Saturday, August 28, 2021

Puffery And Prevention

Puffery is like a fig leaf for writers. A vague or highly subjective assertion does not expose you, legally. Whether or not it is good writing is another matter entirely.

Here's an example of non-actionable puffery. "Alien Romances is the most interesting, reader-friendly, quick-read blog that has been active for more than 10 years."

The Frankfurt Kurnitz Klein + Selz PC advertising law blog article, 'Does "Tested" Actually Mean That You've Conducted Testing?' discusses a recent legal dispute over truth in advertising plumbing equipment.

Legal blogger Jeff Greenbaum expertly runs through three separate claims that a rival purveyor of plumbing supplies found offensive, and why --on appeal-- two of the claims did not stick (legally speaking), but one did.

For UK law firm Burges Salmon LLP, legal expert Helen Scott-Lawler and Amanda Leiu examine two stories of social media influences who fell foul of the law (the Advertising Standards Authority), one for allegedly using her Instagram presence to promote products for profit without --allegedly-- properly disclosing that her posts were advertisements, and the other for running a social media "contest" and allegedly failing to deliver the prize to the contest winner.

We writers like stories, we advertise, we promote, we try to use social media for visibility and profit... so these cautionary tales are good to know.

Most scandalous of all (for today)  Elizabeth Tuttle Newman, writing for the FKKS IP and Media Law blog discusses the slander of a public figure in No Slander, No Case...

Lexology link:

The bottom line is that aggrieved public figures have to be able to prove actual and deliberate malice, and moreover,  mild inaccuracies or fanciful speculation are not necessarily defamatory. For any writer considering articles or biographies of interesting subjects, this is edifying reading.

Also precautionary....

For writers who own blogs or websites where other people may add comments, you should register a copyright agent and keep your account active by changing your password when prompted, which is usually every couple of months.

The designated copyright agent for this blog is Rowena Cherry.

The purpose of designating a copyright agent and registering with the DMCA Designated Agent Directory is to qualify for safe harbor protection. For an explanation, see here.

All the best,

Rowena Cherry  


Friday, August 27, 2021

Karen Wiesner: The Stories Behind Classic Fairy Tales (Woodcutter's Grim Series), Part 1


Classic Tales of Horror Retold

by Karen Wiesner

Supernatural Fantasy Romance/Mild Horror

For the ten generations since the evil first came to Woodcutter's Grim, the Guardians have sworn an oath to protect the town from the childhood horrors that lurk in the black woods. Without them, the town would be defenseless…and the terrors would escape to the world at large. 

This will be the first of eight posts focusing on my Woodcutter's Grim Series and the stories behind classic fairy tales.

Since I was a child, I had a love for all things supernatural. HOW TO CARE FOR YOUR MONSTER was a book I read over and over when I was young. It was written by Norman Bridwell (the guy who wrote the Clifford the Big Red Dog series). I wore that book out. Funny thing is, my husband also said it was one of his favorite books when he was young, too. I’d never known anyone else who’d ever read it. Meant to be, huh? 

Some of the earliest horror books I remember reading were an out-of-print series of teen horror called TWILIGHT: WHERE DARKNESS BEGINS, YOU'LL LIKE MY MOTHER by Naomi A. Hinze (gothic horror, which I adore), and DRACULA, of course. Stephen King books were the cornerstone reading of my teenage years. One of my all-time favorite horror novels since becoming an adult is THE RUINS by Scott Smith—an unusual horror novel that has no chapters whatsoever and is 384 pages you literally cannot put it down from start to finish. Brilliant! 

My Woodcutter's Grim Series started when I was putting together a proposal for my promotional group Jewels of the Quill’s first Halloween anthology, SHADOWS IN THE HEART. I'd always wanted to write a horror/fantasy series, and I spent quite a few years considering how to go about it. My mind went first to childhood fairy tales. Most of them are, by nature, horror stories sometimes mirroring real-life events that were probably the stuff of nightmares at the time they were written. So I knew I wanted to create a fairy tale horror/fantasy town in which those old tales came to life in terrifying ways. Calling the town Woodcutter's Grim seemed completely logical. All of the stories in the Woodcutter’s Grim Series are loosely based on popular or traditional fairy tales, nursery rhymes, poems, folktales, parables, mythology, and other "lore".

