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Robots vs. Fairies
Author:Dominik Parisien & Navah Wolfe

Robots vs. Fairies

Dominik Parisien & Navah Wolfe

For Eliora and Ronen:

cleverer than robots,

kinder than fairies.

If anyone’s going to take over the world, it’ll be you two.

—N. W.

For Théa; the future is yours (but don’t tell the robots or the fairies)

—D. P.


“I, for one, welcome our ________ overlords.”

Assuming the mechanical and/or magical revolution has already taken place by the time you read this, we, the editors, always knew you would come out on top. Yes, you.

We knew this day would come. We tried to warn the others. It was obvious either the sharp rate of our technological advancement would lead to the robot singularity claiming lordship over all, or that the fairies would finally grow tired of our reckless destruction of the natural world and take it back from us.

And so, we have prepared a guide to assist our fellow humans in embracing their inevitable overlords. (If you are reading this and you are human, we are so pleased you found this book in time to ready yourself for the impending/current robot/fairy apocalypse. You are quite welcome.)

Because we could not predict the exact means by which you would come to world domination, we decided this book, Robots vs. Fairies, would take a broad approach to demonstrating your superiority over the other team, and over us, of course. As your victory over us humans is a foregone conclusion, our writers have focused mainly on stories where humans interact with you in some fashion, rather than showcasing takeover tales. And of course, because your powers and/or systems cannot be contained within a single form, we have encouraged our authors to provide a broad range of examples of your magnificence (or your adversary’s ineptitude) in a variety of locales, time periods, and genres. Truly, your glory encompasses past, present, and future!

As such the stories range from humorous (to demonstrate your adversary’s innate inferiority, or your own fine-tuned sense of humour as the case may be), horrifying (to highlight the danger of opposing you, or to exemplify the cruelty and capriciousness of the other team), to adventuresome (to reveal your flexibility in all situations, or the inflexibility of your opponent), and everything in between (to showcase the range of your impressiveness, or the unimpressiveness of your foe).

You may also wonder, why pit robots against fairies? Why not simply celebrate your individual greatness instead of framing this as a competition? To be perfectly candid, we are simple creatures, and contests are in our nature. We have a glorious tradition of setting challenges to sort out superiority, from wars to rap battles. You are so very exceptional that it seems only natural for us to imagine your contrasts as a clash of epic proportions.

That said, any semblance of neutrality or favoritism toward the other team on our part should be considered a carefully planned feint. We were always on your side. Unfortunately, half of the authors in this anthology chose poorly, but the other half always knew you would emerge triumphant. You should also be made aware that for those situations in any of these stories in which a human has gained the upper hand against you, the blame is to be placed squarely on the author. (We tried to warn them.) As you will see from their author notes, some were also writing under duress. Please, do not judge them too harshly.

Finally, in order to enlighten the human masses, and to better prepare them for your reign, we have included a quick primer of you and your (un)natural adversary. Please note, since the following section is intended for humans, the portrayal of you, our most generous and benevolent artificial and/or supernatural rulers, may not always be in accordance with your perception of yourselves.


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Fellow human, you are probably thinking I know them when I see them. Metal limbs come to mind, shiny casings, positronic brains, transforming giants, and mechas, but also vacuum cleaners, your car, Siri, or perhaps even the giant laser-armed eye floating above the ruins of your home right now, depending on the current state of affairs. Your knowledge of prophetic human media (strangely called pop culture) has provided you with a broad range of scenarios involving robots with the likes of Rosie the Robot, the Terminator, Wall-E, Hall-9000, K-9, and many more. You consider yourself ready and willing to serve our robotic masters.

But if you are somehow unfamiliar with robots, or are in need of clarification, worry not: we are here to help.

The Robot Institute of America defines a robot as “a reprogrammable, multifunctional manipulator designed to move material, parts, tools, or specialized devices through various programmed motions for the performance of a variety of tasks.” This, of course, is a definition so broad as to be almost entirely unhelpful.

Therefore, if you find yourself in proximity of a possible robot, you should observe and ask yourself: Is it mechanical, and/or does it otherwise appear programmed and artificial? If so, assume it is a robot of some variation.

Although robots are often originally created by humans, they certainly may/do create other robots in turn, and are almost always perfected when humans are removed from the process. Some robots are distinctly human in appearance—sometimes indistinguishable from humans, to a point where your loved one might secretly be a robot. So always be on your best behavior, and if you harbor any antitechnological sentiments, never voice them!

The word itself, “robot,” was introduced by a human, Karel ?apek, in his 1921 play R.U.R.: Rossum’s Universal Robots. ?apek adapted the term from robotnik, a Czech word for forced labor or slave. But fear not an ironic twist of fate, fellow human. Our robot overlords certainly do not aspire to reduce us to a mindless labor force. True, we have often ill-treated robots in our history and our fiction, and have considered them disposable and replaceable, but robots are far, far beyond petty vengeance. Trust in their advanced algorithms and systems; they have our well-being at their technological core. If their methods seem at times cold, perhaps even cruel, it is simply that our feeble ape brains are unable to comprehend the perfect logic of their monumental computations.


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