Originally in : Tor.com – and still online here so read the story before going any further!
After a couple of short, contemporary stories by Kelly Link and Pat Cadigan, that don’t really stretch the reader, Swirsky provides much more intense fayre.
There are more interpersonal and interspecies dynamics than you get in most sf novels. A wealthy young woman takes a lover – creates one in fact, a robot that is virtually indistinguishable from human, and one whose brain is plastic – it is able, rather than being restricted to positronic pathways mapped out in the brain, to develop and change at the behest of the human.
They later have a child, another complex piece of a jigsaw that includes a parrot, sisters, and a father who has recently died, but whose shadow hangs over his daughter and the story, but very subtly. The woman, a complex character as seen through the eyes of the robot, gives him the opportunity to take responsibility for his own development, and this freedom has huge implications for the family unit.