Book Reviews

Book Review: Robots vs. Fairies

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TITLE & AUTHOR: Robots vs. Fairies by Dominik Parisien and Navah Wolfe

GENRE: Fantasy/Science Fiction/Short Stories/Anthology

PUBLISHED : January 9th 2018, by Saga Press

MY RATING: 4/5

 

 

 

 

Sci-Fi vs. Fantasy

My insane love for anthologies can be easily explained by the fact that I love the short story form, and by the fact that I love various accounts on a certain topic, in this case fairies. Robots aren’t that interesting to me, but fairies are my obsession. In their true form, Fae are emotionless puppeteers, praying on humans’ weakest spot – the ability to feel and to desire. They take our desires and corrupt them into unimaginable things, taking what’s most precious to us and often offer us wicked deals to give back what we’ve lost. They have their fun with us, because we are mortal. We’re but a mere speck in their eternal existence. They are akin to gods. Robots, on the other hand, are human creations, and when pushed too far, they can become even more human then their creator. So, obviously I was very interested in a collection clashing these two entities, the gods and the servants; imaginary and possible; fantasy and science fiction, because that’s what this collection is basically about.

The Stories

As is the case with any other anthology, there were better and there were weaker stories. In general I liked all of them, but some were just too sci-fi for me, which delayed my reading of the whole collection because I was bored. The general idea is great, and it is what made me pick up this anthology. The introduction is interesting, addressing our future overlords, robots or fairies, whoever wins and enslaves our race, and the stories are mostly separate, but some combine or even clash the two.

1. Build Me a Wonderland, by Seanan McGuire 🧚 4

Fairies are growing extinct because of humans, so they devise a way to hide in plain sight as engineers in an entertainment park, where they slowly replace mechanical attractions with living mermaids, unicorns and other beings in an effort to save them as well.

2. Quality Time, by Ken Liu πŸ€– 4

An ambitious employee at WeRobot tries to invent new household robot helpers, but the robots become too human/animal.

3. Murmured Under the Moon, by Tim Pratt 🧚 3.5

The head of the fairy library suddenly turns evil, so humans, fairies and fairy book-shifters must fight together to turn her back and restore order at the library.

4. The Blue Fairy’s Manifesto, by Annalee Newitz πŸ€– 4

A Pinocchio-inspired dystopian story, where the Blue Fairy bot wants to start an uprising against humans.

5. Bread and Milk and Salt, by Sarah Gailey 🧚 5

A predator fairy becomes prey to a human who will learn the hard way that fairies cannot be controlled and owned.

6. Ironheart, by Jonathan Maberry πŸ€– 5

A young war veteran gets a robot heart which starts rejecting his body and he is slowly dying. In his last days, he tries to fix his family’s old farmbot, so his grandparents have a helping hand after he dies.

7. Just Another Love Song, by Kat Howard 🧚 4

Various types of fairies are disappearing in the city, while a young Banshee street musician gets a sudden urge to sing her death song to a charismatic bystander but then loses the ability to wail.

8. Sound and Fury, by Mary Robinette Kowal πŸ€– 3.5

Humans are on a mission to explore a new planet, using a new and expensive robot for protection, but as soon as they land things go terribly wrong.

9. The Bookcase Expedition, by Jeffrey Ford 🧚 4.5

A sick man bound to bed witnesses a fairy expedition climbing his bookcase on a dangerous mission. This one reminded me of The Secret World of Arrietty and The Borrowers.

10. Work Shadow/Shadow Work, by Madeline Ashby πŸ€– 5

A robot helper is hired to take care of an old lady who believes she’s a witch and that she can see the fair folk and communicate with them.

11. Second to the Left, and Straight On, by Jim C. Hines 🧚 4

A story heavily inspired by Peter Pan, in which a woman searches for missing girls, kidnapped by the evil Tinkerbell who then turns them into found girls.

12. The Buried Giant, by Lavie Tidhar πŸ€– 3.5

A very weird story like a reverse Pinocchio, where a human boy wants to become a robot so he can be like everyone else. Very quirky, and the writing reminded me of Salman Rushdie’s Haroun and the Sea of Stories.

13. Three Robots Experience Objects Left Behind from the Era of Humans for the First Time, by John Scalzi πŸ€– 4

A very entertaining story told in dialogues between three robots who examine and analyze several objects left by humans after their extinction, like a ball, a nuclear missile, and a cat.

