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Monday, January 12, 2009

io9 has your top ten early robots.

10) W.K. Mashburn, "Sola" (Weird Tales, April 1930). Though he despises women and can't stand their company, Dr. Franz Dietrich desires them sexually. So he invents a flesh-like substance, which a sculptor helps him shape into a gorgeous female android. Having wired Sola with complex responses — the apparatus is supposed to react in particular ways, immediately upon perceiving his telepathically projected emotions — the mad scientist invites a group of colleagues over to dinner. Growing tipsy, Dietrich flies into an embarrassed fury, because he thinks Sola is unresponsive, and tries to destroy it. But his colleagues — and eventually, the entire town — pitch in to raise his self-esteem by treating Sola as a member of the community. Oh wait, I'm thinking of Lars and the Real Girl. What actually happens is that Sola's emotion receptors are activated by the professor's rage, and his own creation crushes him to death. A classic example of what McLuhan — in The Mechanical Bride (1951) — would call "the curious fusion of sex, technology, and death."