THE APEX CHILD and the Last Days of the Middle Class

It’s the Spring of 2044, just one generation from now. The weather in Silicon Valley is enviably mild but three degrees warmer than it was in 2015. Pizza is more popular than hamburgers, home drones have been outlawed, and autonomous vehicles require “safety operators.”  Three versions of Dead-Cat Systems’ famous quantum androids have saved thousands of lives, but they’ve taken thousands of jobs because they’re faster, more reliable, and an order of magnitude more cost-effective than humans.

A quantum-brained android named Piper Beta-3 is the first product of Dead-Cat’s groundbreaking sales program. Two months before graduation, she’s yanked out of trade school and sent to her first job interview––at a local automobile dealership.


Piper is the smartest creature ever made. Getting the job should be a snap, but three-million American jobs will be at risk if she succeeds. Operatives from the federal government’s Office for Automation Oversight are dogging her every move in the hope that she will give them one excuse to pull her license and send her back to the lab.

Dead-Cat is the only company in the world that has harnessed the uncertainties of quantum computing to create humanoid, semi-emotional beings. By law, their products cannot be sold overseas, but a desperate foreign power has put a team of agents on the ground whose sole mission is to capture Piper Beta-3 and smuggle her out of the country.

Millions of Americans hope Piper Beta-3 will fail. A foreign nation will go bankrupt unless it can put millions of replicated Pipers to work. What can go wrong?

About the Author

Mr. Shaffner is a nom de plume for Melvin Bass, the actual author. Mister Bass has a bachelor’s degree in mathematics and an MBA. He was an IBM systems engineer and salesman and eventually was VP of sales and marketing, COO, CEO, and/or chairman of  high-tech startups and small companies in Silicon Valley, London, Washington DC, and Seattle.

Over the course of his career, Mister Bass sold or managed the sale of more than $200,000,000 of networked computers and software that “improved the productivity” of thousands of workers. In other words, he put thousands out of work. The Apex Child is his apology, and a warning.

Also under the nom de plume George Shaffner, Mister Bass also wrote The Arithmetic of Life and Death, In the Land of Second Chances, One Part Angel, and The Widows of Eden. In the Land of Second Chances was an,, and Literary Guild bestseller.


The illustration of The Apex Child was created by Dawn Austin. The interior design was by Maureen Cutajar.