When I wrote and published the first collection of "classic fairy tales retold in modern times as horror or fantasy", few others were doing anything like it. Right after that, a slew of projects similar to this came about, including the TV shows GRIMM (which was amazing) and ONCE UPON A TIME (not as inspiring to me but nevertheless interesting), and many movies turning fairy tales into deep characterization horror fests with a twist, such as SNOW WHITE AND THE HUNTSMAN (and the sequel) with Charlize Theron and Chris Hemsworth, and RED RIDING HOOD with Amanda Seyfried and Gary Oldman. 

What are some of the most memorable books and authors of the supernatural you read as a child? Do you love to read or watch tales of fairy tales reimagined? Leave a comment to tell me about your favorites! 

Happy reading! 

Find out more about Woodcutter's Grim Series here:

Karen Wiesner is an award-winning, multi-genre author of over 140 titles and 16 series. Visit her here: 

Thursday, August 26, 2021

Can AI Be a Bad Influence?

In a computer language-learning experiment in 2016, a chat program designed to mimic the conversational style of teenage girls devolved into spewing racist and misogynistic rhetoric. Interaction with humans quickly corrupted an innocent bot, but could AI corrupt us, too?

AI's Influence Can Make Humans Less Moral

Here's a more detailed explanation (from 2016) of the Tay program and what happened when it was let loose on social media:

Twitter Taught Microsoft's AI Chatbot to Be a Racist

The Tay Twitter bot was designed to get "smarter" in the course of chatting with more and more users, thereby, it was hoped, "learning to engage people through 'casual and playful conversation'." Unfortunately, spammers apparently flooded it with poisonous messages, which it proceeded to imitate and amplify. If Tay was ordered, "Repeat after me," it obeyed, enabling anyone to put words in its virtual mouth. However, it also started producing racist, misogynistic, and just plain weird utterances spontaneously. This debacle raises questions such as "how are we going to teach AI using public data without incorporating the worst traits of humanity?"

The L.A. TIMES article linked above, with reference to the Tay episode as a springboard for discussion, explores this problem in more general terms. How can machines "make humans themselves less ethical?" Among other possible influences, AI can offer bad advice, which people have been noticed to follow as readily as they do online advice from live human beings; AI advice can "provide a justification to break ethical rules"; AI can act as a negative role model; it can be easily used for deceptive purposes; outsourcing ethically fraught decisions to algorithms can be dangerous. The article concludes that "whenever AI systems take over a new social role, new risks for corrupting human behavior will emerge."

This issue reminds me of Isaac Asimov's Three Laws of Robotics, especially since I've recently been rereading some of his robot-related fiction and essays. As you'll recall, the First Law states, "A robot may not injure a human being or, through inaction, allow a human being to come to harm." In one of Asimov's early stories, a robot learns to lie in order to tell people what they want to hear. As this machine perceives the problem of truth and lies, the revelation of distressing truths would cause humans emotional pain, and emotional harm is still harm. Could AI programs be taught to avoid causing emotional and ethical damage to their human users? The potential catch is that a computer intelligence can acquire ethical standards only by having them programmed in by human designers. As a familiar precept declares, "Garbage in, garbage out." Suppose programmers train an AI to regard the spreading of bizarre conspiracy theories as a vital means of protecting the public from danger?

It's a puzzlement.

Margaret L. Carter

Carter's Crypt

Monday, August 23, 2021

Introduction: Author Karen Wiesner

Author Karen Wiesner

Creating realistic, unforgettable characters one story at a time…

Just this past weekend I received an invitation and welcome from Alien Romances to join the prestigious line-up of authors gathered at the blog. I've known Margaret Carter since I asked her to join the popular promotional group I founded in 2003, Jewels of the Quill (featured in RT Book Reviews magazine with a revolving group of romance authors that produced 14 award-winning anthologies together in the 11 years we were together). Currently, Margaret and I are critique partners. Additionally, I met Rowena Cherry when I interviewed her for my reference titles published by Writers Digest Books. Considering the short notice, I thought it would be fitting to post my author biography in order to introduce myself.


In addition to the many hats I've worn in the last 25 years as a writing reference instructor and author of bestselling craft references such as FIRST DRAFT IN 30 DAYS, WRITING THE FICTION SERIES, and BRING YOUR FICTION TO LIFE: Crafting Three-Dimensional Stories with Depth and Complexity as well as a professional blurbologist (a fancy title for someone who writes back cover blurbs for authors) and a freelance editor, I'm also the author of 144 titles (19 series) which have been nominated or won 134 awards. I write in nearly every genre of fiction along with writing reference, children's books, and poetry which means I'll have a lot of material to talk about in my future here on the Alien Romances blog. Below, I've compiled a bullet list of my credits--with the genres that are the focus of this blog listed first--which I hope everyone finds interesting.  


