"What If Robots Had The Same Desires As Us?” asks James Marson in his First Comic Sci Fi Novel

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The debut author talks about artificial intelligences with very human desires in his new novel "The Colour of Robots", released on Kindle and in paperback.

I wanted to tell a story that was a mystery set in space rather than traditional sci-fi.

THERE IS A THEORY that there are just seven human desires driving everything we do: Survival, Power, Glory, Money. Self-Awareness, Justice and Love. But what would happen if intelligent robots, with lightning-fast thought and access to the sum total of all human knowledge, wanted the same?

This is what James Marson asks in his delightfully funny first novel, THE COLOUR OF ROBOTS, now available on Amazon kindle and paperback. Best described as humorous sci-fi (Marson is at pains to point out it’s not a spoof: “Spoof pokes fun at the genre; here our human rubbish-ness in the firing line.”), it follows the adventures of a hapless junior engineer who stumbles across two supposedly long-extinct robots. But like every good cadet knows, a hundred years after the devastating War with the Robots, anything with more intelligence than that necessary to operate a dustpan and brush has been eradicated and outlawed. Knowing his discovery would send his superiors into convulsions, Dougan tries to makes the problem go away before he actually has to tell anyone. This course of action takes him on a quest involving space pirates, a rogue battle computer and seven frighteningly intelligent and driven robots.

Marson is at home creating funny worlds in science fiction. “I’ve always been fascinated by science, but I also love writing, storytelling and humour …” While studying Chemical Engineering, which he describes as “Advanced Plumbing”, much of his time was spent acting, performing, directing and teaching improvised comedy. An MA in Theatre Practice ("waving sheets in blacked-out rooms") followed. He now works in telly, but kept his passion for the mysteries of the universe, as well as code and programming - traces of which also seep into the novel.

“I’m fascinated by processes and systems, but also by people. People are unavoidably part of the process – but usually the least reliable and laughable part because we’re so emotional and completely irrational. Likewise, putting these human traits into robots gives them drives and desires but also vulnerabilities.”

Marson unashamedly draws influence from giants in the genre such as Pratchett and Adams –“Pratchett has these wonderful asides to the audience in the form of his footnotes. It’s theatrical. And Douglas Adams was making a point about humanity through the lens of an imaginatively silly galaxy. We take ourselves so seriously but we’re ridiculous when viewed from the outside.”

Science fiction and humour can be seen as strange bedfellows, but Marson insists you don’t have to be a sci-fi fan to enjoy the humour. “I wanted to tell a story that was a mystery set in space rather than traditional sci-fi. The humour came along for the ride then dug in its claws and wouldn’t let go. I’d like to think it works.”

The Colour of Robots is available on Amazon Kindle and Paperback now.

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James Marson
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