Chillbots™: More than a Friend is a 61,000-word YA novel about a fourteen-year old boy and his Chillbot robot.
The nightmare takes place one lurch into the future, in an unnamed North American city. Emīls is an outcast at a new school; he suffers from his weird name, he's a prankster in need of a friend.
A mega-corporation called Pymcrest selects his school to test their brand new products, a line of robots especially designed for teenagers called Chillbots™ .
When Emīls is one of the first assigned a Beta model called Donovan, he figures out right away that the bot is a tracking device. However, his new popularity with his schoolmates is seductive – especially the interest from the hottest girl in class, Jennifer Anna Maria. Emīls even begins to dream of joining Jennifer in the Race to Space, a competition for kids to go on a spaceship to Mars.
Yet Emīls can't ignore that some kids with Chillbot friends are turning into zombies. The class drug dealer Dingo turns into teacher's pet. Can you really be friends with a robot made by Pymcrest? Without getting a hypodermic in your brain? Emīls tries to be a whistleblower but the adults shut him down. The maddening Donovan draws him — and Jennifer — deeply into disaster.
As yet unpublished in its original English, the book was published in Latvian translation in Riga, 2011 as Labie draugi™: Nopērc kādu! /Good Companions! Buy One Today!
I wrote the book under the pseudonym BNR.1, as if the story was written by software and there could be a sequel written by BNR.2.
My Mom says I hate everybody in my school, but it isn’t true. You have to be worthy of my hate. I don’t even hate Dingo. The only reason nobody hates me is that they don’t even know I’m there. They’d notice me if I had purple anchors in my eyebrows, like Dingo. Or if I was gunning for the Race to Space, like Jennifer. They’d pay attention if they knew what I did before we moved to this town. Like if I said:
"Hi, I'm Emīls — that's Eh Meels — and I used to sell cigarettes to ten-year-olds. Yeah, that's disgusting, but I did it for a good cause, and it's none of your business.”