Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Robot Empire

What if...

Great works of science fiction were written as fan fiction for cheesy cover art, and not the other way around?

What if...
This cover art was all from American pulp magazines from the 50's and 60's?

What if...

The great work of science fiction was I, Robot?

You might end up with something like...

The Empire of the Robots

Miniaturized man VS Micro robot
(Art from Amazing Stories)

Exclusive release from the Noda Collection
Materials/Collection: Kouichiroh Noda
Planning/Composition/Adaptation: Ohtomo Shoji

Japan has a long history of borrowing Western sci-fi elements wholesale. From Tezuka and Metropolis to Hideo Kojima and Blade Runner, the country is not shy about cherry picking their favorite visual and thematic elements for their half-baked psycho-babble pies. And now here we are, ripping off a Japanese magazine ripping off American magazines from half a century ago.

The circle is complete! Please enjoy the mad-libs caliber retelling of Asimov's timeless morality puzzle, I Robot.
Subservient Robots

Top Left: U. S. Robots began selling humanoid robots in 1996. At this point positronic brains had become ultra-miniaturized to the same size as a human brain. The first household robots were non-vocal. Robots were created to serve as obedient servants to humanity and quickly became useful helpers. Some robots were born to amuse humanity. Robots became man’s new best friend.
(From I, Robot by Isaac Asimov)
(Art from Fantastic Universe Science Fiction)

Top Right: The ring had both its human champion and machine champion. When the two fought head-to-head, it was always the robot pugilist who lost.
(Art from Amazing Stories)

Bottom: A robot salesman is waiting for the saucer bus to arrive. Robots are not allowed to ride the same bus as humans.
(Art from Fantastic Universe Science Fiction)

Robots became increasingly miniaturized and specialized. Cleaning robots sold out the moment they were released to the public, and were soon scurrying about homes, picking up fallen pens and cleaning trash. They worked through the night, moving throughout rooms as noiseless as a cat.
(Art from Fantasy and Science Fiction Magazine)

Deviant Robots

From the remains of their broken and malfunctioning brethren, robots salvaged usable parts to piece together new, superior models. They worked in secret, away from human eyes.
(Art from Galaxy Magazine)

Robots increased in number by year, by the month, and finally, by the day. Eventually, robots came to far outnumber humans in all cities. Their intellect grew with their numbers.
They became capable of repairing themselves, leading humans to outlaw self-repair after a few years. However, come nightfall, there was nothing to stop the robots from modifying themselves and their kin.

One night, the servant robot began to moan in a strange voice. It had been prone to mistakes as of late. When the robot mechanic inspected it, he found that the A.I. that belonged in its head was gone, replaced with a white mouse.
(Art from IF Magazine)

Robots Run Amuck

Top: The robot marched up to the gas station and snatched the pump, stuffing the nozzle in its mouth. It began gulping down the contents, paying no heed to the humans who tried to stop it. Alcoholic robots were an epidemic.
(Art from Fantastic Universe Science Fiction)

Bottom: Apartment-dwelling bachelors have robot maids to handle the housework. Suddenly, one brandishes a meat cleaver and charges at its startled master. The revolution had begun, and no home was safe. Come morning the rooms stood silent. The worried landlord put in a call to the Office of Robotics.
(Art from Amazing Stories)

U.S. Robots was resolute. “Robots are not to have articulate hands or be too powerful. We must create robots that understand human thought and can empathize with human emotion.”
The following year, the factory’s newest creation was highly receptive to human brain waves. Its capabilities surpassed those of humans. That day marked the beginning of the tragedy.
(From I, Robot by Isaac Asimov)
(Art from Wonder Stories)

Robots on the Run

The captured robot was thrown into the enormous smelting pot without question. A court trial would be wasted on a robot.

One day, every last inhabitant of the town vanished without a trace. The robots were likewise nowhere to be found. The Office of Robotics called the army in to investigate. Robots were waiting with guerilla tactics. Basements of buildings, the depths of warehouses, bomb shelters, sewage pipes, landfills—the robots hid in every place imaginable. At the same time the army was moving in with metal detectors and giga counters and even burrowing underground in search of the guerilla robots, they decreed three laws to contain the machines:

The Three Laws of Robotics:

One: A robot may not injure a human being, or, through inaction, allow a human being to come to harm.

Two: A robot must obey the orders given it by human beings except where such orders would conflict with the First Law.

Three: A robot must protect its own existence as long as such protection does not conflict with the First or Second Laws."

(From I, Robot by Isaac Asimov)
(Art from Amazing Stories)

Robots Strike Back

Humans moved to finish off the routed robots by cutting of their power supply. However, the robot insurrection spread in a flash, like a world engulfed in flaming gasoline. The guerilla robots contacted one another and together elected a leader. They assembled an even stronger giant robot. Suddenly, they opened their counterattack en masse.
(Art from Amazing Stories)

Human weapons improved exponentially, their abilities and strength growing over time. However, these had little effect against an enemy that couldn’t be seen. Terrified of their invisible foe, humans lost the will to fight. Two or three robots alone were enough to annihilate most of the human soldiers at any given base. Robots ruled the skies.
(Art from Galaxy Magazine)

Born into civilization and raised by automatons, humans could do nothing but cower when the robots turned against them. Human solidarity had dissolved into disarray in the blink of an eye No sooner did the robots begin to arrogantly take to the streets during the day that they had commandeered the capitol. The air became filled with the screams of hunted humans.
(Art from Fantasy and Science Fiction Magazine)
(Art from Wonder Story Magazine)

Robot Victory

The Age of Robot Supremacy

A captured human faced one of two fates—instant death, or total lobotomization. Although the robots possessed intellect far beyond any human, they were nothing more than heaps of metal, and were as equally cold and heartless. Insanity ran rampant among the surviving humans, and insane asylums were bursting at the seams from the sudden influx of madmen. Those released after being lobotomized could do little else but beg for their meals.
The end had come. The Earth was now an empire of the robots…

“I have seen the growth of robots, from when they could not even speak and up until the downfall of man. Now I can bear to see no more.” Dr. Susan Calvin, chief robopsychologist of U.S. Robots, said as her 82 years on this earth came to an end.
Who will be there to see the world after her?
(From I, Robot by Isaac Asimov)
(Art from Galaxy Magazine)

This story includes sections from Isaac Asimov’s I, Robot, but otherwise stands independent as an original scenario.


  1. I practically jumped out of my bed and run to book shelf after seeing 3rd picture (where it's told about cleaning robots lol) to find one of the old scifi story compilation books. Couldn't remember the story, on who's basis that picture was created - "Callahan and the Wheelies" by Stephen Barr. Nice story, and surprising picture. Didn't see those robots that way at all :) And now that this book is again in my hands, the urge to reread that particular story is quite large.