Short Story: The Burgundy Boy Speaks!

ShortbreadSteve DouglasShort Stories › The Burgundy Boy Speaks!

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About this Short Story

Written by
Steve Douglas

Narrated by
Ewan Donald


An old fashioned piece of sci-fi from before the days of cyberpunk. That old tale of the Individual fighting the Establishment...


  • 2726 Words
  • 33 Comments
  • 78% Community Rating
  • 7474 Views

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“Hi there! Good to meet you. I’m the Burgundy Boy, a household helper for all your chores!”

Jim Thornton stopped abruptly and stepped back. He studied the Burgundy Boy before him curiously, but its smooth, maroon surface looked the same as ever. Its pseudo skin shone a little in the glare of the overhead lighting, and its smile was as bland as usual. He touched the lips. They were easy enough to manipulate, but how could they form words?

He looked down the line of work stations, where the white clad workers of Household Helpers were busily and blankly assembling Burgundy Boys. To his left Janice was just inserting the final coil into the main section. He waited as she clicked it shut and sent a brief power surge through the system. Her Burgundy Boy buzzed momentarily and twitched slightly as the current went through it. But it remained silent. On his right Jack had just begun to assemble the components and…

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Fiona Smith Guest Editor said "A surprisingly entertaining and touching tale, which leaves the reader re-examining the world we currently live in. And at this time of year I can’t help but wonder what Santa’s elves would make of Steve Douglas’s Burgundy Boy production line…"
6 years ago

Wai Yan said "how can I listen> how can I download ? Can you tell me Steve?"
3 years ago
Steve Douglas replied saying "Just click 'Listen to Short Story' or 'Download... etc once you have the story on the screen."
3 years ago
Sally Paduch said "It has George Orwell's "1984" feel about it. I think Steve Douglas's story Burgundy Boy touches on the disconnection of living and life. Nice read."
3 years ago
Steve Douglas replied saying "Thanks Sally - it certainly has a 50s sci-fi feel, very much at odds with today's sci-fi, I think."
3 years ago
Adam West Guest Editor said "I rarely listen to short stories, but I am pleased I did - love the story, Steve - great narration, Ewan - the diction/accents are delivered most professionally - many thanks, Adam"
5 years ago
Steve Douglas replied saying "Yes, the reading really brought it to life. A great performance. I too sometimes find listening to a story less easy than reading one, but this was read really well. (Of course, the fact I wrote it helped!)"
5 years ago
Patsy R Liles said "Hearing made this tale so gripping. I kept expecting any moment to hear that Jim was sent away, but his victory at the end was such a relief. Now if I just could find a Burgundy Boy . . .Well written and well read. Patsy R Liles"
5 years ago
Diane Dickson Guest Editor said "I was really excited to see that this had been audio-d and was thrilled listening to it. It is one of my favourite stories and the narration was brilliant. Well done and thanks again Shortbread and of course Steve and Ewan - Diane"
5 years ago
Steve Douglas replied saying "Yes, interesting idea for debate. I've said (somewhere else!) that I think fiction could happen, science fiction could happen given a presumed technological advance, and fantasy could never happen, though this still leaves blurry lines as people debate what could or couldn't happen. In this sense, Wells' War of the worlds is sci-fi - because it's based on the 'what if' there were hostile life on Mars, even though we know now there isn't. (Famous last words...) Just because we now know this doesn't turn the book into fantasy; had we been invaded by elves it would be fantasy. But what about ghost stories, and magical realism? These are different types of fantasy for me. Then again, there is 'hard' SF - based around the sciences such as those you mention, and 'soft' SF, based on possible sociological changes, alternate worlds etc. We could go on and on, couldn't we?"
5 years ago
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Steve Douglas replied saying "Yes, this was a great piece of narration by Ewan, and many thanks due to him and Shortbread for doing it. Glad you enjoyed hearing it as much as I did!"
5 years ago
Peter Parkin said "Liked it a lot. Once worked on a small components line. I've prayed for a 'Burgundy Boy' in the past."
6 years ago
Steve Douglas replied saying "Glad you liked it. The idea of a 'robot' household helper was very 1950s, but it was fun to write anyway."
6 years ago
Steve Douglas said "Glad you liked the story, Mary. I've never really thought of developing Burgundy Boy, partly as I wrote it so long ago. And thanks, your comment is very flattering, Adam, especially since I've always considered myself a writer of fantasy rather than science fiction. Now there's a subject for debate: what's the difference?"
6 years ago
Mary Davidson said "I liked this and I don't normally read science fictiona t all. I wanted to know what happened next, you should develop it."
6 years ago
Adam West Guest Editor replied saying "It is interesting how many times people remark that they don't usually read science fiction but they read and enjoyed a particular story... I suspect that Star Wars/Star Trek has a lot to answer for :-) Glad you read this one, Mary, by one of the best sci-fi writers on here."
6 years ago
Phyllis Starkman said "I enjoyed this story. It is a fast and very good read. Nice clear writing."
6 years ago
Ann Smith said "Interesting idea. I enjoyed the story but felt it ended to quick. I would like to see a continuation of the story, there is definitely scope for more."
6 years ago
Andrea Dexter said "This was brilliant and I wanted it to be longer. A familiar theme of course but always relevant and I wanted much more of it. Thankyou"
6 years ago
Joseph Chamberlain said "Excellent"
6 years ago
Steve Douglas replied saying "Thanks Joseph and all those who've given me such positive feedback. This was very nearly my first 'real' sale; it's quite old, and was initially accepted by a magazine called Beyond. I received contract, got excited, signed, then... the magazine folded. It was quite a good one too, sort of in competition with Interzone. Glad the story has found an audience after all this time."
6 years ago
Gavin Dobson Guest Editor said "I rarely read sci fi--I can't get into the mindset-- but quite wish I had written this story. It's amusing and well-observed. I don't think we are far from the world described here. Well done !"
6 years ago
Adrian Ford said "An old theme yet valid many years into the future told simply and unpretentiously. I loved it when 'Burgundy Boy put a brotherly arm round Jim'. But what sort of new world were they entering? Thoroughly enjoyable!"
6 years ago
Norvi Wood said "Great story, what an interesting concept! Very good writing style, easy to read yet very descriptive."
6 years ago
Alexandra Gray said "Sent shivers down my spine... also reminded me of The Scheme for Full Employment by Magnus Mills. Breathed a sigh of relief at the end... perhaps there could be a sequel?"
6 years ago
Lily Byron said "I enjoyed this clever story. It really flowed and made me want to read on. I didn't listen to it. I prefer to read."
6 years ago
Steve Douglas replied saying "Thanks Lily. I prefer to read too. I find my attention wanders when I'm supposed to be listening."
6 years ago
Adam West Guest Editor said "Another excellent story, superbly written/characterised/edited,Steve. Not an ersatz cup of coffee in sight but no end of parallels - this kind of begs the question is PKD the father of the Sims and what other than electric sheep will Jim's Burgundy Boy dream of? Many thanks for this, Adam"
6 years ago
Steve Douglas replied saying "I don't think PKD would have objected too much to the Burgundy Boy; I think it's the deceit of the android that scared him: that which pretends to be human, but is not. Glad you liked the story."
6 years ago
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Steve Douglas replied saying "Yes, I never thought much about what happened afterwards!"
6 years ago
Diane Dickson Guest Editor said "Mostly this was chilling. A very well imagined reality with excellent dialogue and convincing characters. The end though was great and left me ........ well no I won't spoil it - well done - Diane"
6 years ago

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