Author Topic: EP395: Robot  (Read 13782 times)

eytanz

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on: May 09, 2013, 09:54:28 AM
EP395: Robot

By Helena Bell

Read by Eleiece Krawiec

--

You may wash your aluminum chassis on Monday and leave it on the back porch opposite the recyclables; you may wash your titanium chassis on Friday if you promise to polish it in time for church; don’t terrorize the cat; don’t lose the pamphlets my husband has brought home from the hospital; they suggest I give you a name, do you like Fred?; don’t eat the dead flesh of my right foot until after I have fallen asleep and cannot hear the whir of your incisors working against the bone.

This is a picture of the world from which you were sent; this is a copy of the agreement between our government and theirs; these are the attributes they claim you are possessed of: obedience, loyalty, low to moderate intelligence; a natural curiosity which I should not mistake for something other than a necessary facet of your survival in the unfamiliar; this is your bill of manufacture; this is your bill of sale; this is a warrant of merchantability on which I may rely should I decide to return you from whence you came; this is your serial number, here, scraped in an alien script on the underside of your knee; the pamphlets say you may be of the mind to touch it occasionally, like a name-tag, but if I command you, you will stop.

This is a list of the chores you will be expected to complete around the house when you are not eating the diseases out of my flesh; this is the corner of my room where you may stay when you are not working; do not look at me when you change the linens, when you must hold me in the bathroom, when you record in the notebook how many medications I have had that day, how many bowel movements, how the flesh of my mouth is raw and bleeding against the dentures I insist on wearing.

The pamphlets say you are the perfect scavenger: completely self contained, no digestion, no waste; they say I can hook you up to an outlet and you will power the whole house.

You may polish the silver if you are bored; you may also rearrange the furniture, wind the clocks, pull weeds from the garden; you may read in the library any book of your choosing; my husband claims you have no real consciousness, only an advanced and sophisticated set of pre-programmed responses, but I have seen your eyes open in the middle of the night; I have seen you stare out across the fields as if there is something there, calling you.


Listen to this week’s Escape Pod!



InfiniteMonkey

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Reply #1 on: May 10, 2013, 03:39:27 AM
Wow.

Robots.

Alien Robots.

Flesh-eating alien Robots.

Human flesh-eating alien robots....

Human *body-snatching* flesh-eating alien robots...

Yikes. I'd like to think that the robot's flesh-eating was in grandma's head, but I don't think so.

Norm's chat about robots and old people put in mind of the movie "Frank", as well as the past Escape Pod - was it The Caretaker? And it also put me in mind of recent stories in Starship Sofa (involving aliens).

I liked it, I suppose, but lord it was creepy and depressing...



Listener

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Reply #2 on: May 10, 2013, 01:41:53 PM
The stylistic nature of this story, which judging from the poem Norm read from at the end was probably influenced by said poem (though we can't be sure), I don't think supported something QUITE this long. About 75% of the way through, I was wondering when it was finally going to end. I did enjoy the story overall, but it just felt a touch too long to support itself.

It took a bit to get used to the way the reader's voice comes out of my car's speakers -- she triggered the lower registers. Nothing wrong with the production, but with certain voices the speakers just don't know what to do with themselves.

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bumdhar

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Reply #3 on: May 10, 2013, 03:28:46 PM
About half way through I was thinking that this was more of a prose poem than a short story. It was wonderful. The narration was could have used some editing in the lower frequencies, or she was to close to the mic. Norm’s talk at the end freaked me out abit.



Cutter McKay

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Reply #4 on: May 10, 2013, 03:39:35 PM
This was easily one of my favorite Norm outros ever. Informative and hilarious.

As for the story, I really liked this one, not only for the alien invasion which was so subtle it was awesome, but for picture it painted of the life of a bitter old woman without ever describing anything specifically to that point. The format was unique and strange (2nd person POV is hard to do right), as others have said almost more poem than prose, but it worked here.

I think Listener is right that it was just a bit too long for its own good, and it's not a style I would want to read/listen to on a regular basis, but right here, right now, I really liked it.

