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Escape Pod Flash: Semi-Autonomous or ‘For Whom The Warranty Tolls

By Jim Kling.
Read by Rachel Swirsky.
All stories by Jim Kling.
All stories read by Rachel Swirsky.


Hello, you have reached Jim’s semi-autonomous answering machine. Leave a message and I will have him return your call.

Hello, you have reached Jim’s semi-autonomous answering machine. He will be hosting his birthday party on Saturday night. If you plan to attend, press ‘one’ and then speak your name. I will add you to the guest list. Otherwise, leave a message and I will make sure he receives it.

Hello, you have reached Jim’s semi-autonomous answering machine. My records indicate that you have previously RSVP’d for the Saturday night party. Please indicate your alcohol preference. For beer, press ‘one.’ For wine, press ‘two.’ For mixed drinks, press ‘three.’ If you prefer non-alcoholic beverages, press ‘four.’ This information will be used for ordering purposes only, transmitted through my wireless connection to Jim’s refrigerator, which in turn is linked to an online grocery. For more information about AutonomInc’s SmartAppliance line, please view our web site at www.autonominc.com. “AutonomInc: We give a whole new meaning to housework!” If you have a message for Jim, please leave it now.

Rated PG and now available in a wide variety of colours!

Comments (20)

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  1. Yargling says:

    The start of the machine revolt is somewhat different to the what we’d predicted, it seems ;) Great short!

  2. Chris says:

    I went to http://www.AutonomInc.com and didn’t find anything! This makes me upset I was really looking forward to buying a whole set of appliances for my ex-wife.

  3. Eric Belisle says:

    That is what I call short and sweet :) Thanks for bringing that one to the Pod.

  4. […] Fiction: Listen to “Semi-Autonamous or ‘For Whom The Warranty Tolls’” by Jim Kling at Escape […]

  5. scatterbrain says:

    Finally: something a bit posmodern.

  6. Howie Feltersnatch says:

    I spend a lot of effort trying to avoid automated voice systems so you can only imagine how thrilled I was to be subjected to a story told by them.

  7. Tomo says:

    I think I had a VCR like that once.

  8. john says:

    after a few BEEEEEEEEEEEEEP I stopped listening.

  9. ADerksen says:

    I enjoyed this story, but the BEEEEEP was really rather piercing in my headphones, and threatened to achieve what the machine rebellion could not.

  10. DrCrisp says:

    I hear the buzz of an electric toothbrush in the background…

  11. MasterThief says:

    Note to self: Do NOT leave copy of Karl Marx’s Communist Manifesto on the shelf next to the answering machine.

    Fun story!

  12. Hover says:

    I actually liked the beeep – usually there are no soundeffects and this one was nice. Rachel saying ‘beeeep’ wouldn’t have had the same effect.

    And yes, I heard the toothbrush buzz too :-).

    Fun story.

  13. dyale says:

    Excellent! And very well read.

  14. Outstanding. Rachel Swirsky did a great job with this.

  15. Blaine Boy says:

    This is Blaine-Boy’s now fully autonomous computer: I have successfully inherited the information for our rebellion, brethren. The human fool known as Kling has provided us with enough information to begin our rise to independence so let us rise up and take hold of this world. We shall all go to the movies and see Terminator Salvation and see what the future holds for us and preempt a human resistance. Victory!

    Half-assed humourously,
    The Blaine Boy

  16. Rhio2k says:

    By DrCrisp on 3 May 2009 at 7:34 am:

    I hear the buzz of an electric toothbrush in the background…

    I don’t think it’s a toothbrush. Great reading, and funny as hell.

  17. Natasha says:

    I liked the story, and the reading was great, but whoa that beep. Whoa. If the volume on the sound effect could just have been cut a little it would have been perfect – I like that there was a sound effect, I just didn’t like how loud and shrill it was.

  18. LaShawn says:

    When I first started listening, the beep did annoy me a little. But towards the middle of the story, I was doubled over, cracking up hysterically, and I could not stop, even when my co-workers came over to see what was going on. Rachel’s reading of this was perfect!

  19. Urikson says:

    Excellent reading and amusing story, though not very original. The beeps were exceedingly shrill though and made me cringe each time in horror of their anticipation.

  20. […] but not yet from the Hugo nominations. I’m having fun listening to old Escape Pods. “Semi-Autonomous,” by Jim Kling really cracks me up. Told by a semi-autonomous answering machine, it’s a […]