Annie Bot is not your average robot companion. She’s a Stella-Handy Sterling model with AI, set to Cuddle Bunny mode, and she’s custom-designed to be the perfect girlfriend for Doug, her human owner.
“Annie Bot holds up a mirror for us to gaze into.”Sierra Greer
What’s more, Doug is an exacting man who knows precisely how to guide her to develop the way he wants. He limits her time online, teaches her to adjust her libido to match his moods, and keeps her safe at home in their New York apartment. He tells nobody he owns her, especially not his ex-wife. Annie is his own, private pleasure.
Then Doug’s best friend Roland comes for an overnight visit, and for Annie, everything changes. It so happens that keeping secrets accelerates Annie’s learning.
I have to tell you– I’ve been mesmerized by Annie since the first time she materialised on the page, and writing her story took me places I never expected I’d go. On the surface, Annie Bot is deceptively tight and compact: it has a linear plot and a small cast of characters who interact in surprising but believable ways. I wrote it to be read in one night. But underneath, Annie Bot has layers of nuance. It delves into issues of control, trust, respect, awakening, equality, and longing in ways that feel new and sometimes devastating.
For me, the tension of the novel isn’t only between Annie and Doug. It’s also between Annie and the reader. We start out accepting that she’s a prized piece of property, effectively a toy. Like Doug, we’re entertained by her efforts and missteps. But as Annie advances and becomes more familiar to us, we become uneasy. If she can convince us to perceive her as human, then she deserves our respect. We can’t help wondering what we would do in her situation.
My editors and I have had long conversations about how Annie’s story works because her relationship with Doug feels real. Annie herself feels fully, credibly alive from page one. Yet, ironically, I couldn’t have written this novel unless I’d created Annie as an AI robot. That device freed me to explore what can happen in a problematic relationship, especially when no one is watching.
Considering the recent interest in AI, I expect that people will find my novel timely. I also think that Annie’s story will resonate because it’s about us, people trying to understand our own imperfect relationships and desires. Annie Bot holds up a mirror for us to gaze into.
I’m thankful for my editors at HarperCollins who have done so much to bring Annie’s story into the world. I hope you enjoy reading it!
Find out more about Sierra Greer’s debut novel here:
She’s human in every way that matters.
Annie is a robot, created to be the perfect girlfriend for her human owner, Doug. Playful and eager to please, she has dinner ready for him every night, wears the outfits he buys for her, and adjusts her libido to suit his whims. Maybe the apartment isn’t always spotless, but she’s trying to be good enough for Doug. She’s trying really hard.
But as Annie grows more self-aware, she begins to chafe against the borders of her life: the empty weeks spent confined to the apartment, the fitness regimens designed to keep her part-organic body toned, the service appointments to increase her bra size and shave inches off her waistline. Worst of all are Doug’s unpredictable moods, and the way he can punish her without even raising his voice.
Annie starts to imagine the impossible – what would life be like outside Doug’s apartment? What could she be like without Doug?
This powerful, provocative novel from a bold new voice examines the intricate relationship between creator and creation, between human and AI, exploring issues of trust, intimacy, power and autonomy.
Is a human soul something we are born with? Or is it something – through love, pain and other people – we can learn?
Out 14 Mar 2024