Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Elizabeth Bear's "Tideline" (short story, science fiction, free): An emotional robot teaches life skills to an urchin

General feel of this story is a lot like a typical Asimovian robot story - except the robot here can kill humans. In fact, it's a battleship robot - designed to kill the (human) enemy.

Download full text or MP3.

Story summary.

Chalcedony is a war machine - sounded like a kind of technologically very advanced tank with integrated AI (artificial intelligence). It thinks of itself as a "she".

There apparently has been a war somewhere near Seattle in the US. The war is now over; Chalcedony's platoon is dead, & she is badly damaged - only a little life remaining.

She is prawling a beach looking for bead-like objects. To build little memorial trinkets for various members of her platoon! She is a rather sentimental robot.

On the beach, she encounter a little boy, Belvedere, - somehow surviving. They slowly come close. She helps him in many ways - with finding food, by saving him from bigger looters, by teaching him, etc.

Collected in.

  1. Gardner Dozois (Ed)'s "The Year's Best Science Fiction: Twenty-Fifth Annual Collection" (2008).

Fact sheet.

"Tideline", short story, review
First published: Asimov's Science Fiction, June 2007.
Rating: A
Winner of Hugo Awards 2008 in short story category.
Added to my best of the year 2007 picks.