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Cory Doctorow's 'I, Robot' Posted 126

Posted by timothy
from the if-you-like-that-sort-of-thing dept.
maxentius writes "A bunch of new stuff has been posted to The Infinite Matrix , reports editor Eileen Gunn, including a new 15,000- word short story from Cory Doctorow entitled 'I, Robot.' Other new additions include material from Howard Waldrop and Patrick O'Leary."
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Cory Doctorow's 'I, Robot' Posted

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  • by gowen (141411) <gwowen@gmail.com> on Wednesday February 16, 2005 @07:38AM (#11687557) Homepage Journal
    Next week, read the first installment of Cory's brand new fantasy epic, "The Lord Of The Rings"
    • hehe I'm guessing this one was intended as Funny, not Insightful :)
      • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday February 16, 2005 @09:05AM (#11688068)
        From his interview at Locus magazine:
        http://www.locusmag.com/2005/Issues/01Doctorow.htm l [locusmag.com]

        "I gave up short story writing for a while when I started writing novels (which I think every writer does), but I've started doing it again. What spurred me to it was Bradbury going crazy about Fahrenheit 9/11, saying Michael Moore was a crook for having stolen his title. For a champion of free expression, in the original Fahrenheit 451, to assert that the person who comes up with the meme has the right to control the condition as to who can riff on that meme is not just ironic, it's ludicrous! So I started writing a whole batch of new stories that had the same titles as famous science fiction. I've finished an 'Anda's Game' and an 'I, Robot' and my next one might be a 'Jeffty Is Five'. Ellison's original 'Jeffty' is an anti-technological story -- Harlan's an antitechnological guy. He told us at Clarion that we should get offline and stop screwing around (the best advice I ever ignored). I'm just going to play with that for a while and see how it goes. Let a thousand 'Nightfall's bloom!"
        • In other words, he justifys ripping off Isaac Asimov because some obese lying propagandist once ripped off Ray Bradbury. I wonder how much Cory Doctorow weighs?
        • by Anonymous Coward
          The BS about the Fahrenheit meme aside, I would think that a guy claiming to be so pro-tech would consider meta-data pollution.

          Imagine "everyone" reusing titles verbatim where it's totally unnecessary - like Doctorow did here. Fast-forward a year and think about the result of a simple web search. Thanks.
    • by Anonymous Coward
      Well according to his footnote:

      About this story, Cory says, "Last spring, in the wake of Ray Bradbury pitching a tantrum over Michael Moore appropriating the title of 'Fahrenheit 451' to make Fahrenheit 9/11, I conceived of a plan to write a series of stories with the same titles as famous sf shorts, which would pick apart the toalitarian assumptions underpinning some of sf's classic narratives."

      Sounds like it very well MIGHT be. After Sci-Fi clearly fantasy is the next step in unimaginative satire--

      Th
    • by Anonymous Coward
      The word robot comes from the Czech word for labor. This is Old Europe! FB!!!
    • Re:Catchy Title... (Score:3, Insightful)

      by DigitumDei (578031)
      I really wish they'd mentioned that the author intended to rip off well known titles as part of a series of short stories.

      But I guess leaving important details out allows the /. crowd to bitch about copyright, IP and court cases without paying any attention to the real reason the story was done.
      • Proud tradition (Score:2, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward
        About this story, Cory says, "Last spring, in the wake of Ray Bradbury pitching a tantrum over Michael Moore appropriating the title of 'Fahrenheit 451' to make Fahrenheit 9/11, I conceived of a plan to write a series of stories with the same titles as famous sf shorts, which would pick apart the toalitarian [sic] assumptions underpinning some of sf's classic narratives."

        And of course Asimov's title was, in turn,
        a riff on Robert Graves' I, Claudius. [amazon.com]

        But that case is quite different from both Doctorow's i,
    • shakespeares [irregularwebcomic.net] already doing that one.

  • I got distracted by the robot sculpture after reading the word "Capeesh?" in the story, and stopped reading. Can someone summarize what this story is about?
  • IP (Score:1, Funny)

    by dukerobinson (624739)
    Next he will be sued by Asimov's estate for violation of his Intellectual Property.
  • Where have I heard that title before?
    • by Anonymous Coward
      >"You can meet many former 'homosexuals'; you
      >will never meet a former 'African-American'." - >Legislating Morality

      I hope not. Of course, I'm old enough that Michael Jackson probably wouldn't be interested.
      • Re:Reply to sig (Score:3, Insightful)

        by allgood2 (226994)
        Obviously, let's just overlook a century or more of blacks passing as white; ignore even the current political ramifications of that history and how it helped foster and mutate internalized racism augmented and supported by class-ism in the African-American community (light skin blacks thinking they're better than dark skin blacks, and middle-class blacks thinking they're better than lower class blacks); all so we can make the non-winning, unintelligent, homophobic argument that "if you can hide, you don't
  • The working title that I have for Cory Doctorow's Biography is "You, Plagiarist".

