Month of Joy: “The Cardboard Robot” by Polenth Blake

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After sending my critique partner a story about people living on the clouds, he commented that all my stories had robots. I denied everything. It was about cloud people! But there it was, the main character reminiscing on making a robot out of cardboard boxes as a child. Robots had made it in there.

It wasn’t based on life. I never made a robot from cardboard, because I dreamt of functional
robots. Such things weren’t easily available when I was younger, so I contented myself with Asimov’s robot stories and Short Circuit (Number Five reminded me of me).

Eventually, I did get a robot for Christmas (which was expensive enough to also be my birthday present). It could be preprogramed to make noises and move on a set route. State-of-the-art toy material. And obsolete by the time I hit my teenaged years, when toys like Furby were all the rage. Robots could now react in a pseudo-animal way (within limits, as the original Furby couldn’t really learn language, or remember phrases,
contrary to security fears).

I haven’t been disappointed as an adult. Robot toys are increasingly lifelike. Movie robots now include one with a pet cockroach (it was like the people at Pixar knew all my interests when they made Wall-E).  Robonaut 2, a humanoid robot, has made it into space. There are robots everywhere, so perhaps I shouldn’t feel bad if they’re everywhere in my stories too.


Polenth Blake lives with cockroaches and an Aloe vera called Mister Fingers. Her first collection, Rainbow Lights, is out in the ocean somewhere. Her website lurks at her website.

P.S.:  During my Week of Joy, I mini-interviewed Polenth about her collection.  You can read that here.

About the Author:

Shaun Duke is an aspiring writer, a reviewer, and an academic. He is currently an Assistant Professor of Digital Rhetoric and Writing at Bemidji State University. He received his PhD in English from the University of Florida and studies science fiction, postcolonialism, digital fan cultures, and digital rhetoric.

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