National Woman’s Party Flag

Today is the 102nd anniversary of the passing of the 19th Amendment when the United States officially recognized women’s right to vote. In August we usually do something to commemorate this. We flew a “19th Amendment Victory Flag” in 2019 and 2020. The story about how the amendment finally passed is mind-boggling. Women’s suffrage is unequivocally righteous yet its passage came down to a single vote in a single state. It’s a great story which you can find in our 2019 article, 19th Amendment Victory Flag.

This year, because of recent events, we wanted something broader, so we’re flying the flag of the National Woman’s Party, as a way to not merely recognize suffrage but to stand for all rights for all women. The NWP was founded in 1913 during the final push to achieve suffrage and has been fighting for women’s rights ever since.

The flag is a gold, white and purple horizontal tri-color; those are the official colors of the NWP. The meanings of the colors were explained in the Suffragist in December 1913.

“Purple is the color of loyalty, constancy to purpose, unswerving steadfastness to a cause. White, the emblem of purity, symbolizes the quality of our purpose; and gold, the color of light and life, is as the torch that guides our purpose, pure and unswerving.”

The Victory Flag incidentally is quite similar, it’s merely the NWP flag with 36 stars added for the thirty-six states that approved the amendment.

But for the main part of this article, we want to go back a bit farther than that and simultaneously closer to the present.

In 1872, Susan B. Anthony voted illegally; she was arrested and fined $100.

On the hundredth anniversary of the passage of the 19th Amendment, she was granted a pardon in what can only be described as a cynical attempt to court the women’s vote. The pardon was rejected by Deborah L. Hughes, President & CEO of The National Susan B. Anthony Museum & House. She wrote,

Anthony wrote in her diary in 1873 that her trial for voting was “The greatest outrage History ever witnessed.”  She was not allowed to speak as a witness in her own defense, because she was a woman. At the conclusion of arguments, Judge Hunt dismissed the jury and pronounced her guilty.  She was outraged to be denied a trial by jury. She proclaimed, “I shall never pay a dollar of your unjust penalty.” To pay would have been to validate the proceedings. To pardon Susan B. Anthony does the same.

She was right. If you’ve violated an unjust law, you don’t accept a pardon. Accepting a pardon acknowledges wrongdoing. Scream it from the rooftops, put it on your resume, or have t-shirts printed up but don’t accept a pardon.

Here’s what Susan B. Anthony said at the time.

Is it a Crime for a U.S. Citizen to Vote?

Friends and fellow citizens: I stand before you tonight under indictment for the alleged crime of having voted at the last presidential election, without having a lawful right to vote. It shall be my work this evening to prove to you that in thus doing, I not only committed no crime but, instead, simply exercised my citizen’s rights, guaranteed to me and all United States citizens by the National Constitution, beyond the power of any State to deny. 

Our democratic-republican government is based on the idea of the natural right of every individual member thereof to a voice and a vote in making and executing the laws. We assert the province of government to be to secure the people in the enjoyment of their inalienable rights. We throw to the winds the old dogma that governments can give rights. No one denies that before governments were organized each individual possessed the right to protect his own life, liberty, and property. When 100 to 1,000,000 people enter into a free government, they do not barter away their natural rights; they simply pledge themselves to protect each other in the enjoyment of them through prescribed judicial and legislative tribunals. They agree to abandon the methods of brute force in the adjustment of their differences and adopt those of civilization.  

Nor can you find a word in any of the grand documents left us by the fathers that assumes for government the power to create or to confer rights. The Declaration of Independence, the United States Constitution, the constitutions of the several States and the organic laws of the Territories, all alike propose to protect the people in the exercise of their God-given rights. Not one of them pretends to bestow rights.

“All men are created equal, and endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights. Among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. To secure these, governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed.”

Here is no shadow of government authority over rights, or exclusion of any class from their full and equal enjoyment. Here is pronounced the right of all men, and “consequently,” as the Quaker preacher said, “of all women,” to a voice in the government. And here, in this first paragraph of the Declaration, is the assertion of the natural right of all to the ballot; for how can “the consent of the governed” be given, if the right to vote be denied? The women, dissatisfied as they are with this form of government, that enforces taxation without representation – that compels them to obey laws to which they have never given their consent – that imprisons and hangs them without a trial by a jury of their peers – that robs them, in marriage, of the custody of their own persons, wages and children – are this half of the people who are left wholly at the mercy of the other half, in direct violation of the spirit and the letter of the declarations of the framers of this government, every one of which was based on the immutable principles of equal rights to all. By these declarations, kings, popes, priests, aristocrats, all were alike dethroned and placed on a common level, politically, with the lowliest born subject or serf. By them, too, men. as such, were deprived of their divine right to rule and placed on a political level with women. By the practice of these declarations all class and caste distinctions would be abolished, and slave, serf, plebeian, wife, woman, all alike rise from their subject position to the broader platform of equality.