    Must be easy to get attention for your short stories when you give them names that were formerly used for best selling novels and blockbuster movies.
  • by Aneurysm (680045) on Wednesday February 16, 2005 @07:47AM (#11687588)
    Is it an official fork of the Asimov book?
    • My first thought was along those lines too. I mean, if I write a book and call it "Foundation", set it in a SF universe and talk about psyhohistory, it would be purely coincidental, right?

      Folks, the movie was a bad enough idea, but a short story. COME ON. There are millions of other possible titles. Get a grip!
      • I mean, if I write a book and call it "Foundation", set it in a SF universe and talk about psyhohistory, it would be purely coincidental, right?

        What about a short story written by a leader of the Free Software Foundation, set in a speculative fiction universe where incumbent publishers of works of authorship control what computers are allowed to do, and mentioning the history of how minds worked before the publishers gained control? Then you'd have this [gnu.org].

    • It's 'cause Asimow didn't listen to me and made his X11-style license [opensource.org] instead. That, of course, would allow any fool^Wauthor to copy, modify, merge, and do a whole bevy of things with their work. Maybe now Cory GPLed it so Asimov can't get his code--uh, story--back. I do wonder why they don't cite sources these days after all the crap they give us in college...
  • The title (Score:5, Insightful)

    by MadChicken (36468) on Wednesday February 16, 2005 @07:53AM (#11687624) Homepage Journal
    I realize it's asking a lot, but if people would either READ the ARTICLE or scroll way way to the bottom, they'd see this:

    About this story, Cory says, "Last spring, in the wake of Ray Bradbury pitching a tantrum over Michael Moore appropriating the title of 'Fahrenheit 451' to make Fahrenheit 9/11, I conceived of a plan to write a series of stories with the same titles as famous sf shorts, which would pick apart the toalitarian [sic] assumptions underpinning some of sf's classic narratives."

    Yes, the title is on purpose. Of course if people did that, there would be no discussions here, would there?
    • Re:The title (Score:2, Insightful)

      by gowen (141411)
      the title is on purpose
      Where the hell did anyone suggest otherwise?
    • I conceived of a plan to write a series of stories with the same titles as famous sf shorts, which would pick apart the toalitarian [sic] assumptions underpinning some of sf's classic narratives.

      What a coincidence! Just this morning, I myself embarked upon a series of drawings intended to undermine the assumptive usage of light and shadow in the French Impressionist movement.

      Which is to say, What the Fuck is a Cory Doctorow?
    • by samael (12612) <Andrew@Ducker.org.uk> on Wednesday February 16, 2005 @08:21AM (#11687752) Homepage
      I do like the way he's dissected some of the ideas in Asimov.

      It's just a shame his writing style is stilted and ungainly.

      I've liked bit of his writing, and a fair few of his ideas, but a great writer he aint.
      • by FreeUser (11483) on Wednesday February 16, 2005 @08:56AM (#11688005)
        I do like the way he's dissected some of the ideas in Asimov.

        It's just a shame his writing style is stilted and ungainly.

        I've liked bit of his writing, and a fair few of his ideas, but a great writer he aint.


        Give him time. He may not be a [insert your favorite author here], but writing styles do tend to improve with time and practice. Try reading some of the early drafts of famouse authors' early works, and you get the idea.
        • I'm not so convinced. I saw him speak a couple of times. He always spoke like he was reading (and not reading well). It was quite disturbing actually to hear someone so praised come across sounding so much like a kid in junior high who couldn't lift their eyes off of the page to look at their audience.

          The saddest part is just how angry this guy always comes across. I really hope it's just an act, otherwise he'll probably have a heart attack by the time he's 40.

          • by Anonymous Coward
            "It was quite disturbing actually to hear someone so praised come across sounding so much like a kid in junior high who couldn't lift their eyes off of the page to look at their audience."

            So he reading of his script sounds just like his writing of said scripts then?

            Reading through his works on Boing seem to be the same -- his quick postings always seem to be soapbox statements, generally referring to himself in the third person. Its fucking annoying.

            I bought one of his books off of Amazon last year when
          • I'm not so convinced. I saw him speak a couple of times. He always spoke like he was reading (and not reading well). It was quite disturbing actually to hear someone so praised come across sounding so much like a kid in junior high who couldn't lift their eyes off of the page to look at their audience.

            The saddest part is just how angry this guy always comes across. I really hope it's just an act, otherwise he'll probably have a heart attack by the time he's 40.


            You could be right. I don't know anything
          • 'Specially as he's on Atkins...
      • I too enjoyed Doctorow's interplay with the Three Laws. To me the story is self-conscious SF, written with and intended for an audience with a common working knowledge of Asimov (and Orwell's 1984). Not everyone has such a knowledge base, but SF fans certainly do. One obvious conclusion: Asimov has been hugely influential.

