Wednesday, April 5, 2017

The Robot Who Liked to Tell Tall Tales, by Fei Dao

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(Fairy Tale) The king programs a robot to lie even more than he does, hoping to change his reputation as the biggest liar in the kingdom. (8,065 words; Time: 26m)

Rating: ★★★★☆ Clever and Amusing

"," by (edited by Neil Clarke), appeared in issue 127, published on .

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

Pro: This is the story of how the robot struggled with Death and eventually overcame it.

If you know that 4 in Chinese is the death number (“four” and “death” sound the same), you’ll see several places where there are three things and then the fourth is Death. For example, when the robot meets the three men around a stove, the fourth man sleeping in the corner turns out to be Death. And when the Robot pledges to help people in exchange for help escaping the black hold, he swears to three mortals and the fourth oath is to Death.

In the end, the story comes full-circle, and the robot returns to Earth, reincarnated as the bullshit King. This nicely explains the mystery of how the prince could tell such tall tales in the first place. (One of his tales was even about falling into a black hole.)

The odd combination of fairy tale imagery and robots actually works pretty well. And some of the humor is great.

Con: There’s no emotional content to the story at all.

Other Reviews: Search Web, Browse Review Sites (Issue 127)
Fei Dao Info: Interviews, Websites, ISFDB, FreeSFOnline

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2 comments (may contain spoilers):

  1. This may be one of my favourite of their translations so far. It's very light and approachable but with some depth to be found behind the fairy tale-like exterior.

  2. What a fun story about stories!