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A Guide For Working Breeds

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Tor.com is pleased to reprint “A Guide for Working Breeds” by Vina Jie-Min Prasad, as featured in editor Jonathan Strahan’s latest anthology Made to Order: Robots and Revolution—available from Solaris.

100 years after Karel Capek coined the word, “robots” are an everyday idea, and the inspiration for countless stories in books, film, TV and games.

They are often among the least privileged, most unfairly used of us, and the more robots are like humans, the more interesting they become. This collection of stories is where robots stand in for us, where both we and they are disadvantaged, and where hope and optimism shines through.

30 pages, ebook

First published March 17, 2020

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Vina Jie-Min Prasad

24 books67 followers

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5 stars
151 (39%)
4 stars
157 (40%)
3 stars
71 (18%)
2 stars
5 (1%)
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2 (<1%)
Displaying 1 - 30 of 134 reviews
Profile Image for Tadiana ✩Night Owl☽.
1,880 reviews22.8k followers
May 20, 2021
This humorous SF story is currently nominated for the Hugo and the Nebula awards, and I hope it wins! Final review, first posted on FantasyLiterature.com:

This is an absolutely delightful story! A grumpy robot, Constant Killer, who makes a living by engaging in robot deathmatch and assassination games, is obliged to mentor a chirpy, innocent new robot who is having problems with its life, ranging from “how do I remove illusionary dogs from my optical feed” to dealing with adverse working conditions at a cheap automated café. What begins as a meeting between opposite personalities gradually evolves into an unlikely friendship.

“A Guide for Working Breeds” is told in a creative, offbeat way, using the robots’ electronic messages, online searches and product orders to tell the story. On the surface it’s so funny and charming, but it deals with some underlying serious issues about the exploitation of workers.

Read it free online here: https://www.tor.com/2020/03/17/a-guid...

I don't love everything Vina Jie-Min Prasad writes, but she's written two other Nebula and Hugo Award-nominated stories that are equally charming:

- "A Series of Steaks": Read it here: http://clarkesworldmagazine.com/prasa...
- "Fandom for Robots": Read it here: https://uncannymagazine.com/article/f...

I highly recommend all three if you enjoy humorous and heartwarming science fiction.
Profile Image for Nataliya.
781 reviews12.4k followers
April 18, 2021
Ok, if you ever need an antidote for crappy things in life, this story is perfect for that.

Because awwwwwwwwwwwww....

Constant Killer is a grumpy robot who engages in death matches (therefore the name), and its assigned to mentor a new very chatty robot who’s a paragon of sunshine, happiness, and loves dogs. And eventually the unlikely friendship blossoms among robot exploitations and death matches.

And it’s so charming that I just can’t help smiling.

Consider my ice-cold heart thoroughly melted.
“Search history for K.g1-09030 (“Kleekai Greyhound”)
Display mode: Chronological

– everything is on fire help????
– late night animal rescue near 31st tsang do they take raccoons
– (SITE: AskARobot) ilabs contract early termination no money how
– (SITE: AskARobot) friend wants to buy out my contract help????
– former freelance killers trying to lay low what should they do
– long trip most things burnt what to pack
– CROSSREF: “city most dogs per capita” + “cutest dogs where to find”

Exploited robots should stick together. ‘Nuff said.

4 stars.

Read it free here: https://www.tor.com/2020/03/17/a-guid...


My Hugo and Nebula Awards Reading Project 2021: https://www.goodreads.com/review/show...
Profile Image for Jaidee.
605 reviews1,196 followers
March 31, 2021
1.5 "not Tadiana's fault" stars !!!

Second Most Fun Review Written in 2020 Award

I thought I would try this based on Tadiana's recommendation.

I am not a sci-fi person even when( like this story)it is super-cutesy and clever. Nope nope nope!!

Please Tadiana be kind and don't send a killer robot after me if you read this.

Omigosh robot dogs are barking at my door and they won't stop but hey I have a magic spell or at least some metal bones to throw them :)

Profile Image for karen.
3,988 reviews170k followers
March 22, 2021
Constant Killer (C.k2-00452)

My milestone test results indicated that I was detail-oriented and suitable for individual work.
Well, “unsuited for group work”, but same difference.

Kleekai Greyhound (K.g1-09030)

oh cool
are the contracts better if you get that result?