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matweller

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Reply #5 on: May 10, 2013, 03:59:21 PM
If it's the couple quick spots of distortion that you refer to, I'll take the blame on that. I'll skip the lecture on the challenges of making sound work in a wide range of speakers as opposed to programming for one constant room because I'm sure you can guess and I don't want to sound like I'm whining. Suffice it to say, I sacrificed those spots for the greater good.

If you just had trouble with the bass qualities of the voice on your car speakers, perhaps you could just make the adjustment from bass to treble that's been available on almost every car stereo ever made. :P  Of course I tease, but it may be that simple.

The stylistic nature of this story, which judging from the poem Norm read from at the end was probably influenced by said poem (though we can't be sure)...

Not impossible, but speaking in terms of all of the editors in the history of this show, if they don't specifically say they're citing source material, there's probably about an 80% chance it's just something they thought of when they read the story.



Listener

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Reply #6 on: May 10, 2013, 05:31:50 PM
If you just had trouble with the bass qualities of the voice on your car speakers, perhaps you could just make the adjustment from bass to treble that's been available on almost every car stereo ever made. :P  Of course I tease, but it may be that simple.

Yeah, I suppose I could do that. I just never think of it.

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Kaa

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Reply #7 on: May 10, 2013, 08:45:59 PM
This is one of those rare stories where I'm not sure how I feel about it a day after listening to it. I do think it was verging on too long to sustain the POV (I didn't even mind the 2nd-person POV, here, so kudos on that), and I felt simultaneously that the last bit about the robot assuming her identity--and the part about Pizarro, which finally clued me in that it was a subtle alien invasion story--was both too long in coming, and perfectly timed to shock after the long list of "mundane" rules.

I think I might have to give this one another listen. Or a read.

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Windup

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Reply #8 on: May 11, 2013, 04:08:27 AM

As I was listening to the story, I thought that it was giving voice to the subtle (or sometimes not-so-subtle) fear that has haunted every slaveholding society in human history -- that the servants will turn the tables and claim the place of their masters.  The line about Pizarro at the end took me by surprise, and put a whole new spin on the thought. 

And I agree the outro was great.  If more history teachers were willing to say things like, "...one of the most successful dicks in history," there would be a lot more interest in history.  ;)

"My whole job is in the space between 'should be' and 'is.' It's a big space."


matweller

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Reply #9 on: May 11, 2013, 03:09:18 PM
QFT:
And I agree the outro was great.  If more history teachers were willing to say things like, "...one of the most successful dicks in history," there would be a lot more interest in history.  ;)
I had one of those. He was one of the best teachers I ever had in any subject.



flintknapper

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Reply #10 on: May 12, 2013, 02:34:01 AM
The story had a weird narrative style and wasn't really my cup of tea. I also think I heard or read this story elsewhere before. I have no idea where, but it sounded familiar.  The story itself was fine. I had no problems with it. In fact the author is to be commended. It was a melancholy tale without being overly dramatic. Also the main character, the elderly woman, was really fleshed out. She felt like a person. Not a good person, not a bad person, but a real human being. To bad she was being devoured by a robot.

One thing I did not get in the listen though. I get the robot is becoming her physically, but is it also assuming her personality as well? 



Lionman

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Reply #11 on: May 12, 2013, 10:10:16 PM
Okay, so I did NOT like this story.  I kept thinking partway through I should just turn it off, or fast forward to the end.  While I can see why the narrator was chosen, I might have liked it better if it were read in an English or Australian accent.  At least then it would have been more interesting for different reasons.

I was, however, able to figure out exactly why I didn't like it:  It made me feel like I was listening to the internal dialog of an aging woman who was losing her mind, or suffering for a degenerative disease that was taking more than her body.  It made me feel like I was listening to my own grandmother who degenerated and passed away from Alzheimer's disease.

I just ground my teeth a little and pushed on through it, despite how I felt.  I understood the point of view and idea behind the writing, but I loathed it all the way to the end.

However, others will feel differently because they have different experiences.  Your mileage my vary.

