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by Robert Mason
Published by G.P. Putnam's Sons, 1989
Amazon.com: audio cassette
Amazon.ca: audio cassette
Recommended by: Greg Slade
Set in the present, Weapon is based on the premise that a top secret government project has created a truly artificially intelligent robot. (Like many hard SF works, it includes a detailed author's note at the end on the science upon which he based the story, including an annotated bibliography.) Solo, the robot, is being tested in Costa Rica when the general supervising the project decides that it's necessary to make the tests more realistic by inserting Solo into Nicaragua to attack a Sandinista target. Solo doesn't appreciate being treated like a dumb weapon, and runs away. He ends up in a Nicaraguan village, and becomes the spark for a major showdown between the Sandinistas, the Contras, the American soldiers running the tests, and the villagers in Las Cruzas, who end up being caught in the middle of the scramble.
In a way, you might say that Weapon examines, in a serious manner, the same issues hinted at in the movie Short Circuit. (There are differences, of course. The body count in Weapon is fairly high, and some of the violence is pretty graphic, including a rape scene.) Solo has some in-depth conversations with Padre Cerna, the local priest, on whether it is possible for a robot to have a soul. In the end, it's pretty clear that Solo is more morally developed than those who have created him.
Unfortunately, this work is now out of print, but is still listed in the auctions, and Amazon offers to search used bookstores for you. (March, 2000)
Other Comments: For the print editions, check the book page.
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