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First published in The Saturday Evening Post (September/October 1973 issue), by Isaac Asimov, a rare on-screen murder story.

Avis Lardner, whose husband died in a tragic space accident, is a Socialite who throws lavish parties at her home, displaying jeweled treasures from around the world. One of her eccentricities is noted to be her fondness for her robotic servants, the way she refuses to have them repaired (to preserve their individual quirks). Her status as a Nice Girl is explicitly called out by the narrative, making her the most unlikely person to commit murder.

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John Semper Travis, the chief engineer of U.S. Robots and Mechanical Men, is also a fan of light-sculptures. He spends his personal time investigating the process, and even published a book on the subject. He believes that the principles of light-sculptures could be reduced to mathematical equations, but hasn't been able to. He is aware of Mrs Lardner's parties, and that she shows off a new artwork every time, so he was quite excited to meet such a master of art whom he could discuss his theories with. His status as a Nice Guy is explicitly called out by the narrative, making him the most unlikely person to be murdered.

"Light Verse" has been republished several times:Alfred Hitchcock Presents Stories To Be Read With The Door Locked (1975), Buy Jupiter And Other Stories (1975), Opus 200 (1979), Sirius (issue #38, August 1979), Weird Worlds (issue #5, 1980), The Complete Robot (1982), The Asimov Chronicles: Fifty Years of Isaac Asimov (1989), Robot Dreams Collection (1990), and The Complete Stories, Volume 2 (1992).

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"Light Verse" contains examples of:

  • 20 Minutes into the Future: This story has a number of technological advances that haven't been created yet, but a culture reminiscent of the modern day 1970s. It includes humanoid Robots and Space Stations, as well as light-sculptures; art in the form of "solid" light.
  • Androids Are People, Too: Lardner steadfastly refuses to have her robots repaired/replaced, insisting that they are people and should be treated with the same respect/dignity as anyone else would be.
    "Nothing that is as intelligent as a robot can ever be but a machine. I treat them as people."
  • Bling-Bling-BANG!: Because Lardner was showing off a jeweled dagger from Cambodia when she heard the news, she used it to kill the man who removed the flaw in her robot that allowed him to create the beautiful light-sculptures that people came to see.
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  • Conspicuous Consumption: Mrs Lardner, a wealthy Socialite, often throws parties at her home, displaying jeweled objects from distant corners of the world and the distant past. Her collection includes glasses, daggers, and watches.
    Her house was a showplace, a veritable museum, containing a small but extremely select collection of extraordinarily beautiful jeweled objects. From a dozen different cultures she had obtained relics of almost every conceivable artifact that could be embedded with jewels and made to serve the aristocracy of that culture. She had one of the first jeweled wristwatches manufactured in America, a jeweled dagger from Cambodia, a jeweled pair of spectacles from Italy, and so on almost endlessly.
  • Casual Interplanetary Travel: The setting's space travel is Implied to be advanced enough for travel between planets because Mr Lardner's Heroic Sacrifice involved staying outside a civilian shuttle during a solar flare to give it enough time to dock at Space Station 5.
  • Driven to Suicide: Some of the witnesses to Mr Travis's murder claim that he moved towards the weapon, as if he wanted to die after having learned that he had destroyed his chance at learning from his idol.
  • Fictional Painting: Light-sculptures, a form of Hologram art, are generated by light-consoles. Despite being a popular medium of artistic expression, Mrs Lardner is widely celebrated as one of the best artists and her art is the biggest draw to her parties.
  • Good Old Robot: A wealthy Socialite and light-sculpture artist refuses to allow anyone to repair her robots, despite such repairs being free. In her view, robots are people, and "fixing" them would remove the qualities that make them unique.
    "Once a robot is in my house," she said, "and has performed his duties, any minor eccentricities must be borne with. I will not have him manhandled."
  • Heroic Sacrifice: Mrs Lardner's husband died in the Back Story, while rescuing a commercial spaceship from a solar flare.
    William J. Lardner, died, as we all know, of the effects of radiation from a solar flare, after he had deliberately remained in space so that a passenger vessel might make it safely to Space Station 5.
  • In-Series Nickname: Avis Lardner always gives her robots names, such as Courtney and Max.
  • Manslaughter Provocation: Lardner, a wealthy socialite who frequently shows off her light-sculptures, also has a household full of robots that she refuses to repair/replace. When Travis, Chief Engineer from US Robotics, is invited to one of her parties, they repair Max without her permission. Upon telling Lardner this, she explodes in anger, telling them that Max's "damage" allowed him to create the widely-acclaimed artworks and now they can never get that talent back. It's noted that Travis may have leapt into the weapon, as they are just as devastated at hearing about the loss to art as Lardner is.
  • No Medication for Me: Avis Lardner owns a number of robot servants, which she refuses to repair/replace, claiming "any minor eccentricities must be borne with". One of her robots, Max, is so damaged that he can barely perform daily expected tasks. When one of the engineers of US Robotics repairs the damage, Lardner reveals that he had been the genius who made her light-sculptures, and now he won't be able to create them anymore.
  • Miraculous Malfunction: One of Mrs Lardner's robots is so old that it can barely function. She insists that he's able to do simple tasks well enough, hiding the fact that whatever malfunction that has made him terrible at most household tasks has also made him the greatest light-sculptor on Earth. This hidden talent is only revealed after a US Robotics man repairs him.
  • The Mourning After: The story implies Mrs Lardner's first husband died at least a decade ago, but she never remarried. Instead, she would throw lavish parties, showing off her collection of jeweled objects and light-sculptures for free.
  • No Medication for Me: Avis Lardner owns a number of robot servants, which she refuses to repair/replace, claiming that "any minor eccentricities must be borne with". One of her robots, Max, is so damaged that he can barely perform daily expected tasks. When one of the engineers of US Robotics repairs the damage, Lardner reveals that he had been the genius who made her light-sculptures, and now he won't be able to create them anymore.
  • Nice Guy:
    • The narrative emphasizes that John Semper Travis is the last person anyone would expect to be murdered because he was quiet and introverted, successful and with an artistic hobby; light-sculptures.
    • The narrative emphasizes that Avis Lardner is the last person anyone would expect to commit murder because, in addition to being an Idle Rich, she is also "the gentlest and kindest human being one could imagine".
  • Pun-Based Title: Lardner's light-sculptures are called "poetry in light", which she denies, calling them merely a "light verse". The pun is based on the idea that a short, simple poem is often called by the same name and her sculptures are made from projecting light.
  • Title Drop: Lardner uses the title as a pun as for the light-sculptures that she displays at her parties. Humbly, she denies that her artworks are "poetry in light", instead they are merely a "light verse".

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