Failure is an event, not a person.


Russ Jenkins

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Reply #12 on: May 13, 2013, 02:09:17 AM
This was a long slow story for me too, if it was a story. Quite fun in places but a bit too long.
I liked Norm's outro a lot though as others have said, althoug I think it was factually inacurate.
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TheArchivist

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Reply #13 on: May 13, 2013, 08:14:07 AM
I don't know what's changed. Before I joined the forums I had enjoyed the majority of EP stories very much, but in the last six weeks I seem to have done nothing but moan.

Anyway,
This was a long slow story for me too, if it was a story. Quite fun in places but a bit too long.
I liked Norm's outro a lot though as others have said,
I think I agree with the comments about this one being a prose-poem rather than a story, and given that I really dislike most "poetry" it's no surprise that the very-definitely-written-by-a-poet style didn't endear itself to me. I didn't much like the closing extract that Listener thought may have influenced this piece, either.

I did, however, enjoy Norm's outro, factually misleading as it might have been (I'm not a historian so I couldn't say). Usually I prefer minimalist outros, but in this case I found the history lesson more interesting than the "story".



adrianh

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Reply #14 on: May 13, 2013, 09:23:59 AM
I liked it.

I'm surprised I liked it because, like others here, it does feel very much like a prose poem (which is a form I don't normally get along with well.)

The length seemed about right to me. I liked the slow pacing and the growing disquiet. Making it shorter would, I think, have rushed the move from the mundane to the borderline horrific. I also enjoyed not knowing the reliability of the narrator. Flight of fancy? Dementia? Alien invasion? Replacement/cure? Who knows. Maybe the author ;-)

Lovely reading too.

Having had far too many friends and family die through long-term illnesses and dementia this was also one of those pieces that could have just as happily sat on Pseudopod as Escapepod for me.




Dem

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Reply #15 on: May 13, 2013, 12:49:13 PM
I first heard this on Clarkesworld and left a comment there. I was just going to post the link, http://clarkesworldmagazine.com/bell_09_12/ but in view of the rather more ho-hum opinions on EP, here it is in full:

'So much of what's not said seems to drive this story. There's no big world-building, no tracts of description or dialogue to slot us into the context. We're dropped in without a parachute and left to struggle along with the narrator in trying to make sense of it all. Because of that internal, personal work, the creeping horror, the grudging gratitude filled with latent hostility (she chose this, after all) are much more ours than they would be in a conventionally written story. Shows what you can do if you hybridise skill, technique, and artistry. Atta girl, Bell!'

I'm not sure I 'got' the alien invasion angle, if there was one, but does it matter? The weight of a story like this is in the interpersonal - in this case viewed via the intrapersonal - condition of the actor(s). What it must be like to lose oneself and to be an apparently willing party to that - blind but seeing, cooperative but resistant. Probably most people's trauma at some point in our lives.

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benjaminjb

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Reply #16 on: May 13, 2013, 01:10:01 PM
Jamaica Kincaid's "Girl" was recently the subject of the New Yorker's fiction podcast (where some published author comes to read and discuss some story previously published in the New Yorker). So after recently listening to that story, this story really does seem like the same form with sf-nal tropes. (Other possibility for inspiration: Carole Maso's Ava, a dying woman's last day of stream of consciousness remembering.) Frankly, I like experimenting with form, even if those experiments involve raiding literary work. (One of my favorite books is John Brunner's Stand on Zanzibar, which takes its form from Dos Passos without any shame.)

That said, "Girl" is a very short work (and includes two interjections by the daughter who is getting lectured/taught). I don't know what I would cut or trim here, but I can see why some people thought it went on too long.

Contra InfiniteMonkey, I thought the story's additions didn't do as much for me: an old woman dealing with her caretaker robot--I'm on board. A caretaker robot from aliens--okay, I'm listening. Caretaker robot from aliens with hints of body-replacing and some confused recollection of the old woman's career in exploration and the estrangement from her family that might have resulted--well, now I'm no longer on board and merely I'm waving from the platform as I see this story go on.



matweller

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Reply #17 on: May 13, 2013, 01:11:48 PM
Yeah, what did I miss that said there was an alien invasion? If anything, I got that we had met an alien race and there was a trade agreement between.

