Posted: Apr 30, 2019 1:20 pm
by Mike_L


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...for the first time in a few years.
The site, named for Arthur C. Clarke, is apparently still going strong and still offering free sci-fi short stories for online reading.

I enjoyed this one...

Gaze of Robot, Gaze of Bird


About the author

Eric Schwitzgebel is a professor of philosophy at University of California, Riverside, and a cooperating member of UCR's program in Speculative Fiction and Cultures of Science. His short fiction has appeared in Clarkesworld, F&SF, Nature, Weird Tales, Apex, Unlikely Story, The Dark, and elsewhere. His third non-fiction book, A Theory of Jerks and Other Philosophical Misadventures is forthcoming with MIT Press later this year. At his blog, The Splintered Mind, he posts regularly on issues at the intersection of philosophy, psychology, and speculative fiction.

First, an eye. The camera rose, swiveling on its joint, compiling initial scans of the planetary surface. Second, six wheels on struts, pop-pop, pop-pop, pop-pop, and a platform unfolding between the main body and the eye. Third, an atmospheric taster and wind gauge. Fourth, a robotic arm. The arm emerged holding a fluffy, resilient, nanocarbon monkey doll, which it carefully set on the platform.

The monkey doll had no actuators, no servos, no sensors, no cognitive processors. Monkey was, however, quite huggable. Monkey lay on his back on the warm platform, his black bead eyes pointed up toward the stars. He had traveled wadded near J11-L’s core for ninety-five thousand years. His arms, legs, and tail lay open and relaxed for the first time since his hurried manufacture.

J11-L sprouted more eyes, more arms, more gauges—also stabilizers, ears, a scoop, solar panels, soil sensors, magnetic whirligigs. Always, J11-L observed Monkey more closely than anything else, leaning its eyes and gauges in.

J11-L arranged Monkey’s limbs on the platform, gently flexing and massaging the doll. J11-L scooped up a smooth stone from near its left front wheel, brushed it clean, then wedged it under Monkey’s head to serve as a pillow. J11-L stroked and smoothed Monkey’s fur, which was rumpled from the long journey.

“I love you, Monkey,” emitted J11-L, in a sound resembling language. “Will you stay with me while I build a Home?”

Monkey did not reply.

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