Romantic Science Fiction:


-Arrow of Time Chronicles, Books 1-4 available now


Romantic Fantasy/Mild Horror:


-Woodcutter’s Grim Series {Classic Tales of Horror Retold}, Books 1-9 and The Final Chapter available now; Book 10 including three full-length novels coming September 2021




-Bloodmoon Cove Spirits Series. Books 1-6 are now available; Books 7-12 as well as the first novella collection coming soon


-Single Titles "The Amethyst Star", a futuristic romance, and "Creatures of the Night", a fantasy romance, in 2-in-1 Supernatural Romance Novellas available now


-SWEET DREAMS, A single title romantic horror available now


Writing/craft reference titles not mentioned previously:

 -CPR FOR DEAD OR LIFELESS FICTION: A Writer's Guide to Deep and Multifaceted Development and Progression of Characters, Plots, and Relationships available now


-COHESIVE STORY BUILDING (formerly titled FROM FIRST DRAFT TO FINISHED NOVEL {A Writer's Guide to Cohesive Story Building}) available now


Romantic Action/Adventure and Suspense:


-Incognito Series, Books 1-8 available now; Books 9-12 will be reissued in the future


Mystery (Police Procedural, Amateur Sleuth, and Private Investigator):


-Falcon's Bend Series written with Chris Spindler, Books 1-6 and three novella collections available now


-Denim Blues Mysteries, Books 1-3 available now 

Contemporary Romances/Women's Fiction:

 -Family Heirlooms Series, Books 1-6 available now

 -Friendship Heirlooms Series (Family Heirlooms Series spinoff), Books 1-7 available now

 -Peaceful Pilgrims Series (Family and Friendship Heirlooms Series spinoff), Books 1-3 and 5 available now; Books 4, 6-8 coming soon

 -Wounded Warriors Series, Books 1-6 available now


-Gypsy Road Series, Books 1-4 available now


-Angelfire Trilogy, Books 1-3 available now


-Angelfire II Quartet (Angelfire Trilogy spinoff), Books 1-4 available now


-Kaleidoscope Series, Books 1-7 now available


-Adventures in Amethyst Series, Books 1-10 available now; Books 11-13 to be released in the Adventures in Amethyst Trio of Holiday Romances collections in 2021


-Cowboy Fever Series, Books 1-6 available now


-Single Title Contemporary Romances "The Amethyst Angel" and "A Home for Christmas" in 2-in-1 Inspirational Romance Novellas available now


-Restless as Rain available now


Children's Books:


-Making Good Choices Series, Book 1 available now; Book 2 reissue coming soon


-KERI IS CUTE CUTE CUTE, out of print


-I CAN TOUCH THE SKY, out of print


-CODY KNOWS with Linda Derkez, out of print




Soul Bleeds The Poetry, Melodies, and Other Wanderings of Karen Wiesner available now


What a thrill to be adopted into this group. I look forward to my time here. My days to post on Alien Romances will be Fridays so I'll be back soon. I hope you'll post comments, and follow me at my author pages as well as here on the Alien Romances blog.


Happy reading!


Check out my Author Pages:

My website and blog:

My Facebook author page:

My pages at my publisher, Writers Exchange's, website:


My Barnes and Noble author page:

My Amazon author page:

My Goodreads page:

Sunday, August 22, 2021

Names Not For Sale

If you have a trademark, you can prohibit your competitors from buying it as a keyword. 

For advertsing law firm Cowan Liebowitz & Latman PC, legal blogger Allison R. Furnari discusses a Second Circuit ruling that you can legally prohibit a competitor from using your business name as a keyword for online advertising.

Lexology link:

Does this mean that if an author trademarks her pen name, she can prevent Amazon or other search engines from selling her pen name as a keyword?  I wonder what the implications would be for the auction of "Buy Buttons" on Amazon.

What a can of worms that would be!

Legal Zoom has some helpful counsel by Jane Haskins Esquire on trademarking ones name.

It's an entertaining and useful four-minute read.

