So You Want to be a Robot and Other Stories, by A. Merc Rustad
Description: (from Lethe Press)
Step one: forget the convention and disregard the binary. Gender? Sexuality? Old words unsuited for new consciousness. The twenty-one stories in this book challenge the imagination as only acclaimed author A. Merc Rustad can. Pages of robots and AIs constructing lives and exploring “humanity”; wasted worlds with monstrous cityhearts; assassins and the perils of enchanted labyrinths; and always the raw truths of love, loss, and devotion. Step two: read these science-fiction and fantasy tales as if they are the only stories you will discover on your bookshelf this day. Step three: dare to feel.
I had this short fiction collection in my tbr for a while but that’s when I read this lovely short by the author that I decided that I really needed to get my hands on it, and I did in May for my birthday!
While most of the stories in this were already published elsewhere on the internet, I had only read Tomorrow When We See the Sun on the Cosmic Powers anthology last year, so the rest was all a discovery.
I often pay close attention to the first and last story of anthologies and I love the way they were chosen here. The first is really nice with a portal fantasy type of story that shows the reader this won’t be all about robots (though I wouldn’t have minded), and the last is a really powerful piece of writing touching on some subjects that seem very personal to the author. It ended the book on a very emotional note and, I must admit, made me cry a certain amount of tears.
When I looked for this last story online (because I wanted to read it in bed and it was easier than with the paper copy), I found it had trigger warnings. Some other stories in this do need those as well and I wish they would have been included as well in this physical copy. I really think this would be for the better because some stories were really hard.
I loved the diverse range of emotions and subjects these stories managed to go through. A Survival Guide For When You’re Trapped In A Black Hole explored grief, Batteries For Your Doombot5000 Are Not Included explored former super-villains and heroes bonding through their shared past, a robot takes care of a bunch of dinosaurs in a post apocalyptical setting in The Android’s Prehistoric Menagerie, etc. Throughout a grand majority of the stories, humanity, gender and sexuality are explored like the description of the book promises and it is indeed very refreshing. Where Monsters Dance, the dark fairy tale with a girl trying to rescue her girlfriend was even republished in Transcendent 2: The Year’s Best Transgender Fiction 2016!
All of the stories have something special and while I loved some more than others, it’s really an amazing short fiction collection that made me feel a lot.
I would strongly recommend this review by Bogi Takács as well because they touch on things that I hadn’t noticed myself but that I agree with.
Table of content and content warnings:
- “This Is Not a Wardrobe Door”
- “Tomorrow When We See the Sun”
forced servitude, unconsented body modification
- “The Sorcerer’s Unattainable Gardens”
- “The Android’s Prehistoric Menagerie”
- “For Want of a Heart”
- “Once I, Rose”
- “Where Monsters Dance”
domestic violence, transphobia, misgendering, drug use/abuse mentionned
- “A Survival Guide For When You’re Trapped In A Black Hole”
- “Under Wine-Bright Seas”
suicidal ideation, suicide attempt mentinoned
- “Of Blessed Servitude”
- “To the Knife-Cold Stars”
- “Finding Home”
- “Winter Bride”
torture, rape, forced pregnancy
- “To the Monsters, With Love”
- “Batteries For Your Doombot5000 Are Not Included”
- “…Or Be Forever Fallen”
- “Iron Aria”
- “What Becomes of the Third-Hearted”
- “The Gentleman of Chaos”
- “How to Become a Robot in 12 Easy Steps”
suicidal ideations, depression, slurs against queer people, emotional abuse
Apologies if I forgot anything, I tried to double check and some were indeed written down on the author’s website but not all.
4 thoughts on “Book review: So You Want to be a Robot and Other Stories”
I have not heard of the author or book; so thanks for this. It is very helpful that you mentioned the trigger warnings for individual stories. Maybe I should try out a few stories that are online and see.
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I think only two stories were new to this anthology so you should be able to find a lot of them 🙂
Thank you! I’m glad I could intrigue you in looking them up 😀 and that those warnings were helpful
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This sounds great! I’ve asked my library to buy it.
Haaa I’m so glad!! I hope they will!
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