Sunday, November 4, 2018

Pandora's Pantry, by Stephen L. Burns

★★★★☆ Heartwarming

(Near-Future SF) A live-action, reality-TV cooking show gets an emergency replacement chef who’s not what anyone is expecting—or even knew was possible. (8,922 words; Time: 29m)

"Pandora's Pantry," by (edited by Trevor Quachri), appeared in issue 11-12|18, published on by .

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

Review: 2018.562 (A Word for Authors)

Pro: The best part about this one is the moment when Stan declares Chef Wok “one of us.” Another cool moment is the point where we realize that the cooking contest has turned into a cooperative survival event. Watching the robot chef might be of interest to some people, but saving the robot chef from the power failure—with everyone pitching in to share cell phones—is a far more dramatic show. The sponsor must have been pleased indeed.

Another pleasure of the story is Stan’s breezy summaries of whatever happens to be going on, and the nonchalant way he takes everything in stride. E.g.
The other three contestants were surprised to learn their fourth was a robot, but they got over it quickly. When you work in a kitchen you never know who is going to come in the back door looking for a job.
The reaction of the research lab staff (who had been desperately trying to find their runaway robot) at the moment someone spotted him on live TV in a cooking show is probably better imagined than described, but it cracks me up whenever I think about it.

Con: The cooking details go on for too long.

The robot is part of the what-if, so it almost seems unsporting to point out that it’s essentially magic. We’ve got nothing remotely close to that sort of technology, nor are we going to have in the time frame of this story (say, the next 50 years).

Other Reviews: Search Web, Browse Review Sites (Issue 11-12|18)
Stephen L. Burns Info: Interviews, Websites, ISFDB, FreeSFOnline

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