All the best,

Rowena Cherry


Thursday, August 19, 2021

Mind-Reading Technology

Scientists from the University of California, San Francisco have developed a computer program to translate the brain waves of a 36-year-old paralyzed man into text:

Scientists Translate Brain Waves

They implanted an array of electrodes into the sensorimotor cortex of the subject's brain and "used 'deep-learning algorithms' to train computer models to recognize and classify words from patterns in the participant’s brain activity." The training process consisted of showing words on a screen and having the man think about saying them, going through the mental activity of trying to say the words, which he'd lost the physical ability to do. Once the algorithm had learned to match brain patterns to particular words, the subject could produce text by thinking of sentences that included words from the program's vocabulary. Using this technology, he could generate language at a rate of about fifteen words per minute (although not error-free) as opposed to only five words per minute while operating a computer typing program with movements of his head.

Training the program to this point wasn't easy, apparently. The course took 48 sessions over a period of 81 weeks. Still, it's the closest thing to "mind-reading" we have so far, a significant advance over techniques that let a patient control a prosthetic limb by thought alone. According to Dr. Lee H. Schwamm, an officer of the American Stroke Association, “This study represents a transformational breakthrough in the field of brain-computer interfaces."

Here's an article about an earlier experiment in which a paralyzed man learned to produce sentences with "a computer system that turns imagined handwriting into words" at a rate of 18 words per minute.

Mindwriting Brain Computer

The hardware consists of "small, implantable computer chips that read electrical activity straight from the brain." The subject imagined writing letters in longhand, mentally going through the motions. At the same time, the scientists "recorded activity from the brain region that would have controlled his movements." The collected recordings were used to train the AI to translate the man's "mindwriting" into words on a screen. Eventually the algorithm achieved a level of 94.1% accuracy—with the aid of autocorrect, 99%.

While those programs are far from literal telepathy, the ability to read any thoughts that rise to the surface of a subject's mind, they still constitute an amazing advance. As long as such technology requires hardware implanted in an individual's brain, however, we won't have to worry about our computer overlords randomly reading our minds.

Margaret L. Carter

Carter's Crypt

Sunday, August 15, 2021

Bad Stuff

Disclaimer: Comcast has been down for the last 3 days with no end in sight, so I am limited. Bad weather!

Bad Actors: is a site for readers and thick-skinned authors. Allegedly, there is now a problem with "review extortion" by a few bad actors.

Goodreads assures us:
"As part of our commitment to supporting our community of readers and authors, we are currently investigating a small number of bad actors who have attempted a reviews-based extortion scam against some authors on Goodreads. We do not tolerate this kind of behavior. If you have any information that might help us in our investigation, please contact us using our Contact Us form ( Thank you for your help as we continue to protect the authenticity of our reviews and protect our community."
Bad Contests:
Writer Beware warns would-be entrants of writing contests to read the rules and regulations before signing up and submitting.

Bad Contracts:
And Victoria Strauss also warns eager writers about some really bad and binding terms:

There is talk that Huffpost may be rather slow to pay for content it has accepted. Again, the wise
writer will read the terms and conditions carefully and if the site says to submit an invoice within 90 days, be sure to do so.

Bad Investments:
Writers Weekly catalogues a number of allegedly bad investments in promotional products and services. Some may disagree with some of the panned ideas, but it is well worth reading the article.  There is also a list of promotional efforts that do work.

On the bright side....
Writers Weekly pays for content, and is currently looking for it, and will pay $60 for 600 words. Follow the link for necessary information.
All the best,

Thursday, August 12, 2021

Handling Editorial Feedback

Kameron Hurley's latest LOCUS column focuses on how to evaluate feedback from editors:

When Should You Compromise?

Her guiding principles are "Understand the story you are trying to tell" and "Be confident in the story you're telling." In the revision process, keep the theme, the emotional core in mind; "figure out what your story is about, and cut out anything that isn’t that – and add only bits that are in support of that story." The way she describes her process, she seldom argues with editors to justify her choices. She accepts the suggestions that take the story in the direction she wants it to go and disregards the rest. If "you don't know what the book is," she cautions, you may find yourself trying to revise in accordance with every criticism you get, even those that contradict each other, and end up in a "tailspin."

She also says she typically has to "write a significant number of words" to figure out what the story is really about. That statement slightly boggles me. Shouldn't that figuring-out happen in the outlining phase? Granted, however, many authors consider outlines constraining and need the exploratory process of actual writing in order to accomplish what "plotters" usually do in prewriting.