The preamble of the Federal Constitution says: 

We, the people of the United States, in order to form a more perfect union, establish justice, insure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.

It was we, the people; not we, the white male citizens; nor we, the male citizens; but we, the whole people, who formed the Union. And we formed it, not to give the blessings of liberty, but to secure them; not to the half of ourselves and the half of our posterity, but to the whole people – women as well as men. And it is a downright mockery to talk to women of their enjoyment of the blessings of liberty while they are denied the use of the only means of securing them provided by this democratic-republican government – the ballot.

The early journals of Congress show that, when the committee reported to that body the original articles of confederation, the very first one which became the subject of discussion was that respecting the equality of suffrage . . . 

James Madison said:

Under every view of the subject, it seems indispensable that the mass of the citizens should not be without a voice in making the laws which they are to obey, and in choosing the magistrates who are to administer them . . . Let it be remembered, finally, that it has ever been the pride and the boast of America that the rights for which she contended were the rights of human nature. 

These assertions by the framers of the United States Constitution of the equal and natural right of all the people to a voice in the government, have been affirmed and reaffirmed by the leading statesmen of the nation throughout the entire history of our government. Thaddeus Stevens, of Pennsylvania, said in 1866:

I have made up my mind that the elective franchise is one of the inalienable rights meant to be secured by the Declaration of Independence.” . . .

Charles Sumner, in his brave protests against the Fourteenth and Fifteenth Amendments, insisted that so soon as by the Thirteenth Amendment the slaves became free men, the original powers of the United States Constitution guaranteed to them equal rights – the right to vote and to be voted for . . . 

The preamble of the constitution of the State of New York declares the same purposes. It says: “We the people of the State of New York, grateful to Almighty God for our freedom, in order to secure its blessings, do establish this constitution.” Here is not the slightest intimation either of receiving freedom from the United States Constitution or of the State’s conferring the blessings of liberty upon the people; and the same is true of every other State constitution. Each and all declare rights God-given, and that to secure the people in the enjoyment of their inalienable rights is their one and only object in ordaining and establishing government. All of the State constitutions are equally emphatic in their recognition of the ballot as the means of securing the people in the enjoyment of these rights . . . 

I submit that in the view of the explicit assertions of the equal right of the whole people, both in the preamble and previous article of the constitution, this omission of the adjective “female” should not be construed into a denial; but instead should be considered as of no effect . . . No barriers whatever stand today between women and the exercise of their right to vote save those of precedent and prejudice, which refuse to expunge the word “male” from the constitution.

. . . When, in 1871, I asked that senator to declare the power of the United States Constitution to protect women in their right to vote – as he had done for black men – he handed me a copy of all his speeches during that reconstruction period, and said:

Put “sex” where I have “race” or “color,” and you have here the best and strongest argument I can make for woman. There is not a doubt but women have the constitutional right to vote, and I will never vote for a Sixteenth Amendment to guarantee it to them. I voted for both the Fourteenth and Fifteenth under protest; would have insisted that the power of the original Constitution to protect all citizens in the equal enjoyment of their rights should have been vindicated through the courts. But the newly-made freedmen had neither the intelligence, wealth nor time to await that slow process. Women do possess all these in an eminent degree, and I insist that they shall appeal to the courts, and through them establish the powers of our American magna charta to protect every citizen of the republic.

But, friends, when in accordance with Senator Sumner’s counsel I went to the ballot box last November, and exercised my citizen’s right to vote, the courts did not wait for me to appeal to them – they appealed to me, and indicted me on the charge of having voted illegally. Putting sex where he did color, Senator Sumner would have said:

Qualifications can be in their nature permanent or insurmountable. Sex can not be a qualification any more than size, race, color or previous condition of servitude. A permanent or insurmountable qualification is equivalent to a deprivation of the suffrage. In other words, it is the tyranny of taxation without representation, against which our Revolutionary mothers, as well as fathers, rebelled.

For any State to make sex a qualification, which must ever result in the disfranchisement of one entire half of the people, is to pass a bill of attainder, an ex post facto law, and is, therefore, a violation of the supreme law of the land. By it, the blessings of liberty are forever withheld from women and their female posterity. For them, this government has no just powers derived from the consent of the governed. For them this government is not a democracy; it is not a republic. It is the most odious aristocracy ever established on the face of the globe. An oligarchy of wealth, where the rich govern the poor; an oligarchy of learning, where the educated govern the ignorant; or even an oligarchy of race, where the Saxon rules the African, might be endured; but this oligarchy of sex which makes father, brothers, husband, sons, the oligarchs over the mother and sisters, the wife and daughters of every household; which ordains all men sovereigns, all women subjects – carries discord and rebellion into every home of the nation. This most odious aristocracy exists, too, in the face of Section 4, Article IV, which says: “The United States shall guarantee to every State in the Union a republican form of government.” . . . 

