Narfna recommended “The Secret Life of Bots” last week and provided a link. I opened the link immediately, and then the tab sat there, open and unread, for days. As one does.
The Bot is activated and given a task by Ship. It notes that a long period of time has passed since it was last activated, and that the task it has been given, task 944, was a higher number than usual. The Bot starts out on it’s task – exterminate a pest. Along the way Bot finds out what’s happening on Ship and we find out more about Bot, like it’s tiny and it’s name is 9.
Narfna advertised this as “for Murderbot lovers,” and she’s not wrong. I would say Bot 9 is a little bit Murderbot and a little bit Wall-E. Bot 9 gets done what needs to be done, but with a lot less human interaction. In fact, I think it’s arguable whether Bot 9 is interested in humans at all. Ship is the bridge as well as the shared space between the bots and the humans. Ship and the bots are aware of themselves and each other and the humans as distinct entities.
As Bot 9 moves through Ship in pursuit of the pest, it meets other bots and discovers that they have a network of communication and consider themselves much more advanced and sophisticated than Bot 9. Palmer does provide human perspectives on their desperate mission. And while the humans are having emotions, tiny Bot 9 is able to see a solution that’s too small for human notice.
There’s an air of melancholy in the story. Ship serves and carries out the orders of the humans after being decommissioned and left to fall apart in a junkyard. The bots serve but they have a whole community and culture with each other within the limitations of their functions. Bot 9 is our main character and sets the tone for the world, but it too is aware that it has been discarded.
I was going to read the next story, “Bots of the Lost Ark,” and review them together, but I have quite a bit of reading demanding more of my attention. I have a couple of other Suanne Palmer works on my list as well and I’d like to get to them all this year. We’ll see. It’s day 5 of 2023 and things are already going off the rails. To be fair, things weren’t on the rails in the first place.