"I decide that it is practical for me to find it attractive"
August 30, 2020 8:14 AM   Subscribe

Silly, fun, or heartwarming scifi stories published this year about robots & AI include "A Guide for Working Breeds" by Vina Jie-Min Prasad (author of "Fandom for Robots" (2017), previously), "Custom Options Available" by Amy Griswold, and "Rager in Space" by Charlie Jane Anders.


"Rager in Space":
“Hey,” Sion said. “I was wondering about something. So nothing computerized works any more. At all. Right? So how did these people manage to get a spaceship that can fly to another star system to work? That would be the most computer-intensive shizz you could imagine.”
"A Guide for Working Breeds"
[From] iLabs Mentorship Program

Dear C.k2-00452, we regret to inform you that your exemption request has been unsuccessful. Mentorship enrolment is compulsory after chassis buyback, and is part of a new initiative to…
"Custom Options Available":
The hardware specialist does not want to sell me genitals.

“I can’t advise making these modifications,” she says. “It’s not just the external configuration. That’s trivial, especially since you’re already designed to have interchangeable attachments. If you just want to be able to function in an intimate situation, we can add an attachment.”

I am a retired mining bot with self-configurable limbs capable of vibration at customizable frequencies. “That is not my problem,” I say.
Many people who enjoy these would also like Martha Wells's Murderbot book series, which includes the prequel short story "Compulsory" (published in 2018 in Wired's "Future of Work" series; previously). FanFare on the first Murderbot book, All Systems Red (read the first chapter for free).

And many people who enjoy these would also like Ann Leckie's Imperial Radch book series, starting with Ancillary Justice (previously, FanFare, read the first chapter for free).
posted by brainwane (10 comments total) 45 users marked this as a favorite
The Murderbot Diaries are what have kept me afloat this past month of quarantine. As all of this has dragged on, and become even more horrible, my own “content filter” has become more and more narrow: no media where there is unbearable loss. No media where there is heart-rending betrayal. No media where things of emotional import are discussed in a purely intellectual fashion. No media where everyone involved are really kind of shitty people, even the protagonists. The list goes on.

I have listened to Murderbot stories, read by the wonderful Kevin R. Free, over and over - frequently queuing up only the chapters in each book that I like best.

So - thank you for these links! I look forward to expanding my comfort zone!
posted by Silvery Fish at 10:00 AM on August 30, 2020 [2 favorites]

Strains to resist temptation ... ah hell, who am I kidding?
"I can get you a cheaper ticket if you let me amputate your legs: I can even take your thighs as a deposit," says the travel agent. He's trying desperately hard to be helpful: "It's not as if you'll need them where you're going, is it?"
From Neptune's Brood, which came out in 2013 and is available here (as is its prequel — please blame someone else for the covers, okay?).

Yes I have form for writing robot fic, why do you ask?
posted by cstross at 10:48 AM on August 30, 2020 [7 favorites]

A Guide For Working Breeds is hilarious, well worth a read!
posted by Jon Mitchell at 11:13 AM on August 30, 2020 [1 favorite]

Thank you so much for these! Really enjoyed them, would love more in the same vein. Sci-Fi that has some optimism is my jam these days, I admit to recommending murderbot relentlessly to everyone I know.
posted by stillnocturnal at 1:22 PM on August 30, 2020 [1 favorite]

This might be obvious, but if you're looking for optimistic SF, also try the Wayfarers Series by Becky Chambers.
posted by signal at 4:39 PM on August 30, 2020 [1 favorite]

cstross: Neptune's Brood and Saturn's Children are so my jam. If you don't mind, any thoughts on a sequel?
I always felt the covers where a parody/homage to the godawful covers on some of Heinlein's books.
posted by signal at 4:42 PM on August 30, 2020

I have listened to Murderbot stories [...] over and over - frequently queuing up only the chapters in each book that I like best.

A Murderbot-approved media consumption strategy!
posted by vibratory manner of working at 11:44 PM on August 30, 2020 [2 favorites]

Just read "Rager in Space" and really enjoyed it. The tone and content reminded me a bit of the book Space Opera which I also quite enjoyed.
posted by thedaniel at 11:58 PM on August 30, 2020

All of these were great, thanks! As predicted, I have also enjoyed immensely the Murderbot series, especially in their audiobook form - Kevin Free's reading is amazing.
posted by mrgoldenbrown at 7:57 AM on August 31, 2020

I found these surprisingly heartwarming, particularly Guide for Working Breeds.
posted by tdismukes at 8:18 AM on August 31, 2020

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