Constant Killer (C.k2-00452)

Being the sole robot in a human workplace is . . . well . . .
There’s a reason I went freelance after buyback.

many thanks to dennis for sending this one my way.


it's very short, so i don't want to say too much, but 1) "robot enthusiast" is not a phrase i would ever use to describe myself, so i probably wouldn't have chanced it without his nudge and i am living (for now) proof that you don't need to be into robots to be charmed by this story. 2) i just love the structure of this one—it's mainly told through dialogue, but the parts that aren't (order confirmations, notifications, and *especially* search history) do so much storywork so efficiently, it is a truly impressive feat.

and while we're on the topic—how to get from 'nailing someone's hand to a table' to 'basil bowties' is a masterclass in character development.

it's poignant, sweet, and funny—a happy day for good dogs, chonkster possums, bitey raccoons, robot friendship and sticking it to the (hu)man!

– long trip most things burnt what to pack

read it for yourself here:


come to my blog!!
Profile Image for Dennis.
658 reviews276 followers
December 19, 2021
Funny and adorable story of two robots in a mentor/mentee relationship. One is a grumpy killer and the other is a cheerful and chatty robot who loves dogs.

The story is told through the chatlog of the two robots and addresses the issue of exploitation of (non-human) workers through the robots' experiences with their shitty jobs. But the conversations between Constant Killer (C.k2-00452) and Default Name (K.g1-09030) were so charming that they simply put a smile on my face.

A feel-good story.

Can be read for free here: https://www.tor.com/2020/03/17/a-guid...

2020 Nebula and 2021 Hugo finalist for Best Short Story.

2020 Nebula Award Finalists

Best Novel
Piranesi by Susanna Clarke (Bloomsbury)
The City We Became by N.K. Jemisin (Orbit)
Mexican Gothic by Silvia Moreno-Garcia (Del Rey)
The Midnight Bargain by C.L. Polk (Erewhon)
Black Sun by Rebecca Roanhorse (Saga)
Network Effect by Martha Wells (Tordotcom Publishing)

Best Novella
Tower of Mud and Straw by Yaroslav Barsukov (Metaphorosis)
Finna by Nino Cipri (Tordotcom Publishing)
Ring Shout by P. Djèlí Clark (Tordotcom Publishing)
Ife-Iyoku, Tale of Imadeyunuagbon by Oghenechovwe Donald Ekpeki (Dominion: An Anthology of Speculative Fiction from Africa and the African Diaspora, Aurelia Leo)
The Four Profound Weaves by R.B. Lemberg (Tachyon)
Riot Baby by Tochi Onyebuchi (Tordotcom Publishing)

Best Novelette
Stepsister by Leah Cypess (F&SF 5-6/20)
The Pill by Meg Elison (Big Girl, PM Press)
Burn or the Episodic Life of Sam Wells as a Super by A.T. Greenblatt (Uncanny 5-6/20)
Two Truths and a Lie by Sarah Pinsker (Tor.com 6/17/20)
• Where You Linger by Bonnie Jo Stufflebeam (Uncanny 1-2/20)
• Shadow Prisons by Caroline M. Yoachim (serialized in the Dystopia Triptych series as The Shadow Prison Experiment, Shadow Prisons of the Mind and The Shadow Prisoner’s Dilemma, Broad Reach Publishing + Adamant Press)

Best Short Story
Badass Moms in the Zombie Apocalypse by Rae Carson (Uncanny 1-2/20)
Advanced Word Problems in Portal Math by Aimee Picchi (Daily Science Fiction 1/3/20)
A Guide For Working Breeds by Vina Jie-Min Prasad (Made to Order: Robots and Revolution, Solaris)
The Eight-Thousanders by Jason Sanford (Asimov’s 9-10/20) (Asimov’s 9-10/20)
My Country Is a Ghost by Eugenia Triantafyllou (Uncanny 1-2/20)
Open House on Haunted Hill by John Wiswell (Diabolical Plots 6/15/20)

The Andre Norton Nebula Award for Middle Grade and Young Adult Fiction
Raybearer by Jordan Ifueko (Amulet)
Elatsoe by Darcie Little Badger (Levine Querido)
A Wizard’s Guide to Defensive Baking by T. Kingfisher (Argyll)
A Game of Fox and Squirrels by Jenn Reese (Holt)
Star Daughter by Shveta Thakrar (HarperTeen)

2021 Hugo Award Finalists

Best Novel
Black Sun by Rebecca Roanhorse
The City We Became by N.K. Jemisin
Harrow the Ninth by Tamsyn Muir
Network Effect by Martha Wells
Piranesi by Susanna Clarke
The Relentless Moon by Mary Robinette Kowal

Best Novella
Come Tumbling Down by Seanan McGuire
The Empress of Salt and Fortune by Nghi Vo
Finna by Nino Cipri
Ring Shout by P. Djèlí Clark
Riot Baby by Tochi Onyebuchi
Upright Women Wanted by Sarah Gailey

