Short Story #56: But Who Can Replace a Man? By Brian Aldiss

Title:  But Who Can Replace a Man?

Author:  Brian Aldiss

Damon Knight - A Century of Science Fiction


When the field minder reports to pick up more materials, the machine is met with another machine who can perform his duty.  Because he has a level-three brain, he is able to investigate why robots all around the farm are incapable of performing their tasks.  Eventually, another machine comes along that is level-two; even smarter than the field minder and they set off to the city to find humans or a level-one robot.  Other machines come along but eventually, they learn that the city is filled with war, so they set off for the mountains to create their own city and take care of themselves.  They even believe that they should stay clear of men because they are dangerous too.  As they make their way up the mountain, they lose at least one of their members and at the top, they find a man.  They approach the man and he orders them to find him food to which they obey.  


The story's (mild) tension was interesting as you waited for the machines to turn on the humans (especially since they just left one of their own behind) but their overwhelming acceptance and adherence to the human was a nice twist.  Like some of the other stories I've read, I feel like this had the workings of a much longer and developed story and the short story just doesn't do the idea justice.

Short Story #56 out of 365
Rating: 3 (out of 5 stars)
Date Read:  2/23/2014
Source:   A Century of Science Fiction, edited by Damon Knight.  The short story can be found at this website (as a PDF).

For a full listing of all the short stories in this series, check out the category 365 Short Stories a year.

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