Sunday, April 14, 2019

Professor Strong and the Brass Boys, by Amal Singh

★★☆☆☆ Not Recommended

(Robot SF) A robot music performance aims to teach human beings that robots deserve to be treated as people. (5,167 words; Time: 17m)

"," by (edited by Jason Sizemore), appeared in issue 119, published on .

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

Review: 2019.202 (A Word for Authors)

Pro: There is nothing wrong with the writing itself. Narration and dialogue are fine.

Con: This is an “emotional AI” story, which means the “robots” are, for all practical purposes, ordinary human beings trapped in mechanical bodies. Professor Strong is so human, zhe even has a kitchen in zis apartment, complete with pots and pans and cutlery.

Not only is this nothing we know how to do today, it’s nothing anyone would ever want to do. Why build a cleaning robot that’s intelligent enough to resent being asked to clean?

Worse, all of this is just a setup to deliver the message: slavery is bad. That’s not a very controversial message, but the whole story is sacrificed to it. The humans in the story are all mindlessly evil cardboard villains.

Separately, the technobabble is annoying. Nonsense like “my algorithm did a recursion and brought the song from my memory bank” really grates on anyone who knows anything about the field.

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