- File Size: 3519 KB
- Print Length: 162 pages
- Simultaneous Device Usage: Unlimited
- Publisher: Castalia House (April 15, 2016)
- Publication Date: April 15, 2016
- Sold by: Amazon Digital Services LLC
- Language: English
- ASIN: B01EBODSPE
- Text-to-Speech: Enabled
- Word Wise: Not Enabled
- Lending: Enabled
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #502,480 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
God, Robot Kindle Edition
Enter your mobile number or email address below and we'll send you a link to download the free Kindle App. Then you can start reading Kindle books on your smartphone, tablet, or computer - no Kindle device required.
To get the free app, enter your mobile phone number.
Customers who bought this item also bought
Would you like to tell us about a lower price?
Top customer reviews
While one can appreciate well-written Christian sci-fi simply for its novelty (If someone else has written sci-fi about robots who follow the Bible more faithfully than most humans and actually done some clever things with the idea, I am not aware of it), this little collection of chronologically-linked short stories should appeal to anyone who is not too scared or too intellectually biased to find the idea of robots trying to be good Christians fascinating. (Do they have sin? How will they take communion? How does the servant-master relationship change when robots began to wonder if they have souls as well?)
I would give the book a solid 4 star rating for taking a basically interesting idea and developing it in creative ways, but I give it an extra half-star and a deserved round up to 5 for taking things one step or twist further than I guessed on several occasions, and also simply for being a book that, refreshingly, is intellectually stimulating sci-fi which doesn't feel the need to take cheap shots at the scripture that is part of its basic thesis, which these days probably makes it radical if not outright subversive.
Without wishing to spoil too much fun, I will give one example of where I was pleasantly surprised: I did guess the robots would end up debating whether they shared with humans in original sin; with a little thought I could have guessed they would settle it by the first robot church council; I did not, however, expect it to be infiltrated by concerned human atheists trying to save their jobs. And I definitely did not expect the "punchline" from church history...
So, 5 stars for a sci-fi work that, among many other thoughtful and entertaining ideas, features a robot church council on original sin being settled Saint Nicholas style.
With Mr. Marchetta's permission, I have used his base concept to write and publish two short stories on my own blog and I'm currently working on a third. Now that I've finished his book, I'm here to write my review.
The basic structure of "God, Robot" mirrors the "I, Robot" anthology; a series of independent short stories all sharing a core theme linked by an overarching story. In "I Robot's" case, it is a reporter interviewing U.S. Robotics' Dr. Susan Calvin on the occasion of her retirement that provides the linkage between one story and the next. As for "God, Robot," a detective (with gills no less) has discovered the hiding place of interstellar fugitive William Locke, but before arresting Locke, Detective Theseus Hollywell allows him to tell a story, actually a number of stories, chronicling the development of "theobots," robots who have been programmed with the two greatest commandments (see Matthew 22:36-40) rather than the classic Asimovian Three Laws of Robotics.
The tales range from the very near future on Earth to the year 6080 in deep space. The earlier stories are thinly disguised Asimov tales, even down to direct character analogs of Susan Calvin, Michael Donovan, and Gregory Powell. I found that part a bit forced and would have preferred entirely new characters.
The later stories were more independent of Asimov's legacy and as I continued reading, I found myself wanting to know more about the mystery surrounding William Locke, and how these disparate tales covering thousands of years and hundreds of light years all tied together with Honeywell's pursuit of a wanted terrorist.
I found the answer pretty satisfying. However, I've been reading and re-reading Asimov robot stories for nearly half a century, and if the basic premise of "theobots" were mine to create, I don't think I would have dispensed with the Three Laws so quickly, if at all. Also, since the narrative of the Bible and subsequent theologies built around it do not presuppose artificial intelligence and synthetic life forms, it was a stretch for me to believe that AI robots would derive that not only God loved them but they would be able to have a relationship with God. Machine intelligence does not necessitate a soul.
But then again, in re-reading Asimov's "I, Robot," which I did just a few weeks ago, I recall that Asimov gave his early robots more human characteristics (including emotions, allowing them to, for example, cringe in terror of human anger) than would seem reasonable. Gene Roddenberry's made-for-TV pilot "The Questor Tapes" (1973) and Questor's "descendant" Data from Star Trek the Next Generation are more realistic examples of intelligent, self-aware machines who struggle to understand humanity and even a supernatural creator for humans, yet never quite "get it."
I commend Anthony Marchetta and the contributing authors for exploring the compelling intersection of artificial intelligence and theology. I've found these stories inspirational. But if there is ever another series of stories based on this theme, I'd like to see a few more Datas and a few less Remis wrestling with their angels, so to speak, attempting to comprehend a machine's role in a universe created by God.
Although the quality of the individual stories is comparable to Asimov's robot stories taken as a whole, the high concept is the real stand-out. If you could program robots with Asimov's three laws, why couldn't you try programming them with the two great commandments of the gospels? This anthology is a good first attempt at writing the implications, but leaves plenty of room for other speculations.