Margret A. Treiber

Let’s get the technical stuff out of the way: Margret A. Treiber’s Japanese Robots Love To Dance is a well-written series of loosely-collected stories following our main character, Gabe Siegel, a lawyer who ends up working for various incarnations of Artificial Intelligence (and who changes his name mid-novel to Gary Legal). Through argument, guile, and even deception, Legal wins every case for his robotic clients, from a disgruntled garbage truck to, yes, a robot that loves to dance.

That said, where do I go from here?

Robots reminded me of another book that combined science fiction and absurdity, and that’s The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. This is especially true for the space-based episodes, in particular Legal’s visit to that outer-space Disney World-esque tourist trap promising “digestible food” and a tower of remarkable height.

The last story ends the novel with a Deus Ex Machina (via that noise those damn kid’s listen to in the future, and call “music”) and a cliffhanger. I felt kind of like I’d stepped off a cliff when the story ended as it did, but, as I reflect, how does one end an absurd comedy? With failure? Not very funny. With victory? Also not funny. Shakespeare just had everyone get married, but that’s Ye Olde school. Douglas Adams confronted this issue in Hitchhiker’s Guide, and his solution was to write four more novels, rather than resolve anything. After all, “We all know Japanese robots love to dance. Look at that happy little bugger. How can you reprogram him and erase all the joy off his perky little face?”

Don’t expect too much character growth or development from comedy. Same for Japanese Robots. But do expect characters who are individuals unto themselves, with enough deadpan lines to cook fried rice for an army. Sorry, mixing metaphorical ingredients there.

In conclusion, you’re never supposed to say “in conclusion” in your conclusion. That is to say, the book is funny, an entertaining ride, and well worth your time.

I highly recommend.