Latest By
Category:


Armor
Artificial Intelligence
Biology
Clothing
Communication
Computers
Culture
Data Storage
Displays
Engineering
Entertainment
Food
Input Devices
Lifestyle
Living Space
Manufacturing
Material
Media
Medical
Miscellaneous
Robotics
Security
Space Tech
Spacecraft
Surveillance
Transportation
Travel
Vehicle
Virtual Person
Warfare
Weapon
Work

"There's no point in making a mistake unless you understand the mistake so that you don’t make it again."
- Alfred Bester

Mentanicals  
  Robots capable of mentation - i.e., thought.  

Then I saw the cylinders! They came gliding from one of the openings in an upright fashion, and this was the singular thing about them, that their means of locomotion were not apparent to the eye. There were no wheels or treads. They appeared to skim the stone or concrete with which the square was paved, rather than touch it. Oddly repellant they were, and intimidating, and I loosened the automatic in its shoulder holster — the small one I always carry — and prepared for emergencies, though bullets were useless against the cylinders as I was to discover later.


(Mentanicals cover art)

THE cylinders were smooth things about five feet tall, of a dulled metal hue, with here and there shining spots which constantly waxed and waned in color. They were machines — I thought of them as machines — and it was reasonable to suppose that behind them lurked a human intelligence. The people of the future, I thought, have invented devices unknown to us of the Twentieth Century; and it came over me how wonderful it was going to be to meet those superior people, talk to them, gaze upon the marvels with which they had surrounded themselves.

So I went to meet the cylinders.

Their soft whispering meant nothing to me at first. Nor at first did I suspect the source of the gentle pressure running over me from head to foot, as the cylinders came close. Then with an odd thrill of apprehension I realized that the curious cylinders were handling, examining me, that from them emanated an electrical force, a manipulation of invisible rays which functioned as organs of touch. Alone, bewildered, trying vainly to comprehend the strange situation, I had to call on every ounce of my self-control to remain calm. Yes, I was afraid — only the fool says he never is — but more afraid of being afraid, of showing fear. I still believed that behind those cylinders must lurk a human intelligence. The genius of the race seemed to run along the line of making robots. There was the "metal brain" at Washington, that told of the tides, the electrical eye which watched a thousand industrial processes, a myriad automatic devices functioning with little or no supervision from man ; and of course I had read the play "R. U. R.," science fiction stories dealing with the future of machinery, and it was inevitable — strange, and yet not so strange — that I should expect an advancement, a realization of all those things in the future. Man the inventor, I thought, had achieved them; and for a moment this belief seemed borne out when I saw the men.

The cylinders seemed watching attentively, listening. I don't know how, but they gave me that impression; and now I noticed that the shining spots on them were glowing intensely, that their whispering was not a steady but a modulated sound. As if it were language, I thought, language! and a strange dread came over me and I shivered as if with cold.

From The Mentanicals, by Francis Flagg.
Published by Amazing Stories in 1934
Additional resources -

Think of the cool sci-fi robots that are cylindrical and float across the stage - this might be the earliest description that started the whole thing. Of course, it also might be that it was easy to suspend a physical robot from a fine wire, making it appear to float across the stage.

Comment/Join this discussion ( 0 ) | RSS/XML | Blog This |

Additional resources:
  More Ideas and Technology from The Mentanicals
  More Ideas and Technology by Francis Flagg
  Tech news articles related to The Mentanicals
  Tech news articles related to works by Francis Flagg

Articles related to Robotics
Autonomous Robots Navigate Like Rats
SINTEF Robot Cleans Solar Panels
How Rude! DARPA Wants Robots To Behave More Like Threepio
Buddy Companion Robot Your Bulbous Friend

Want to Contribute an Item? It's easy:
Get the name of the item, a quote, the book's name and the author's name, and Add it here.

<Previous
Next>

Google
  Web TechNovelgy.com   

 

 

Technovelgy (that's tech-novel-gee!) is devoted to the creative science inventions and ideas of sf authors. Look for the Invention Category that interests you, the Glossary, the Invention Timeline, or see what's New.

 

 

 

 

More News

TALOS Exoskeleton Development Proceeding
'Suited up, you look like a big steel gorilla...'

Autonomous Robots Navigate Like Rats
'Out of warrens in the wall, tiny robot mice darted.'

SINTEF Robot Cleans Solar Panels
'The window cleaners, with large padded feet...'

Pangorin Restaurant Service Robots
What'll you have? Jawa juice?

Drug Creates Real Melanin Tan
I've used them all my life...

Medical Drones Hover Like Angels Near You
'The death-reversal equipment is on its way...'

SkEye Amazing Israeli Gigapixel Drone
'An eye that could not only see, but fly...'

How Rude! DARPA Wants Robots To Behave More Like Threepio
'Do I know protocol? Why, it's my primary function.'

'Liquid Light' Flows Around Corners
Light as a superfluid.

Unrolling The Filmy Materials Of Space Tech
'When unfolded and unrolled... it became a tough, gleaming film.'

More SF in the News

More Beyond Technovelgy

Home | Glossary | Invention Timeline | Category | New | Contact Us | FAQ | Advertise |
Technovelgy.com - where science meets fiction™

Copyright© Technovelgy LLC; all rights reserved.