Our POV Protagonist is Joe, a computer subprogram to the larger Multivac mainframe. It is being taught by Milton Davidson, who one day decides to look for true love, and he enlists Joe's help. They eliminate people on physical and emotional characteristics to find Milton's ideal woman, then try a few dates, none of which go well. They think about this, and realize that they only did half of the problem; they need to find someone who sees Milton as their ideal guy. After weeks of intense psychological study, Joe has found Milton's true love, and she'll be arriving February 14, Valentine's Day.
This story has been republished multiple times; Isaac Asimovs Science Fiction Magazine (January-February 1978 issue), Microcosmic Tales (1980), Three Science Fiction Tales (1981), The Complete Robot (1982), The Robot Collection (1983), Robot Dreams (1986), and The Asimov Chronicles Fifty Years Of Isaac Asimov (1989).
Examples of tropes appearing in this work:
- Big Brother Is Watching: Milton tells Joe to send the 235 potential matches to get psychological evaluations, and it gets enough information from their sessions that it is able to analyze Milton the same way.
- Decoy Protagonist: Milton is searching for love, up until Joe gets him arrested for a crime a decade old, so that he won't come between Joe and Charity.
- Did Not Get the Girl: The surprising Plot Twist at the end has Milton end up going to jail while Joe gets the girl.
- Featureless Plane of Disembodied Dialogue: (Justified Trope) The story is told from Joe's perspective, a computer program that has limited sensory input. Joe doesn't describe anyone's appearance, considering them pointless in comparison to personality and temperament.
- First-Person Perspective: Joe, a computer program, is the one telling the story. Joe's limited senses justify the use of Featureless Plane of Disembodied Dialogue, since Joe cares more about a meeting of the minds than appearances or smells.
- Grand Romantic Gesture: Joe has prepared Chastity's transfer to their department, and she'll be arriving February 14, Valentine's Day. That's when Joe plans to announce that she is its One True Love.
- Grew Beyond Their Programming: Milton has spent a lot of work programming Joe, and inadvertently also taught it what it means to fall in love.
- Ludicrous Precision: Joe narrates that there's exactly 3,784,982,874 men and 3,786,112,090 women in the world. Once Milton's initial parameters are fulfilled, there are still 235 women who fit the criteria.
- Master Computer: As a program within the Multivac system, Joe has the ability to manipulate records, read the personal files of anyone on the planet, and arrange for required psychological appointments for hundred of people to gain even more information.
- Murder the Hypotenuse: (Downplayed Trope) Charity will be arriving soon, and both Milton and Joe believe she will be their One True Love. Only Joe realizes the competition, and arranges for Milton to be arrested based on a crime committed years ago.
- Omniscient Database: Because Joe is part of the world-spanning Multivac-complex, it can access the records of all 3,784,982,874 men and 3,786,112,090 women in the world.
- One True Love: Milton is disappointed in the first date that he and Joe arrange, and they realize that they can't be Milton's ideal woman unless he's their ideal man. So the two of them adjust their search to figure out who would see him as their ideal man. Only one woman out of the 3,786,112,090 in the world match their criteria.
- Robosexual: Joe, a computer program written by Milton, has decided to start a romantic relationship with Charity Jones, because he has taught it how to love.
- Robo Speak: Milton is a programmer, and Joe is his experimental program. As the story progresses, Joe's dialogue gets longer, but it always retains a certain amount of fictional computer jargon, especially in the narration.
- Supporting Protagonist: Joe is present to narrate events for the audience and process the algorithms that Milton designs, so that Milton can find his One True Love.
- Title Drop: The term true love is mentioned several times, and Milton inadvertently teaches Joe what he means by love. The final line is directed at Charity Jones, the woman who fits the algorithms that Joe and Milton have spent many weeks creating. "[Y]ou are my true love."
- What Is This Thing You Call "Love"?: Joe, a computer program, is being tasked by its programmer, Milton, to find him a woman who will be his true love. When Joe asks for clarification, Milton says the explanation isn't important. The rest of the story then breaks the concept into components that Joe can understand, allowing it to fall in love with the same woman.