It is urged that the use of the masculine pronouns he, his and him in all the constitutions and laws, is proof that only men were meant to be included in their provisions. If you insist on this version of the letter of the law, we shall insist that you be consistent and accept the other horn of the dilemma, which would compel you to exempt women from taxation for the support of the government and from penalties for the violation of laws. There is no she or her or hers in the tax laws, and this is equally true of all the criminal laws.

Take for example the civil rights law which I am charged with having violated; not only are all the pronouns in it masculine, but everybody knows that it was intended expressly to hinder the rebel men from voting. It reads, “If any person shall knowingly vote without his having a lawful right.” . . . I insist if government officials may thus manipulate the pronouns to tax, fine, imprison and hang women, it is their duty to thus change them in order to protect us in our right to vote . . .

Though the words persons, people, inhabitants, electors, citizens, are all used indiscriminately in the national and state constitutions, there was always a conflict of opinion, prior to the war, as to whether they were synonymous terms, but whatever room there was for doubt, under the old regime, the adoption of the Fourteenth amendment settled that question forever in its first sentence:

All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States, and of the State wherein they reside.

The second settles the equal status of all citizens:

No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty or property without due process of law, or deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.

The only question left to be settled now is: Are women persons? I scarcely believe any of our opponents will have the hardihood to say they are not. Being persons, then, women are citizens, and no State has a right to make any new law or to enforce any old law, which shall abridge their privileges or immunities. Hence, every discrimination against women in the constitutions and laws of the several States is today null and void, precisely as is everyone against negroes.

References:

Stars End S3E17

“A Podcast in a Frenzy Can Do Surprising Things”

The Doubleday cover

Some things can’t be seen.  If you’ve listened to our podcast, you know that we’ve bemoaned the fact that although there was a BBC adaptation of The Caves of Steel, we cannot see it because all known copies of the original tapes have been destroyed.

Did you know that there was also a BBC adaptation of The Naked Sun?  It came out in the third season of Out Of The Unknown and starred Paul Maxwell as Elijah Baley and David Collings as R. Daneel.  We can’t see that either.  You’d think that the BBC would have learned its lesson by 1969, but no such luck.  All known copies of those tapes have been destroyed as well.

And then there’s Joseph’s friend Andy, our special guest in this episode.  He has studiously avoided having a social media presence and so he’s something else that can’t be seen, online anyway.

Paul Maxwell as Elijah Baley

In The Naked Sun, we learn all about things that can’t be seen.  Lije wants to see the crime scene and he wants to see the outside and he especially wants to see Gladia but the Solarians are determined that he only view these things.  Seeing is not the same as viewing.

But sometimes we can hear even if we can’t see.  That episode of Out Of The Unknown?  There’s a reconstruction, so the soundtrack must still exist.  You can hear that if you can find a copy.

“Andy” artist’s rendition.

You can hear Andy here on the podcast, in his World Wide Web premier.

And you can hear about chapters 1 through 6 of The Naked Sun because that’s what we’re talking about this time.  We’ll get to that viewing vs. seeing thing and much more!

So join us! You’ve got to hear this!

Simultaneously published at…

Next Time on Stars End

In our last episode, we reached the end of The Caves of Steel. In our next episode, now in post-production, we continue our trip through the Robot Novels with The Naked Sun. We’re joined as our latest special guest by Joseph’s old friend Andy who has no discernable social media presence.

Asimov serialized The Caves of Steel in Galaxy Science Fiction because the editor, Horace Gold, suggested the idea of a human detective with a robot partner.

But three years later Asimov was increasingly interested in writing popular science and hadn’t published anything with John W. Campbell in a while. He decided to return to his roots and The Naked Sun was serialized in Astounding.

And Campbell did his best to capitalize on the famous author’s return. The month before its first segment ran The Naked Sun dominated Campbell’s “In Times to Come” column which highlighted coming attractions. Here’s what he had to say.

On the cover of next month’s issue, you’ll see Mr. Lije Baley, Earthman detective, coming out from underground into the light of The Naked Sun. Isaac Asimov’s new serial is bringing Elijah Baley and his robot partner, Daneel, on another detecting mission. But while the surface activity is that of determining who killed a man when it was self-evidently impossible, the real and important problem Baley has to solve is far more complex. Essentially, it is… “Which Way Is UP? Which way is forward?”


