by Elizabeth Stewart, Cassie Walder, Jennifer Dunne

February 2004
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Hearts Of Steel is an anthology about androids and one shop where they are purchased. The shop plays a small role in each of these unique stories. But it is all about the androids and the people that purchase them.

Elizabeth Stewart starts off the anthology with My Darling Clementine where the designer of Clementine dies and she is left covered in his office of the O’Shea’s Discount Bot Shoppe. Only she went undiscovered until Nathanial walks in to buy a bot. Just not any bot will do but he doesn’t know what he is looking for until her looks into Clementine’s eyes. Clementine is unlike any of the other bots as she is more advanced then any on the market at that time and well she wasn’t on the market to begin with but she was sold to Nathaniel. My Darling Clementine is a story of how these two come together and overcome the differences between them. The story has a villain that will stop at nothing to get his hands on Clementine.

Cassie Walder gives us Batteries Not Included with even a more advanced bot than Clementine. Amanda owns the family ranch but she needs help as her android, Mike, of thirty years is no longer repairable. So off she goes to the bot shops, only one was willing to help her and that was O’Shea’s. Amanda meets Tim and has an instant attraction to him; she thought she was over that when her husband was murder as well as her son. But unknown to Amanda she gets more than she bargained for. Plans are changed when she accepts to take back two bots, Tim and Jean, to her ranch, as things are getting more and more dangerous for Tim and Jean. There is some danger along with the risk that Amanda is taking but in the end she accepts it and so do Tim and Jean.

Illicit Programming by Jennifer Dunne is the last story in the anthology and takes place in a far off planet. It seems that two muns are to scout out a planet and make it habitual for future muns to arrive. Once again O’Shea’s is there as well to give them aid with two bots with a little more programming than was requested. Maeko and Koie are both different than each either in every way imaginable, Maeko likes for no one to touch her things and Koie likes to be surrounded by other muns. The pleasure for them is done by brain stimulation not with their bodies. Let’s just say that the relaxation program shown to them by Meghan and Sean opens their eyes to relaxation and more pleasure than they have never known.

The three stories each have bots, androids, in each of them that play a significant role in each story. In Illicit Programming the role is not as a loving relationship with Maeko and Koie but more of a tutoring for them. The other two are more one on one relationships and the love they feel for each other. The sex is there in each and every story but it is not the major part of the story, the bottom line is finding love when you didn’t expect it to happen again or finding love for the first time. Each story is a stand alone from the other so you don’t have to read them in order but it helps as it shows the progression of the bots.

Reviewed in April 2004 by Pam.