“Silence & Roses” by Suzanne Palmer

IZ223 cover“Silence & Roses” has the misfortune to be the third robots-outliving-humans story I’ve read in the last year. All three are driven by sentiment, and on that scale Palmer’s tale sits somewhere below Ken Scholes’ cloying “Edward Bear and the Very Long Walk”, and somewhere above Deborah Biancotti’s superior “King of All and the Metal Sentinel”. As in those stories, robots designed for routine are challenged by novelty (which reveals backstory, in this case that we’re in a care home walled off from the ruins of civilization outside), and their naive incomprehension drives a plot, with sentiment generated by the gap between what they understand (the residents are falling silent) and what we understand (the residents are dying). Confronted with the pointlessness of their existence, many of Palmer’s robots go a little mad; only our hero, Button-4-Circle-Peach, survives for long enough to fall into a situation where the rules he understands can apply again. It’s competently done (and the initial reveal is quite well done), but seems somewhat rule-bound itself. And that the robots’ programming recognises silence as a problem, but not strips of rotting flesh hanging off a resident’s face, is surely unlikely.

6 thoughts on ““Silence & Roses” by Suzanne Palmer

  1. I thought this was bloody awful. Palmer hardly even bothers to sketch the world, the “naive incomprehension” of the robots is just plot idiocy, their melodramatic response to the revelation of their blinkered stupidity worse and all this in a story that describes a perfectly facile loop of actions and motivations.

  2. Has there been a better robots-outliving-humans story than James Patrick Kelly’s “The Best Christmas Ever”? I haven’t read “Saturn’s Children,” but I’m thinking about short stories.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s