cover image Robots Through the Ages: A Science Fiction Anthology

Robots Through the Ages: A Science Fiction Anthology

Edited by Robert Silverberg and Bryan Thomas Schmidt. Blackstone, $25.99 (488p) ISBN 978-1-66510-965-9

SFWA Grand Master Silverberg (Among Strangers) and Hugo award winner Schmidt (editor of Shattered Shields) offer a fascinating survey of how 17 legendary authors—among them Philip K. Dick, Fritz Leiber, Seanan McGuire, Connie Willis, and Roger Zelazny—have used robots in their storytelling. The anthology is organized largely chronologically, and the oldest entry, Ambrose Bierce’s “A Night at Moxon’s” (1899), which features a chess-playing automaton, is a highlight, showcasing Bierce’s gifts for creating creepy atmospherics and delivering an exciting surprise ending. Readers familiar with Isaac Asimov’s “Three Laws of Robotics” will be especially gripped by Jack Williamson’s 1947 story “With Folded Hands.” The most chilling of these tales, it centers on humanoid robots governed by the seemingly benign directive “to serve and obey, and guard men from harm”—but Williamson carries that rule to its logical conclusion to the detriment of humanity. Clifford D. Simak’s “Goodnight, Mr. James” (1952), which caps off a hunt for an alien creature with a vicious but fair twist, is another standout. These imaginative warnings about the unintended consequences of robot technology are sure to delight any sci-fi lover. (July)