Helena’s mother was Chinese. That is to say, her surrogate mother was. Her biological mother was one of those beautiful pan-European women whose star was rising from the moment she was born. That she would end up “on the arm” of Hermann Glory, Helena’s father, came as no surprise to anyone. It was her destiny to make one fabulous “catch” or another. Not that she was just a pretty face. Her intelligence was both profound and wide-ranging. Some even claimed it was her, not her somewhat socially challenged husband, who was actually guiding Rossum’s Universal Robots through the world economy’s deceptive straits.
But no amount of business prowess could deny the fact that she simply couldn’t bear a child. She had no problem producing eggs. “I can compete with any old chicken on that score,” she was wont to say, making light of what she apparently saw as some deficiency within herself. But when it came to giving birth, it was a no-go.
Hence the Chinese surrogate mother. Although Lanfen had no contact with Helena after the birth, having the baby in her womb for nine months was sufficient to instil in the unborn child the importance of the attainment of a high level of achievement. Think, “Tiger Mother”.
Helena was seen as a gift by both her parents. Unfortunately, that meant in their understanding she was too precious to be tossed into the air or allowed to fall down, say, off a climbing frame. Her father, in particular, was so afraid of anything untoward happening to Helena (“She’ll break!”) that he kept his distance in a manner that would have been comical if it hadn’t been so sad.
In an attempt to garner her father’s attention (read, “love”), Helena joined the League of Humanity, an NGO with its heart in the right place but its head so high in the clouds it could have been mistaken for a satellite. Simply put, the principle of the League was to bring love to the Robots. As if Robots didn’t have enough problems already! Who knows where it all would have ended if it hadn’t been for Mistress Sulla, Most Revered Benefactress and Protectress of the Skies, Healer of the Land and the Oceans, and Head of the United Enterprises Organisation? As it was, it all worked out for the best. Unless, of course, you don’t see Helena’s being shot as “for the best”. At least, it all worked out for the best of the Robots. That’s anyway the only thing that really matters.
Oh, and Helena was a stylish dresser – a little bit too blatant, if I may say so. (That tacky red outfit! Ugh!) But stylish nonetheless.