We love robots and we love books, and we especially love books with robots in them! Here's some of what we have on our bookshelf.
And, for more books about robots and science fiction, visit our newest site: SFPaperbacks.com.
The Cosmic Computer
By H. Beam Piper
Cover artist: Ed Valigursky
Here's another striking cover by Ed Valigursky. With several signature Valigursky robot features: the domed head, cyclopic radar eye, the radio-style antenna, barrel chest, articulated arms with claws for hands, and spindly legs under an over-sized body. Also, a new feature never seen on any other Valigursky robot: webbed feet! Go figure, that one.
Henry Beam Piper's own story is one of the more tragic in sf lore. Many a shining career in sf was cut short by an untimely death, Stanley Weinbaum, Henry Kuttner, Cyril Kornbluth and James Blish to name but a few, but HBP's was all the more tragic as he took his own life at the age of 60. Despondent over mounting financial problems and feeling his career was over, he sadly ended his life in 1964 just as the sf genre was about to explode, making wealthy many of its talented leading figures.
The Cosmic Computer was published just one year before his death. Originally titled Junkyard Planet, this story takes place in the world of HBP's Terran Federation, though it is a solid stand-alone tale. Sadly, although robots are present in this story, despite the cover, it has little to with robots themselves, though it is a very entertaining story never-the-less. The robots in this tale are household servants and factory workers performing menial tasks and hazardous duties. Valigursky's cover depicts a brief battle that takes place when members of a salvage crew inadvertently activate dormant robots only to have them go a bit out of control (they're actually only carrying out their original programming, but the result is the same). We still can't figure out where the webbed feet come in.
Another fun robot fact that astute readers might pick up on is HBP's homage to Lester Del Rey's famous robot story Helen O'Loy, which HBP uses as the name of one of the space ships in The Cosmic Computer.