“The Peacock” by Ted Infinity and Nabil Hijazi from Wilde Stories 2012 (Lethe Press). Edited by Steve Berman.

I did a quick run through the list and I am pretty sure that this story is the first co-authored one of the review project.

This tale pre-dates the Spike Jonze movie Her by a couple of years (it was originally published in Strange Horizons in 2011). Surfing the internet and feeling sorry for himself while stuck working the late shift, the narrator is contacted by what he thinks is another lonely hearted guy in the Bay Area but turns out to be an Artificial Intelligence (AI) called The Peacock. The main character doesn’t believe it’s an AI, of course, and so engages him (it?) in a volley of emails. The Peacock’s erratic and often sophomoric responses confuse him and almost turn him off, but it isn’t until The Peacock reveals that he is a sentient computer program that evolved out of spam that he really tries to break it off. Too late. The Peacock has fallen in love with him (or with the idea of being in love?) and he has grown fond of the AI’s companionship, too. The only problem is that The Peacock is being held captive by the developers who wrote the spam. Can the narrator manage to free him so they can be “together”?

Again, this is a true short story. I know everything I need to by the end, and the story question is satisfactorily resolved.