Monday, September 11, 2017

Fandom for Robots, by Vina Jie-Min Prasad

★★★☆☆ Honorable Mention

(Alternate History Robot SF) Computron was the only intelligent robot built in the 1950s. Now all he does is answer questions from children and write fan-fiction about the robot in the Hyperdimension Warp Record TV show. (3,542 words; Time: 11m)

Recommended By: RHorton+2 JMcGregor+1 CPayseur+2

"," by (edited by Lynne M. Thomas and Michael Damian Thomas), appeared in issue 18, published on .

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

Pro: Computron wants to have a life, and he finds one in fandom. Amusingly, the fans are unable to distinguish between a real robot and a robotic fan. It’s also cute that Computron finds a human collaborator, and between the two of them, they’re able to do great things.

The story seems to deliver the message that diversity in fiction means having diverse authors, not diverse characters. No one could write a robot the way another robot could—even non-robot readers could tell this at once. Whether one agrees with the message or not, it’s unquestionably delivered unobtrusively.

The descriptions of how straight guys fall in love with Cyro the robot are pretty funny.

Con: There are a lot of loose ends. For example, Computron steals the schematics and distributs them, but nothing ever comes of that. It feels as though we’ve only read the first half of what should have been a more substantial story.

Other Reviews: Search Web, Browse Review Sites (Issue 18)
Vina Jie-Min Prasad Info: Interviews, Websites, ISFDB, FreeSFOnline

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10 comments (may contain spoilers):

  1. Although quite slight, I found this story utterly charming.

  2. I see she wrote A Series of Steaks earlier this year, which I also liked. I can't see any earlier publications, so possibly a Campbell candidate?

    1. Yes, she's definitely a Campbell candidate in her first year of eligibility. It even says so on her web site (click "bio" above). :-)

  3. I don't know who the eligible folks competing with her would be but, in the abstract, I'd give her a Campbell at this point.

    Greg, I don't know if it's just something wrong with me/my computer/my browser, but I'm getting the blurb and apparently the rating from "Intro to Prom" on this page for this Prasad story. The main description is for that story, though.

    I seem to have seen the story much the same way you did (based on your comments) though with inverted emphases sometimes, as is often the case. As far as the "stolen" plans, I wasn't bothered by that as I saw it as just a "samizdat" fanfic-world idea more than an actually substantial plot point. And I see what you're saying about wanting more from the story but I saw it as "plot-light" but very satisfying overall. Not theme/style/character light. :)

  4. Actually, everything *but* the mini-review and labels goes to "Prom."

    1. Thanks. Not sure what happened there. The entry in the database was fine.

  5. Oh, this was such fun! Definitely will be considering Prasad for the Campbell.

  6. There's fanfic for this story! :DDD

  7. This story made me laugh.

    As someone who used to read a little fanfic, I certainly get it, and appreciate it.

    A good entertaining read.

  8. This was highly original and should have won the Nebula.