Gasoline Robot #reflection

Gasoline Robot

Have you ever thought about the odd connections our minds make? You know what I’m talking about, right? Those times when you read something or hear something and your mind runs down a tangent to something else. The only thing that might be the connection is a word or a sound, maybe even a smell. Next thing you know you have drifted to Key Largo, sipping strawberry daiquiris.

Sorry, let’s step back from that a minute…

As I was skimming through some paper copies of Fantasy and Science Fiction magazine I have on my bookshelf I ran through a story I had read when I first got this particular issue on my Kindle (January/February 2016). The story is “Robot from the Future” by Terry Bisson. The main idea is pretty straight forward. A robot has traveled to the past and spends some time talking to a couple people. And of course, as any robot from the future would be wont to do, it is looking for something and expects the people it is talking to to get what it needs.

Now the story itself is a bit topsy turvy because the characters in the robots past are still in our future (an indefinite moment in time ahead of where we are now). The world has gone through what they call the “greening.” There are a number of technological advancements but they are simply the things we might expect to see in a future time while at the same time people are going through the things of life that we in our time are accustomed to already.

The thing that gets me, is the mcguffin of the story. The robot is looking for gasoline. We know what it is. But in this future/past it has been outlawed because of the greening. The grandpa in the story (the people the robot talks to are a grandfather and his grandson) knows where he can get it because he knows of some bootleggers. The whole thing about this that makes it a strange mcguffin is that we know what it is but the characters don’t really know. And they have no real use for it. But the robot needs it.

And this is where it gets all tangent for me. The way I am seeing the robot say the word gasoline in the story swoops into my mind as the lyrics from the Audioslave song Gasoline. So every time I read the word in the story I have the memory of a band playing in my mind. Without knowing anything other than the name of the writer I have no clue if that was something intended from the way the word was written but that is the connection my mind makes to the story.

It is one of those things as writers and readers we don’t always know will happen with something we have shared. We can’t know all the connections that someone else will make to the words we use or how we use them. Sure there are times when something has become ubiquitous to our culture and people can make the connection even third or fourth hand. But those instances are a rarity in the ocean of words and experiences we have in this life.

Anyway, it was a bizarrely fun story that brought out some odd thoughts in my mind. What are some of the weirder stories or songs that play out of the blue for you?


If you enjoy these stories, consider leaving some coffee money in the jar or you could buy a book or two. Either way helps keep the stories flowing.

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