Category Archives: mechanization

“Itself!”, A. E. van Vogt, 1963

“Itself!”, A. E. van Vogt, 1963 – An AI submarine left-over from a past war patrols the waters, paranoid and territorial.  By luck, it destroys the crew of an alien invasion craft.  Those in charge realize the value of the … Continue reading

Posted in 1960-1969, automata/robots, intelligence, invasion, mechanization, paranoia/schitzophrenia, violence, war/soldiers | Leave a comment

“Goodlife,” Fred Saberhagen, 1963

“Goodlife,” Fred Saberhagen, 1963 – Suspense story in which a man and woman are captured by a Berserker, a machine designed by ancients to kill all life it encounters.  Inside, they find Goodlife, a boy raised by the machine.  He … Continue reading

Posted in 1960-1969, emotions/intimacy/empathy, identity/authenticity, love/family/children, mechanization, media/advertising, memory, photo/film/image | 1 Comment

“The Handler,” Damon Knight, 1960

“The Handler,” Damon Knight, 1960 —  Pete is the dashing man of the hour–a television star able to charm a room merely by walking through the door.  True to form, after a show he arrives at a post-party, amiable and … Continue reading

Posted in 1960-1969, aesthetics/beauty, american culture, difference/tolerance, favorites, freaks/misfits, identity/authenticity, male anxiety, masculinity, mechanization, media/advertising, satire, the body, the Other, theatre/performance | 1 Comment

“Mariana,” Fritz Leiber, 1960

“Mariana,” Fritz Leiber, 1960 — Mariana lives in a beautiful villa surrounded by tall pine trees, but she’s troubled by something, perhaps a sense of monotony.  Her husband assures her that her life is perfect, and he urges her to … Continue reading

Posted in 1960-1969, favorites, gender, horror, love/family/children, mechanization, psych/mind/madness, 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

“The Die-Hard,” Alfred Bester, 1958

“The Die-Hard,” Alfred Bester, 1958 – (short short) The last “man” on earth is visited in his rest home by the new, “adjusted” cybernetic human male.  Most of the standardized males are named Tom, although they employ subtle distinctions in … Continue reading

Posted in 1946-1959, culture clash, cyborgs/posthumans, difference/tolerance, favorites, freaks/misfits, gender, generational conflict, identity/authenticity, invasion, masculinity, mechanization, memory, museums/artifacts, natural/artificial, physicians/medicine, progress/obsolescence, the body, the Other, time/history/causality, violence | Leave a comment

“The New Father Christmas,” Brian Aldiss, 1958

“The New Father Christmas,” Brian Aldiss, 1958 – A terrifying Father Christmas android is expected at a factory inhabited by a weary caretaker, his wife, and hobos. Comments: Read in Metal Smile. Author: Wikipedia: “Brian Wilson Aldiss, OBE (born 18 … Continue reading

Posted in 1946-1959, automata/robots, love/family/children, mechanization, violence | Leave a comment

“Disappearing Act,” Alfred Bester, 1953

“Disappearing Act,” Alfred Bester, 1953 – America is caught up in the rhetoric of General Carpenter, who appears to be waging a war to save Culture:  “We must dig in against the hordes of barbarism,” he intones to potential donors.  … Continue reading

Posted in 1946-1959, american culture, artists/creativity, bureaucracy/corporations, dreams/hypnosis, favorites, mechanization, nationalism, politics/politicians/elections, reality/VR/surreal, satire, scientific ethics, spectatorship/voyeurism, the scientist, time/history/causality, war/soldiers | Leave a comment

“Warm,” Robert Sheckley, 1953

“Warm,” Robert Sheckley, 1953 – Anders is about to meet his fiancé, Judy, whom he describes as a “reactive machine,” when he hears a disembodied voice calling for help. Comments: Read in Great Tales of SF.  A story of “performing” … Continue reading

