Thursday, March 3, 2016

Red in Tooth and Cog, by Cat Rambo

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(SF) When a feral robot steals her phone, Renee acquires a keen interest in the little robotic ecosystem that flourishes in the park. (6,828 words; Time: 22m)

Rating: ★★★★☆ Recommended
Recommended By: SFRevu:4 RHorton:5

"," by (edited by C.C. Finlay), appeared in issue 03-04|16, published on by .

Mini-Review (click to view--possible spoilers)

Pro: The story does an excellent job of showing how Renee's determination to get her godmother's opals back gradually turns into affection for the funny little machines. When Creature dismantles Baby to return the opals, we share some of Renee's horror.

Given her feelings, Renee has a moral choice to make when the inspector sets the drones free, and she chooses to save the ecosystem despite her qualms about the details of it. This parallels someone who loves nature even after learning how bloody and wasteful nature really is.

The realization that Baby has actually taken over the Manticore is icing on the cake. Renee can be completely happy with her choices.

Con: The technology, of course, is very silly. Real robotic appliances would never be designed to scrounge parts, nor would a robot groundskeeper be likely to protect such things. A different concern is that the ending is a little too pat. Renee gets everything she wants without paying any real price for it at all.

Other Reviews: Search Web, Browse Review Sites (Issue 03-04|16)
Cat Rambo Info: Interviews, Websites, ISFDB, FreeSFOnline

4 comments (may contain spoilers):

  1. This was the only really memorable story in the issue for me, unfortunately. (Although The Liar had some charm). I think the protagonists' building obsession with figuring out this strange new ecosystem had a certain geeky familiarity to it.

  2. Fun and well played out premise. At the same time, it made me think about how attached we can become to things (especially tech stuff) and anthropomorphize them. Also, electronic waste is actually a growing issue if not exactly in this way!

  3. I rate it ★★★, one less than RSR. I know it was written as a cute story, but I just found the "feral robo-appliances" premise too silly to enjoy.

  4. I agree with the rating of 4-stars, maybe a bit higher.

    The story has the added benefit of being a very entertaining read. What is wrong with a tidy happy ending? It is one of the better stories I've read from 2016, and it is going onto my Hugo ballot in Short Stories category.

    Renee did get into trouble at work for getting so absorbed in this ecosystem, and was needing to work her way back up to credibility again.

    Story can be read free online here -