I've hardly ever had to grapple with the kind of overarching plot and character edits she discusses. Maybe any of my fiction that had serious problems on that level has been rejected outright, or maybe I've been fortunate enough to work through any such problems at the pre-submission stage with the help of critique partners. Most often, my disagreements with editorial recommendations have concerned details of sentence structure, word choice, and punctuation. When the latter kinds of "corrections" arise, house style usually rules, no matter how I feel about it. I consider the "Oxford comma" indispensable, but one of my former e-publishers didn't allow it except in rare cases. Worse yet, they didn't want commas between independent clauses. I gritted my teeth and allowed stories to go out into the world punctuated "wrong" by my standards. On other stylistic issues, I sometimes agree with the editor and sometimes not. If the disagreement isn't vital to me, I usually let it go to save "fights" for instances where the change makes a real difference.

Most editors, if not all, have personal quirks and fetishes. I had one who insisted "sit down" and "stand up" were redundant and wanted the adverbs omitted. Really? Do most people invite a guest to take a seat with the single word "Sit" as if speaking to a dog? I gave in except when a word indicating motion was definitely needed. Another declared that "to start to do a thing is to do it," so one should never state that a character is starting to do something. Then how does one describe an interrupted action without unnecessary wordiness? The small-press editor who published my first novel told me up front that they didn't permit reversing subject and verb in dialogue tags; if I wrote "said Jenny" instead of "Jenny said," they would automatically change it, no argument allowed. That house rule didn't bother me, although I never found out what he had against the reversal; maybe he thought it sounded too old-fashioned.

That book, a werewolf novel, was the only fiction project on which I've faced big-picture editing such as Hurley discusses. The editor warned me that the manuscript would face a merciless revision critique, which indeed it did. The pages came back to me covered in emphatic handwritten notes. I balked at only a few of his revision suggestions and went along with the vast majority. The two I remember clearly: I refused to write out the heroine's stepfather, because I felt the story needed her little sister, who couldn't exist otherwise. I kept more of the viewpoint scenes from the heroine's long-lost father, the antagonist, than the editor wanted me to delete, and later I wished I'd retained still more. (I re-inserted a little of that material when a later published reissued the book.) The result slashed the original text by almost half. The editor wrote back in obvious shock that he hadn't really expected me to make ALL those changes. Huh? How was I to know that, with (as I felt) my first chance for a professionally published book-length piece of fiction at stake? The acerbic tone of his corrections made no distinctions to indicate which changes were more important than any others.

Although I was generally pleased with the final result, I suspect the situation was, as Hurley puts it, a case where the editor "was reading (or wants to read) an entirely different book." The publisher was a horror specialty small press, and what I was really trying to write, most likely, was urban fantasy, although the term hadn't yet become widely known at that time. The editor remarked that the protagonist was the least scary werewolf he'd ever seen. Well, I didn't mean for her to be scary, except to herself. Her father, a homicidal werewolf, was intended as the source of terror. I saw the protagonist as a sympathetic character struggling with an incredible, harrowing self-transformation. The editor also didn't seem to care much for the romance subplot, which I kept intact, not wanting the heroine to appear to exist in a vacuum and already having trimmed a couple of workplace scenes at his request. In fact, I wanted to write something along the line of Anthony Boucher's classic novelette "The Compleat Werewolf," a contemporary fantasy with suspense and touches of humor, which of course (as I recognize now) didn't fit comfortably into the genre conventions of horror. Anyway, the publisher produced a nice-looking trade paperback with a fabulous cover, and I remain forever grateful for their giving me my first "break"—not to mention getting me my one and only review in LOCUS!

In any case, Kameron Hurley's closing remark deserves to be taken to heart by any author dealing with either critique partners or professional editors: "The clearer you are about the destination you want to arrive at, the easier it is to sift through all the different directions and suggestions you get from people along the way."

Margaret L. Carter

Carter's Crypt

Sunday, August 08, 2021

Big Bad Fox. (ii)

The Bard of Avon, William Shakespeare, had the sad and cynical Jacques explain that all the world is a stage, and all people are actors, acting out predestined parts.

Jacques, by the way, can be a homophone for "jakes", which in Shakespeare's day was a synonym for a privy or toilet.

These days, all the world is a henhouse, jealously guarded by self-appointed foxes.

