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.
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All the Traps of Earth and Other Stories
By Clifford D. Simak
Cover artist: Richard Powers
Here comes Cliff Simak with yet another robot story. If Isaac Asimov was the king of the robot story, then surely Clifford Simak must have been the Crown Prince. That's not to say Simak came after, he actually published his first story nearly a decade before Asimov. Like Asimov he wrote plenty of stories with robots, but unlike Asimov the robots in Simak's tales often take a back seat to the human action happening around and in spite of them. Not so in the title story of this collection, All the Traps of Earth.
The action in this story follows one robot, Richard Daniel, who has served the same family for 600 some odd years. When the last surviving member of the line dies, Daniel determines to sneak off rather than be sold with the rest of the estate. Daniel escapes Earth on the back of a space cruiser, and has a very interesting experience traveling through hyperspace. After arriving on a backwater planet, Daniel quickly realizes that his trip through hyperspace has changed him profoundly. A change that may also have a far reaching effect on all of mankind....
As satisfying as this story is, the book title also speaks of other stories. Unfortunately, while the other stories are certainly a treat to read, only two others of the nine* have robots in them. Installment Plan is an engaging mystery about a fleet of robot salesmen who meet some unexpected and dogged sales resistance. The third story, Crying Jag, tells of an alien that gets intoxicated by listening to sad stories, and coming to Earth is like bathing in a whiskey barrel. Lester, the robot, is just along to record the stories to relive at a later time, and plays a very minor role in the story. So, do three stories make this a robot book? Well, sure, why not? Especially with one being the title story, and with Simak being such a known robot lover, as evidenced by the many other Simak books we've mentioned in past editions of the Bookshelf.
*Note: the 1963 MacFadden Books version pictured here only contains six stories, and does not include Crying Jag. The 1979 Avon version added three stories, bringing the total to nine.