Wednesday, August 12, 2020

Father, by Ray Nayler

★★★☆☆ Honorable Mention

(Punch-Card Punk) In an alternate 1950s with robots, spaceships, and flying cars, the US Army sends a robot father to the son of a dead soldier. (7,134 words; Time: 23m)

"Father," by (edited by Sheila Williams), appeared in issue 07-08|20, published on by .

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

Review: 2020.346 (A Word for Authors)

Pro: This is pretty much the story of how the nameless narrator came to love his robot father and grieved his loss. The robot Father wins his heart, and he wins ours as well, and that’s probably the best thing about the story.

Note: Punch-Card Punk is what Mary Robinette Kowal calls alternate-history stories set in a retro-futuristic 1950s. Much as steampunk indulges in the fantasy that sophisticated technology could be built with steam and cogs, Punch-Card Punk imagines that we could do great things with 1950s tech like the eponymous paper punch cards and vacuum tubes.

Con: Archie is a cardboard villain. He’s mean just to be mean, and he’s 100% of the conflict in the story, since the narrator takes to his robot father with zero problems.

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