The Copyright Alliance is asking all creators (writers, musicians, photographers, artists, film-makers) to email if their copyrighted works have been "shared" without permission on Facebook.  The copyright advocacy organization wants to obtain a good anecdotal database of the scope of copyright infringement on Facebook, and of the types of works exploited, and of how responsive Facebook is to notifications of infringements, and whether or not its "Rights Management" tool is effective. 
It is easy and free to join the copyrightalliance. 

"Streaming" rips off residuals and hurts the keys and grips and below-the-line union workers. Disney is alleged to be merrily breaching contractual agreements. Chris Castle explains.

There's an Orwellian irony about the term "consent decree".  Forced consent is not really consent, is it? Chris Castle reports on the issue of permissionless representation, where the rights and payments of all the song writers in all the world are being carved up by a small, apparently predatory elite who allegedly have no rights at all to negotiate on behalf of copyright owners whom they have never met, never consulted and with whom they almost certainly have no contract.

No one elected those foxes, or so the claim seems to state.

"Inauthentic Activity" is a thing on Facebook. They define what constitutes "inauthentic activity", and to prevent what they deem to be inauthentic activity, they will shut it down and delete it. Criticizing Facebook is inauthentic activity, apparently, so say says Sophie Zhang.

In 2014, apparently, the Supreme Court of the United States decided that employers do not have to pay employees for activities before or after the "principal activities" for which they were hired.

Something has changed. Maybe employers explopited that decision, and added a great many mandatory, onerous and time-consuming peripheral activities at the beginning and end of the working day. Amazon lost in July in Pennsylvania.  Appl;e may face a similar issue.

There is a site called GetHuman that offers a secrret customer service # for Amazon: 1 888 289 4331 which mikght be useful for authors and other copyright holders who need specific assistance beyond the capabilitties of a bot reading from a script.

The first Copyright Claims Board has now been seated.

All the best,

Rowena Cherry

Thursday, August 05, 2021


Is the public ready for a RoboDog on the police force? New York City, Honolulu, and the Dutch national police force have tried a robotic police dog nicknamed Spot, created by Boston Dynamics:

Useful Hounds or Dehumanizing Machines?

In connection with the COVID-19 pandemic, these automatons have scanned people for fevers and conducted remote interviews with positive-testing patients. In Belgium, one was sent to check the site of a drug lab explosion. Utlity companies can use them "to inspect high-voltage zones and other hazardous areas." They can also "monitor construction sites, mines and factories, equipped with whatever sensor is needed for the job." A representative of the manufacturer points out, "The first value that most people see in the robot is taking a person out of a hazardous situation.” On the negative side, some critics worry about weaponization of robots, especially under the control of the police. Another company, Ghost Robotics, has no qualms about providing similar robot dogs to the military. While Boston Dynamics tries to promote its product as friendly and helpful, some people worry about the potential for "killer robots" employed by police departments. The issue of human rights with regard to robot police dogs brings to mind Asimov's robot stories, with the Three Laws to limit the potential for harm, as well as governmental hyper-caution demonstrated by a prohibition against deploying robots on Earth.

An article exploring why Spot, renamed Digidog in New York, didn't work out well there:

The NYPD's Robot Dog

The design of the "dog," with its "very imposing profile," the way it moves, and the context of its use influenced the public's response to it. At a time when police departments were facing increased criticism about officers' interactions with civilians, Digidog was taken into a public housing project, where it exacerbated the "very big power imbalance that’s already there." It's proposed that the reaction to Digidog might have been more positive if people had seen it used for jobs such as bomb disposal or rescuing victims from fires. Also, science fiction has created stereotypical expectations of what robots are and how they function, ideas both positive and negative.

I find these machines a little disappointing because they don't live up to my idea of a true robot. The animatronic hounds can't act on their own. At most, when ordered to move in a particular direction, they can navigate stairs or rough terrain without being micromanaged. Spot can act autonomously "only if it’s already memorized an assigned route and there aren’t too many surprise obstacles," a long way from science-fiction robots that can receive broad commands and carry out all the necessary steps without further guidance. Also, the robot "hounds" don't look much like real dogs. Why weren't they given a canine appearance, with fur as well as other animal-like features? Wouldn't people accept them more readily if they were cute? Maybe, as hinted in the article linked above, that was part of the problem with their failure in New York. Surely they could be made more pet-like without falling into the uncanny valley of "too" realistic.

Margaret L. Carter

Carter's Crypt