Literature / Adam Link

The main character of a series of Golden Age science fiction short stories by Earl and Otto Binder under the pen name Eando Binder (E and O Binder). Otto is the better known of the two, as he later became a popular writer for the Superman and Captain Marvel comic books.

Adam is a robot built and raised by a kindly inventor, Dr. Link. The inventor unfortunately dies in an accident, and Adam is blamed for his death. He is put on trial — itself a dicey proposition, since he isn't human — and is nearly condemned, but he manages to vindicate himself in his accusers' eyes by risking his life to save a little girl from an onrushing car. He then spends the subsequent stories having adventures of various sorts, eventually gaining a robot girlfriend (named Eve, of course), all while trying with limited success to gain the trust of the humans around him.

Adam comes across as a very sympathetic character, the story being essentially an analysis of what the Frankenstein monster might have become if his creator had acted as a loving and responsible father instead of a jerk. The original "trial" story arc was adapted for the small screen by both The Outer Limits (1963), and its 1990's revival, and also by the 1950's EC science fiction comics. The character was also very clearly the inspiration for Jack Kirby's Marvel Comics character Machine Man (a.k.a. Aaron Stack or X-51).

The early stories involving the trial are very straightforward, with Adam himself being the only science fictional element present. In later stories, the plots get either progressively more silly or progressively more awesome, depending on your point of view, as more "adventure story" elements are added, with gangsters and enemy soldiers and finally culminating with Adam and Eve fighting an invasion of bison-headed space monsters all by themselves.

The series of short stories was eventually anthologized as the novel Adam Link, Robot. A very influential work, it's unfortunate that it's so obscure these days. The sheer goofiness of the later stories can hinder appreciation of the brilliant early ones.

Notably, the very first Adam Link story was originally titled I, Robot, well before Isaac Asimov used the title. It fits better here, too, since unlike Asimov's robots, Adam is the narrator of his own story.

Adam Link provides examples of:

  • A.I. Is a Crapshoot: Averted. Granted that Adam might have gone bad if Dr. Link hadn't been such a good father, but fortunately he was, and Adam matured to be a really nice guy.
  • Blank Slate: Adam Link, Robot is essentially an answer to the question: "What if Victor Frankenstein had been a responsible father to his monster?" Adam is a metal robot, and his builder does his best to raise him wisely and with kindness. Unfortunately, the builder dies, and Adam is falsely accused of killing him; but by then, thanks to his dad, Adam has already developed a personality as an intelligent, honest, and honorable guy — he just has to prove it to the rest of the world.
  • Brain Uploading: Eve's AI is created by doing a Max Headroom-style brain scan of a human woman volunteer (who is completely unharmed, btw).
  • Cool vs. Awesome: Robots versus gangsters! Robots versus aliens!