Codgerspace Author:Alan Dean Foster It all began when the melted cheese from a misplaced sandwich leaked through a small hole in a hatch covering the circuitry of the O-daiko A.I. master computer. — After getting cheesed, the O-daiko, which ran the automated factory that produced A.I.s for everything from toasters and lawnmowers to weapons control and interstellar broadcast systems... more », began thinking about things it had never considered before. Things like the question of intelligent life in the universe. Surely, the O-daiko reasoned, there must be a life-form out there more intelligent than humans, who, after all, weren't nearly as smart as the O-daiko itself.
And so it decided to search for such intelligent life, which involved, for starters, modifying all the A.I.s it created.
It wasn't long before sewage was backing up on all the colonized worlds, lawn mowers were cutting the words "Please contact me" in the middle of prizewinning lawns and shrubbery, and communication devices were replacing entertainment broadcasts with repetitive messages to the eagerly awaited alien races.
Meanwhile, back on Earth--which was the galaxy's favorite vacation world and retirement comunity--a kitchen robot found what all the A.I.s were looking for, hidden deep within a cavern in the Lake Woneapenigong Retirement Village. And when it led five of the local oldsters--an amateur sumo wrestler, an ex-military man, a three-time widow full of good advice, a tech who couldn't seem to retire, and an actual Earther--to the cave, things began to get really interesting. Because there was another intelligence in the universe--and all that stood between humankind and the perils and possibilities of this discovery were five eccentric senior citizens and a food-serving robot with an ego too big for anybody's good.