Best Novelette
Burn or the Episodic Life of Sam Wells as a Super by A.T. Greenblatt (Uncanny Magazine Issue 34: May/June 2020)
I Sexually Identify as an Attack Helicopter by Isabel Fall (Clarkesworld, January 2020)
• The Inaccessibility of Heaven by Aliette de Bodard (Uncanny Magazine Issue 35: July/August 2020)
Monster by Naomi Kritzer (Clarkesworld Magazine, Issue 160)
• The Pill by Meg Elison (from Big Girl)
Two Truths and a Lie by Sarah Pinsker (Tor.com)

Best Short Story
Badass Moms in the Zombie Apocalypse by Rae Carson (Uncanny Magazine Issue 32: January/February 2020)
A Guide For Working Breeds by Vina Jie-Min Prasad (Made to Order: Robots and Revolution, Solaris)
Little Free Library by Naomi Kritzer (Tor. com)
The Mermaid Astronaut by Yoon Ha Lee (Beneath Ceaseless Skies, February 2020)
Metal Like Blood in the Dark by T. Kingfisher (Uncanny Magazine, September/October 2020)
Open House on Haunted Hill by John Wiswell (Diabolical Plots 6/15/20)

Best Series
• The Daevabad Trilogy by S.A. Chakraborty
• The Interdependency by John Scalzi
• The Lady Astronaut Universe by Mary Robinette Kowal
The Murderbot Diaries by Martha Wells
• October Daye by Seanan McGuire
• The Poppy War by R.F. Kuang

Best Graphic Story or Comic
Die, Vol. 2: Split the Party, written by Kieron Gillen and Stephanie Hans, letters by Clayton Cowles
Ghost-Spider, Vol. 1: Dog Days Are Over, written by Seanan McGuire, art by Takeshi Miyazawa and Rosi Kämpe
Invisible Kingdom, Vol. 2: Edge of Everything, written by G. Willow Wilson, art by Christian Ward
Monstress, Vol. 5: Warchild, written by Marjorie Liu, art by Sana Takeda
Once & Future, Vol. 1: The King is Undead, written by Kieron Gillen, iIllustrated by Dan Mora, colored by Tamra Bonvillain, lettered by Ed Dukeshire
Parable of the Sower: A Graphic Novel Adaptation, written by Octavia Butler, adapted by Damian Duffy, illustrated by John Jennings
Profile Image for Choko.
1,221 reviews2,594 followers
April 30, 2020
Adorable short story about an old and grumpy robot mentoring a newer, less experienced and very chatty robot who loves dogs!
Profile Image for Trish.
2,015 reviews3,434 followers
March 17, 2021
*lol* What a delightful little story.

Two robots meet virtually since one is supposed to be mentoring the other and ... let's just say they are very different, personality-wise. While the mentor is all gruff (at least on the outside), his mentee is basically a ball of fluff. *chuckles*

Shenanigans ensue and it's pretty funny. And also a nice little story of the "secret lives of robots" if you will and what stupid humans want to do to them.

You can read it for free here: https://www.tor.com/2020/03/17/a-guid...

Thanks, Dennis, for bringing this to my attention.
Profile Image for Mir.
4,867 reviews5,031 followers
April 1, 2021

Browser history:
– late night animal rescue near 31st tsang do they take raccoons
– (SITE: AskARobot) ilabs contract early termination no money how
– former freelance killers trying to lay low what should they do
– long trip most things burnt what to pack
– CROSSREF: “city most dogs per capita” + “cutest dogs where to find”

Important questions.
Profile Image for Daren.
1,328 reviews4,398 followers
March 20, 2021
A short (and free) sci-fi futurist story about robots!

Get it here: Tor.com

A robot assassin, the robot mentoring programme, a possum, racoons, dog videos, cafe workers rights, and robot friendships.

A funny, short read in a creative writing style.
Default Name (K.g1-09030)

hey i’m new here
thanks for being my mentor
although i guess it’s randomly assigned
and compulsory
anyway do you know how to make my vision dog free?

Constant Killer (C.k2-00452)

Do you mean ‘fog-free’?
Your optics should have anti-fog coating if your body is newly issued.
Is the coating malfunctioning?

Default Name (K.g1-09030)

oh no no
i meant like literally dog free
there’s a lot of dogs here somehow but they don’t seem to be real ones?
4 stars
Profile Image for Samuel.
248 reviews38 followers
March 19, 2021
An entertaining and original little story about an irritable killer robot assigned to mentor an upbeat dog-loving robot. Definitely gave me a chuckle. Can see why this is so popular with my GR friends :).
Profile Image for Silvana.
1,169 reviews1,140 followers
February 19, 2021
It's inspired by @mayapolarbear in Instagram, so cuteness is guaranteed.
Also, where can I watch zero-g corgis with bowties?

