Tuesday, March 19, 2019

"One Touch of My Thumb, Up You Go in a Cloud of Smoke and Come Down in a Shower of Nuts and Bolts"

"The Velvet Glove."
By Harry Harrison (Henry Maxwell Dempsey, 1925-2012).
First appearance: Fantastic Universe, November 1956.

Reprints page (HERE).
Short story (17 pages).
Online at Project Gutenberg (HERE) and Archive.org (HERE).

     "You are urgently needed on a top secret company project."

When you apply for a job, you never know for sure just where it will lead . . .

Major characters:
~ Jon Venex:

  "He heaved a sigh of relief as the door swung open, it was bigger than he had expected—fully three feet wide by five feet long."

~ Alec Diger:
  ". . . had a profound weakness for puns."

~ Dik Dryer:
  "Nobody will hire me like this, but I can't get repaired until I get a job."

~ The trucker:
  "That's my robot you got there, Jack, don't put any holes in him!"

~ Mr. Coleman:
  "He's the meanest man you ever met . . ."

~ Druce:
  "He carried a little black metal can at arm's length, trying to get as far from it as possible."
~ Wil Counter-4951L3:
  ". . . not that that means much any more."

Typo: "That inferred a complex set" [should be implied].

- Could robots kill humans? Our previous story dealt with the notion (HERE).
- Our author assumes what a lot of people did back in the '50s, that Venus was a water world ("The burning desire to see something besides rain and jungle"; "working down on the ocean bottom"), but unfortunately for him and numerous SFF authors of the period (among them Big Names like Anderson, Asimov, Bradbury, and Heinlein), thanks to interplanetary space probes that's now known to be a "Dead Horse Trope"; for more see Wikipedia (HERE) and TV Tropes (HERE).
- Should robots have rights as per the Robot Equality Act in the story? See Wikipedia (HERE).
- After—not before—you've read "The Velvet Glove" go to Technovelgy (HERE) for the inven-tions mentioned in the story.


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