Your Obedient Servant by Stanley Wilkin


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Post August 28, 2013, 02:04:02 PM

Your Obedient Servant by Stanley Wilkin

This is like a version of "Tea Party Gone Robo-Crazy". The part that throws you off is the operative being called "Robert". Robots don't often have names.

It's a kind of shock ending that does only work in very short stories, relying on a "blind-audience" for the punchline. One small weakness of these kinds of stories is that it sacrifices a longer exploration of the underlying world concept.

It's also not clear what the rest of the world is doing. Since this is clearly a medium advanced future, though dystopian, you have to assume all of today's social-techno memes, including how fast news gets around the internet. For this story to happen, there would simultaneously need to be One World Government, and No Internet.
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Post September 13, 2013, 10:59:05 PM

Re: Your Obedient Servant by Stanley Wilkin

I was baffled. The main character is going around killing dozens of people I know nothing about, for no clear reason, simultaneously obeying some orders and ignoring others, with no hint as to whose are which. I couldn't find any plot or characterization.

Sounds like an equipment malfunction to me. But, as the last line says,
Governments always have a need for a machine like me.
and I'm sure that, after some gentle rehab in a scrap furnace, he'd make a great set of filing cabinets.
I was raised by humans. What's your excuse?

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Post September 14, 2013, 04:32:07 PM

Re: Your Obedient Servant by Stanley Wilkin

I enjoyed this clever tale.

The main character is going around killing dozens of people I know nothing about, for no clear reason, simultaneously obeying some orders and ignoring others, with no hint as to whose are which. I couldn't find any plot or characterization.


The Secretary ordered the execution of the Director and, before his death, the Director had ordered the execution of the Secretary. Both were carried out in order of priority. It is unclear why Robert would accept orders from both the Secretary as well as the Director. The chain of command is unexplained.

I would be nice to learn more about the world this takes place in.
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Post September 14, 2013, 09:35:41 PM

Re: Your Obedient Servant by Stanley Wilkin

internetjoe wrote:I enjoyed this clever tale.

The main character is going around killing dozens of people I know nothing about, for no clear reason, simultaneously obeying some orders and ignoring others, with no hint as to whose are which. I couldn't find any plot or characterization.


The Secretary ordered the execution of the Director and, before his death, the Director had ordered the execution of the Secretary. Both were carried out in order of priority. It is unclear why Robert would accept orders from both the Secretary as well as the Director. The chain of command is unexplained.

I would be nice to learn more about the world this takes place in.


Sounds like the assassin was a bit like Hymie the Robot from "Get Smart" (the TV series) -- good at understanding spoken orders, but a little too literal. Having received two orders, he carried out both -- after all, neither the Secretary nor the Director specifically said that any orders from the other should be cancelled (if already given) or ignored. An "artificial stupid"? (Can't remember what author coined the term for A.I. specialized to deal with only one field, clueless about everything else...)
You can't wait for inspiration. You have to go after it with a club.

Jack London (1876-1916)

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