A Reluctant Warrior

Glitch is a short story of about 5000 words by Hugh Howey. It might be considered a story on the way to, and just short of AI (artificial intelligence).

Max is a robot built specifically to fight other robots. He (and one might ask, why “he” and not “she”) is the product of a young design team that began doing this type of building while still high school colleagues. Professor Hinson took note of the successful team, decided to lead them, and parlayed their relationship into a successful military contract with DARPA, an obscure government agency. At least they want to be obscure.

Sam, Peter, and Greenie make up the three-person team that takes Max to the fights, powers him up, and repairs him after the fights. There are always damaged parts and always modifications to be made. Some of the modifications are at the suggestions of Max. The robot is designed to learn from each match, to learn from its mistakes. It is almost as if the team is there to serve Max rather than Max is there to follow directions of the team.

And that is where the trouble begins. There is a glitch. Max doesn’t want to fight anymore. Greenie and Pete have been working to find out why. They can’t. They must now rely on Sam, Pete’s ex-wife, to run diagnostics and find out what is wrong. Sam, very good with robots but bad with coffeemakers, can’t find a reason any more than Pete and Greenie can. But she can come up with a one-word theory.

Sentience.

This is an entertaining short story. Read to find out what sentience is and who (or what) has the last word.

 

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Don’t Go Into The Box

The Last Girl by Joe Hart is a survival story. Zoey is the survivor and if there were ever a series of games called “Extreme Survivor,” she would probably win it. She was born into a world where for some reason the birth rate of females declined to almost zero. I think one in a million qualifies as almost zero. This fact for which no reason can be determined plunges the world into chaos as almost everyone comes to the conclusion that with the inevitable death of humanity there is really no reason to go beyond selfish immediate gratification goals. Gangs form, crime increases exponentially, law and order are reduced to vigilante level and the populace blames governments. So there are outright rebellions along the lines of civil war.

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Six word story: Muffled

Despair over what? Being Muffled? Not reaching a goal? Having her picture inadvertently taken at a place where she shouldn’t have been? This is what makes the six-word story fun.

AngieTrafford

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Her hands hid screams of despair.

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Motivations for Magic

This was a book I won in a Library Thing Members Giveaway in return for a review.

The Fading Dusk by Melissa Giorgio is a novel of magic. Irina is a magician’s assistant to Bantheir and she feels very unappreciated. It seems all she does is support and clean-up functions; Bantheir doesn’t really include her in anything. She has picked up some of the magic tricks which, as she tells colleagues, are not really magic; they are illusions. Sometimes Bantheir strikes up friendships with some admiring audience members. When an attractive couple invited him to meet them for dinner, Bantheir did not invite her to accompany him. Instead, he instructed her to return home and to invite no one in with her. She didn’t really invite the two men who broke into the house and almost killed her. She didn’t invite the soldiers who fortuitously arrived to save her. And she hadn’t planned to be taken to prison where she was threatened with charges of being an accomplice to almost six murders, all committed by Bantheir.

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Samurai History Headlines

I received a copy of Samurai History: A Beginner’s Guide from Vincent in return for a review along with a request to leave a review on Amazon. My first problem was finding an author name. Vincent sounds OK but it seems there might be more to the author name than that. I live in Indonesia where many people claim ownership of only one name, but this did not seem to be the case here. Beyond that, I couldn’t find the book on Amazon. I queried the person who sent me the request. The answer I received was “There is no author mentioned in the Book because it is an outsourced Book. Vincent holds all publishing and book rights to the Book so you can simply use Vincent as the author if you need to.” This makes me feel like I am part of a dark conspiracy to avoid something. So, for anyone else asking for a review of an “outsourced book,” sorry, I don’t do this anymore. On the other hand, I received a link to the book on the Amazon site. I have no idea why I could not access it earlier.

This is an 18-page six-chapter non-fiction book delivered to me in PDF format. Its use of specific dates leads me to believe it is a non-fiction book. The absence of any references is a serious weakness. I don’t even know Vincent’s last name; it is difficult for me to trust him as a historian.

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A Joyce Carol Oates Collection

When a book pops up on my screen from author Joyce Carol Oates I download it, always. When it is a collection of short stories, I am even happier. Dear Husband: Stories is a collection of previously published stories, completely portable and fun to read. For me, Oates is unique in the way she presents thought-stopping surprise sentences in the middle of excellently crafted stories. The surprise sentences are like gifts; the stories alone are great. As I usually do with short stories, I will comment on each one.

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There are Different Ways to Shine

In the Kindle Single Shine by Jodi Picoult, Ruth has won a scholarship at a prestigious private school which her friend Christina attends. Ruth spends a lot of time at Christina’s house because Ruth’s mom works there as a cook and maid. Ruth feels confident about entering the new school because she had done well enough on the entrance exam to win a scholarship. Rachael, Ruth’s sister, points out that Ruth will be the only black girl at the school. It is a tribute to Ruth’s naiveté that she is not worried about it; she has not considered it at all.

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