Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Karel Capek's "RUR (Rossum's Universal Robots)" (play, free): Androids as human slaves, & then as masters

Cover image of the drama R.U.R or Rossums Universal Robots by Karel Capek
While it's well documented that this is the story that coined the word "robot", this story has a male association with the word. It uses "robotess" for feminine version, a word that doesn't seem to have found wide adoption.

The robots here, however, are more like the created creature in Mary Shelley's "Frankenstein" than in modern stories. They're androids - human looking. They're wetware, with tissues & blood like us. Only the material used to build them is different, & is a synthetic material. The only way to really distinguish a human from a robot is to dissect it in a lab! Robots have simpler anatomy, because unnecessary functions like sex & want of pleasure are dropped from their design! And robots have a brain seriously
superior to humans.

This is the story with two separate emotions:
  1. First we see human disgust at animal- & slave-like treatment of things that, for all practical purposes, are humans.
  2. Then we see the rise of robots to a position of superiority over humans, fueled by human greed & tendency to "improve" things. Result is decimation of humanity & rise of a robot civilization. Only if the things could stay this simple...

Fact sheet.

First published: 1920 in Czech. (as a separate book?)
Download full text from ebooks@adelaide.
Rating: B.