Posted in 1946-1959, automata/robots, emotions/intimacy/empathy, gender, identity/authenticity, interior/exterior, love/family/children, male anxiety, masculinity, mechanization, natural/artificial, psych/mind/madness, reality/VR/surreal, simulacra, the body, the gaze, the Other, theatre/performance | Leave a comment

“Sam Hall,” Poul Anderson, 1953

“Sam Hall,” Poul Anderson, 1953 — Man against mechanized society.  A take on the folk song.  Wikipedia: “…[F]eatures a disgruntled bureaucrat who creates fake records about a rebel named Sam Hall (after the song) who fights against the totalitarian government.” … Continue reading

Posted in 1946-1959, agency/will/freedom, bureaucracy/corporations, love/family/children, mechanization, music, totalitarianism/fascism | 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 Veldt,” Ray Bradbury, 1950

“The Veldt,” Ray Bradbury, 1950 – (Alternate title: “The World the Children Made”) Two children use a virtual reality nursery in their HappyLife Home, to which they are telepathically connected, to deal with their inconvenient parents. The family has just … Continue reading

Posted in 1946-1959, distance, emotions/intimacy/empathy, favorites, identity/authenticity, love/family/children, mechanization, psych/mind/madness, reality/VR/surreal, simulacra, violence | 1 Comment

“Scanners Live in Vain,” Cordwainer Smith, 1948

“Scanners Live in Vain,” Cordwainer Smith (Paul Linebarger), 1948 – The story of a cyborg-pilot Scanner, Martel, whose senses have been reduced to sight to better suit him for space travel, i.e. to avoid the “pain of space.”  He uses … Continue reading

Posted in 1946-1959, automata/robots, communication, disability, emotions/intimacy/empathy, exiles/"home"/displacement, favorites, gender, love/family/children, masculinity, mechanization, progress/obsolescence, religion/soul/spirituality, senses/space, sex/reproduction/sterility, the body, war/soldiers | 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

“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

“Past, Present, and Future,” Nat Schachner, 1937

“Past, Present, and Future,” Nat Schachner, 1937 – Kleon, a Roman soldier in service of Alexander, is stranded in a Mayan village.  The Mayans mistake him for Quetzal and allow him to entomb himself.  In the tomb, a devices offers … Continue reading

Posted in 1926-1939, cities/architecture/habitats, mechanization, nationalism, primitive/civilized, progress/obsolescence, surveillance, time/history/causality, war/soldiers | 1 Comment

“Nightmare Number Three,” Stephen Vincent Benet, 1935 (poem)

“Nightmare Number Three,” Stephen Vincent Benet, 1935 – (poem) The machines of everyday life have taken over, refusing to carry out the banal bidding of their pygmy masters and reducing humans to a desperate position.  Perhaps we can “make a … Continue reading

Posted in 1926-1939, mechanization | Leave a comment

“Mechanocracy,” Miles J. Breuer, 1932

“Mechanocracy,” Miles J. Breuer, 1932 – A man from a “standardized” city travels to the Himalayan country of Democratia and is tainted by “individuality,” for which he will receive the death penalty from the world government, a machine located in … Continue reading

Posted in 1926-1939, mechanization, totalitarianism/fascism, utopia/dystopia | Leave a comment

“The Moon Era,” Jack Williamson, 1931

“The Moon Era,” Jack Williamson, 1931 – A young man’s uncle persuades him to take photos of and film panoramic on the moon in exchange for a vast inheritance.  While on the moon, he discovers The Mother, the sole survivor … Continue reading

Posted in 1926-1939, gender, matriarchy, mechanization, photo/film/image | Leave a comment

Paradise and Iron, Miles J. Breuer, 1930

Paradise and Iron, Miles J. Breuer, 1930 – (novel) An artistic utopia seems to have been achieved with the help of machines. Comments: Suggested by Paul Carter to be an allegory about the effect of machines on human creativity.  Brian … Continue reading

Posted in 1926-1939, artists/creativity, mechanization | Leave a comment