Shelves: science-fiction Like many other people, I picked this book for the first 3 stories, the ones that were the basis for AI. I think I hardly ever read anything this bleak. The story of the little robot boy who wants to be human so his "mother" loves him is particularly disturbing. What made it particularly efficient was the attention given to details: the absent "father", the boredom of the mother, and the picture of society at large just one example: it is a society in which the developing countries are as Like many other people, I picked this book for the first 3 stories, the ones that were the basis for AI.

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The lovely almond trees stood about it in perpetual leaf. Monica Swinton plucked a saffron-colored rose and showed it to David. David looked up at her and grinned without replying. Seizing the flower, he ran with it across the lawn and disappeared behind the kennel where the mowervator crouched, ready to cut or sweep or roll when the moment dictated.

She stood alone on her impeccable plastic gravel path. She had tried to love him. When she made up her mind to follow the boy, she found him in the courtyard floating the rose in his paddling pool.

He stood in the pool engrossed, still wearing his sandals. Come in at once and change your shoes and socks. At the age of three, he showed no fear of the ultrasonic dryer in the kitchen.

But before his mother could reach for a pair of slippers, he wriggled away and was gone into the silence of the house. He would probably be looking for Teddy. Monica Swinton, twenty-nine, of graceful shape and lambent eye, went and sat in her living room, arranging her limbs with taste. She began by sitting and thinking; soon she was just sitting. Time waited on her shoulder with the maniac slowth it reserves for children, the insane, and wives whose husbands are away improving the world.

Almost by reflex, she reached out and changed the wavelength of her windows. The garden faded; in its place, the city center rose by her left hand, full of crowding people, blowboats, and buildings but she kept the sound down. She remained alone. An overcrowded world is the ideal place in which to be lonely. Some of them wore the plastic face-masks popular at the time. All were elegantly slender, despite the rich food and drink they were putting away.

Their wives were elegantly slender, despite the food and drink they too were putting away. An earlier and less sophisticated generation would have regarded them as beautiful people, apart from their eyes. Henry Swinton, Managing Director of Synthank, was about to make a speech.

Take your mind off my wife, you bastard, thought Swinton, still smiling. He rose to make his speech amid applause. It is now almost ten years since we put our first synthetic life-forms on the world market. You all know what a success they have been, particularly the miniature dinosaurs.

But none of them had intelligence. Our first selling line, the Crosswell Tape, sells best of all, and is the most stupid of all.

Today, we launch an intelligent synthetic life-form — a full-size serving-man. We believe people would be afraid of a being with a human brain. Our serving-man has a small computer in his cranium. Finally, he stopped writing and began to roll the pencil up and down the slope of the desk-lid. Teddy lay on the bed against the wall, under a book with moving pictures and a giant plastic soldier.

David lifted him and set him on the desk. I love you…. Go downstairs and give it to her. The other day, lots of days ago, she said that time went by her. Is time real, Teddy? Clocks are real. Mummy has clocks so she must like them. She has a clock on her wrist next to her dial. It was almost time for the afternoon post to come over the wire. She punched the Post Office number on the dial on her wrist, but nothing came through. A few minutes more. She could take up her painting.

Or she could dial her friends. Or she could wait till Henry came home. Or she could go up and play with David…. She walked out into the hall and to the bottom of the stairs. She called again and a third time. When it reached the bottom, she picked it up and carried it into the living room. It lay unmoving in her arms, staring up at her. She could feel just the slightest vibration from its motor. I want to talk to you.

Why is David avoiding me? He loves you. Why waste time talking to this machine? Why not simply go upstairs and scoop David into her arms and talk to him, as a loving mother should to a loving son? She heard the sheer weight of silence in the house, with a different quality of silence pouring out of every room. On the upper landing, something was moving very silently — David, trying to hide away from her….

Without computers, we could never have worked through the sophisticated biochemics that go into synthetic flesh. The serving-man will also be an extension of the computer—for he will contain a computer in his own head, a microminiaturized computer capable of dealing with almost any situation he may encounter in the home. With reservations, of course. Our serving-man will be a boon to them: he will always answer, and the most vapid conversation cannot bore him.

Thus everyone will be able to enjoy the equivalent of an Einstein in their own homes. Personal isolation will then be banished forever! Even the synthetic serving-man, sitting at the table dressed in an unostentatious suit, applauded with gusto.

He climbed on to the ornamental seat under the living-room window and peeped cautiously in. His mother stood in the middle of the room. Her face was blank, its lack of expression scared him. He watched fascinated. He did not move; she did not move. Time might have stopped, as it had stopped in the garden. At last she turned and left the room. After waiting a moment, David tapped on the window. Teddy looked round, saw him, tumbled off the table, and came over to the window.

Fumbling with his paws, he eventually got it open. They looked at each other. Your Mummy loves you. The bear toppled out of the window and followed as fast as its stubby legs would allow. Monica Swinton was up in the nursery. She called to her son once and then stood there, undecided.

All was silent. Crayons lay on his desk. Obeying a sudden impulse, she went over to the desk and opened it. Dozens of pieces of paper lay inside. None of the messages was finished. In their gay inaccurate colors, the letters fanned out and settled on the floor. The serving-man answered politely and punctually, although his answers were not always entirely relevant by human standards.

The Swintons lived in one of the ritziest city-blocks, half a kilometer above the ground. Embedded in other apartments, their apartment had no windows to the outside; nobody wanted to see the overcrowded external world.

Henry unlocked the door with his retina pattern-scanner and walked in, followed by the serving-man. At once, Henry was surrounded by the friendly illusion of gardens set in eternal summer. It was amazing what Whologram could do to create huge mirages in small spaces. Behind its roses and wisteria stood their house; the deception was complete: a Georgian mansion appeared to welcome him.

Synthetic lifeforms were less than ten years old, the old android mechanicals less than sixteen; the faults of their systems were still being ironed out, year by year.

He opened the door and called to Monica.


Super-Toys Last All Summer Long

The lovely almond trees stood about it in perpetual leaf. Monica Swinton plucked a saffron-colored rose and showed it to David. David looked up at her and grinned without replying. Seizing the flower, he ran with it across the lawn and disappeared behind the kennel where the mowervator crouched, ready to cut or sweep or roll when the moment dictated.


Supertoys Last All Summer Long

Monica Swinton lives with her husband Henry and her young son David, whom she struggles to bond with. She seeks help from Teddy, a robot toy companion of sorts, to try to understand why she feels unable to communicate with David, let alone feel compassion for him. David also questions Teddy about whether his mother truly loves him and wonders whether he is truly real. He attempts to write letters of his own to explain how he feels about his mother and the inner conflict he faces but all of his letters remain unfinished. Meanwhile, the story jumps to Henry Swinton who is in a meeting with a company he is associated with known as Synthank. They are discussing artificial life forms and bio-electronic beings for future developments. Monica is horrified by the letters but overjoyed when Henry arrives home and she is able to share with him that the family has been chosen to give birth to a child by the Ministry of Population.





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