Stars End S3E14

“There are Rs that Can Do Your Podcast and Mine.”

Just over a century ago, the word “robot,” derived from the Czech word “robota” which means “forced labor,” was introduced to the English language in the play R. U. R. by Karel Čapek. In it, a scientist has created artificial humans, called “roboti” or “robots.” Robots replace workers in factories, then become the basis of the economy. Eventually, the robots revolt, supplant humanity and ultimately cause humankind’s extinction.

In an interesting coincidence, R. U. R. debuted on 2 January 1921, The Great and Glorious Az’s first birthday! Who would have suspected that Ol’ Isaac and the word “robot” would be astrologically equivalent?

In this episode, we start discussing Asimov’s The Caves of Steel where the theme of robots replacing humans looms large. There’s already a palpable sense of economic anxiety within the New York Police Department as lower-level employees have already been replaced. Now Detective Elijah Baley is assigned a robot partner named R. Daneel Olivaw who is all but indistinguishable from a human being. It’s essential that Baley not only solve a murder but solve it in a way that doesn’t lead to many more humans being supplanted by robots.

If you’re reading along, we talk about Chapters 1 through 7 which coincide with the first installment of the novel as it was published in Galaxy Science Fiction.

This is Asimov at the height of his abilities and it’s going to be a blast! Let’s go!

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