Thursday, October 15, 2009

Calamity on the Fifteenth Hole

A response to Nathaniel Lee's "Ground Pounder" in Mirror Shards:

Edwin G. Maehen, senior executive vice president for Old Earth
Construction, watched Gonzalez Mitterand, his boss and COO, hit
the golf ball with a slight hook and it flew over the horizon in
the terraformed moon's light gravity. They watched Gonzalez's
ball roll to a stop in a hazard crater on the golf cart's course
monitor. Edwin's tee shot was much better positioned and he
would need to flub his next shot. Gonzalez liked to win and Ed-
win wanted that raise.

As they drove to Gonzalez's ball, Edwin's phone rang. The face
plate blinked priority red. It had never done that before.
"Hello, this is Edwin."

"This is Supervisory Robot A32EE," said a mechanical voice. "A
priority red incident is currently happening. Under regulation
72.435 of the Company Constitution as soon as an incident is
judged to be priority red the supervisor on hand must call the
senior executive vice president."

The robots worked flawlessly, how could there have been any prob-
lems? Edwin chose his words carefully, he couldn't let Gonzalez
realize that he didn't have the Company Constitution memorized.
"Tell me about the incident."

"Earthmover Robot Z900 has veered from its appointed task and is
now dredging a path 137 degrees from the stated plan at a veloci-
ty of 50 km/h faster than regulation and is still accelerating.
Waiting for instructions."

A runaway robot hadn't occurred in Edwin's lifetime. This could
be the end of his career, especially if there was a death and
even the end of Old Earth Construction. "Stop that robot now!"

Gonzalez looked at Edwin with a question in his eyes and Edwin
tried to ignore his boss but felt his raise slipping through his

The robot said, "Your orders are being executed now."

"And get me a human to help coordinate."

"There are none. Your directive, memorandum M.57321."

Edwin looked at his hands and paused before he said, "I'll fly
out there. I'll be there in twenty hours."

"19 hours 37 minutes, assuming the shuttle arrives on schedule,

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