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Thread: The Movement of the Heavens

  1. #1

    The Movement of the Heavens

    Milton Hobbs was an old man. He lived a simple, solitary life on his small Omni pension. Since his wife had died four years earlier, Milton did not see many people and his days seemed to drag on forever . He past the time repairing obsolete robots no one wanted anymore and talking long walks.

    On one such walk, Milton noticed a robot leaning against a tall building in the centre of Omni-1's trade district. It looked like one of those new, fancy RUR models. From the whizzing and grinding noise of the robot's servos, Milton could tell the robot was straining itself.

    "You, over there." called out Milton. "What are you doing?"

    "Maintaining planetary rotation, sir." replied the robot.

    "You what?"

    "I am slowly rotating Rubi-Ka, sir."

    Milton regarded the robot. "Are you pulling my legs, son?"

    "No, sir." replied the robot. It then added as an after thought "Though I suppose the rotation of the planet's axis could be said to, as an entirely secondary effect, result in your legs being somewhat pulled."

    "Slow down there son, You can't genuinely believe that by pushing on the big old building your are causing old Red-and-Dry to spin?"

    "Oh but I do."

    "But that's insane." Milton complained. "What you claim is physically impossible."

    "With all due respect sir, it has worked so far. I've been here a week now, and I can assure you Rubi-Ka has been spinning properly. Why, it was dark only a few hours ago and now its day again."

    "Well of course its day! The planet rotates you fool!."

    "I know that. I rotate it."

    "No you don't " retorted Milton, getting event more flustered.

    "Would sir deny the evidence before sir's very own eyes?"

    "Evidence, what evidence?" Milton took a minute to think this over. "Whatever you think your doing, you cannot be spinning the world. And even if you could, it would be a totally pointless waste of time."

    "I beg to differ, sir. If Rubi-Ka ceased to rotate, the results would be catastrophic. One hemisphere would burn under the twin suns, the other would freeze in a world of darkness. The weather patterns..."

    "That is not the point you stupid, stupid bot."

    "What is the point then, sir?"

    "The point is Rubi-Ka will rotate regardless of your efforts."

    For once the robot seemed to relent. "Are you absolutely sure, sir?" it asked.

    "Positive." replied Milton in exasperation.

    The robot seemed to ponder over the problem for a while. "Still, we would be taking an awfully big chance if you were wrong."

    "But I am not wrong!"

    "I do not wish to contradict you sir, but I have noticed humans make mistakes before."

    "Not on something as obvious as this. Everyone knows how the world spins."

    "I see. How does it spin sir?"

    "It's, you know, gravity and stuff."

    "Gravity and stuff, sir?"

    Milton tried to find the right words and failed which only increased his frustration. Surely there had been a time he had known all these things. "Oh, all right, so maybe I am an old man and maybe my memory isn't what it used to be. But, damn it, really, the world really does rotate. It just down to the basic laws of physics." Milton sighed. "Just trust me, okay. You're going to injure yourself if you keep one straining yourself this way."

    "I am very sorry sir, but given what is at stake, I am afraid I cannot simply take your word for it. I need proof, I need to be certain."

    "You want proof? Okay fine. I'll prove it to you. You got a standard datastream port somewhere?" asked Milton, his mind having latched on to a new strategy.

    "Naturally, sir."

    "Good. Wait here. I'll just go pick up a disc on astrophysics from the public library and we'll settle this once and for all."

    "I was not planning to go anywhere, sir. I still have a job to do." the robot replied.

    "A job? Oh, right. Fine. You do that. I'll be back." And with that Milton set off towards the public library at a brisk pace.

    In the event, it took Milton longer to find an appropriate disc on astrophysics to borrow then he had expected, and by then it was getting late and he was feeling a little tired. So he decided to go back home, have a good night rest and then seek out the stubborn robot again the following day.

    The next morning, armed with the disc, Milton headed to Omni-1's Trade district again, hoping to set the robot straight on a fact or two about the movement planteray objects. He half expected that the robot would have been gone by now, probably taken back by its owners and assigned to somewhat more productive duties. But the robot was still there, pushing and straining against the tall building as it had been the previous day,

    "Hello again." said Milton.

    "Good morning sir." replied the robot.

    "You remember me?"

    "Of course I do. We spoke yesterday."