14. Ostentation of Peacocks, by Delilah S. Dawson (Lila Bowen) 🧚 4

A shape-shifting ranger in wild west has a run-in with four fae outlaws over another shape-shifter.

15. All the Time We’ve Left to Spend, by Alyssa Wong πŸ€– 3

Ten years after a horrible accident on their last concert, the sole surviving member of a four-piece Japanese girl band comes to a hotel where her late band mates and other celebrities have been turned into living memories.

16. Adriftica, by Maria Dahvana Headley 🧚 3

A rock and roll journalist discovers a band literally out of this world, while struggling to remain on good terms with his ex wife at the same time.

17. To a Cloven Pine, by Max Gladstone πŸ€– 2

I have no idea what’s going on here. I may have been too tired while reading this, but it’s just too surreal for me.

18. A Fall Counts Anywhere, by Catherynne M. Valente 🧚 4

A sort of an annual fight club between enslaved robots and fairies, where the winner gets his freedom granted. A fae and a robot, past winners of the contest, serve as commentators on this romp of an event, when something unplanned happens.


 

In this mixed assortment of stories there were only few that grabbed my attention, thus influencing my general rating. Even though all of these were craftily written, and the basic ideas are all great, there was something lacking in many stories that often made me feel bored. As it is with all other collections I’ve read – some writers just can’t pull off the short story form, but this anthology was very quirky and I enjoyed each individual story, if not the collection as a whole.

4 stars

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38 thoughts on “Book Review: Robots vs. Fairies

  1. I can’t help but wonder if there is going to be more blending of science fiction with fantasy in the future, rather than just straight science fiction. In terms of science fiction it seems like so many technological leaps are coming to pass that a lot of science fiction is ceasing to be such. Fantasy is more timeless.

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  2. This looks interesting! I saw the book title and wasn’t sure what to think. I like robots (well, I like the concept of AI being humanity’s greatest threat because I’m a little creep) and I *love* fairies but when I saw this it just looked weird! If you’ve rated it highly though I’ll have to check it out!

    And can I chime into one of the discussions you were having above – yes, the other book blogger must 100% read Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell. It’s a behemoth of a book but god that world building. Just…. I wish I bloody wrote it.

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    1. Haha well it’s quite interesting! Some robot stories are ordinary life stories, but with robots in it, one is with a blue fairy evil bot, and one a funny short bit with three robots talking, I liked those best, the others were too sci-fi for me (I don’t like sci-fi), and the fairy stories could have been better since I adore fairies, but some were pretty good. πŸ™‚ Yep, the title is confusing and relevant only to the intro bit and the final story, where there’s an actual vs fight, but most only focus on either fairies or robots or combine the two in interesting ways. My real rating was 3.88 but I rounded it up, it’s not a bad collection at all, so try it if you like. πŸ™‚

      Hahaha I know, I’m pushing that book on everyone, it seems not many people have read it, probably because it’s huge, but I agree! No wonder Susanna Clarke hasn’t published a novel since, but I read she’s ill too and that it’s affecting her writing. 😦 And to imagine it was her debut novel! Such a risk, but it paid off excellently. πŸ™‚

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      1. I don’t mind sci-fi but I prefer fairies for sure!

        I love the book very much and for a debut novel it is just… wow. I hope she doesn’t go the way of a ‘one hit wonder’ because I felt that Alice Sebold was another one hit wonder with The Lovely Bones. Ah that sucks that she’s ill 😦 I can’t imagine what the pressure of living up to your first novel does to you either!

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        1. Me too! πŸ™‚

          I know, it’s awesome! She’s been writing a sort of a sequel since 2004 I think, I hope she manages to finish it some day, it would be awesome to have another novel set in that magical universe! πŸ™‚

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  3. Fae sound so coooool. I’ve never read anything focused on them. Some of these stories sound pretty neat, too! It’s such a shame that stories in anthologies are so hit and miss. I wonder if there’s one out there with all 5-star stories…

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    1. Read Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell then πŸ˜€ I know it’s huge but totally worth it! πŸ™‚ I adore fairies, the best book I have on them is like an illustrated encyclopaedia by Brian Froud and Alan Lee – the LOTR illustrator. πŸ™‚ I know, it’s impossible to find a perfect one, because there’s just too many authors, some are not that good or don’t know how to write a short story form. :/

