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Literature / Histoires de Robots

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This Science Fiction Genre Anthology was first published in 1974 by Jacques Goimard, Demetre Ioakimidis, and Gerard Klein.

Works published in this Anthology:

This Anthology provides examples of:

  • A.I. Is a Crapshoot:
    • Alfred Bester's "Fondly Fahrenheit": The android is usually obedient to the human owner, but it will occasionally turn murderous and thus force the two to flee again. The attacks turn out to occur only on days above 90 degrees Fahrenheit because of a disorder in the android's glands. As for the murderous streak, it may just be killing those who Vandeleur wants it to kill.
    • Robert Sheckley's "The Minimum Man": Anton Perceveral is a lone colonist serving as a guinea pig on a new planet. At first he was hapless and inexperienced, so the robot was helpful. But with the passage of time Anton was becoming better at his job, and the robot becomes progressively more dangerous. Subverted when the colonist discovers that the robot has been deliberately programmed to encumber him, in order to simulate equipment breaks in the future colony. At the end, it becomes a Killer Robot.
  • Back from the Dead: James Blish's "A Work Of Art": Features something called "mind-sculpting", where people long-dead can be brought back to life. Two sculptors recreate Richard Strauss (composer of Also sprach Zarathustra), in the hope that he might be able to create new masterpieces.
  • Bold Explorer: Robert Sheckley's "The Minimum Man": The Planetary Expedition and Settlement Board has tried using the classic bold explorer type to discover new worlds, but these bold types aren't timid enough to survive, and tend to overlook obvious dangers that make newly discovered worlds unsuitable for colonization, so now they're going the opposite way, and choose the accident-prone hapless nebbish Anton Perceveral to be the first of a new breed of explorers.
  • Conservation of Competence: Robert Sheckley's "The Minimum Man": Anton Perceveral is clumsy, accident-prone, and generally incompetent, but he's sent to open up a planet for colonization. He is assisted by a robot which does all of the heavy work excellently. During the story, the man (who is away from the public disapproval of the rest of society for the very first time) slowly becomes less clumsy, less accident-prone, and more competent. But he noticed that as he got better, the robot got more clumsy and accident-prone. When he asked about this, his boss cheerfully admitted that this was deliberate on their part, because they could not count on the standard colonist to get better, and they literally and specifically wanted to preserve a level of incompetence across the entire team.
  • "Groundhog Day" Loop: Frederik Pohl's "The Tunnel Under The World": Guy Burckhardt lives in a town where June 15th is repeated every day, but the inhabitants don't realize. It is later revealed that everyone in the town is a miniature robot who was imprinted with the mind-pattern of a citizen from the real town, which was destroyed on June 14th. An advertising executive now uses them to test various marketing techniques.
  • Interrupted Suicide: Robert Sheckley's "The Minimum Man": This story starts with Anton's suicide preparations being interrupted by an acceptance letter from a prospective employer. Turns out, it's their way of hiring people for a high-risk job — watching the candidates and making an offer at just the right moment. Later Anton is frequently reminded that he chose the job of an explorer/guinea pig/canary over suicide. The survivors are well-rewarded, though.
  • Mechanical Horse: Anthony Boucher's "The Quest For Saint Aquin": The priest protagonist uses an artificially intelligent "robass" (robot donkey), whose atheism was an important plot element.
  • One-Word Title:
  • Pygmalion Plot: Lester del Rey's "Helen O'Loy": An endocrinologist and a roboticist have a bet as to whether a robot could be made to act like a real woman. The endocrinologist insists no robot could duplicate the complex biological system that created emotions, the roboticist insists it could. The roboticist wins when the endocrinologist not only has to admit that Helen has human-like emotions, but eventually marries her. (The roboticist, who narrates the story, eventually admits to the audience that he fell in love with her as well.)
  • Religious Robot: Anthony Boucher's "The Quest For Saint Aquin": A 1951 novelette set in a post-nuclear world where Christians are persecuted. A priest sets forth on an artificially created and intelligent "robass" (which happens to be an atheist) searching for the legendary Saint Aquin, who turns out to be an android who is a perfect theologian, able to convert unbelievers with his flawless proofs for the Faith.
  • Ridiculously Human Robots: Lester del Rey's "Helen O'Loy": The whole point is an attempt to make a robot indistinguishable from a human woman. It succeeds.
  • Robotic Spouse: Lester del Rey's "Helen O'Loy": A medical student (Phil) and a mechanic (Dave) modify a household robot to have emotions. While Phil is away, Dave activates Helen, who learns about love (from watching soap operas!). When Phil comes back home, Dave has already fled from her affections, but changes his mind and marries her. On his death, Helen requests that Phil shut her down and bury her with Dave.
  • Tomato in the Mirror: Frederick Pohl's "The Tunnel Under The World": Guy Burckhart is convinced that some sinister conspiracy is keeping the citizens of his town stuck in a "Groundhog Day" Loop by erasing their memories every night. He eventually learns he and everyone else in the town were killed in an explosion, and their consciousnesses have been installed into tiny androids in a scale model town where they repeat their final day over and over while researchers use them to test the effectiveness of Advertising jingles and political slogans.
  • Which Me?: Alfred Bester's "Fondly Fahrenheit": A man and his android duplicate are unable to tell each other apart, nor can they determine which of them is a murderer.