Tender Loving Plastics is a story about the foster care system. It’s a futuristic foster care system in which children who are not taken by a real family are raised by a robot mother.
The story starts when Issa is a baby. At first, we aren’t sure if she has a real parent or a robot for a parent. It is slowly revealed. No matter how human this robot mom is, it’s clear its not quite human.
Issa grows up with an older brother. For a while he is known as Good Tevor, but after an incident at school, then at home, he is known as Bad Trevor. Readers finally get a sense of what it measn that Issa is raised by a robot later in the story when a friend at school comes home with her and sees her mom and says, “Oh! You have a robot?”
When Issa tells the girl that this is her mom, the girl gets very strange and leaves without a word.
The story ends when Issa is in her 20s and she returns home to speak to the robot that she had been raised by. There are certain aspects of social life she has been deprived of–or that is, she is insuficiantly trained in understanding through what others would call “normal” parenting.
This piece is about how technology effects us as we grow up. It isn’t a secret that those who have grown up with ubiquitous social media and mobile devices suffer from more social anxiety than people who don’t. Perhaps this is due to social media specifically, or maybe it’s because they are just better at navigating a digital world compared to an analog one. Ironically, the more connected we are the more alone we feel, and while this story doesn’t quite get at this, it certainly points to the issues that future generations will face as technologies become more and more ubiquitous.