“Cosmobotica” (Costi Gurgu and Tony Pi)
The Mammoth Book of Dieselpunk, 2015. (science fiction short story)
– Current Finalist, 2016 Aurora Award for Best English Short Fiction
“Tomorrow, on June first, 1939, he would land a cosmobot on the Moon in the name of
Romania. This was triumph.
Henri felt a tear roll down his face, the real face under his connect-helmet Earthside. His chrome-and-steel cosmobot had been built to copy many things his body could do, but not that.“
After Dragonfire, my favorite story was Cosmobotica, by Costi Gurgu and Tony Pi. This took me by surprise since this was the kind of story I’d have expected to find in Isaac Asimov’s Science Fiction Magazine or Analog,circa 1970. That’s usually not my kind of thing. The combination of an interesting story, lovely writing and a character I cared about all combined to make this a delightful read. Cosmobots are space-faring robots and their creator, Henri Coanda, is about to land a rocket staffed with 2 of them on the moon. Henri is in the rocket with them, but not physically — his body is back at the home base in Romania. Because of scientific breakthroughs, he and he partner can “presence” into the robots. When saboteurs hijack his partner’s ‘bot and hijack the rocket, Henri and his team must act to stop them. He has to face his own self-doubts after a public failure years earlier, and his own mortality, to regain his rocket and save the mission. Henri is a believable character who is competent and smart, and his earth-side team doesn’t just listen to his brilliance and nod appreciatively, they actually help. This suspenseful, action-packed story pinned me to my chair and wouldn’t let me up until I reached the end.– Marion Deeds, Fantasy Literature