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My Immortal Sanctuary Moon

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The cargo transport was satisfyingly slow, and I used the time to process the extraneous data I had collected during the PreservationAux mission. The ship was bot-driven, so it was mostly cargo bays, and there were no faces anywhere. Except for mine, and I didn't have to look at it if I didn't want to.

My time on the station, especially in the human section, had slowed down processing in a way that I found frustrating. All those faces and expectations, and this weird feeling in the middle of my chest. At first I thought the repairs had gone wrong, but a few bio scans indicated that I had received the best of care. Of course I had. Somehow, that discovery made the weird feeling worse, and I settled in to watch Sanctuary Moon with the transport bot. They were all episodes that I'd seen before but that was reassuring. No surprises. No unexpected feelings that refused to be filed in the places I sent them. Still, by the time we reached the first docking point, that feeling had settled and I felt ready to download new episodes.

…the shock cancellation of favoured serial, Sanctuary Moon has left fans wondering what the stars will do next…

I stood at the free data terminal for three minutes, staring at the screen until I could make the implication stick in my mind: I had watched all the episodes that existed and there would never be any more. A warning message from my facio-maxillary circuits said my mouth had been open for too long. My lips and tongue were unacceptably dry.

That weird feeling had migrated to my fingers; they were cold and hot at the same damn time. And they were moving outside of acceptable parameters. It was difficult to hit the door button for a paid terminal suite. I needed to sit in a quiet place to cruise feeds, without people queuing behind me waiting to use the free terminal.

The ratings had been falling, it eventuated, and the main star had chosen not to extend their contract. The producers had decided, on a cost benefit analysis, that it was not financially optimal to continue the series. The actors were already taking new contracts with different serials.

Maybe the new serials would be as satisfying as Sanctuary Moon? The characters would have the same faces. None of them were real people, so I'd probably love them just as much. I hacked the private servers of the production company that Yan Hê had signed with.

Script treatment: Blind Love, episodic romantic comedy

Tag line: Find love reflected in the eyes of a child

Synopsis: Mingmei Shei, a scatterbrained but brilliant paediatric ocular surgeon is assigned to the mass sight restoration project on Colony 967 after the population is blinded by a close-pass comet event. Little does she know that love waits for her in the form of an attractive hospital administrator struggling to keep order.

Her proposed costume was a fucking nightmare: scrubs with merry little cats woven into the fabric.

The fan forums were gratifyingly shaken, and I skimmed them for a while, wallowing in shared grief.

>>[sad face icon] But at least we'll always have fic. Lbr, we wrote them better anyway, right?

It's pretty rare for me to comprehend so few words in a sentence, and that was strange enough to shake me out of that frozen state of panic. I didn't really know what fic meant, but if it could adequately substitute for the show, I was willing to learn. A brief search led to several archives of collected works. I downloaded as much reading as my paid time in the suite would allow and returned to the transport ship.

Fic was fanfiction, and fanfiction was… interesting. The transport bot didn't see the appeal; without an adequate language base, it vastly preferred visual media. It had only seen the first eleven seasons, though, and was perfectly happy to absorb the rest of the existing episodes while I processed what I had downloaded. I found that there were many modalities of fanfiction. A lot of it was focused on sex, even more than Sanctuary Moon actually was. Still, there were lots of stories about things that had happened on the serial. And one that posited what was behind that door on Set Three that they never opened. The point seemed to be to make the characters really happy. (Or really sad, but that wasn't a thing I was interested in. There's enough crappy sadness out in the world already.)

I'm surprised it took as long as it did for me to think of writing my own. I wouldn't consider myself a creative being; they don't teach you creative arts in Murderbot training. Still, when I finished reading what I had downloaded, I realised I had the skill and processing power to formulate an algorithm that would generate the perfect fanfiction. I absorbed tropes and styles, assessed what made a fanfiction successful and got to work.

The transport bot even got involved: with an intimate and emotional connection to the visual aspects of Sanctuary Moon, it could assemble photographic scenes to match the storylines. It even managed to make Yan Hê look realistically pregnant with triplets.

It was pleasant, it was fascinating, and as promised, it filled the gap that Sanctuary Moon's cancellation had created. I spun plots, reconstituted inexplicable sexual scenarios based on other popular fanfictions, spawned hundreds of thousands of words, and was completely bored with myself by the time we docked at the next fuel port. By then, when I checked in with the feeds, World Hoppers had started its next season. The ache in my chest where I mourned for Sanctuary Moon eased a little as I downloaded the first six episodes.

It seemed wasteful to delete the fanfiction, though I was largely done with it by now, so I posted it on an appropriate archive. Maybe other fans would draw comfort from it, and it would help them like it helped me.

Epilogue:

Who is SadMurderBot231, and Did They Write Sanctuary Moon's Best/Worst Fanfic?

Written shortly after the cancellation of the popular serial, My Immortal Sanctuary Moon has become the fandom's (perhaps pan-fandom's) most well-known, loved and hated work. Heartfelt and intense yet oddly prosaic, illustrated with exceptionally detailed graphic manipulations, these eight hundred thousand words have spawned theses and meta-analysis, fanfic of itself, spinoffs, crossovers and parodies. The title has become a self-deprecating catchphrase for the earnest and awkward love one has for a source. ("I love it. I M.I.S.M. love it.")

But who was SadMurderBot231 and are they still among us? Why was this the only work of fanfiction they produced (as far as we know)? The facts are these: the work was posted via a data-link at a fuel port some distance from the Corporate Rim, but there's little else to identify…[click to continue]