Science Fiction

O What Freedom, This Great Steel Cage

By Shane Halbach
1,031 words · 4-minute reading time

1. Liv

When Liv takes control of the body, she shoves the lingering personalities aside impatiently.

Liv pushes hard, exploring the boundaries of the machine. She scales mountains, surfs lava flows, searches for treasure at the bottom of the ocean. She is careless of the sturdy frame, impatient with any limitations.

This body, built of welded circuits and tempered steel, is infinitely better than the weak, imperfect slab of meat she leaves behind, dangling stationary from the control harness.

The robot is Liv’s true body. Her thoughts transmit flawlessly through silicone and nanotubes, servos and actuators reacting exactly how she intends them to. The crippled, mis-wired body she was born with is a prison.

When Liv is stuck in her own body, she is paralyzed; in the mechanized body she is free.

2. Mahir

When Mahir takes control of the body, the lingering consciousnesses almost overwhelm him. He hates the alien feeling of their stray thoughts. Sometimes he thinks it’s not worth the...

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About the Author

Shane Halbach lives in Chicago, where he writes software by day and avoids writing stories by night. His fiction has appeared in Analog, Intergalactic Medicine Show, and The Year’s Best YA Speculative Fiction, among others. He blogs at, or can be found on Twitter @shanehalbach.

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