Archive for December, 2012

Your fictional robots are not humans but should have human qualities

Sunday, December 23rd, 2012

From a February 2007 interview with James Roberts by

There is a danger of making a Transformer too human; ultimately, they are alien life-forms, and robotic ones at that. But the TF mythos endures because of the characters, and that wouldn’t have happened unless fans could – at some level – identify with those characters. From day one we’ve heard about the ‘heroic’ Autobots and the ‘evil’ Decepticons – the two sides are defined by very human qualities. I also think that any society, even one comprised of shape-shifting mechanoids, is shaped by politics, race relations, economics, ethics, questions of identity and so on. Transformers society is no different, and that was something I tried to get across in Eugenesis. Notwithstanding the above, you have to try to constantly remind readers that these characters aren’t human. As a rule of thumb, if you can swap all the Transformers in your story for humans and still tell the same story, it’s not working. The non-human aspects of these characters – their long, potentially endless life-spans, their concept of pain, their attitude towards non-mechanical life, the way they can modify their bodies, their ambiguous origins… it’s all endlessly fascinating.

James Roberts currently writes Transformers: More Than Meets The Eye for IDW Comics. A long time ago he wrote and self-published a fanfiction prose novel called Eugenisis.  The work was good enough and appreciated enough that eventually he writes for the property professionally.