Monday, July 20, 2015

"Nobody Could Get Away with Murder While Robicide Was on the Job"

"End As a Robot."
By Richard Marsten (Salvatore Albert Lombino, 1926-2005).
Short story (7 pages).
First appearance: Thrilling Wonder Stories, June 1954.
Online HERE.
What's not to like about robots? Apparently a "lousy metal-hating rat out there somewhere still roaming the streets" doesn't like them and has turned robicidal. It's up to Detective-Sergeant Mike Sneadley and the boys in Robicide Division to find out who—if they can get past an apoplectic boss, a nauseating rocket trip from Idlewild, a "tall and loose-hipped" female receptionist with a very strange accent (for a robot), and a bum steer. A few passages:
"We got a 211 from WIG on the TT. Fish had a carry away with a grifter, and we put a hang on citation and dumped the dip in the high power tank. So I got out an APB and contacted AID, but I thought it was just a 4172 LAMC."
"I see," I said.
"He was a passer, Pancho was. We needed a short robot who could reach up under the fixed tubular discharger. He filled the bill nicely. When the parts were discharged, he reached up for them, and then passed them on to another man who put them into the aluminum bodies. He was always making passes, Pancho was."
"That's the first sensible thing you've said for the last twelve pages."
"Dom, da-dohm-dohm," I hummed.
Parental caution: Strong language.

- As many of you savvy readers already know, "Richard Marsten" was a nom de plume of crime fiction writer Evan Hunter, also known as Ed McBain; see HERE for a Wikipedia article about him.
- Wikipedia also has a little something about Marsten's SF novel, Rocket to Luna (1953), for young readers HERE.
- The title? It might have been suggested by a controversial best-selling novel of the era by Calder Willingham:
   ". . . Willingham’s career began in controversy with End As a Man (1947), a withering indictment of the macho culture of military academies, introducing his first iconic character, sadistic Jocko de Paris. The story included graphic hazing, sex, and suggested homosexuality, which in a period celebrating military victory [World War Two] led the New York Society for the Suppression of Vice to file obscenity charges against its publisher, Vanguard Press. The charges were ultimately dropped, but not before a trial which made the book a cause célèbre, famous writers rallying to its defense. Reviews singled out its savage humor and realistic dialogue." [Wikipedia HERE]

Category: Not so serious crime fiction (cybernetics division)

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