Synopsis (from Goodreads):
When they are stranded on the surface of a hostile alien world, two sentient robots H4NS3L-671, the military-minded combat drone, & GR3T3L-1, the advanced surveyor prototype, find themselves with neither memory nor mission.
With no resources and no one to count on but each other, the robots must learn to work together in order to endure the brutal landscape, unlock the mystery of their missing memories, and plan their own rescue, all before their power runs out.
What they don’t know is that the dangerous planet holds a terrible secret that could ruin their chances of ever escaping alive…
This is “Hansel & Gretel” told like never before. This is “GR3T3L-1.”
You know I love retellings of classic fairy tales with clever twists. This one belongs to that category. Instead of two little children left in the forest by their starving parents you get two sentient machines sent into an alien planet. One of them can think on its own, the other only follows rules and orders. GR3T3L is the thinking one – her creator, a scientist called Dr. Li, decided to give it some ‘extra’ software and make it truly independent and intelligent. Of course creating an AI is strictly forbidden in their world so GR3T3L and her maker might face serious consequences if they are found. Still before it happens the thinking robot along with a soldier drone called H4NS3L are stranded on an uncharted planet without humans or any clear directives or orders what to do. Will they be able to cooperate and survive? Are they really completely alone?
Robots…I wish they sounded like intelligent, gender-neutral machines. Instead, more often than not I was reading about two humans, a male and a female, hidden under metal armoured bodies. I admit more than once I thought that the story, which had a great potential, suffered because of it. Fortunately the author didn’t throw in any romance or a ‘happily ever after’ ending (but I had an inkling she was tempted).
The clash between creation and destruction, constant conquests and peaceful coexistence was nicely done – it was actually the feature I enjoyed the most. Still I would like it even better if H4NS3L could decide on his own what path it wanted to choose much earlier (cannot add anything, it is already a bit spoiler-ish).
Not a bad story – relatively short, amusing and bittersweet. I might check the rest of the series as well. If you are an avid fan of sentient robots you should read it for sure.