Robert has been assigned to Titan, one of Saturn’s moons, to mine methane. Much of the operation is done by robots and a human is needed to fix minor break downs and such. The resident built-in AI is TCI12, or Tessy. Things start off well enough but then little by little they fall apart.
This was a fun piece of scifi. While it’s a bit of a classic plot set up, I still enjoyed seeing how the author played with it. There’s some miscommunication with Earth about shipments, supplies, and the state of the miningbots on Titan. As Robert sees mangled messages congratulating other mining colonies, he both redoubles his efforts and becomes more and more pessimistic.
Meanwhile, Tessy does it’s ‘best’ to keep Robert on schedule, prodding him with daily reminders of the shipping quota and how many bots are down. On the surface, Tessy seems quite helpful and organized. Can an AI have ulterior motives? Or a (twisted) sense of humor?
I liked that Robert comments a few times about how it’s a tough assignment, being the only human on Titan for so many weeks/months at a time, how important it is to stay busy in order to stay mentally balanced. This is a good question for the story, not just for humans, but for any sentient being stuck on Titan with minimal socializing for any significant length of time.
I liked the ending because it speaks of further mischievousness. I hope when us humans start using AI for stuff in general, folks go back to the ‘Perreault classics’ and build in safety features that prevent and/or recognize questionable behavior in AIs at an early stage. This tale is a worthy read, and would make a good lunchbreak story.
I received a copy of this audiobook from the author at no cost in exchange for an honest review.
Narration: Christopher M. Allport gave a good performance. He made transmissions sound like transmissions with radio noises and such. I liked his helpful, calm voice for Tessy. He also did a great job with Robert’s voice, showing how Robert was somewhat enthusiastic about his assignment at the beginning and how little by little, that changed over the course of the story.