Love, Robot

Margaret Rhee. The Operating System, $18 trade paper (94p) ISBN 978-1-946031-12-9
In this ambitious and refreshing debut, Rhee makes an excellent case for greater use of the tropes of speculative fiction in poetry. As Rhee’s human narrator experiences the vicissitudes of love with her mechanical counterpart, readers get to observe a vision of a potential bionic relationship: “I loved you because you could make beautiful things:/ magical world of red bathtub boats/ peacock feather trees hung from the ceiling/ felt puppets that flew without any strings.” This is a queer love story interjected with algorithmic code and metallic musings. Rhee channels the excitement of meeting someone new and falling for them via the unfamiliar body of the robot, one that is full of electricity and light. As with most torch songs, readers are left with the longing of an imperfect love. Throughout, Rhee blurs the line between human and robot via proverbs such as “believe me when I say nothing is because of chance. nothing is not math.” Readers are asked to consider how they’ve been programmed too. Perhaps the love interest wasn’t a robot after all; perhaps the narrator isn’t human. Rhee combines the familiar and unfamiliar to leave readers with a satisfying, immersive romp through every aspect of robot-human love. (Nov.)
Reviewed on: 11/06/2017
Release date: 11/01/2017
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