June 7, 2011

IDEAS ON TUESDAY 16: Them, Robots…

Each Tuesday, rather than a POSSIBLY IRRITATING ESSAY, I'd like to both challenge you and lend a helping hand. For the next 30 weeks, IDEAS ON TUESDAY will take you on a Grand Tour of the Tropes! (Aren’t you excited?!!!) In this series, I’ll talk very briefly about a science fiction, fantasy or horror “trope” – which is an idea that has become so tightly associated with a genre that if you say it, you think that “kind” of story – and then throw in some current event. In addition, I’ll stir in a few teenagers to give us characters to beat up on and to fight each other. As always, feel free to steal the idea – just let me know if you USED it and if someone bought it!
SF Trope: robots

I hope that by now, everyone knows what a robot is! What most people DON’T know is that the Russian, Karl Capek invented the term for his RUR. Since then, it has come to mean all kinds of things and its adoption into science fiction has been so complete that we rarely think of robots being anywhere but in movies.
The fact is that they are everywhere! From cleaning the bottom of the school swimming pool, to building the car you drive, robots are so much a part of our lives we couldn’t even LIVE without them…unless you could stand alongside a hospital bed and pump a respirator for a patient in a coma.
Current Event: The Arizona wildfire is likely going to go down in history as the Third Largest in that state. http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/43290922/ns/weather/ If it continues much longer, it may well go down as the second largest – maybe even the biggest one ever. They’ll bring in everything to stop it. Eventually, there will be robots – not humanoid ones like in I, Robot, but more like water, fire and chemical squirting tanks. Or possibly like the robots above. Of course, they’ll have to have a certain amount of autonomy. So what happens to them after the fire?
Couple of guys or girls are hiking in the mountains three or four years after a huge wildfire; maybe working on college degrees or just vacationing. They stumble onto some strange leavings and after poking around, discover a nest of these semi-intelligent robots who not only survived the fire, they’ve established a colony and they are making new copies of themselves…

image: http://www.popsci.com/files/imagecache/article_image_large/articles/firefightrobot.jpg

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