Saturday, April 17, 2010

Rachel Swirsky's "Eros, Philia, Agape" (novelette, love story, free): This android must find its own identity

Illustration by Sam Weber accompanying the original publication at of short story Eros, Philia, Agape by Rachel Swirsky Good enough read, but it has been done before. Probably the closest read I can off-hand recollect is the third (I think) story in Adam Link series of Eando Binder: girl falls in love with robot, but robot must break her heart & go out to be alone to figure out his own identity & how he can fit in among the humans.

Background & environment of the story will likely resonate better in some cultures than with others. This is not a story for global audiences.

Story summary.

Adriana is a lonely woman. To fight loneliness, she's purchased a custom-made android, Lucian, as companion. They fall in love. She helps him gain human (& property?) rights.

He figures his true status is that of a slave. Since he's free, he exercises his right to go away to meditate & discover his own identity - with no assurance that he will ever return.

So we have Adriana lonely again, & with a broken heart. Their adopted 4 year old daughter, Rose, & a pet bird provide additional opportunity for sentimental scenes.


  1. Torque Control has a very long discussion of this story.
  2. I'm not clear what the title means.

    "Eros" probably has something to do with love.

    "Philia" with sex? But there is no overt sex here.

    "Agape" - wonderment? Again I don't see how it relates to the story.

    Update 18 April 2010: Micah clarifies the title in comments below. Thanks Micah.

Collected in.

  1. Rich Horton (ed)'s "The Year's Best Science Fiction & Fantasy, 2010 Edition".
  2. Jonathan Strahan (ed)'s "The Best Science Fiction and Fantasy of the Year, Volume 4" (2010).

Fact sheet.

First published:, 3 March 2009.
Download full text from publisher's site.
Rating: B.
Nominated for Hugo Award 2010 in novelette category.
Related: Stories of Rachel Swirsky.


Micah said...

Eros, Philia, and Agape are the three words for love in ancient Greek.

Eros: We get the word erotic, but it's not actually lust. More like romantic love.

Philia: "Brotherly" love. Companionship.

Agape: Unconditional love. Self-sacrificing.

Micah said...

Here, this is better:

Tinkoo said...

Thank you, Micah.