Sunday, June 19, 2011

On Counting Robots

As you may have noticed, dear reader, I've been using my blog to review this year's Hugo Nominations and choose my votes. To best reward the greatest writing and the most daring imagination, I'm counting the number of robots in each story. Moar robots > no robots.

Obviously this is genius. Counting robots is a noble task that requires incisive thinking, reading between the lines, and randomly making up numbers off the top of my head.

Unfortunately, my rating system has been met with controversy. Apparently counting is subjective in these parts.

My own father was the first critic, pointing out that my Zero Robots review of "The Emperor of Mars" was "wrong." The Phoenix lander should count as a robot because "it flew billions of miles all by itself just so it could exercise its robotic arm to scoop up a little red dirt." Well if flying billions of miles by yourself makes you a robot, then what do you call George Clooney?

My Dad even concedes that the Phoenix lander's behavior wasn't very robot-like:
"Granted, it doesn't walk around muttering the 3 laws of Robotics, or defy you and lie to you before sabotaging your pod and killing you..." Um, that sounds like the very definition of a robot to me.

Not to throw you under the bus on my blog, Dad. Happy Father's Day!

Trolls even take issue with my lots of spiffy nanobots review of "The Jaguar House, in Shadow." (And by "trolls," I mean my mother-in-law.) Apparently a nanobot is only one-billionth of a robot. So my review should've been "3.5 x 10^-16 Robots" or something, which makes me want to tape my glasses and put on a pocket protector.

Even the writers are complaining. Eric James Stone, who wrote the Nebula-award-winning novelette "That Leviathan, Whom Thou Hast Made," argued that a shuttle on autopilot and an automated radiation treatment machine count as robots, and that my Zero Robots review should be bumped up to Two Robots.

Well, because you made an argument for it, Mr. Stone, I suppose I'll have to officially change my rating. I give you a Full Apology from the Depths of My Heart, and I Officially Retract my previous rating. But for the future, let's consider what the actual definition of a robot is according to

EDIT: My wife points out that even the way I capitalize my ratings is incorrect. "lots of spiffy nanobots" should be capitalized to "match the other ones." Apparently everyone is an expert at the Duzett-Decimal Robot Rating Hugo-voting system.

EDIT(2): My wife points out that there are no decimals in the Duzett-Decimal Robot Rating Hugo-voting system.


Carl's Dad said...

At least you didn't call me a troll.

Eric James Stone said...

Carl, your willingness to do the math and follow where it leads is what sets the Duzett-Decimal Robot Rating Hugo-voting system apart from lesser voting systems.