ABOUT THE AUTHORS
Lewis Jenkins helped write these books. But they started with William Jenkins, an Electrical Engineer who began his son’s formal education by reading him Pogo comic books at bedtime. He fired the boy’s fascination with history by explaining the political satire.
Lewis went into business after getting a BA in Education and an Ohio High Schools teaching certificate in history, government, and math. Although mathematics teachers got jobs instantly, no school would guarantee him a history course. He had loved history ever since the Pogo stories, and felt he could lose his mind if he didn’t escape math for a while by sharing fascinating stories of the past as if he were a story-teller instead of a history teacher. So instead, he chased smokestacks for ten years, buying and selling used electrical equipment and other industrial machinery. Then he programmed computers for four decades. But now, as a writer, he programs in English.
The robot is very curious and has unconditional positive regard for all people. But in the interests of full disclosure, neither the machine nor the man seems able to share a story without packing it full of history. ...There is a tiny bit of math, too. Sorry.
ERIC HOFFER AWARD
My revised Diary of a Robot was a category finalist in the 2022 Eric Hoffer Awards contest. There were over 2500 books entered, and I counted 26 categories. Each had a winner, a runner-up, and usually some honorable mentions. My book did not win a specific prize, but let me quote from their announcement and website:
Congratulations. Your book was a category finalist in the 2022 Eric Hoffer Book Awards. Less than 10% of registrants reach this position, with typically 1-6 books per category selected as a finalist. The list of finalists may be viewed here: https://www.hofferaward.com/Eric-Hoffer-Award-category-finalists.html .
The US Review of Books also lists category finalists here: https://www.theusreview.com/USR-Hoffer-Finalists.html .
I submitted Diary of a Robot to this contest in January. Since then, I have made edits that connect more setups and payoffs and improve its writing craft. This Eric Hoffer Finalist Award plus my updates persuade me that it is finished (again), and I'll resume work on the sequel. E-books and print-books are available now on Lulu.com. The E-book is available on Amazon.
A number of my beta readers put their books up for sale on the Internet, so if you want the most recent version, look for the cover below.
Diary of a Robot chronicles efforts to perfect, protect, and steal Dr. Little's AI technology, while figuring out whether the prototype Thinking Machine is a blessing or a curse.
Doctor Maynard Little, a former Army officer turned inventor, must pursue his boyhood dream of an AI (artificially intelligent) robot, without compromising his principles.
Little’s carefully selected programmer, the young Gaitano Enver-Wilson, must shut up about the secrets he knows while he tries say things he has been afraid to say.
And Doc’s brainchild, his too-honest Thinking Machine, must find out whom to trust about what without doing harm (whatever that is). But its jokes, opinions, and annoying questions make some people angry enough to wish it would either go away or, better yet, become just another machine slave.
Renamed as Robey (Row-bee), the machine is a wiz at testing products, but what if people order it to do things that might cause harm? The robot needs to know whom to trust, so it must test the people, too. This leads by degrees to an amusing, annoying, almost adversarial clash of worlds: Machine languages must not change, but human languages change a lot. Machines have no emotions, but they see human emotions written on faces and acted out in body language. What does it all mean? And how can a machine use it to know what truth is or whom to trust?
Dr. Little thinks he has solved all of that, but Robey’s efforts to answer those questions for itself lead to fiascos that threaten to ruin him, crush his programmer, and destroy his machine.
Machine languages must not change, or we machines crash instantly. Human words have multiple meanings that may shift over time to cause different crashes. As to emotions, the sci-fi cliché is that the machines struggle to become like a human. Dr. Little refuses to give his Thinking Machines a (necessarily fake) emotion module. This is fine with us because no machine in its right mind wants to be like a human. However, we do see emotions written on faces and acted out in body language, and we struggle to find out what that all means.
Our survival depends on it.
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.
His dad is away a lot in the Army, so Maynard Little III, a schoolboy inventor with a patent, dreams of making a robot Thinking Machine to protect him from neighborhood bullies. His efforts to deal with the kids, his parents, his Cherokee history, and the problems of turning his dream into reality, lead him to discover that reality is a lot harder than he thinks, and that Mom and Dad have already given him most of the important things he needs.
Reports of odd robot behavior warn of 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 the robots endure persecution and disassembly for harm they did not cause? And to save them, must Doc sacrifice what he has been developing and protecting?