    "I got this for you." Milton flashed the disc in front of the robots eyes. "Can I upload it?"

    "Yes, please. I always enjoy learning about new things. And while the task of rotating the world is important, it is not intellectually very stimulating."

    "Well maybe after you read this, you would have to help spin the world around all day."

    "That would make for a welcome change." agreed the robot.

    Milton carefully inserted the disc into the robots port. Quickly the robot scanned its content. "Interesting." it commented seconds later.

    "You see, it's all done for you. You don't need to rotate the planet, even if you could."

    "Perhaps. But there is a problem."

    "What problem?"

    "I see this disc was last updated two years ago. Conditions might have changed."

    "Conditions might have changed?" echoed Milton. "Why you wilful, stubborn robot.. Nothing has changed. The universe is the universe. Always has been, always will be. It's rules are as immutable as they are uncaring. What we do changes nothing and matters nothing. Just who do you think you are, little bot? What mighty power put you in charge of motion of the very heavens? And more to the point what does your owner think about you wasting your time leaning against a dumb old building all day?"

    "I expect she does not think about this very much at all. She passed away a week ago."

    This took Milton somewhat off guard. "I am sorry." replied Milton, somewhat mollified. "Well, look here son, maybe there is someone I can call who can come to take you back home?"

    "That will not be possible. The mistress lived alone."

    "You must have been very fond of her." remarked Milton.

    "Yes. She was a very kind lady."

    "Such a shame. I lost a very kind lady too a few years back." For a moment both man and robot seemed lost in thought.. "Tell you what, I don't suppose it makes much difference where you rotate the world from. I happen to have some pretty sturdy walls back where I live. Why don't you come home with me and do your world rotating stuff there."

    "You really think that would be possible?" asked the robot.

    "Sure it's possible, son." Milton relied with a smile. "And you know, if at some point you should get tired of making the Rubi-Ka turn round, just come outside on my front porch, grab a chair, and we can watch the world come to an end together."

    The robot considered the offer. "I think I would like that, sir."

    "You can call me Milton, son. Come on, let's go."
    Dabblez - Rubi-Ka Universal Robots (RUR)
    We put the Art into Artificial Intelligence!

  2. #2
    Bogosorter and The Shover in...
    When Robots Philosophize!!!

    by Elisa "Autumnleaves" Fadri

    "There's something wrong with that robot, dad."

    "That's what I'd call a safe assumption, man."

    It was a quiet night in the center of Omni-Trade, broken only by the occasional public service message and a faint whirring. The largest moon was low in the sky, casting long shadows across the city--the kind that made everything seem larger than life. Bogosorter was heading home after another late and unsuccessful night out on the town. His Personal Robotic Servant followed a few steps behind.

    "I'm gonna go talk to him," said The Shover.

    Bogosorter sighed with the prescience of the professional barfly who knows that this very moment is their last chance to get a few hours sleep before going to work the next day. "It's like, four in the morning, man," he stated weakly, unable to resist the call of fate.

    What the robot was doing was quite clear--it was pushing against the wall of one of the largest buildings in Omni-Trade. Why the robot was doing this was another matter.

    "Can I push the building?" The Shover asked. "I am good at pushing things."

    "Under the circumstances, I do not believe that would be wise," replied the robot.

    Bogosorter, who had some experience with situations like this, examined the robot carefully. He didn't see any of the common signs of an imminent insurance claim. The robot's eyes were not glowing malevolently. Nor was it twitching or muttering to itself. After a few uncomfortable moments he asked, "Are you holding this building up?"

    "Of course not," said the robot. "This is a very sturdy building, sir. I choose it for that very reason. I would not intentionally harm city property, sir."

    "That's cool, man. That's cool," said Bogosorter, the possibility of sleep straining anew in his mind. "Come on, Shover, we need to get home."

    Unfortunately, the other robot responded to this. "You can rest well knowing that the planetary rotation is in good hands, sir."

    Bogosorter turned back to the robot, a light slowly dawning in his cluttered and sleep-deprived brain. After a few early mistakes, all robots were programmed, not just with the Laws of Asimov, but the Laws of Newton. Alas, the programming could fail in certain contexts, particularly those regarding conservation. Bogosorter looked at the robot with new respect. It wasn't often that he met an android this crazy.

