Mr. Jenkins writes Speculative History, but that implies a re-write of the past to fit a favored plot. Instead, his robot stories do not re-write the past. They re-write the future. Modern fiction has painted a somewhat warped account of the robot future that begs to be adjusted.
Would you obey everyone who pushed your button and told you to do something?
Robey is the prototype Thinking Machine whose story and problems—like those of any machine—begin in the mind of its inventor. That is Dr. Maynard Little, who had been thinking about an AI robot ever since he was a boy. But he has problems, too.
Dr. Little programmed Robey with unconditional positive regard for people, plus a directive to obey but do no harm. Its diary shows a quest to discover what harm is and why people do things that cause so much of it. This led to so much trouble, though, that everyone started calling it harm instead. So, Doc had to fix it. The fix gave him the kind of machine he had always wanted but caused more serious problems.
This story also chronicles Doctor Little’s efforts to protect his technology from the crooks trying to steal it. Finally, of course, we are all still trying to figure out whether Thinking Machines are a blessing or a curse.
Judge, 28th Annual Writer’s Digest Self-Published Book Awards:
Diary of a Robot is an unusual book and an admirable genre bender. The basic conceit of the book (that it is the actual diary of a robot) is fabulous—clever and able to provide some great commentary. The conceit then carries onto the back cover, which is also wry and clever and reminiscent of William Goldman’s The Princess Bride.
The story and the book itself asks a lot of the reader. The audience for this sort of novel is niche and would need to be invested. I don’t want this to be construed as a sleight; I think Jenkins has a solid novel with a good, albeit less mainstream, market. It also helps if the audience has a background in the computers-taking-over genre—everything from 2001 to Deep Thought in Hitchhiker’s Guide. I’m sure there are tons of references I missed being less well-versed in the genre. For some readers this will be like a scavenger hunt in the same way children of the 1980s loved Ready Player One.
What can I say about characterization in a book where the main character is a computer and the discussions of religion and philosophy and the existence of God become entangled with science intrigue? People become more distant, yet more understandable. I think the author wanted the reader to consider what makes humans human. If so, well done.
always stand for Artificial Intelligence instead of Artificial Insanity or Artificial Idiocy?
was not dangerous, and the initials stood for Annoying Intelligence instead? Fixing all that seemed like a good idea. So, someone did.
Reports of odd robot behavior build to more serious threats that promise to ruin Dr. Maynard Little and destroy all his robots on Earth as well as those working for NASA on Mars. Must he sacrifice what he has been developing and protecting in order to save them?