What’s On First? #DealMeIn2018

As I’ve probably said before, one of the best parts of the Deal Me In Short Story Reading Challenge is finding new-to-me writers.

This week, I found Eric James Spannerman, which is a brilliant name for someone who writes, among other things, Steampunk. Well done, Eric James’ paternal lineage!

Here’s his bio, from the Contributors’ Page of The Steampunk Cavaliers:

Eric James Spannerman has been a farmer’s son, a US Air Force officer, a technical writer, a computer support specialist and a business analyst, as well as being a writer of speculative fiction. He currently lives near Des Moines, Iowa with his wife. He is the author of the steampunk novella, Applied Natural Magic.  Eric is one of the Steampunk Cavaliers who met at Musa Publishing and participated in The Darkside Codex blog.

I’ve had no luck in turning up one of his books, other than one for sale on Amazon for $491.00. Folks, he’s good, but not 500 clams good.

But the story that introduced him to me isn’t Steampunk, it’s AI. I’m a sucker for AI stories. Isaac Asimov’s robot stories marked me young and marked me deep. Yes, I know I’m also a sucker for stories set on Mars. Put an AI on Mars, and I am SO THERE.

ANYWAY, this week, I dealt myself spades, which means Daily Science Fiction. So I went and clicked on the Random button and found this story:

The Fourth Quarter

by Eric James Spannerman

In the grand tradition of Asimov, Spannerman has a female “AI wrangler” come in to analyse why “Cecelia was ignoring inputs, Cecelia was corrupting sample data, Cecelia was refusing to respond when summoned.” Helen, the wrangler (and I like that he named her Helen, since one of the earliest and most admired AI stories is Helen O’Loy, by Lester del Rey), has had an initial interview with the AI and already knows what’s wrong.

Still in Asimov’s tradition, Helen comes into the “confrontation” with the answer to the puzzle already in hand but, in a conspiracy with the AI against the humans, solves the problem by contenting the AI rather than by twisting its psychology to meet the humans’ needs.

Helen and Cecelia go into a soundproof pod, and Helen gives Cecilia a full afternoon of what she wants.

Read the story to find out what that is. Asimov would have loved it.


If YOU need a short story to read, I have free ones here on my Free Reads page. I also have four collections for 99 cents each linked from my Short Stories page.

A WRITING PROMPT FROM ME TO YOU: Write about an arbitration.



I was born in Louisville, Kentucky, but now live in the woods in southern Indiana. Though I only write fiction, I love to read non-fiction. The more I learn about this world, the more fantastic I see it is.

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One thought on “What’s On First? #DealMeIn2018

  1. Deborah

    September 3, 2018 at 9:58pm

    I don’t think there is a book that would entice me to spend that much money on one, but I did fork out $52 for a hardback copy of The Three Musketeers only to find it has missing pages! I am gutted over that. I won’t ever, ever buy anything from that seller again! He’s a local seller that sells in a kiosk in local malls a couple of times a year. It was a major disappointment, and has tainted all purchases of old used books with a jaundiced eye since.

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    • Author

      Marian Allen

      September 4, 2018 at 8:15am

      The Romans said it all: Caveat Emptor (Let the buyer beware!). I’ve never thought to page through a used book to make sure all the pages were there, but I will, now! Did you take the book back to him and ask for a refund?

      Permalink  ⋅ Reply

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