    "That's a very important job, man," he said carefully. "This is a real, like, unlikely planet. I work for Omni-Eco, man. I know this stuff. I mean, the way you keep us rotating tangent to the, like, magnetic axis, man. And that moon is definitely inside the Roche limit, you know, taking up twenty-something degrees of arc like that. It's, like, we're orbiting a close binary pair. Those suns ought to look like bronto eggs, not spheres, man. And don't get me started on the lack of radiation or an accretion disk..."

    The robot's servos whirred louder as it tried to push against invisible forces in several directions at once. "I... cannot... maintain it all..."

    "You just keep that rotation steady," said Bogosorter with uncommon compassion. "Let Omni-Eco worry about the, like, heavenly bodies, man."

    The robot stopped shaking and pressed even more firmly against the building with new resolve. "Of course, sir."

    "Would you like a break?" asked The Shover. "I could push the building for you. I was designed to push around the wildlife."

    The robot thought about this for a moment. "What purpose is there in applying force to wildlife?"

    "Like, when they're not in the right place, man," said Bogosorter.

    "I understand, sir. It is very important for everything to be in the right place." The robot paused again thoughtfully. "Of course I do not feel tired, and I would not want to imply that I am incapable of maintaining planetary rotation for the predictable future. However, my servos have been working very hard, and I could use some maintenance... But only if you believe it is safe, sir," the robot added anxiously, "I would not trust the planetary rotation to just anyone, sir."

    "I made Shover myself, man," said Bogosorter.

    Unaware of Bogosorter's reputation, the android agreed. "Very good, sir. Once your worker droid is in place, I shall slowly decrease the force I am applying to the planet's surface."

    The Shover, eager as a nine year old to take advantage of the merest hint of parental permission, quickly approached the building with his arms outstretched. "VISUAL: OMNI-ENT OFFICE NINE. DATA: RUBI-KA. ACTION: SHOVE."

    By the time the well-maintained planetary rotation brought the first rays of sunlight across the city, Bogosorter was chain-drinking coffee in his cubicle. The Shover was making sure all the wildlife was in the right place. And in the heart of Omni-Trade, a lone, brave robot with brand new knee servos did what he could to keep the world going 'round.

    (( My apologies. And thanks for a good story. ))

  3. #3

    Between the Hitchiker's parallels and the Shover/Pusher robot references...

    I am DYING. You people rock.

    If I ever write something that doesn't suck, maybe I'll contribute.))
    Katelin "Missmaul" Locknane -Sloooowly climbing her way out of the dank pits of gimpness. But stil crazy. Ya know...just in case you cared.

  4. #4

    Thumbs up


    Although it doesnt beat the funny stories of TEHDEACON I think these are the 2 best writing stories I have read here.
    Kayl - Adventurer
    Niomay - Shade
    Barenn - Soldier <--- retired due to being extremely gimpy

    8Proud members of Tiger Claw7

  5. #5 least these robots dont whine.....imagine Marvin doing this job...unbearable. Great stories!! You guys made me laugh

  6. #6
    (( I'm #3, but I try harder. ))

    At the Omni-Eco offices, a tired engineer stared at his messages with glazed eyes. One word caught his attention.

    "Marvin. Oh yeah, Marvin. Man, why didn't I think of that?" He reached for his screwdriver...

  7. #7
    Thanks for the feedback and the awesome follow-up.
    Dabblez - Rubi-Ka Universal Robots (RUR)
    We put the Art into Artificial Intelligence!

  8. #8
    (( There I was searching for something else, found my favourite story, decided to give it a shameless bump anyway. So sue me :- ) ))
    Dabblez - Rubi-Ka Universal Robots (RUR)
    We put the Art into Artificial Intelligence!

  9. #9
    ((This my favorite AO story, too. I feared it was lost forever.))

  10. #10
    ((It's still a great story ))
    Zack "Eternalforce" Craddock
    Professional soldier of fortune.
    Quote Originally Posted by dustynova
    ahhh Ao where the men are boys the women are men and the leets are very very nervous.

  11. #11
    (( It is almost as good as this one:{02AEF393-F254-45D0-BC66-0DA97225C14B} ))
    Engineer General Virta, Omni-Pol. Not in active service.

    Roleplaying Profile of Jimi "Virta" Hendrix

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