        I wonder if in his comment at the end of the story, the bit about totalitarian assumptions that underpin traditional SF, Cory Doctorow intended to label Asimov as totalitarian. Reall
        • Oh, I like some of the ideas, and the structure is fine, but the actual writing itself doesn't flow for me.

          Doing a quick re-scan, I think it's the sheer amount of info-dump in the opening parts of the story - he doesn't mix it in well, it stands out as clumsy to me.
          • Fair enough; I think conveying necessary information to the reader is one of a writer's challenges. The story's style did not really catch my attention one way or another until I read your post. The content did, but upon reflection, I wonder if the development of ideas I mentioned is more a product of the passage of time than Doctorow's own brilliance. Digital brain-backup is an idea that's kind of floating in the air these days, at least the air I breathe. :)
            • Well yeah, none of the ideas are new, although they are combined quite nicely in the plot. In fact the "hugely technologically advanced society tries to save a less technologically advanced society from itself without killing too many people" reminds me a lot of Iain Banks' Culture Novels, except with 1984 thrown in. Which works nicely.
    • Then shouldn't he have called it "Me, Robot"?
    • Re:The title (Score:2, Insightful)

      In some ways, this an interesting choice on Cory's part for the genre of SF. It seems that Cory is deliberatly attempting to "folk-song" SF; that is, it seems that Cory wants give Sci-Fi the communal aspects of folk music. Just in the way that folk and blues music is a evolutionary genre handed down from generation to generation, Cory wants to hand down Sci-Fi gems down the generations. Whether this is even remotely feasible (or desirable) is a matter for debate, but it seems he's doing this fully aware
    • I posted an outline for an animated feature film, titled "Woopster, the Iron Rooster", along with a simple drawing on my blog at: http://sunandfun.blogspot.com/ [blogspot.com], if my fellow Slashdotters don't mind taking a look. It's about a robot chicken, by the way.
  • Oh god, not again (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday February 16, 2005 @08:07AM (#11687695)
    Arturo Icaza de Arana-Goldberg, Police Detective Third Grade, United North American Trading Sphere, Third District, Fourth Prefecture, Second Division (Parkdale) had had many adventures in his distinguished career, running crooks to ground with an unbeatable combination of instinct and unstinting devotion to duty.

    This man's writing is so amazingly stilted even reading the first paragraph makes me cringe in horror. For the love of my life, I can't understand the Slashdot infatuation with him. Everything I've ever seen by him has been awful even by pulp SF standards.
    • For someone testing to see if he's going to get in trouble for copying the titles of other stuff, it would help if his writing wasn't so abysmally horrible. Then, possibly, nobody would mind.
    • Re:Oh god, not again (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Sandor at the Zoo (98013) on Wednesday February 16, 2005 @09:28AM (#11688320)
      Everything I've ever seen by him has been awful even by pulp SF standards.

      Pro: Cory's stories (heh, a rhyme!) nail geekdom. My favorite is from 0wnz0red, in which the main character's CVS submit permissions are yanked. It's funny, for geeks.

      Con: Every main character in every one of Cory's stories that I've read is a whiny SOB. In "I, Robot", the main character only cries once, which means that Cory's getting better.

      Seriously, I hate everyone one of Cory's main characters. They're either whiny put-upon crybabies, or they're taken advantage of by their best friends/wives/other, or usually both. To me, that's the one thing keeping me from really liking Cory's writing. Yeah, the prose needs work, but that will get better with practice. Just stop making charactes that I hate reading about!

      • CVS commit, damn it.
    • This man's writing is so amazingly stilted even reading the first paragraph makes me cringe in horror. For the love of my life, I can't understand the Slashdot infatuation with him. Everything I've ever seen by him has been awful even by pulp SF standards

      I agree.

      But, he's even written a book about getting your Sci-Fi (I use this term purposefully) published, so the publishers must like him too...

      Go figure.
    • ROTFL. Asimov's writing was more than a bit stilted also, but spare. I believe the line you've quoted is a deliberate exaggeration of some of Asimovs character introductions (e.g. in _The Caves of Steel_)
      • Yeah, I am a little amazed that no one else was seeing this, but wasn't going to bother to comment.

        I am not in love with Corey's writing style by any means, but that people are missing the obvious intentional paraody of Asimov here makes me wonder about them.

    • Stilted is an understatement. There are more run-on sentances than a 4th graders essay on "What I Did Last Summer". If you have to spend ten minutes trying to wind your way through the first page of this abysmal attempt at prose, how in the hell can you ever have an appreciation for the "story" behind the horrible writing? I guess this writing style may appeal more to people with more of an attention span than my ADHD self!
  • His readings are a fixture at Armadillocon [fact.org] in Austin, Texas. The important thing is that he has a redneck flavor of science fiction, so read his stuff with a heavy southern accent for the proper effect.
  • That I wrote the names of famous baseball players on paper and sold it to kids telling them that it was a genuine autograph.

