Monday, February 11, 2019

"A Plate Swiveled Back Right Where His Nose Should Have Been If He Had One, and the Big Muzzle Pointed Out"

"Arm of the Law."
By Harry Harrison (Henry Maxwell Dempsey, 1925-2012).
First appearance: Fantastic Universe, August 1958.

Reprinted in Science Fantasy #31 (1958) and elsewhere (HERE).
Short story (14 pages).
Online at (HERE).
     "Police Experimental Robot, serial number XPO-456-934B reporting for duty, sir."

It's nice when the robots are on your side, isn't it?

~ Sergeant (unnamed narrator):

  "Nineport has fourteen traffic regulations and I broke all of them before I had gone a block. Fast as I was, Ned was faster. As I turned the corner I saw him open the door of Greenback’s store and walk in. I screamed brakes in behind him and arrived just in time to have a gallery seat. A shooting gallery at that."
~ Chief Alonzo Craig:
  ". . . had just enough sense to take graft without dropping the money."
~ Fats:
  "About all he was good for was keeping a blurred eye on the lockup and running in drunks. He did well at that. No matter what they crawled under or on top of, he found them. No doubt due to the same shared natural instincts."
~ Billy:
  "He clutched his nightstick and scowled out from under the brim of his uniform cap. It is not that Billy is stupid, just that most of his strength has gone into his back instead of his mind."
~ Ned:
  "Jack Armstrong in tin underwear."
~ Alex:
  "Six feet of bone, muscle and trouble. China Joe's right hand man."
~ Benny Bug:
  "He popped his head in the front door just long enough to roll his eyes over our little scene."
~ China Joe:
  ". . . was in front, hands buried in the sleeves of his long mandarin gown. No expression at all on his ascetic features. He didn’t waste time talking to us, just gave the word to his own boys."

Comment: Some Hollywood producer somewhere must have read this story before he started planning a movie about a heavily-armed, nearly-unstoppable robot cop.

- Harry Harrison knew how to adapt common SFFnal tropes and keep them fresh; see Wikipedia (HERE), the SFE (HERE), the late author's webpage (HERE), the IMDb (HERE

for the few adaptations of his work, and the ISFDb (HERE) for a detailed bibliography.

- We've featured stories that depict robots as law-abiding and helpful (HERE), (HERE), (HERE), and (HERE).


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