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FOREWORD The Robot and the Man is the fourth volume in the Gnome Press Adventures in Science Fiction series. Continuing the outline of its predecessors, Men Against the Stars, Journey to Infinity, and Travelers of Space, a group of stories has been selected to illustrate and trace the development of a specific science fictional theme. As the title indicates, the theme of The Robot and the Man is the genesis and evolution of the robot as depicted by science fiction. The term “robot” is generally accepted as having first ap- peared in print with the publication of Karel Capek’s play, R.U.R., in 1923. The idea of a mechanical man, however, was not original with Capek; references to it are scattered through- out earlier literature. Probably the most familiar example is Edgar Allan Poe’s article, “Maelzel’s Chess-Player,” which was prompted by an actual so-called robot chessplayer that was dumfounding the world at the time. Although the mechanical Capablanca was eventually exposed as a fraud, this ready acceptance of the hoax indicated that the concept of a robot was not overly incredible for the people of the age. Contemporary society is served by a host of robots if the definition of the term is strictly adhered to. A robot has been defined as “a mechanism contrived to do human or super- human tasks.”* Such familiar everyday devices as the refriger- ator, air conditioning units with thermostatic controls, electric *Travelers of Space (Gnome Press, 1951), p. 25. ¥v vi FOREWORD timing devices, and countless other automatic mechanisms would fit into the definition of the term, Another example, al- though hardly a commonplace one, of these precursors of the android-type robot is the “waldos,” those wonderfully dexter- ous mechanical limbs used in atomic energy plants to handle highly radioactive and dangerous substances. In recent times the Voder robot exhibited at the World’s Fair of 1939 in New York was more recognizable, in crude outline at least, as the fictional type of mechanical man. This curiosity, of course, could only be thought of as the most rudi- mentary of robots since it was not capable of independent action, but controlled by an operator. It was only with the growth of science fiction in the modern period that the notion of a robot was elaborated and more fully developed. This anthology attempts to trace the course of that fascinating evolution. “Mechanical Answer” and “Self Portrait,’ the first two stories in this volume, which tell of the problems encountered in developing a mechanical brain and artificial limbs, set the stage for the appearance of the mobile robot. The theme is continued in “Deadlock” and “Robinc” where construction of the actual robot has been attained. In the succeeding stories the “growth” of the robot continues until he ultimately achieves acceptance as an entity by his creators. The final phase in the inevitable ascent of “man’s servant” is reached when man has disappeared and only a robotic civilization re- mains. A new cycle is begun in “Into Thy Hands” when man is re-created by the beings he himself gave birth to. Attempting to adhere to the outline of the theme was ex- tremely difficult since the stories were written by different authors. It was necessary, therefore, for the editor, and he FOREWORD vii takes full responsibility for the measure, to make some minor modifications in the details of the selections. I wish to thank Groff Conklin for his invaluable suggestions and the consideration he showed in delaying his own anthol- ogy, on a similar theme, to avoid any conflict which might take place if such overlapping anthologies were to appear simultaneously. Martin Greenberg New York, N.Y.