First published in Super Science Stories (August 1942 issue), by Isaac Asimov, this Science Fiction Short Story is a Sequel to "Not Final", about a trio of robots who represent humanity in a First Contact situation with aliens on Jupiter.
ZZ Three, ZZ Two, and ZZ One are robotic pioneers, custom-built to survive the dangers of space and Jupiter. They represent humanity in the first face-to-face meeting with alien life. While meeting with the Jovians, it becomes apparent that the aliens wish to intimidate these representatives of Earth.
First, the Jovians fire a heat gun at the ZZ robots when they leave their spaceship, although the ZZ robots are hardy enough to resist. Trying to save face, the Jovians offer to show the robots from Ganymede (the Jovians insist there is no Earth) around the town they landed near. ZZ One checks out a local lake, accidentally killing an enormous sea creature that represented a danger to the Jovians.
Finally arriving in the town, this "small" settlement is home to ten million Jovians, stretches fifty miles across, and at least eight miles underneath the crust. Impressed with this constructions, the ZZ robots worry about the bad news they'll be sharing with their human masters. They're offered the opportunity to eat and sleep, but the robots decline, since they don't need either.
When the Jovians are finished resting, the robots are queried on how they can see and what they're made of. The Jovians then show the ZZ robots factories and manufacturing plants, even scientific centers where force fields are developed. Along the way, the robots discover that they're a danger to Jupiter's microscopic life. As the ZZ robots are preparing to leave, the Jovian representative begs them to relay their declaration of peace to the humans of Ganymede. On the way back, the robots ponder the Jovian's change of heart.
This story has been reprinted several times; Invasion From Mars Interplanetary Stories (1949), Scienza Fantastica (#6 issue, February 1953), Looking Forward (1953), Sprong In Ruimte En Tijd (1957), The Rest of the Robots (1964), Out of This World 8 (1970), The Days After Tomorrow (1971), Jupiter (1973), Classic Science Fiction The First Golden Age (1978), and The Complete Robot (1982).
Examples of tropes within this work:
- Absent Aliens: The ZZ robots explore the surface of Jupiter and contact the Jovians living there. The aliens are so impressed by the robots, they promise to leave outer space to the obviously superior species, which makes this an Enforced Trope example.
- Bizarre Alien Senses: The Jovians have a mass-sensitive organ, and their scientists want to know how the ZZ from Ganymede are able to sense distant objects without it.
- Captain Obvious: The robots are very young, and their naivete makes it difficult to read the intentions of the Jovians, so they take turns reaching minor epiphanies and explaining the obvious conclusion to the other two. The last epiphany they have is that nobody remembered to explain to the Jovians that the ZZ were robots, not humans.
- Deflector Shields: The ZZ robots have been sent to meet the Jovians for a face-to-face meeting. Their objective? To discover if the Jovians have developed force field technology. Once the Jovians demonstrate the technology, the robots somberly return to their ship to report the bad news to their human masters.
- Eskimos Aren't Real: The Jovians insist that there aren't any inner planets (like Earth), so Jupiter and its moons are the closest thing to the sun. This is part of how Isaac Asimov shows their mental inflexibility.
- First Contact: The humans on Ganymede and the alien Jovians have been communicating via radio-waves. Remote contact had been going well, until the Jovians realized that the people they were talking to weren't Jovian. Angry at the unintentional deception, the Jovians declared war against the beings of Ganymede. The humans designed the ZZ robots (our Protagonists) to land on Jupiter to talk with the aliens directly, and establish if they're able to create spaceships.
- Humanity Is Superior: The ZZ robots accidentally convince the Jovian aliens that humanity is physically superior in every respect, because nobody remembered to tell them that the ZZ robots aren't human. The Jovians presumably assume that all humans are as strong and tough as the ZZ robots are.
- In-Series Nickname: United States Robots and Mechanical Men Corporation usually nicknames each series, and one technician suggested the ZZ series be known by the Ironic "Sissy", but ultimately an Averted Trope (because said technician was immediately shushed and the subject never mentioned again).
- Made of Indestructium: The ZZ robot series is made of mostly iridium, beryllium, tin, and copper. The exotic alloy means these robots can regulate their own temperature, survive vacuum and Jupiter's pressure, and tolerate extreme temperatures.
- Poisonous Person: The ZZ robots closely examine a few specimens of Jovian microorganisms, which quickly perish. They realize that the creatures succumbed to the gamma radiation the robots use for close-range vision. After they mention this, they note that the Jovians keep a considerably greater distance from them.
- Ray Gun: The Jovians greet the ZZ robots by opening fire with some sort of heat ray, raising the ambient temperature of their target ninety degrees centigrade (roughly 150 degrees Fahrenheit). The ZZ robots were built to be nearly indestructible, so they don't notice the effect immediately.
- Starfish Aliens: The Jovians have tentacles and radial symmetry, and... that's the best description the ZZ robots can give. Even their method of locomotion seems to be somewhat eldritch.
- Strolling on Jupiter: It turns out that while there is an inhabited surface the atmospheric pressure is a million atm with temperatures of -70 C. Fortunately the ZZ robots are ridiculously overengineered.
- Three Laws-Compliant: The ZZ robots have been sent to Jupiter for First Contact meeting with the Jovian aliens. As an early example of Asimov's robots, instead of using his formal laws, a devotion to their human masters akin to worship motivates them.
- You Didn't Ask: At the end of the story, one of the ZZ robots realizes that they never explained that they are robots, not humans. The subject never came up, and the Jovians never thought to ask.