Bewildering Stories

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Varlets on the Virtual Moon

by John Thiel

The emery-bots were assembling haphazardly in the site owned by Mr. Whimpoule Montmorenci and furnished by Charles DeWhack Lafayette, and it looked like a bot riot was in the making. Said the Commissioner of Dorsai Patrolmen, “We got to DREDGE them out of this-yeah swamp.” “Do you really see this as a swamp?” asked a low-profile psych-man. “It’s a virtual; there’s some question as to what it represents,” said a technician defensively.

The scene began to fade away and break up into its elemental parts. The effect would have amused an on-line artist. Lettering appeared: IT IS NEITHER A SWAMP NOR A REALITY.

“Suh, why isn’t it?”

A face had began appearing, looking back at the onlookers over the milieu of rioting bots.

“Revolting bots aren’t anything at all,” the face articulated. “This doesn’t go the way it should. Characters in a setup shouldn’t be objecting to it or doing what they please.”

“What do YOU have to say about it?”

“Just what I said. I’m an AUTHOR, for cry eye. I took them all the way to the moon and set them up there. The way it’s supposed to go, the bots are no good because they don’t follow the Three Laws of Robotics. So they’ve been reduced to servility. People are supposed to look at them doing clownish lackey tasks and see how that is. It just shows a way of life. If I wanted a revolt I’d do a sequel: REVOLT OF THE MOON-VARLETS. Actually I have them set up for a second episode in which they defeat Lunar Dominion. They do a good job of it. There’s nothing left of the Dominion when they get finished, except dispirited and defeated entities who are then invited to join the Galactic Empire, which they do in order to get back on their feet again, and it’s ongoing.”

“It seems to us,” said one of the onlookers, “that if the bots were capable of doing the moon thing, they’d act up, too. And they’d need spirit to push the moon terrorists; spineless entities would not be useful. It might be a good idea to revise your basic bot-concepts, and work it through again.”

“I’ve already got this. What you see set up here. I’m thinking up THE NEXT GENERATION.”

“There won’t be much use for another generation if they take this place apart.”

“Well, there isn’t anyway, if you read the doom and gloom. What I’m saying is, I’m working on points. I’ve got the thing up...”

They knew he was about to Chat. Not being sure what he’d bring with him to it, they changed a few names and got off a direct line. The author continued to look across at all potential observers. “This is a good story,” he said. “Yuggoth saves. It’s just that it’s got to go as intended, that’s all. Of course I’m not going to say what will be happening; I don’t join anyone in speculating that there will be no future episodes of it. Bots have a lot of draw. When you see what they get into doing, you may want to come back.”

No one was sure if they would want to do that. The bots were starting to look back their way. Perhaps a good tight deal with the author? Not very feasable at the present time, but perhaps later, some time in the future.

Copyright © 2003 by John Thiel

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