We’re headed into “Headspace” territory. “Headspace,” for the uninitiated, is a standalone short story in which an AI specialist named Rafe uses his rather forbidden specialty to upload the mind into a virtual environment. I go a different direction with that story, but now No Marigolds is heading in that direction. The rovers, parts of the domes, and storage vaults have what are called “AI interfaces,” pre-packaged personalities that make it easier for people to interact with otherwise “nice and stupid” AI systems. Some come from the factory. Others are based on people who used the system previously.
Our boy Farno has found one based on a former terraformer. The interface quickly deduces that Farno cannot survive alone and begins expanding her control over systems he needs. He’s aware that he’s violated several laws dating back to our near future. But he’s been alone for weeks now, and when he finds a habitable dome that’s not quite ready yet, he needs someone to help. The best he can hope for is his new AI friend. She works with him, pointing out that she will have to delete herself when help finally arrives.
And yet there’s another AI personality planted in all of Barsoom’s systems by one of the projects backers. And he wants to run the show to upload back to Earth and report back to the man he’s based upon. He and Farno’s friend do not get along. It’s a fun twist.
And now I have to decide what I want to do next. Bring in the Gelt? Switch back to humanity when they realize someone’s still alive out there? Have him wake up to find Bobby Ewing in the shower?