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Monday, April 21, 2014

"Robots Don't Cry" by Mike Resnick

First appeared in Asimov's.  Reprinted by Jack Dann, Gardner Dozois, Steve Eley.  Up for the Hugo and Asimovs readers' awards. Audio.

Like Card's story, Mike Resnick's tale represents what the contest judge says he's looking for in a story:

  1. SF'nal
  2. Futuristic setting
  3. A very human story
Resnick's fits the bill nicely--if ironically for #3.  A pair of "grave robbers"--rather junk dealers--of abandoned planets run into an abandoned robot.  They get it back into commission.  He used to be nursemaid to a young girl who has a prosthetic leg and not loved by those around her.  There's a rather inconclusive argument about whether or not the robot cares for and misses his former mistress.  That is, logically, it's inconclusive, but it's pretty clear he does care.  While he can't cry, he doesn't want to serve another master as he'd promised never to leave her.  

A moving tale.  There's a nice ironic contrast to the human protagonist who seems to be a little less than "human" but he changes his mind, a little. One might complain that the main characters are not especially affected by the outcome, but it works, as is, which leads us to ask how he was able to break the standard writing rule.  

This reminds me, if memory serves, of Harry Bates' "Farewell to the Master", which I plan to reread.  Ray Aldridge reprised a similar canto in "Click" which was in the second Writers of the Future volume.  That's a story I've reread and found it effective each time.  I remember reading Aldridge's stuff in SF Age and flipping back to the first page, wondering, "Who wrote this?  This is cool."  

Where is he anyway?  Here's an inconclusive thread on F&SF website.  Ah, here we go.  Someone harass him to put a collection together already.  He does have a trilogy available, but that does not forgive of the unconscionable crime of not giving readers a collection.  Paging Ray Aldridge, Ray Aldridge, please come to the principal's office and explain yourself.

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