helloladies: Horseshoe icon with the words Guest Columnist underneath. (guest column)
Hello, Ladies ([personal profile] helloladies) wrote in [community profile] ladybusiness2019-02-25 12:11 am

Short & Sweet: Pals for Robots

Robots and AIs have been featuring in a lot of recent SFF, especially stories from the point of view of robots. People say that robot stories help us explore what it means to be human. That can be true, but it's not always helpful. A lot of older robot stories explored labor and workers rights. Other stories featuring robots have explored emotions and morality.

My favorite robot stories explore family and community. Being human by yourself is hard. We need community—and many AIs do, too. AIs allow us to see these aspects of being human from a different angle. These stories are about robots trying to make friends, watch media, and figure out their place in the world. They help us explore what we owe to each other and how we can form connections with others.

"Fandom for Robots" by Vina Jie-Min Prasad — This is one of the cutest stories ever. It's about a robot forming community through fandom!

"The Secret Life of Bots" by Suzanne Palmer — While the other stories on this list feature robots forming connection and community with humans this one features robots forming connections with each other. While the humans on the ship are on a last ditch mission to save the world, one bot must hunt down a pest aboard the ship. Along the way our bot meets and befriends a variety of other bots, learns what the humans are up to, and works out a plan...

"Cat Pictures Please" by Naomi Kritzer — This story is very explicitly about morality and how we should treat others. The AI in this story doesn’t want to be evil and is trying to be helpful. It has read all our religious texts and all our stories about AI and is trying to figure out a moral system. This makes it sound like a rather serious story, but it's really very sweet and charming. For one thing, the AI loves cat pictures, and for another the AIs tentative attempts to reach out and help people are lovely if sometimes misguided.

"Forestspirit, Forestspirit" by Bogi Takács — This story about a rogue AI that has been avoiding humans befriending a young boy to project the forest where they live is beautiful and atmospheric. I love the way the environments are described here. The forest is haunted and lovely at the same time. The AIs relationship with the boy is tentative at first, but quite sweet. It’s a story not only about forming connections but also about what we owe our environment.

The Tea Master and the Detective by Aliette de Bodard — In de Bodard’s Xuya universe mind-ships are explicitly part of families, with parents and siblings. So unlike most other AIs they come into the world with a built in connection to human society. However, this Sherlock Holmes retelling features a Mindship who has lost her family and is struggling to get by. The story focuses on her forming a new relationship—and of course solving a mystery.

The Murderbot Diaries by Martha Wells — Maybe it's not appropriate to rec four 4 novellas as part of short fiction rec post, but that's what I’m doing. Each one is short, right? Murderbot just wants to watch media but has to constantly deal with humans in danger and evil corps. Poor Murderbot is confused by human interaction and feels out of place in human society. However, Murderbot's strong moral compass leads it to keep getting involved with humans so they don’t die.

These stories show that robots can be a great way to explore community and human relationships. So bring on the robot pals! What are your favorite stories about robots and AI?


[personal profile] forestofglory is a fan, crafter, an avid reader of science fiction and fantasy short fiction, and a mom. You can find her on Dreamwidth and on Twitter at [twitter.com profile] forestofglory.
subsequent: (-nostalgic robots)

[personal profile] subsequent 2019-02-25 10:30 am (UTC)(link)
If we're able to talk fanfic, basically anything that Icarus_chained has written ever - but more specifically her works with JARVIS.

(Link)

Especially this series, because it's one that I could read and re-read and read again.

Because when a thing had the intelligence to know what you did to it, when it had the knowledge to understand how you looked at it, you didn't control it by force. You didn't control it at all. Because that thing was a person, then. And if there was one thing Tony did know, if there was one thing he'd lived his life knowing, it was that people were the one thing in all the world beyond anyone's power or right to control.



Beyond just those, though, the Ancillary Justice series by Ann Leckie, the series by Becky Chambers (The long way to a small angry planet, etc), and more fanfic by esama are at the top of my list.






I also love Transformers / Tron, but I don't count those here - as they're not really interested in exploring the 'AI' element as much.
octahedrite: (Default)

[personal profile] octahedrite 2019-02-25 11:45 am (UTC)(link)
I've read and loved all of these stories except for Cat Pictures, which I'll read now.

Maneki Neko by Bruce Sterling is one favourite not included here. It's about fostering community but is also about the flip side -- who gets excluded and what happens to them. Delightfully creepy :)