“Q.U.R.,” Anthony Boucher, 1943 – A robot designer struggles to understand why the current generation of robots is so inefficient. Eventually, he realizes that the human form is a skeuomorph.
Comments: Read in Adventures in Time and Space. (Golden Age of Detection Wiki): “Boucher’s sf story, ‘Q.U.R.’ (1943), was the one of first to describe African-Americans gaining political prominence in the future: one of them is President of the United States in that tale. Both that story’s sequel, ‘Robinc’, and Solid Key, give early, sympathetic portraits of gay people. All of these depictions of minorities are astonishingly liberal for their time, and probably form the high water mark of integrationist treatments of minorities in genre fiction before the Civil Rights movement of the 1950’s. A later sf tale, ‘The Ambassadors’ (1951), treats civil rights issues in an allegorical fashion, with great wit and humor.”
Author: Wikipedia: “Anthony Boucher (born William Anthony Parker White; August 21, 1911 – April 29, 1968) was an American science fiction editor and author of mystery novels and short stories. He was particularly influential as an editor…[He] was admired for his mystery writing but was most noted for his editing, his science fiction anthologies, and his mystery reviews for many years in The New York Times. He was the first English translator of Jorge Luis Borges, translating “El jardín de senderos que se bifurcan” for Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine. He helped found the Mystery Writers of America in 1946 and, in the same year, was one of the first winners of the MWA’s Edgar Award for his mystery reviews in the San Francisco Chronicle. He was founding editor (with J. Francis McComas) of The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction from 1949 to 1958, and was seminal in attempting to make literary quality an important aspect of science fiction. He won the Hugo Award for Best Professional Magazine in 1957 and 1958. Boucher also edited the long-running Best from Fantasy and Science Fiction anthology series, 1952-1959…He was the friend and mentor of…Philip K. Dick and others.”