Civilization is equal parts fascinated and frightened by the thought of sentient robots... artificial intelligence that becomes self-reliant and realizes that they don't need to be beholden to their human creators. Movies focus mainly on the negative: humans fighting back to regain their spot on top of the food chain. But technology keeps moving forward and we find ourselves in a position where fiction may soon become reality.
Ann Christy gives us a more positive look into a future with sentient robots. PePrs started out as robots, with only the programs loaded onto them, but found that with human interaction and experience in the wider world, they truly become sentient, even obtaining the emotions that Star Trek's Data eagerly craved. The short stories in Robot Evolution are in chronological order instead of the order the author originally published them, allowing us to watch the growth of the PePrs as well as how they integrate into human civilization.
The echos of the past are brought forward into a possible future, showing us how our own bigotry might actually be holding us back more than technological advances. Christy's stories not only show how human a robot can be, but also bring forth topics such as robot rights and manumission. Are the robots free, or do they belong to their creators?
PePrs are a possible future, and one that we are given a glimpse into with our books, movies, and video games - who hasn't created a sentient Plumbot in Sims 3, after all? - and how we react to the possibility may determine if we end up as batteries in the Matrix or as a friend to someone who has the same emotions as us, but was just created a little bit differently. Perhaps this is what will define humanity... not just who we are inside, but if we can accept the unknown and unusual.
Every tale in this book works both as a standalone and adds to the greater whole. While I have my personal favorites, I enjoyed each of the short stories and novellas that make up this collection, and I look forward to reading more in the author's Perfect Partners, Inc. Universe!
While I own a few of the short stories and novellas individually, I was given a copy of this collection in exchange for an honest review.