Sunday, January 02, 2011

Saturn's Children


By Charles Stross

It's the future and humankind is extinct as is life on Earth due to a huge environmental catastrophe when Earth became so hot that the oceans boiled. But fear not, mankind has a successor in the many robots created before our unwept demise.
Most robots were constructed to be obedient and subservient to humans. After humans died out, the robots continued on building, exploring, developing, doing those activities for which they were designed. They created a sort of freedom for themselves, building cities and outposts on distant planets. They created a hierarchy, with a few rich robots running things and the rest in service to the bosses. But that wasn't enough for some so they hatched a plot. If they were able to bring back to life one human, they could use that human to enslave the rest of robotkind and rule the solar system, due to the automatic circuit in most robots that forced them to do what any human wanted. But other robots are not willing to give up their freedom and will do whatever they can to thwart this plan.
Into this mix comes Freya, a sex robot, designed to be a concubine for humans. In a system where humans no longer exist, Freya is obsolete. So she makes her way trying to stay free and not the robot slave of other robots and doing whatever she can to survive. She finds herself ensnared in the struggle between the two factions and facing danger and eminent destruction on all sides. Her adventure will take her all over the solar system and she will find there is almost no one she can trust, not even her own self.

This was a strange story. Freya is just too human. She sweats, she eats and drinks, she falls in love, she feels pain, she has orgasms, she has robot sex. All the robots seemed very human in their desires, especially the desire to rule all the other robots. And everybody is double-dealing and you don't know where they stand or whose side they are on. Although the future society depicted in the story was fascinating, it couldn't make up for how unreal it all felt. I can't really say I liked it but I didn't hate it either.

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