Friday, September 8, 2017

The Secret Life of Bots, by Suzanne Palmer

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(SF Adventure) The ship hadn’t activated Bot 9 in a long time—it’s an unstable model—but in a desperate situation it needs all its resources. And how much trouble can it get into hunting down a rat? (8,975 words; Time: 29m)

Rating: ★★★★★ Fascinating, Gripping, and Fun

"," by (edited by Neil Clarke), appeared in issue 132, published on .

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

Pro: The Bot POV and the Captain’s POV dovetail beautifully. Each one gives us just a bit more information about the mission, making things look darker and more desperate each time.

The hunt for the ratbug combines tension and amusement. We aren’t sure Bot 9 is able to take down the ratbug, but we’re also worried about the “instability” problem. But the dialogue between Bot 9 and the rest of the bots is hilarious. E.g. “We all wish you great and quick success, despite your outdated and primitive manufacture.”

The conclusion is clever: Bot 9 was designed to innovate based on inputs, and the web spun by the ratbug gives it the idea that saves the day.

Con: Ship is effectively a human character. There’s no way it would disregard the Captain’s order to destroy Bot 9. It’s also hard to believe Ship didn’t regularly monitor the botnet.

Other Reviews: Search Web, Browse Review Sites (Issue 132)
Suzanne Palmer Info: Interviews, Websites, ISFDB, FreeSFOnline

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4 comments (may contain spoilers):

  1. I'm shocked, I tell you...

    You're usually pretty unforgiving about nonsensical AI, and this story had really nonsensical AI.

    You're not going soft on us, are you?

    1. I gave a lot of thought as to why this one worked for me. I think it helps a lot that the tone is so light.

  2. Super cute! Although I did wonder what was up with the ratbug and the mysterious aliens.

  3. I agree with the rating of 5. I love it !!!

    Bot 9 is adorable, and very practical.

    Bot 9 has programming which permits it to be innovative in order to do its job. This is different to 'emotions' which may not help in a crisis situation, and the whole situation was a crisis, as we eventually found out.