Review of “The Seven Billion Habits of Highly Effective Robots” by Aidan Doyle

Image by Julius H from Pixabay


There is no plot. This is a list of satiric inspirational sayings for robots. A coherent world view emerges, one that is (as it should be) a reflection of own.

The list begins:

Recharge your batteries.

Keep a gratitude journal. I’m grateful this city is our home. I’m grateful The Supreme Council of Robots takes care of us.

You are not your own worst enemy. The humans are.


While the list makes reference to politics, its sharpest barbs are reserved for corporate culture. The reader can see axioms taped to a mirror while a robot gets ready to head to yet another interminable board meeting.

Many of the sayings are cute and witty, particularly those that attempt to induce guilt and rail on about “productivity” or goal-setting. (Don’t just say you’re going to go kill a bunch of humans. Set realistic and achievable goals: how many and by what deadline will you kill them?)

There is a little development in the last paragraph. In general, I like stories with a beginning, middle and ending, and with characters who go through some trials and tribulations. I realize this is a personal preference, but I find lists like this—even when they’re cute and witty—disappointing.

So, in the end, it’s clever for what it is, but it’s not a story. There is a consistent portrait, which takes some thought and skill. I just didn’t enjoy it.


According to his author’s blurb, Aidan Doyle is an Australian writer and editor. He is the co-editor of the World Fantasy Award-nominated Sword and Sonnet and the author of The Writer’s Book of Doubt. He has visited more than one hundred countries, and his experiences include teaching English in Japan, interviewing ninjas in Bolivia, and going ten-pin bowling in North Korea.

Dang, his life sounds like it could be a book itself.

The story can be read here.

Title: “The Seven Billion Habits of Highly Effective Robots”
Author: Aidan Doyle
First published: Daily Science Fiction, June 22, 2020

Published by 9siduri

I have written book and movie reviews for the late and lamented sites Epinions and Examiner. I have book of reviews of speculative fiction from before 1900, and short works in publications such Mobius, Protea Poetry Journal, and, most recently, Wisconsin Review and Drunken Pen Writing. I'm busily working away on a book of reviews pulp science fiction stories from the 1930s-1960s. It's a lot of fun. I am the author of the short story "Always Coming Home," a chapbook of poetry titled "Sotto Voce," and a collection of reviews of pre-1900 speculative fiction, "By Firelight."

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