(1000 words) “Where am I?” thought Donnie Jackson, looking out of his parents’ bedroom window on the morning of his fourteenth birthday. He gazed across an endless black plain towards towering mountains in the distance, all silverised by a huge moon filling the sky. The moon wasn’t ‘our’ moon, he thought, there were no maria, the lava plains clearly seen from Earth, and there were visible canyons. They must be huge, gigantic. And this moon was, what, maybe ten times as big in the sky? But where were his mum and dad?
(900 words) “Are you serious? Do you really believe a machine can think?” I got no immediate reply; Maltravers was apparently intent upon the coals in the grate, touching them deftly here and there with the fire-poker till they signified a sense of his attention by a brighter glow. Finally, he settled back into his armchair. “I believe it possible, Hugh. Why not?” “Why not?” I exclaimed. “Well, because … because a machine is just nuts and bolts, or electric circuits, whatever. A machine doesn’t have a mind.” “Ah, but how would you know?” Maltravers took a cigarette from a silver case and tapped the butt on it several times. A singular habit he had developed.