"the [science fiction] writer should be able to convince the reader (and himself) that the wonders he is describing really can come true...and that gets tricky when you take a good, hard look at the world around you."
- Frederik Pohl
||Tin Cabby (Flying Robotic Taxi)
||An autonomously controlled flying taxi cab.
In the future world of Cities in Flight, the creation of semi-intelligent machines made most regular jobs obsolete - like that of cab drivers.
|The cab came floating down out of the sky at the intersection and maneuvered itself to rest at the curb next to them with a finicky precision. There was, of course, nobody in it; like everything else in the world requiring an IQ of less than 150, it was computer-controlled...
Chris studied the cab with the liveliest interest, for though he had often seen them before from a distance, he had of course never ridden in one. But there was very little to see. The cab was an egg-shaped bubble of light metals and plastics, painted with large red-and-white checkers, with a row of windows running all around it. Inside, there were two seats for four people, a speaker grille, and that was all: no controls and no instruments...
The big press-gang leader gestured Chris into the front seat, and himself climbed into the back. The doors slid shut simultaneously from the ceiling and floor, rather like a mouth closing, and the cab lifted gently until it hovered about six feet above street level.
"Destination?" the Tin Cabby said cheerily, making Chris jump.
|From Cities in Flight,
by James Blish.
Published by Avon in 1957
Additional resources -
This quote seems more and more prophetic today:
The world-wide dominance of such machines, Chris’s father had often said, had been one of the chief contributors to the present and apparently permanent depression: the coming of semi-intelligent machines had created a second Industrial Revolution, in which only the most highly creative human beings, and those most fitted at administration, found themselves with any skills to sell which were worth the world’s money to buy.
Compare to the automatic automobile from David H. Keller's 1935 story The Living Machine and the aircab from the 1955 novel Time Crime by H. Beam Piper.
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