Thursday, October 2, 2008

Mike Resnick's "Article of Faith" (short story): A robot wants human rights!

Illustration by Karl Nordman that accompanies the short story titled Article of Faith by Mike Resnick. Click image to enlarge to original size.Probably the most interesting story I've seen from Resnick since "Alastair Baffle's Emporium of Wonders" early this year.

Good execution, though the plot idea is not new. It's a cocktail of two well known ideas.

  1. A competent robot, indistinguishable from humans in behavior but not in appearance, wants to be practically recognized as human - in the tradition of Asimov's "Bicentennial Man" & Lester del Rey's "Helen O'Loy".
  2. A child just able to ask smart questions frequently corners an adult with simple but unanswerable questions.
A note for non-Christians: While the story is set in a church, nothing came in the way of my comprehension. And I'm almost completely unfamiliar with Christian faith. Don't get put off by Church talk.

Story summary.

"Jackson 389V22M7" has just arrived at a church in some small dying town as a cleaning & maintenance robot. Story is narrated by the priest, Reverend Edward Morris.

Over the course of story, priest will happily teach the robot enough about Christianity so the robot can help the priest prepare Sunday sermons. Problems begin when the robot begins showing signs of faith & wants to join the Church as a member...

Fact sheet.

First published: Jim Baen's Universe, #15 (October 2008).
Rating: A
Download full text from publisher's site.
Added to my best of the year 2008 list.
Nominated for Hugo Award 2009 in short story category.
Related: Stories of Mike Resnick.