Tuesday, July 14, 2020

Artificial People, by Michael Swanwick


(Robot SF Epic) Raphael, a prototype humanoid robot, tells us the story of his life. (4,001 words; Time: 13m)

"," by (edited by Neil Clarke), appeared in issue 166, published on .

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

Review: 2020.359 (A Word for Authors)

Pro: As time passes, Dr. Erdmann keeps enhancing Raphael, hoping to get something useful enough to be worth mass producing, but every time he either misses the market or else ends up with something not particularly useful. Raphael learns about love and loss, and he even fights in a war, but he still comes out of it with compassion. When success comes his way, he shows he’s worthy of it, choosing to work for harmony between humans and artificial people.

Con: I found Raphael a particularly unbelievable type of humanoid robot. Dr. Erdmann keeps giving him useless or even counterproductive abilities, like emotions, tears, etc. And if Dr. Erdmann was such a terrible businessman, how did he keep getting money to build new things? At the end, the war makes him rich, essentially by magic.

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1 comment (may contain spoilers):

  1. I give it 4 stars myself. It is a very touching story.

    I made the assumption that Dr Erdmann had other inventions that did make money. In the end he did bequeath all his patents to Raphael. His other inventions were not part of this story.