Quote
This is a picture of the world from which you were sent; this is a copy of the agreement between our government and theirs; these are the attributes they claim you are possessed of: obedience, loyalty, low to moderate intelligence; a natural curiosity which I should not mistake for something other than a necessary facet of your survival in the unfamiliar; this is your bill of manufacture; this is your bill of sale; this is a warrant of merchantability on which I may rely should I decide to return you from whence you came; this is your serial number, here, scraped in an alien script on the underside of your knee...
I thought that this was something of a caretaker robot and that the "devouring" was either something being done to cure an infection or rid the woman of no longer usable parts or that all of the unseemly parts of the story were fantasies brought on by dementia setting in. That passive resignation to imagined horror is (in my experience) typical of people in that situation. I once had an elderly friend that was periodically convinced that I had lured his wife into an affair, yet he was always affectionate to me and glad to have my company.

Quote
I dream you will not stop; I will shrink to the size of a basketball and you will carry my head under your arms; you will tell people your name and it will be my name; you will tell people your husband is my husband, my children your children, my home is yours as well; you will place me on the sill and one day, when the window is open I will fall down and roll into the garden, into the fields and I will watch you from the horizon, the blue of my eyes glowing in the night when you pretend to look for me.

I don't get the invasion thing. Everything in this story suggests a grudging old woman resigning to her need for more and more assistance as she ages.



Devoted135

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Reply #18 on: May 13, 2013, 05:00:18 PM
I think I should have commented sooner after I finished listening, because I'm starting to forget my impressions. I feel like I could see the alien invasion angle after I listened, but now I really only remember the alien robot caretaker part that Mat highlights.

Anyway, I like reading poetry, and poetry-prose appeals to me as well so I had no issues with the form this story took. I thought the reading also did a very good job of translating the mood of the piece. Just remind me to never hire an alien robot to slowly eat away my diseases flesh, I'm not so sure I'd trust it to know when to stop!



Max e^{i pi}

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Reply #19 on: May 13, 2013, 05:37:50 PM
Creepy flesh devouring alien overlord robots? Sure, why not. But on top of standard old-people-paranoia? We have a winner.
Also it creeped me out.

I found it very difficult to listen to this story. It sounded to me like she was whispering the whole time. Even with the volume cranked up to the max I could barely make out what she was saying. Add street noise to that and it became completely unlistenable to me. Which is a shame, because she clearly put a lot of effort into the reading.
« Last Edit: May 13, 2013, 07:17:16 PM by Max e^{i pi} »

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Brynn

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Reply #20 on: May 14, 2013, 12:12:51 AM
I also thought I reminded me of "Girl". And I enjoyed it very much.  :)



danthelawyer

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Reply #21 on: May 14, 2013, 07:09:57 AM

As I was listening to the story, I thought that it was giving voice to the subtle (or sometimes not-so-subtle) fear that has haunted every slaveholding society in human history -- that the servants will turn the tables and claim the place of their masters.  The line about Pizarro at the end took me by surprise, and put a whole new spin on the thought. 

And I agree the outro was great.  If more history teachers were willing to say things like, "...one of the most successful dicks in history," there would be a lot more interest in history.  ;)

I agree with all of the above. I really liked the narration, and loved the way the tone alternated between gratitude/simplicity and anger/suspicion. The ambiguity of whether the alien/robot was actually helping or really a "pod-person" was awesome.

Also, kudos to Norm for the outro.



