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FYS: Recommended Reading/Viewing

 

Just a few inspirations (positive and negative) that helped create the For Your Safety universe.



Books


I, Robot (1950). Isaac Asimov. The starting point for popularization of the concept of benevolent robots, introducing Asimov’s famous “Three Laws of Robotics.” Most of the short stories within are mysteries, pointing out the flaws and loopholes of the Three Laws, which admittedly undermines their utility for the Groupmind.


Caves of Steel (1953), Isaac Asimov. On an overpopulated Earth (8 billion, a half billion less than that of 2017), humanity is stuffed into overcrowded cities and most humans suffer from severe agoraphobia. When a prominent Spacer ambassador is murdered, police detective Elijah Baley must solve the murder, with the unwanted assistance of R. Daneel Olivaw, a Spacer robot built to be indistinguishable from a human. Like most of Asimov's stories it’s a “Fair Play” mystery, with the clues laid out for the reader. Caves is followed by several sequels of decreasing quality, which eventually introduced the “Zeroth Law” of robotics, allowing robots to permit some humans to die (not to mention all those pesky alien races).


The Humanoids (1947), Jack Williamson. The other side of the robotics coin, Williamson’s Humanoids are sleek black androids with an overriding mission to make humanity happy and safe. If by “safe” you mean being locked in a padded room with soft toys, and by “happy” being lobotomized so you don’t have any negative thoughts, or any thoughts at all. A prime example of what the Groupmind is dearly trying to avoid.


Ringworld (1970), Larry Niven. If you can ignore the super science, wonky worldbuilding, and painful misogyny, the concept of the Ring, a rotating space station thousands of miles wide and the circumference of the Earth’s orbit around the Sun, is a genuinely classic science fiction concept. It should be no surprise that it inspired the idea of the (smaller, but still pretty darned big) FYS Ring, a construct that merely circles around the Earth.


Voyage From Yesteryear (1982), James P. Hogan. After a devastating nuclear war, the reformed American government sends out a colony ship to Alpha Centauri to rightfully take control of the colony already there, sent before the war by the UN to insure human survival. What they find are Chironian humans raised from embryos by their benevolent robot caretakers, who politely poke holes in all of their conqueror's assumptions.


One of the first novels to examine what a Post Scarcity society might be like, while poking fun at Reagan era nationalism. Like Ringworld, some of the gender discussions are very, um, products of their time (Chironian women are mostly seen as being very approachable, to put it mildly), and I disagree severely with Chironian approach to mental health, but otherwise a good novel.


The Vorkosigan Saga (1986 to 2016), Lois McMaster-Bujold. Bujold’s beloved and long-running space opera may not have much to do with the core concepts of FYS (AI’s and humanoid robots don’t exist for starters) but the humanism, rationality, and cleverness of the characters inform my own writing quite a bit.



Television


The Prisoner (1967-68). Patrick Mcgoohan's brilliant, paranoid, and psychedelic short series about the titular Prisoner, a former British intelligence agent held against his will in The Village, a pleasant seaside resort that he will learn to enjoy and he most certainly will not ever escape. Almost everything about the Ring, from the faux pleasant surroundings, the constant surveillance, to the cheerful creepiness of the morphs is at least partly inspired by this series.


Person of Interest (2011-16). What starts out as a “Victim of the Week” mystery series with a mild sci-fi premise, morphs over the course of five seasons into a clever cyberpunk thriller about a war between a benevolent AI called The Machine, it’s creator and allies, and the forces of Samaritan, another AI who wishes to conquer humanity as much as The Machine wants to save it. While I started writing the first FYS story well before I was aware of the show, much of its core concepts about ubiquitous surveillance and the creation of a powerful AI run in parallel to FYS.



RPG’s


Transhuman Space (2002), Steve Jackson Games. This  massive RPG setting, filled with super bioscience and ubiquitous artificial intelligences, inspired some of FYS’ Post-Scarcity sensibilities, and the dangers of constant surveillance. It also provides the name of FYS’ morphs, though not all of THS’s are necessarily Furry.



Webcomics


Freefall (1998-Current), Mark Stanley. Stanley’s massive, long running serio-comic follows the adventures of Sam, a squid-like alien living on the human colony world of Jean, and Florence, an uplifted Red Wolf working as the engineer on Sam’s ship. In between Sam’s thieving antics and Florence’s deadpan reactions is a remarkable hard science fiction story about the nature of robotic AI’s and free will.


A Miracle of Science (2002-07), Jon Kilgannon and Mark Sachs. In a world where becoming a mad scientist is recognized as a legitimate mental illness (Science Related Memetic Disorder), police detective Benjamin Prester and Martian agent Caprice Quivillion must team up to stop Dr. Virgil Haas from unleashing a robot takeover of the Solar System, while also saving Haas and Prester from their own demons.


A strong influence on FYS, Mars is both a planet and a massive distributed AI, existing in the minds of all Martian robots and humans, and remaining remarkably benevolent.


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