James P. Crow

Buy it on Amazon
First published in Planet Stories May 1954

Four hundred years in the future, long after a nuclear war, robots have relegated humans to second-class citizens after they convinced them that humans had been invented by robots and not the other way around.

The only way the humans can compete with the robots is through an impossibly difficult set of tests called the Lists. Only one human, James P. Crow, has been able to pass these Lists, and he did it by secret use of a time window which let him see the future answers to the test but also see into the past. Only he knows the truth that humans created the robots. 

Eventually Crow passes the final List and with a perfect score on all the tests becomes the highest member of the Supreme Council. He tells the robots if they leave Earth he won’t make the robot’s true origins public. They agree to his bargain leaving Crow in charge of the Government to rebuild a new human society. 

With the name “James P. Crow” this is an obvious attempt at a civil rights allegory. It’s kind of muddled in that sense, although I do like the premise.

Cast of characters

  • Donnie Parks – a young boy hoping to pass his Lists test
  • Edgar and Grace Parks – Donnie’s parents
  • James P. Crow – the only human to ever pass the Lists
  • L-87t – a robot sympathetic to the human’s struggle