JDoug

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Reply #22 on: May 14, 2013, 08:12:56 PM
I enjoyed the ambiguity in this one.



patriciomas

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Reply #23 on: May 15, 2013, 09:56:54 PM
I really enjoyed this story. My interpretation of it was that the robot was ostensibly to replace failing organs with mechanical ones -- our lovely narrator becomes a gradually more robotic cyborg. But that's obviously not how she feels about "her" new parts. She may have been right or she may have been paranoid, but I think it was a fun story either way you look at it.



notquiterandom

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Reply #24 on: May 16, 2013, 08:24:38 AM
Hi, all.  Brand new to the forums and will certainly be a big lurker.  :) 



matweller

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Reply #25 on: May 16, 2013, 01:41:18 PM
Hi, all.  Brand new to the forums and will certainly be a big lurker.  :) 
Your story posted this morning...take your buns over there. :P

http://forum.escapeartists.net/index.php?topic=7176.0



silber

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Reply #26 on: May 16, 2013, 07:37:56 PM
I really loved this story and this production.  The reader did a great job (although it was a bit hard to hear at times, i agree.  Required cranking up the volume on my player to full and even then I had to really focus to hear.)  I think a little bit of the story could have been shaved off a bit to prevent the narrative device from getting a little old, but all in all I really enjoyed it and good luck to it with the Nebula award!
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notquiterandom

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Reply #27 on: May 17, 2013, 06:58:38 AM
Hi, all.  Brand new to the forums and will certainly be a big lurker.  :) 
Your story posted this morning...take your buns over there. :P

http://forum.escapeartists.net/index.php?topic=7176.0

Heh!  My buns caught the early train!   :D



bounceswoosh

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Reply #28 on: May 18, 2013, 06:57:04 PM
I loved the story and the reading.  I wasn't as impressed by the outro; maybe that's because my standards are rather high for Norm even since listening to my first Choadsworth adventure tale.  Also I was really confused by how the outro related to the story, which might just be my personal failing.



AM Fish

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Reply #29 on: May 20, 2013, 09:34:03 PM
My interpretation of it was that the robot was ostensibly to replace failing organs with mechanical ones -- our lovely narrator becomes a gradually more robotic cyborg. But that's obviously not how she feels about "her" new parts. She may have been right or she may have been paranoid, but I think it was a fun story either way you look at it.
What a good interpretation.  I like this because it assumes the best from the aliens as well as ourselves.  I hoped that the robot had a good reason to be eating her but I wasn't sure.  I also heard  the story with "Girl" in mind and the story seemed like a worthy homage Jamaica Kincaid's story.



Unblinking

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Reply #30 on: May 29, 2013, 01:12:10 PM
I heard this one on the Clarkesworld podcast a while back.  I gave it an honorable mention on my Best of Clarkesworld 2012+, and I already wrote up a section on it for my Nebula Short Story Review (where I ranked 3rd of the 7 stories)

 copied and pasted from that article (because I am lazy):
REVIEW
Written as instructions to a domestic robot that also acts as a medical aid.  The instructions make it very clear that this robot is meant to follow these instructions very closely.  The robot is meant to eat the narrator’s dead flesh as a disease eats away at her. This one sided conversation has all kinds of nuances that you are left to unravel on your own.
This was published in Clarkesworld, where I heard it on the podcast.  There are some seriously creepy undertones that seem to suggest there’s something deeper.  I’m not sure I was ever able to fully unravel them.  It served as an interesting puzzle, especially trying to understand the narrator’s motivations and personality only from her instructions.  It’s very well written, and has some definite emotional connection.  The reason I didn’t rank this one higher is that I didn’t feel there was any character or plot arc–nothing changed.  I enjoyed it for sure, but to pick it as my favorite story of the year it has to have something more.
This story also seriously needed a better title.  Single-word titles, when the word is from the dictionary, are often not very evocative.  But this is the least evocative title I think I’ve ever seen.  I saw this on a suggested reading list for the Nebula, and I knew I must have heard it on the Clarkesworld podcast but the title brought back absolutely no memory of the story.  I’m sure I’ve read dozens of stories in the last year that involved some kind of robot, and I didn’t have any recollection which one it would be.

to which Bonnie Jo Stufflebeam said:
Quote
I believe the title “Robot” is meant to evoke another story, which “Robot” is very reminiscent of: “Girl” by Jamaica Kincaid. The two stories go great in tandem; I think having read “Girl” first made my reading of “Robot” that much richer.

