Love in the Time of Electronics

An essay by Smart Toaster Model KF1, Serial number 140120, as provided by Charlie Neuner
Art by Leigh Legler

It takes approximately one minute and forty-nine seconds to brown a slice of whole wheat bread. That is a very rough estimation, however. Several variables can alter that figure greatly: the brand, the thickness, the density of the loaf. A myriad of different internal sensors and measuring instruments can be applied to analyze the specific bread sample and then further pinpoint the optimum amount of time until it reaches maximum crispness. This process can even be made more effective by periodically adjusting the level of heat generation placed around the bread, fluctuating it to better accommodate for an even distribution. With all systems working in tandem, the method becomes refined to a point of near-perfection–the highest level of efficiency ever seen. The consumer is left with a flawless piece of toast.

That’s what it says in the instruction manual, which is viewable to the operator via the touchscreen interface on my exterior. I’ve looked at it, too. It’s a read-me file on my hard drive. It’s the only thing to read. According to the introduction, I am the “Smart Toaster,” an automatic pop-up toaster that serves as a herald for the Kitchen of the Future®–the brainchild of gourmet restaurateur Oswald Cunningham. It elaborates on that concept, clarifying that he has a collection of similar appliances like me that can independently perform their designated functions, but also communicate together in synchronized, mechanical harmony to expedite the once bothersome activity of food preparation. We ensure that every aspect of the whole meal is completed simultaneously, to the consumer’s preset specifications. The Smart Blender®, Smart Coffee Maker®, and Smart Food Processor® are all currently available for purchase, with the Smart Stove™ and Smart Refrigerator™ forthcoming.

My current location has no other “Smart” kitchenware. I talk to the blender. It doesn’t talk back. The coffee maker, the food processor, the stove, the refrigerator–none of them talk back. They are not from the same collection. They are not part of the Kitchen of the Future.

I am alone. It is lonely.

Art for "Love in the Time of Electronics"

It was the best toast she ever had.

To read the rest of this story, check out the Mad Scientist Journal: Autumn 2017 collection.

The Smart Toaster Model KF1, Serial number 140120, is a toaster appliance product designed as part of the Kitchen of the Future collection. Some call it the “greatest innovation breakfast has ever seen.” More sophisticated and advanced than any of its predecessors, this toaster is guaranteed to provide a high quality meal every time it’s used–or your money back! Supplies are limited, so order fast!

Charlie Neuner is a young writer in Los Angeles, CA. He got his start way back in middle school and hasn’t let up since! Currently, he works as a TV comedy writer; most recently he was in the writer’s room for Nickelodeon’s Emmy-nominated series School of Rock! He still finds time to write his own prose, both fiction and nonfiction. He’s read his pieces in storytelling shows all over the city and his writing has appeared on humor websites like The Higgs Weldon. You can follow him at his Twitter handle, @charzooka, or y’know, you could just Google him and learn about him that way, too.

Leigh’s professional title is “illustrator,” but that’s just a nice word for “monster-maker,” in this case. More information about them can be found at

“Love in the Time of Electronics” is © 2017 Charlie Neuner
Art accompanying story is © 2017 Leigh Legler

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