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.
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 🤖 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 🤖 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 🤖 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 🤖 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 🤖 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 🤖 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 🤖 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 🤖 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 🤖 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.