They Will Not Return

We're a robot housekeeper, and the story begins with us cleaning up the house of our human family -- our Masters. Aside from one or two hints of something bigger happening elsewhere, everything seems fine. We finish cleaning up and plug ourselves in to hibernate and recharge. When we wake again ... well, let's just say that it's been a little more than the expected few hours since we plugged in. It's apocalypse aftermath story. Our Masters are gone, and we're going to have to deal with grief, loss, and how to go on without the beings we were created to serve.

I'm reminded a bit of "The Life Engineered"; except in that case, the humans were not so much lost as frozen in stasis at an undisclosed location that might or might not still exist. Still, similar issues are addressed; namely, what do you do when your programmed purpose in life no longer seems applicable?

I note as well that this story allows us to play through the stages of the grieving process. It's a bit by-the-book, but, coupled with the expressions of the humans' personalities we see in the introductory chapter, it makes the loss feel more real. The exploration of grief is not really limited to that one segment, either. It colours the rest of the story afterwards. More than anything else, I'm inclined to think of this as being about the pain of loss.

I rather like it. As a breakfast, it might be a Spanish omelette, served cold, with a glass of grapefruit juice. It looks simple enough, but the flavours underneath are a bit more on the complex side.