“Today I Am Paul” by Martin L. Shoemaker

“Today I Am Paul” is a poignant and thought-provoking portrayal of a robotic future for elder care and cognitive dissonance caused by trying to be everything to everyone. Medical Care Android BRKCX-01932-217JH-98662 ponders interactions of programming and identity.

I like the strange specificity of the android's attention to details, the layers of consciousness as it checks in with its medical logs but also performs the social niceties, particularly when it already knows what Mildred ate but still asks her how her breakfast was. I appreciate the dynamic with Anna, how they trade off and Anna interacts as if she was the one who visited when she speaks to Mildred about the garden.

The commentary about the inverse journeys of Mildred and Millie is very subtle but poignant, the characterization is very complex for such a short story.

This story deals with death, memory loss, and cognitive decline. It does so in a very conscientious and tender way, but it doesn't shy away from the implications of these topics. It's a very quick read, and well worth it if you have the 15-20 minutes to spare.

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