Monday, May 21, 2012

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I was reading a robot story the other day by Eando Binder (Otto).  He and his brother, Earl,  used to write SF stories together for Amazing Stories and other pulps during the 1930's.  They used the nom-de-plume Eando ("E and O") Binder.  Though Earl dropped out of the partnership early on, Otto continued to use the pen name when he wrote the Adam Link stories.  Adam Link was one of the first widely-known stories of a sentient robot, asking the question, "Can a robot have feelings?"

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The story I was reading was called Adam Link's Vengeance, which I think is the second one in a series of several.  Adam Link is how we generally think of a mechanical man, but with human traits and thinking. It's also written in the first person, so his humanity comes across.  I think Metropolis by Fritz Lang early on popularized the imagery and ideas of robots.  Although before that in 1921 there was a play by Karel Capek called R.U.R. in which his robot had artificial flesh.  Also other SF writers like Phillip K. Dick have gone on to explore organic artificial men as androids like in his book, Do Androids Dream of Artificial Sheep, which became the movie Blade Runner.   And there is also Data from Star Trek, Next Generation, which was an artificial human, but without emotions.

Adam Link's Vengeance opens oddly enough with Adam trying to commit suicide due to his loneliness.  As Adam relates, "Think of yourself as the only human on Mars, among other aliens with strange minds and strange bodies and customs.  You would know true loneliness."  He retreats to his hideout in the Ozarks to kill himself, but at the last minute a scientist, Dr. Paul Hillory, finds him and saves him.  He feels sympathetic towards Adam, and  ask him if he would like it if he helped him to create a companion, a female robot.  Which is what they set about to do.  It's an interesting story.

Adam Link is highly anthropomorphic; and soon after Isaac Asimov's established his robot stories, I, Robot, which established his three laws of robotics.  The Adam Link sequence is an important predecessor, significantly treating its robot hero (and his wife, Eve Link) with human-like attributes.  Otto Binder wrote many other SF stories, and also wrote scripts for comic books like Captain Marvel and Superman.  Otto also had a third brother, an illustrator, who did some of the early drawing on Captain Marvel.  At any rate, reading the Adam Link story got me thinking about some of the robot stories I've enjoy in SF films as well.  More on that later.





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