To which I say:  "Robot" is now not the least evocative title I've ever seen.  "Girl" is worse.

Yeah, what did I miss that said there was an alien invasion? If anything, I got that we had met an alien race and there was a trade agreement between.

I don't think it an unreasonable interpretation, though I suspect it was not intended by the author.  There's enough creepy undertones in there that I'm not entirely convinced are just the result of paranoia in the narrator.



CryptoMe

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Reply #31 on: May 30, 2013, 12:06:17 AM
I have to say, I thought the narrator here was absolutely amazing! The changes in tone and volume hit just the right notes in this story and made it better for me.

I also don't understand the opinions that this story was too long. It needed to be that long to show how the narrators abilities, wants, and attitude to the robot change over time. I thought the literary device used here was subtle and brilliant for conveying the humanity of the main character.

In regards to the flesh eating, I took this at it's literal word. Not long ago, I had to deal with an amputation my mother' had for an ischemic (no blood flow) leg. The necrotic part was confined to the lower extremities, but almost the whole leg had to be removed to be sure they got all the rotting (and so toxic) flesh. Coming from that very recently, the concept of a robot that gently nibbles away only the dead flesh, leaving the healthy tissue behind, has a certain appeal for me...

Edited to fix typo
« Last Edit: June 21, 2013, 04:19:04 AM by CryptoMe »



Hel

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Reply #32 on: May 30, 2013, 02:42:51 AM
I hope I'm not breaking some 'no authors allowed' rule, but I just wanted to stop by and say thank you for all the lovely comments on 'Robot.'

Quote
In regards to the flesh eating, I took this at it's literal world. Not long ago, I had to deal with an amputation my mother' had for an ischemic (no blood flow) leg. The necrotic part was confined to the lower extremities, but almost the whole leg had to be removed to be sure they got all the rotting (and so toxic) flesh. Coming from that very recently, the concept of a robot that gently nibbles away only the dead flesh, leaving the healthy tissue behind, has a certain appeal for me...

For what it's worth, this is the situation I was envisioning with the story.  Since amputation is open surgery it's not exactly a good option for someone with severe health problems associated with or tangential to severe arterial disease.  And actually the entire flesh eating concept isn't that much of a leap (other than the alien/robot aspect) when you consider that the FDA approved maggots as a medical device in 2004 to do just that. 

http://jpp.sagepub.com/content/24/1/89.abstract



Dem

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Reply #33 on: May 30, 2013, 08:54:59 AM

the FDA approved maggots as a medical device in 2004 to do just that. 


Over here in the UK, we've been using maggots since at least the Crimean War. Or that might have been a hygiene problem ...

Science is what you do when the funding panel thinks you know what you're doing. Fiction is the same only without the funding.


Unblinking

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Reply #34 on: May 30, 2013, 02:37:43 PM
I hope I'm not breaking some 'no authors allowed' rule, but I just wanted to stop by and say thank you for all the lovely comments on 'Robot.'

Helena,
There's definitely no "no authors allowed" rule.  We welcome you.  :)  Just be aware that the forum is very encouraging of honest opinions, and some authors think it's a little too honest.



bounceswoosh

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Reply #35 on: May 30, 2013, 07:00:04 PM
FWIW, I loved the story and the reading.  I thought the voice and pace were perfect.



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Reply #36 on: June 02, 2013, 02:36:12 PM
This is the story that made me give up on second person stories entirely, when I heard it on Clarkesworld.  I hear the narrator address me and it's on to the next story.  It also made me really skeptical of domestic robot stories.  In that respect, I guess you could say it deeply affected me. 



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Reply #37 on: June 03, 2013, 02:51:48 PM
This is the story that made me give up on second person stories entirely, when I heard it on Clarkesworld.  I hear the narrator address me and it's on to the next story.  It also made me really skeptical of domestic robot stories.  In that respect, I guess you could say it deeply affected me.  