    Okay, I didn't really do that.
    Maybe I should have.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday February 16, 2005 @08:14AM (#11687732)
    Someone called SCO just called. They said something about patenting your story and then threatening to sue everyone who reads Isaac Asimov, I don't know.
  • "Haul ass, young lady -- out of bed, on your feet, shit-shower-shave, or I swear to God, I will beat you purple and shove you out the door jaybird naked. Capeesh?"

    the preceding paragraph reads:

    No amount of policeman's devotion and skill availed him when it came to making his twelve-year-old get ready for school, though. ...

    He has a great idea for an excuse delivery system though... good story.
  • by l3v1 (787564)
    conceived of a plan to write a series of stories with the same titles as famous sf shorts, which would pick apart the toalitarian assumptions underpinning some of sf's classic narratives

    Apparently - again - idiotism can lead to success in this world. Fair 'nuff, but how come I can't possibly pass around far enough to avoid these things ? Never mind.

  • by Anonymous Coward
    I already saw the movie! Yeesh.

    (Note for the humor impaired: Yes, I know)
  • by Nova Express (100383) <lawrenceperson&gmail,com> on Wednesday February 16, 2005 @09:15AM (#11688177) Homepage Journal
    Actually, Howard's latest column has been up a while (though there were several months when Eileen didn't update the web page).

    I like Howard's non-fiction as well as his fiction, which is one of the reasons I wrote some movie reviews with him:

    (Actually, Howard, Cory and I are all in the Turkey City Writer's Workshop [rr.com] together.

  • by saddino (183491) on Wednesday February 16, 2005 @10:17AM (#11688756)
    For those who might be interested:

    Names titles and short literary phrases are not protected by copyright. Single literary titles are also not necessarily protected by trademark.

    However, as with most law, there are cases where a title can be protected (unfair competition, trademark common law if the title has acquired secondary meaning).

    The rash of teen movies that are simply titled by appropriating the name of a popular song should be evidence of this enough. ;-)
  • Please remind me, why exactly is this front page Slashdot news?
  • What's the news? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by iJames (846620)
    Look, I'm a science fiction writer. I'm a science fiction fan. I like to read the stuff. But why is this news on Slashdot? When Cory was the first to release a novel in print under Creative Commons, that was worthy news. That he's got yet another short story out is not.

    So what's the reason for this story? Are we going to start getting postings here every time Strange Horizons updates or there's a new issue of Asimov's?

  • I'm not entirely sure who Cory Doctorow is, but I approve of anything that forces Isaac Asimov to dab on facial egg for those asinine "Three Laws of Robotics," up to and including Terminator 3.
    • I approve of anything that forces Isaac Asimov to dab on facial egg for those asinine "Three Laws of Robotics," up to and including Terminator 3.

      Asimov died 13 years ago. Kinda hard for him to dab on anything, egg or otherwise.

      And are you confusing the Terminator movies with the 3 Laws of Robotics? Not related, except that they both have something to do with robots.

      • and robots that _don't_ have these laws built into them as motivational imperitaves are just plain scary.

        Go rent "Robocop" or "Saturn 3" or "2001" or "Collosus: The Forbin Project" or any of about a million other bad robot / bad computer movies if you doubt this. The trouble _always_ starts with violation of the three laws.

        I don't see police work being one of the initial, or even second-tier, applications that robots will be deployed into. Surveillance, maybe, but police do one helluva lot more than tha
      • Posthumously awarded, of course. In reply to your second point, gosh no, I'm not confusing Terminator 3 with the TLOR, I'm saying the TLOR are so abysmally ignorant of human nature and A.I. potential that I loved it when Terminator 3 came out, a perhaps unintentional parody of Asimov's delusions of relevance so good on so many satisfying levels. Hope that clears that up for you.
  • On the page where the story actually appears, http://www.infinitematrix.net/stories/shorts/i-rob ot.html [infinitematrix.net] --the title is written "i, robot" and not "I, Robot." I find this change updates the flavor of the title into the modern era, the Day of Blog.
  • Nothing more to see here, I'm speechless for once...
  • I applaud Cory's practice of releasing his books for Free. I share some of his views and concerns, but his writing is very poor. His "I, Robot" is a contrived and lame story, quickly slapped together to push Cory's agenda. The literary merits of it are next to none, so don't bother reading it (sadly, I read all of it).

    There aren't many interesting ideas there either. Cory tries to make a point that implementing 3 laws of robotics goes hand in hand with building up a totalitarian state, but ignoring these p

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