Review of P. K. Torrens, “Nanoscopic Nemesis”, Analog Science Fiction and Fact July/August (2020): 106–107 (Kindle) – Purchase Here. Reviewed by John Atom.
The story is told from the perspective of a medical nanobot performing a tumor excision surgery on a patient. Realizing that the tumor has metastasized, the nanobot proceeds to find its source and eradicate it.
Generally speaking, I’m not a fan of the “AI with a personality” – or “AI with attitude” – types of stories, especially when the AIs in question are depicted in a fairly realistic manner (as they are here). Certain lines like “I want to crack a beer open because that’s what my programmer does” or “My processor purrs” or “The liquid nitrogen washes over my RAM like a cool wave over a scorching beach” feel out of place in a story like this. Such a style is superfluous to the narrative.
That aside, I really appreciated the detail with which the author treated the hypothetical subject of nanobot surgery in the story. The author clearly knows his stuff and does a great job at delineating (in just enough detail) the innards of a technology that will quite possibly exist in the future. Medical nanobots are perhaps the first truly tangible “miracle drug” that science fiction has conceived, and well-crafted stories about them are always welcome.