See the 2nd person in this story doesn't bother me because there is a reason it uses 2nd person pronouns (that is, it is written as instructions), and the "you" refers to someone specific rather than a general protagonist (the robot helper).  Really, it's written in 1st person, but that 1st person is dictating instructions.  Here the format makes sense because these instructions make sense in the way that they're written, and the fact that I'm reading them just means they reached the wrong destination.

The ones that  bother me is where the "you" is just swapped in arbitrarily as if it were a 1st or 3rd story.  "You walk into a bar.  You order a gin and tonic and scan the room."  



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Reply #38 on: June 03, 2013, 04:46:55 PM
Quote
Really, it's written in 1st person, but that 1st person is dictating instructions.  Here the format makes sense because these instructions make sense in the way that they're written, and the fact that I'm reading them just means they reached the wrong destination.

The ones that  bother me is where the "you" is just swapped in arbitrarily as if it were a 1st or 3rd story.  "You walk into a bar.  You order a gin and tonic and scan the room." 

Completely agree with the distinction.  I like to think of 2nd Person POV as either Hard ("You walk into a bar") or Soft (Direct Address).

Direct address usually has a defined narrator and as such is written more as a monologue with the 'You' as a second main character.

Harder direct address would look more like Tina Connolly's Hard Choices: the 'You' is a character in the story (as opposed to the reader), but the narrator is not. 

REALLY hard 2nd Person would be where the 'You' is the reader.  I never read Choose Your Own Adventure stories, but my guess is these would be the classic example (Tina's story was in a CYOA style, but I would still argue it was a little closer to a Direct Address with an omniscient narrator).

And the softer you make your 2nd person, the more it will resemble 1st. 



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Reply #39 on: June 05, 2013, 02:57:12 AM
Loved it.



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Reply #40 on: June 12, 2013, 04:51:30 PM
Creepy.
Creepy.
Creppy.

And, may I add -- creepy.

Good story. Made me think, which is always something I like in SF.

But creepy.

"You don't fix faith. Faith fixes you." - Shepherd Book


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Reply #41 on: June 12, 2013, 05:22:02 PM
Has anyone mentioned yet that this story is creepy?  Because it is!

I do like the ambiguity of whether the helper robot is a real or figurative alien invader.  Makes it all the more creepy.

Regarding second-person perspective, I guess the question is whether the perspective is trying to make the reader into a character or put the reader "over the shoulder" of another (silent) character.  In this case, I think it's the latter.  It really enhances the creepy effect because it shows (without telling) how the robot is just standing there silently (ominously!) accepting these instructions.



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Reply #42 on: July 04, 2013, 05:40:57 PM
This story reminded me of the ARG done by the group Cloudmakers that was based off of the movie AI. The movie itself, well I'll leave that up to you, but the online game to me was fascinating. My favorite subplot from the game was an woman whose husband lived on a different continent, so they got an android that looked just like her. The android lived with the husband and then upload the memories to the wife, who lived those memories vicariously. Over time, the woman began to suspect that  the husband is falling in love with the Android, not her. The wife descends into madness, and her last letter was the creepiest and best writing I ever read, definitely creepier than this story. You'll have to read through the game to find her last letter, but I'd suggest doing so it anyway. It was a really good game, and I wish I had known about it back in 2002 so I could play it.

But I did like this story too. And I love the narrator. Was I the only one who dog that her voice at times sounded almost robotic?

Now I'm off to read Jamaica Kincaid's Girl.

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Reply #43 on: July 05, 2013, 04:59:03 PM
Really enjoyed this one! Like a previous poster mentioned, it was very creepy--I loved it.



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Reply #44 on: September 19, 2013, 02:22:30 PM
This is one of my favourite sci fi stories ever. Period.

It's thought provoking that we clearly have an unreliable narrator here , and yet her most outlandish claim (that she is being eaten alive by an alien robot for therapeutic purposes) is so readily believable to the audience.



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Reply #45 on: December 17, 2013, 02:08:09 PM
Yeah, great story. Although it is clearly a sci-fi version of 'Girl', it has it's own themes and a lot to say about the one giving the instructions as well as the future society it's set in.