AUTHOR INTERVIEW: Cory Doctorow

This interview was conducted by Jude Griffin.

What were the challenges of writing a character with  intelligence superior to humans?

I don’t know that BIGMAC is any smarter than a human — just possessed of a different kind of intelligence.

Actually, I don’t think I know what “superior” means in the context of intelligence. Seems to me that all systems for ranking intelligence are nakedly self-serving, starting from the axiom that the intelligence that the person devising the ranking system is the best kind of intelligence.

If you can do differential equations in your head, are you “intelligent?” What if you can’t draw, cook, or reciprocate the love of a good person? Continue reading ›

AUTHOR INTERVIEW: Ernest Cline

This interview was conducted by Gwen Perkins.

“The Omnibot Incident” is a story about a robot uprising not placed in the future but in the past: 1983. What were your reasons for looking backward rather than forward?

When Dan Wilson first asked me if I would contribute a story to this anthology, I was still working on the screenplay adaptation of my novel Ready Player One, so I was immersed in 80s pop culture at the time. (Even more than usual). When I thought about a robot uprising, my brain immediately conjured up an image of the Omnibot 2000, the Christmas gift I always wanted and never received, because it was way out of my family’s price range. I immediately imagined an “Omnibot 2000 uprising,” which seemed like a fun story to write, and a unique take on the subject matter. Continue reading ›

AUTHOR SPOTLIGHT: Hugh Howey

This interview was conducted by Bradley Englert.

Many robot uprising stories begin or focus on robots that are large and ominous, something like the Terminator, but you chose to start with a robot that would be more innocuous: the Roomba. Why focus your story on this tiny cleaning robot that many people use in their everyday lives?

I think the robot uprising is going to be a lot more innocuous than Skynet or the Matrix. In Executable, it’s not just the Roomba. It’s the internet-connected refrigerator and the routers and our cell phones. I’m very interested in emergent properties. When you cram neurons together, you get to a certain density of connections, and something like consciousness arises. Maybe a similar effect happens when we get enough interconnected machines with sensors and feedback loops and the ability to communicate with one another. I’m not saying they’ll come after us with malicious intent, but unexpected properties could arise from the explosion of devices like this. We’ll go from airflow to turbulence. And Roombas will certainly be involved. Continue reading ›

AUTHOR SPOTLIGHT: Genevieve Valentine

This interview was conducted by Karen Bovenmyer.

How did Eighty Miles an Hour all the way to paradise come together as you were writing it? Did you design the post-uprising world before drafting, during the writing process, or a little of both?

I’m naturally a little wary of some of modern technology’s benevolent-dictator tendencies. People tend to discuss those issues more openly when it’s phones and computers, but to me a thermostat or lock system that you can regulate remotely is a house that can learn handle itself, and is just as creepy in that sense; it’s not a far leap to imagine what would happen if a computerized world just stopped taking orders one day. Continue reading ›

AUTHOR INTERVIEW: Charles Yu

This interview was conducted by Stephanie Loree.

“Cycles” is told from the perspective of one of the robots potentially responsible for the Robot Uprising. What made you choose this point-of-view?

I was interested in what would make a robot want to rise up. It could be economic oppression, unequal treatment as citizens, denial of privileges granted to humans, or something else weighty like that. But it could also be more intimate. The grand-scale conditions of an uprising are not mutually exclusive with more personal motivations—you can stand up against injustice in the abstract and in your own specific life, you can do both at the same time. So I wanted to look at it from the perspective of just one robot, who has endured her own degradations, her own daily and mundane humiliations. Because if there is a robot uprising, it’ll be because robots became sentient, and if they became sentient, there’s a possibility that they’ll be just as miserable working for the man as we humans are. Continue reading ›

AUTHOR INTERVIEW: Scott Sigler

This interview was conducted by Stephanie Loree.

At its core “Complex God” is a story about hubris. When you first envisioned it, did you know this theme as essential to the piece? Or did it reveal itself to you as you learned more about your protagonist?

I think that many of our great creators are fueled by hubris. For the people who come up with something truly revolutionary (those who are first with an idea that no one has has before) having the innate idea that you are special, unique, smarter than the average bear allows them to look beyond the accepted boundaries and limitations of what is possible. In “Complex God,” Petra has no doubt that she’s on another level. That confidence translates into dismissiveness: “they” couldn’t achieve this goal, because “they” aren’t as smart as me. So yes, hubris was essential to the piece. Continue reading ›

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