thefourthvine: Two people fucking, rearview: sex is the universal fandom. (Default)
Keep Hoping Machine Running ([personal profile] thefourthvine) wrote2016-06-05 09:19 pm

All the Ships I've Loved Before 2

The One with the Matchmaking Robots. Pro Tip: Everything Everywhere Is Better with Matchmaking Robots. Nice Work If You Can Get It, by astolat. Mike Donovan/Greg Powell, I, Robot (book).

So. Harriet and Peter set my expectations for het romance. What did it for queer romance? It should have been Jeeves and Wooster. I spent years obsessively collecting everything PG Wodehouse ever wrote, and I read each of his books at least twenty times and giggled helplessly through every reading. But somehow they never tripped the ship circuit in my brain. No. What did that – and this is so stereotypically me I can hardly stand it – was I, Robot.

Specifically, Greg Powell and Mike Donovan. Twelve-year-old me did not understand precisely why she was re-reading the Powell and Donovan stories so obsessively; she just knew she couldn't stop.

But adult me knows why.

The Powell and Donovan stories taught me that fictional queer romance occurs between two people who depend on each other, care about each other, and look after each other, and that there will need to be robots and also me to imagine the kissing part for any kind of consummation to be achieved. So, yeah, thanks, Asimov. You formatted my brain for fic. (And robots. And fic about robots.) In fact, I discovered while writing this rec that one of the things I spent my adult life believing was I, Robot canon is, in fact, actually fic I told myself at the age of 13. Proud of you, teenage me!

Sadly, telling myself fic was for many years the only way to get my fix for this pairing. For mysterious reasons – or, okay, possibly for the entirely understandable reason that it's a book of short stories first published in 1950 – there's not a whole lot of I, Robot fic out there. But what is there comes mostly from Yuletide, and one of those stories was written for me. I love it helplessly.

See, Asimov had many good traits – amazing work ethic, solid scientific knowledge, an entirely reasonable dislike of wide open spaces – but many of his stories are kind of, um. Forever locked in the world of 1950. So I deeply love how this story is so very much an Asimov story – it has the messed-up robots, the frantic problem-solving, and the feel of the canon - but it's also a story with an actual human relationship between actual humans, something Asimov did not always remember to put in his stories. (Fun Asimov fact: at least two of his most human, likable, realistic characters are robots.) And, of course, this story has the kissing that Asimov inexplicably forgot to put in.

Basically, when I read this story ten years ago (holy shit, an actual decade ago), my inner teenager smiled blissfully, finally satisfied. And when I read it now, I feel exactly the same way: all's right with the world. Everything is as I always knew it should be. The ur-ship is manifest at last.

Do you need to know the fandom to read this? Oh my god, so much no. Here's a complete primer: there's these two dudes. They work on robots in remote locations in the solar system. Shit always goes wrong and they always fix it. And they should kiss. There. That's the whole fandom. And this is a before-the-canon story that gives you considerably more background than Asimov ever managed. Go! Read!

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