Category Archives: function/utility/skeumorphs

“The Drowned Giant,” J. G. Ballard, 1964

“The Drowned Giant,” J. G. Ballard, 1964 — A giant human(oid) male washes ashore.  The protagonist, a librarian, is assigned by his peers to investigate and make sense of what’s happened.  He notes that, after initial period of wonder and … Continue reading

Posted in 1960-1969, consumerism, fantasy/fable/fairy tale, function/utility/skeumorphs, knowledge/truth/epistemology, the body, time/history/causality, tourists | 5 Comments

“The Ship Who Sang,” Anne McCaffrey, 1961

“The Ship Who Sang,” Anne McCaffrey, 1961 – A woman with severe disabilities is offered the chance to become a “shell person”—a human brain encased in a machine–after which she will work off her debt as a ship with a … Continue reading

Posted in 1960-1969, class/labor/"work", cyborgs/posthumans, death/immortality, disability, emotions/intimacy/empathy, favorites, freaks/misfits, function/utility/skeumorphs, gender, identity/authenticity, love/family/children, senses/space, the body | 1 Comment

“Immortality…For Some,” J. T. McIntosh, 1960

“Immortality…For Some,” J. T. McIntosh, 1960 – An aging, disabled musician named Susan Sonnenburg gives one last performance before opting for her mind to be erased and her body to be Reborn.  Before the procedure, she asks that a kind … Continue reading

Posted in 1960-1969, artists/creativity, class/labor/"work", death/immortality, difference/tolerance, disability, emotions/intimacy/empathy, favorites, function/utility/skeumorphs, intelligence, music, suicide | Leave a comment

“Who Can Replace a Man?” Brian Aldiss, 1958

“Who Can Replace a Man?” Brian Aldiss, 1958 – Humanity has destroyed itself and machines form a social order based on a hierarchy of intelligence. Comments: Read in A Century of Science Fiction.  Editor Damon Knight comments that the story … Continue reading

Posted in 1946-1959, automata/robots, class/labor/"work", function/utility/skeumorphs, hubris/pride, intelligence, logic/reason, mechanization, museums/artifacts | Leave a comment

“Watershed,” James Blish, 1955

“Watershed,” James Blish, 1955 — In a future in which the basic human type can no longer inhabit Earth, an Adapted Man and the seal-man Hoqqueah argue over the idea of a “primary type” for human kind. Wikipedia summary: “[‘Watershed’] … Continue reading

Posted in 1946-1959, cyborgs/posthumans, difference/tolerance, evolution, exiles/"home"/displacement, function/utility/skeumorphs, memory, race/civil rights, the body | Leave a comment

“The Custodian,” William Tenn, 1953

“The Custodian,” William Tenn, 1953 – The sun will go nova in a year and earth’s populace has divided into Affirmers (of utility, continued life) and Custodians (of art and beauty).  The Affirmers win out politically and organize a mass … Continue reading

Posted in 1946-1959, aesthetics/beauty, function/utility/skeumorphs, love/family/children, museums/artifacts, suicide, time/history/causality | Leave a comment

“Specialist,” Robert Sheckley, 1953

“Specialist,” Robert Sheckley, 1953 – Aliens are specialized components of a ship (the Talker, the Eye, the Walls) in constant rapport through Cooperation.  When their Pusher (a squishy bi-ped) is killed in a photon storm, they go in search of … Continue reading

Posted in 1946-1959, class/labor/"work", communication, function/utility/skeumorphs, the body | Leave a comment

“The Snowball Effect,” Katherin MacLean, 1952

“The Snowball Effect,” Katherin MacLean, 1952 – A university president under pressure from budget cuts demands that a sociologist prove his work has value.  The sociologist proposes applying a growth model (using the symbols of human interaction) on a sewing … Continue reading

Posted in 1946-1959, economics, education, function/utility/skeumorphs, politics/politicians/elections | Leave a comment

“Quixote and the Windmill,” Poul Anderson, 1950

“Quixote and the Windmill,” Poul Anderson, 1950 – The first robot designed to have no purpose wanders the earth, uncertain of what to do with its freedom.  It discovers two disgruntled humans with the same problem, presumably because robots have … Continue reading

Posted in 1946-1959, agency/will/freedom, automata/robots, class/labor/"work", function/utility/skeumorphs, humor, mechanization, progress/obsolescence | Leave a comment

“The Enchanted Village,” A. E. van Vogt, 1950

“The Enchanted Village,” A. E. van Vogt, 1950 – (Alternate title: “The Sands of Mars”)  The lone survivor of a ship crashed on Mars encounters a living city that tries to please him but is unsuited to his needs.  The … Continue reading

Posted in 1946-1959, cities/architecture/habitats, function/utility/skeumorphs, suicide, the body | 3 Comments

“Eternity Lost,” Clifford D. Simak, 1949

“Eternity Lost,” Clifford D. Simak, 1949 – The senator who wrote the ethical code governing the distribution of life extensions learns that his party has denied his next life extension, only one hundred years before the time when all humanity … Continue reading

Posted in 1946-1959, death/immortality, function/utility/skeumorphs, hubris/pride, physicians/medicine, politics/politicians/elections, scientific ethics | Leave a comment

“With Folded Hands,” Jack Williamson, 1947

“With Folded Hands,” Jack Williamson, 1947 – In a world where robots are devoted to their Prime Directive (the happiness and safety of their human charges), one man finds that he has nothing to do—and no escape. Comments: Williamson’s influence … Continue reading

Posted in 1946-1959, atomic bomb/Hiroshima, automata/robots, function/utility/skeumorphs, mechanization | Leave a comment

“A Logic Named Joe,” Murray Leinster, 1946

“A Logic Named Joe,” Murray Leinster, 1946 – Logics are androids with screens that can access the “tank,” an enormous warehouse with every fact known to man.  As advertised, simply use the keys to type in your request or question, … Continue reading

Posted in 1946-1959, function/utility/skeumorphs, knowledge/truth/epistemology, logic/reason, media/advertising, television, the Internet | Leave a comment

“City,” Clifford D. Simak, 1944

“City,” Clifford D. Simak, 1944 – New forms of transportation lead to urban flight, literally.  The only way to save “the city” for Grandpa is to turn it into a memorial/museum/park for the people of the future. Comments: A discussion … Continue reading

Posted in 1940-1945, cities/architecture/habitats, function/utility/skeumorphs, globalization/world government, museums/artifacts, progress/obsolescence | Leave a comment

“Correspondence Course,” Raymond F. Jones, 1945

“Correspondence Course,” Raymond F. Jones, 1945 – A war veteran is offered an opportunity to make himself useful by learning how to operate a mysterious “power co-ordinator” through correspondence courses. Comments: An intriguing story concerning a veteran’s re-acclimation to society, … Continue reading

Posted in 1940-1945, distance, education, function/utility/skeumorphs, gender, war/soldiers | Leave a comment

“Q. U. R.”, Anthony Boucher, 1943

“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 … Continue reading

Posted in 1940-1945, automata/robots, function/utility/skeumorphs, race/civil rights, the body | Leave a comment

“The Roads Must Roll,” Robert A. Heinlein, 1940

“The Roads Must Roll,” Robert Heinlein, 1940 – Moving walkways have taken the place of roads and the man in charge must keep them rolling. Comments: A story of class, labor, technology’s influence on society, cars, pedestrians, natural resources, a … Continue reading

Posted in 1940-1945, capitalism/Marxism, cars/pedestrians, cities/architecture/habitats, class/labor/"work", ecology/the environment, function/utility/skeumorphs, mechanization, speed/slowness | Leave a comment