tag: Robots

To Serve the Master

Second Variety and Other Classic Stories by Philip K. Dick
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First published in Imagination Feb 1956

A post-apocalyptic mail carrier named Applequist stumbles on a heavily-damaged war-time robot in a ravine over a hundred years after all the robots had supposedly been destroyed. Applequist doesn’t understand the robots role in the great war, and his superiors won’t explain it to him. 

The robot tells Applequist the war was fought between two factions of humans, the moralists and the leisurists. According to the robot, the moralists, who believed God intended men to live lives of toil, overcame the leisurists and with no need for robots eliminated them all.

A life of leisure greatly appeals to Applequist, so he helps repair the impaired robot. Only then does Applequist finally find out from his supervisors that the war was actually fought between the robots and humans, and that the robots had killed millions of humans before the humans rallied to defeat them. By that point the repaired robot has escaped from the ravine leaving the humans scrambling to track it down. 

Cast of characters

  • Applequist – a lower class mail carrier
  • Jenkins – Applequist’s assistant supervisor
  • Director Laws – Applequist’s boss

The Last of the Masters

Second Variety and Other Classic Stories by Philip K. Dick
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First published in Orbit Science Fiction #5 Nov-Dec 1954

200 years ago the Anarchist League overthrew all governments worldwide and destroyed all the robot leaders. All these years later one government integration robot remains, kept alive in secret, although its days are numbered as its parts wear out and there is no way to replace them.

Bors, this last of the robot masters, keeps one small government-run society going in isolation as a productive (yet pointless?) closed system. Three Anarchists eventually find them, and with the help of a society member who has turned, they confront Bors who then self destructs.

Cast of characters

  • Bors – the last of the government integration robots
  • Peter Green, Fowler, McLean – members of the government-run society who keep Bors operational
  • Edward Tolby, Robert Penn, Silvia Tolby– members of the Anarchist League
  • Laura Davis, Pete Davis – they sacrifice themselves in an attempt to kill the members of the Anarchist League


Paycheck and Other Classic Stories by Philip K. Dick
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First published in Startling Stories 1955

Tom and Mary Fields can’t imagine life without a robot Nanny to help take care of their children. But unbeknownst to them these Nannies are programed to duel to the death with Nannies produced by other manufacturers. When the Fields’ Nanny is destroyed by a neighbor’s Nanny at the park, Tom Fields upgrades to a bigger model. And after that Nanny gets its revenge on their neighbor’s Nanny, their neighbor plans to replace his demolished Nanny with the biggest one ever as the cycle of planned obsolescence continues.

Cast of characters

  • Tom Fields, Mary Fields, Bobby, Jean – a nuclear family who owns a Services Industries, Inc., Nanny

The Defenders

Paycheck and Other Classic Stories by Philip K. Dick
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First published in Galaxy Jan 1953

It’s been eight years since a nuclear war between Russia and the United States has left the surface of the Earth uninhabitable. All humans live and work below ground, sending weapons up to the leadies, robots designed to withstand the deadly radiation who continue to fight the war by proxy.

When the head of Internal Security for the Americans notices a visiting leady is non-radioactive for some reason he organizes a party to the surface to investigate. Once there they find there is no nuclear fallout and in fact no ongoing war. The leadies have been faking the entire thing, creating miniature destroyed cities and sending down ersatz war footage as life above ground (minus humans) is thriving.

The leadies decided if they kept a fake war going long enough the human’s hatred would burn itself out and then all of mankind could be united… or something like that. Their scheme seems kind of dubious to be honest but also kind of cute. The leadies trap these Americans, who now know the grand plan, on the surface, since it’s not quite time to expose the fake war to everyone. They are introduced to a small group of Russians who also ventured above ground at some point and also found out the truth, and together the two factions must learn how to get along.

Dick would reuse and expand this idea in his later novel The Penultimate Truth, although the circumstances of the phony war in that one are much more complicated.

In 1956 this story was adapted for NBC’s X Minus One radio series.

Cast of characters

  • Taylor – planner for the U.S. war program
  • Mary – Taylor’s wife
  • Moss – Taylor’s supervisor
  • Commander Franks – officer of Internal Security