Monday, September 6, 2010

oddities and magik monday :: rossum's universal robots

Rossum's Universal Robots

A science fiction play in the Czech language by Karel Capek.  It premiered in 1921 and is noted for introducing the term robot.
The play begins in a factory that makes artificial people called robots. Unlike the modern usage of the term, these creatures are closer to the modern idea of androids or even clones, as they can be mistaken for humans and can think for themselves.  They seem happy to work for humans, although that changes and a hostile robot rebellion leads to the extinction of the human race.
There are descriptions of kneading troughs for robot skin, great vats for liver and brains, and a factory for producing bones.  Nerve fibers, arteries, and intestines are spun on factory bobbins, while the Robots themselves are assembled like automobiles.  Capek's robots are biological machines, but they are still assembled, as opposed to grown or born.