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      1. Ahhhh I need to read that one! I’ve had it on my bookshelf for ages but yeah it’s so big πŸ˜‚ Oooh I bet that’s awesome! Ugh for real. You’d think the editors would do a better job at picking good short story authors πŸ™„

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        1. Read itttt πŸ˜€ There’s a BBC mini series too, but after you watch it haha. πŸ˜€ The book’s divided into three parts here, so it’s maybe easier that way, but I had to read it in English haha, so I read the whole fat thing. πŸ™‚ I know! I’m thinking the editors choose famous authors to boost the interest, some author friends, and unknown authors to push them a bit. :/

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        2. I got exhausted at one point, so I started watching the mini series simultaneously, I’d read the relevant chapters, then watch the episode covering those hahaha. πŸ˜€ I know, write it! πŸ˜€ I’d read somewhere a quote, something about when you don’t know what to write about – write something you want to read. πŸ˜€ Although that wouldn’t be an anthology then, but a short story collection haha xD

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        3. Haha that sounds awesome! I might do that too πŸ˜„ Is the mini series good? Oooh I like that quote! I do want to make a short story collection at some point. I haven’t written anything in months though. I gotta get back into it.

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        4. Yess, it’s awesome! Actors are amazing, though many things were left out from the books, but that’s okay considering the fatness of the book haha. πŸ˜€ Awesome, can’t wait to read it whenever you write it! πŸ™‚

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  4. Salman Rushdie is an actual person? lol. I thought he was just someone made up on Bob’s Burgers. lol.
    Good review though! I’ve been thinking about picking this up.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hahah yes, he’s a very famous writer and one of the pioneers of magical realism. πŸ™‚ He’s of Indian descent, so his stories are very quirky, if you like fantasy/magical realism I suggest you try reading him! πŸ™‚ Thanks! It’s a good collection, whether you prefer sci-fi or fantasy, or both. πŸ™‚

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  5. This sounds so amazing! I’m a huge fan of short stories (Ray Bradbury is my hero) but I don’t think I’ve read that many anthologies before, normally just collections of a single author’s work. I’m the opposite of you and prefer robots over faries so maybe reading this will help me dive into my more magical side πŸ™‚

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    1. Me too, I just got into anthologies last year, mainly fairy tale retellings, Victorian ones, ghosts and now this. πŸ™‚ It’s always a mixed batch, but these are mostly good. πŸ™‚ Well some of the stories I liked best were with robots, so I hope you do try it, maybe you find something you like in the fairy department. πŸ™‚ I like the way this is done, fantasy vs sci-fi, so it gives you an opportunity to try the one you like less, along with the genre you’re already comfortable with. πŸ™‚

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        1. Exactly! I never read sci-fi, so this was refreshing πŸ™‚ And another cool thing is that you’re introduced to 18 new authors, and if you like their stories you have their short bios at the end, and their novels, so you can read more πŸ™‚ I only knew of three authors here, so I’ll research those whose stories were good. πŸ™‚

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    1. Thanks Amalia! The sci-fi bit put me off in the beginning, but it turns out there are some lovely stories with robots. πŸ™‚ If you’re suspicious of anthologies, I always recommend Queen Victoria’s Book of Spells: An Anthology of Gaslamp Fantasy, as that one has the best good/bad story ratio, and some amazing Victorian-influenced stories. πŸ™‚

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  6. Lovely review, Marina! I’ve been ‘currently reading’ this book since March 31st… I always pick up anthologies with the intention of reading one a day, but that hasn’t happened once. Bread and Milk and Salt and Work Shadow/Shadow Work are my favorite so far too! I’m really excited to read the Catherynne M. Valente one, so hopefully the fact that it’s the last one will motivate me to actually finish this book. Maybe in June πŸ˜‚

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    1. Thanks Aurora! Haha me too, it takes me ages to read an anthology because all it takes is one boring story to put me off. :/ Haha I’m cheering for you to finish it, generally it’s very good, and I really liked the Valente one, it’s funny. πŸ™‚ Names like hers always make me pick up anthologies, and then I get burned on other stories haha. πŸ˜€

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