Wednesday, May 30, 2012

The Fully Mechanical Conscienceless Device

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Kerry's challenge at Real Toads today is steampunk, a sub-genre of fantasy and  speculative fiction.

Banish all the libraries,
and send all poets and literateurs 
to the outback.
Deprive them of pens
and imprison them singly, 
so they may not tell stories aloud.

They have all been replaced by 
The Fully Mechanical Conscienceless Device,
robots and androids
that can pen full tomes
in place of human bards.

It is said these automatons
will be fully functional
within five years
and one will win the Pulitzer Prize
for Literature 
in twenty.

Forgive me if I still prefer
the feeling of a book in my hands,
and to have my stories come
from the minds and hearts  
of their authors.

I'm just old-fashioned that way.

This is actually not fantasy. On CBC Radio last week, they were discussing a new robot/computer that is already writing stories. The journalist doing the interview was understandably nervous at the possibility of being replaced by a robot, but the interviewee was excited about the possibility of reaching wide audiences with programmed books written by robots.



  1. I love the accessibility of new media, but we will always need the human spirit to inspire, delight, excite.

  2. Really kind of scary the way that media has taken over in such a way. Loved the poem! I too have to have a real book in my hands --- need to underline, highlight, take notes, etc.

  3. Terrifying, to me, Sherry. There is also a computer driven Random Poetry Generator now--it's scary. It combines words in really surprising ways but has absolutely no ability to invoke meaning. Sort of like the rest of modern life.

  4. Yikes! Of course, when I first saw the title I thought that you had written a piece about Mitt Romney.

  5. Reminds me of Plato's Republic, where the very person doing the banishing is the only one who can hold the real deal. A novel could grow from this poem!

  6. A robot writing stories. It sounds a bit like a Roald Dahl story, auto-typewriters writing stories (all you needed to do was to give it a plot) instead of people.

    The other thing -- yeah, although ebooks are convenient, I do still prefer to hold a real book made of paper in my hands.

    Sometimes i think we not meant to live beyond our time. I won't be there by the time robots start writing all the books I think.

    Very interesting poem that generates much thought.

  7. Very thought-provoking (and frightening)! I'm old fashioned like you. Only God can make a tree!

  8. Wow, Sherry! I echo Kim's sentiment and your's about real books. I agree, plus I love the smell of very old books!! Great write, Sherry!

  9. I love it. And even if the Amazing Automated Creaticon Fiction Writing Mechanism becomes a reality, I'm not worried. There will always be those whose need to write is so strong that they will do so under the covers with a flashlight if need be. Sort of putting their childhood nighttime activity into reverse, right? You know, putting the words back into stories instead of taking the out.

  10. haha, it is creepy what some have in mind for the rest of us! not to mention the bio-robots for war. yikes and yikes. i liked your piece. the book feels the best, no doubt.

  11. MZ's comment almost made me spit my coffee!

  12. OMG....scary thoughts! Well Done did put the fear element in there! Big YIKES~

  13. I'm with you, Sherry! I love the feel and smell of a REAL book! And MZ's comment was TOO FUNNY but also too true!

  14. I like your not too far from fiction take on this challenge. You did a great job of providing a rich fantastical setting even if this future is closer than we would like.


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