quiet I think I should be al­lowed to go to the movies. It’s not like I need to be on call. We don’t get much in the way of last-minute as­sas­si­na­tion re­quests.”

At this Ada laughed and for a mo­ment I saw an older woman with big hair lean­ing back in a leather chair with her stockinged feet up on a wooden desk and a cig­a­rette burn­ing to­ward the fin­gers of her right hand.

Hol­ly­wood, Cal­i­for­nia. Sum­mer, 1965. A girl called Eva. A robot called Ray. A miss­ing movie star to find… and a di­a­bol­i­cal mas­ter­plan to thwart.

Adam Christo­pher is a nov­el­ist, comic writer, and award-win­ning editor. Adam is the author of The Burn­ing Dark, of­fi­cial tie-in nov­els based on the hit CBS tele­vi­sion show Ele­men­tary, as well as co-writer of The Shield for Dark Cir­cle Comics. Born in New Zealand, he has lived in Great Bri­tain since 2006. He tweets to 6,000 fol­low­ers as @ghostfinder.


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