After Paul Simon reviewed Fluence in the Morning Star we talked about how reviews could be more collaborative. In some ways I think Eating Robots and Other Stories lends itself to discussion more than a novel because the stories are short and in most cases deliberately written to provoke debate.
Paul starts his recent review of Eating Robots with “IN FEWER than 150 pages, Stephen Oram combines the sharp edginess of a JG Ballard with the vaulting inventiveness of a modernist Ovid.” (full review)
This post is dedicated to discussions about stories in Eating Robots; to start a new discussion post a comment and to join in a discussion already underway post a reply.
If you want some prompts, some provocations, to get started there’s some here.
Over to you…
I would like to speak of what stands out, for me, in the story ‘The Thrown-Away Things,’ which stages the refuse of the ‘Internet of Things’ – a medley of damaged and mundane (not so) intelligent things – which turn out to be even more damaged psychologically than they are physically, like many humans in fact. What strikes me first is that in the this story, the higher danger does not lie in the next big thing, but in the unmaintained, the faulty, the discarded, the obsolete. This is a welcome contrast to the fixation we have in our knowledge societies on technological innovations and the management of their associated risks. Then, what the story shows is that things may not present much danger on their own, or just a limited kind of danger – but they can become an explosive cocktail (literally) when interconnected. And finally, it shows also that intelligent machines are bound to resemble us, their human designers, and be as imperfect and tainted by their affect in their supposedly objective and rational judgements as we humans can be.