The more I think about this story, the more interest I have on the small details of robot-robot relationship.

This story is part of a new anthology Made to Order: Robots and Revolution. Looking at the authors in it, I just have to have it.
Profile Image for Eva.
189 reviews106 followers
April 19, 2021
There was a 5-star-worthy, chilling, hilariously funny and dark "work conditions for future AI" story hidden in this Nebula-nominated story, which was then completely drowned in fluffy fluffballs, good doggies, sparkly sprinkles and super kawaii happy endings. I could have been so awesome! It made me laugh out loud at first. And then it went into extra twee super fluff territory and left me behind. Still worth reading!
Profile Image for Peter Tillman.
3,681 reviews344 followers
February 26, 2021
Opening lines:
Default Name (K.g1-09030)
hey i’m new here
thanks for being my mentor
although i guess it’s randomly assigned
and compulsory
anyway do you know how to make my vision dog free?

Whoa! A new high-point for VJMP, I think. Wonderful dialogue between a nameless newbie and "Constant Killer" (C.k2-00452), their mentor. C.k2-00452 finds itself in big trouble on Deathmatch Day, but "Kleekai Greyhound" (K.g1-09030) is able to help out. 6 stars! *Absolutely* not to be missed! Seriously! On my 100 (or so) Best-ever list.

Story link:
Profile Image for Cynda .
1,303 reviews148 followers
March 21, 2021
Two ends of personality/character spectrum of robots.
Read because my GR friend fourtriplezed recommended this short read. I enjoyed it. I will consider it some too.
Profile Image for Kaethe.
6,449 reviews473 followers
March 21, 2021
Such a charming story: sweet, insightful, with dogs. Currently available to read online at Tor.

Thanks, karen, for steering me this way!
Profile Image for Elena Linville.
Author 1 book62 followers
March 29, 2021
Oh what a delightful little story! This story is a must read if you are having a bad day (and my Monday is behaving like a typical Monday so far, so I absolutely need it). This is guaranteed to put a smile on your face and make your day better. Fast and compelling read, so go get it!
Profile Image for Di Maitland.
266 reviews79 followers
March 31, 2021
You can read this story for free here: https://www.tor.com/2020/03/17/a-guid...

This was silly as all hell and I spent half my time rolling my eyes and half my time smiling so I guess a 3 is a fair rating. Prasad lists @mayapolarbear from Instagram as one of his inspirations which really tells you all you need to know.

Despite the best efforts of C.k2-00452, aka Constant Killer, they have just been given K.g1-09030 as their mentee. Between asking questions about how to hate on customers and what is and is not legal when working at a cafe, K.g sends C.k endless videos of dogs. C.k can't help but be charmed and they all live happily ever after.

This story is painfully millennial. It's about dog videos and meaningless jobs and has the millennial lingo to match. Parts made me want to grind my teeth, whilst others were, admittedly, adorable - saccharine sweet but adorable. The presents particularly so.

On the one hand, its idea was mediumly creative. On the other hand, the characters could have been exchanged for teenage (human) children and you wouldn't have to change much. The future, it appears, is exactly like the present but with robots in our place.

Is it worth a read? Meh maybe. It only took me 15 minutes or so and it was good enough. Is it worth a Nebula? Absolutely not. If you want a short story about robots, I recommend The Secret Life of Bots instead. Now that really is good and also quite adorable.
Profile Image for Xan Rooyen.
Author 34 books111 followers
May 12, 2020
This was adorable. If you're into dogs or robots, I highly recommend!
Profile Image for Dhwani Shah.
101 reviews5 followers
March 21, 2021
This was so cute. I am totally Kleekai Greyhound. Will always send 10 messages at a time and make a playlist dogs to add atleast 28 videos at a time. Feels good to be represented.
Profile Image for Stephen.
456 reviews53 followers
June 15, 2021
odd. fun. but didn't wow me. maybe because I prefer cats videos to dogs. 😀
Profile Image for Chi.
631 reviews30 followers
October 17, 2021
OMG that was utterly adorable!

A story about two robots with two very different jobs, one of whom is learning how to make sense of a world that he's been newly inserted into. I love how the story was written as a series of messages, search terms, and invoices. And the ending? AMAZING! <3
Profile Image for ECH.
426 reviews22 followers
May 3, 2020
Awwww. This is such an adorable little short story. It's in chatlog format between two AIs. I'm grading this on what it is. That's funny and cute.
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