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Reviewed by Joel R. Dennstedt for Readers' Favorite
GR3T3L-1: Good Tales for Bad Dreams by V.M. Sawh provides an imaginative retelling of the Hansel and Gretel fairytale with a futuristic twist. H4NS3L and GR3T3L are two quite dissimilar robots who awaken on a distant planet, only to find themselves with no immediate memory of their mission, their function, or their destination. More urgently, they have no contact with their mother ship. H4NS3L is the classic military drone, programmed to seek out a necessary enemy to destroy. GR3T3L has been surreptitiously developed to evolve, to become a free thinker and, by implication, to become the convenient enemy that H4NS3L must destroy. Stranded on an inhospitable planet, the two artificial beings must work together to survive – if they can find a common ground before H4NS3L completes his primary directive. When a witch-like alien – the Salem – intrusively appears, trouble is programmed into their differences right from the start.
The brevity of GR3T3L-1 – technically a short novella or a lengthy short story – while leaving the reader wanting more, does allow the author to accelerate his narrative to suit the urgency of his plot. One reads with great anticipation for the next event to follow. V.M. Sawh’s greatest accomplishment lies in his masterful juxtaposition of clichéd roles. Both robots acquire the reader’s compassion for their human-like confusion over an individually programmed fate and for their suggested evolution based on choices that they make, whereas the human actors seem preordained to submit blindly to unquestioned rules of their own. What survives and remains implanted within the satisfied reader is the noble human spirit at its best.