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We, Robots edited by Allan Kaster

01/05/2010. Contributed by Rod MacDonald

Buy We, Robots in the USA - or Buy We, Robots in the UK

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pub: Infinivox/AudioText, Inc. 4 CDs 270 minutes 7 stories. Price: $27.99 (US). ISBN: 978-1-88461-289-3) read by Amy Bruce and J.P. Linton.

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'We, Robots' is a collection of seven unabridged short stories on four CDs with the common theme of robotics. Yes, every story features mechanical beings in some description or form. So if you are into robots, this is a collection for you!

We start off with 'The Scarecrow's Boy' by Michael Swanwick. In a world where everything and every object, including the food dispenser, seems to be robotic with a personality, a boy is rescued from some unknown fate by an abandoned robot left in a field as the scarecrow. Accompanied by a personalised vehicle, they attempt to get to safety in another country.

'The Illustrated Biography Of Lord Grimm' is a strange tale indeed. Daryl Gregory describes a country populated by Eastern European genetically modified animals, with robotic parts, in the act of constructing huge warrior robots to fend off an invasion by Americans. There have been many invasions before but this seems to be the big one! Somewhat surreal in nature, despite the Eastern European accents, one is reminded of Iraq.

The narrators of all the stories, J.P. Linton and Amy Bruce, in this collection are actually very good. Male and female, both more mature in years, they are very effective in delivering a wide variety of stories with lots of different characters. I'm sure the listener will not be disappointed.

'Tideline' by Elizabeth Bear was my favourite story. On a distant planet, a damaged war machine with a female personality befriends a young boy. Constrained by her disabilities to the limits of the shoreline, she is still able to help the boy to survive, telling him stories of dead human comrades lost in the war. With a compulsion to make necklaces from gemstones found on the beach, the question is what will she do with them? Winter approaches and the chances of survival diminish rapidly.

James Cambias in 'Balancing Accounts' tells of a robotic machine in a warehouse and its eventual encounter with a human. He wants the robot to go on a special mission, somewhere amongst the satellites of Saturn but what is this mission and what is its significance?

Three other interesting stories made up this collection: 'Sanjeev And The Robotwallah' by Ian McDonald, 'The Seventh Expression Of The Robert General' by Jeffrey Ford and 'Shining Armour' from Dominic Green. Enough to keep you occupied for almost 5 hours! $24 or 16 is what this will cost you and, at that' it is a little bit expensive. The presentation and packaging is okay and the stories are definitely entertaining and of good quality. This would probably make a good present for someone interested in Science Fiction so if the buyer is willing to pay the price that probably represents good value.

Rod MacDonald

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