And this time, the problem lies on one of the Outer Planets; agoraphobic Elijah Baley has to solve a problem under the conditions least endurable to him — out under The Naked Sun

Astounding Science Fiction September 1956

For this episode, we read the same portion of the book published in the October 1956 issue of Astounding Science Fiction. That corresponds to chapters 1 through 6.

In this section, Baley is assigned to a murder case on Solaria, the newest of the Spacer worlds. He’s reunited with R. Daneel and we see him struggling with his agoraphobia in planes, spaceships, automobiles, and also in a big fancy house built just for him. We also learn about the murder and meet Gladia (pronounced gla-DEE-ah) Delmarre who is destined to become a major character and helps put the naked in The Naked Sun.

Here are the opening pages and the remaining illustrations by H. R. Van Dongen.

Season 3, Episode 17: coming soon to the aether near you!

Resources

  • Asimov, Isaac. “The Naked Sun, part 1” Astounding Science Fiction, October 1956, pp. 8-62.
  • Asimov, Isaac. The Naked Sun, ©1956, 1957, 1983, Bantum Spectra
  • Campbell, John W. “In Times to Come” Astounding Science Fiction, September 1956, pg. 42.

Simultaneously published at…

Stars End S3E16

“Podcast and Sin No More”

It was right about this time last year; one of us got up in the middle of the night to share the latest Foundation trailer with you right here on this website.

This year there was a sneak peek of Foundation season 2 at San Diego Comic-Con.  It’s more than a week later and we haven’t seen it anywhere.  If that’s about generating interest, they’re missing the mark.

Luckily, we have our own news!

Available NOW! Our very own Jon Blumenfeld stars as Librarian Homir Munn in “Search by the Foundation, Part 1” on Joel McKinnon’s excellent Seldon Crisis Podcast!

Also, in S3E13, we talked about how Asimov said he made “extensive changes” to “Liar!” when he revised it for I, Robot.  Want to know why?  Want to know how extensive?  We plug our line-by-line comparison!

Also, also way back in S1E01, we talked about Joseph’s Grandfather’s artwork.  There’s now a website where you can see and enjoy that artwork!  Please visit JosephFranke.com and see why there’s such a fuss! 

All this plus: we wrap up our conversation about The Caves of Steel!  Jessie is revealed as a Medievalist!  Another murder rocks the NYPD… wait… is it murder? And in the final denouement, we discover who did it in this who done it!  You don’t want to miss all that!  Let’s go!

Simultaneously published at…

Next Time on Stars End

Episode 15 of Season 3 dropped this morning and episode 16 is already in post-production. in it, we’ll be finishing up The Caves of Steel, reading and discussing the third and final installment that ran in Galaxy Science Fiction in December 1953.

Our novel is not featured on the cover again, this time passed over for a nice holiday-themed illustration. Galaxy, evidently had a series of those.

In this concluding installment, Jessie confesses to conspiracy, Lije and Daneel play bad cop, uncomfortably robotic cop with a suspect and Baley cracks the case!

Here’s the promotion for this installment of The Caves of Steel from Galaxy’s November Issue.

Ed Emshwiller provides the artwork and we once again open with a two-page spread.

And here’s the rest of the synopsis if you want to refresh your memory about what’s already happened before you read the last installment or listen to our next episode.

And here are the remaining illustrations from the story. Below we see Daneel closing on Clousarr during the interrogation (left), and R. Sammy as a murder vic… uh… property damage (right). We should keep our legal terms straight.

The final image shows Baley projecting the crime scene for Daneel and the commissioner.

Season 3, Episode 16 will be available soon!

Simultaneously published at…

Stars End S3E15

“I’m sure that if non-Asenion podcasts were ever designed or if the mathematical theory were worked out we’d hear of it.”

We’re not an etymology podcast even though we sometimes make up our own words.  Nevertheless, if you follow our blog you’ve recently read about the origins of the words “robot” and “robotics.”  Asimov has been known to make up his own words too.  In fact, he’s credited in the Oxford English Dictionary as the originator of the word “robotics.”  

In this episode, we learn the origin of the word “Asenion” through a miraculous combination of brilliance, scholarship, and real-time detective work which the uninitiated might dismiss as mere Google-fu.  Did the Great and Glorious Az invent the word “Asenion?”  You’ll have to listen to find out!

Meanwhile, we ruminate over the second section of

the Caves of Steel in which Baley throws around some wild theories, learns the sinister,  not-so-sinister, or not-sinister-at-all designs of Spacetown, and sees an object eerily similar to a slide rule.  If you think that sounds like fun, you’re in for a wild ride!  Join us!

Simultaneously published at…

Liar!

If you follow Stars End: A Foundation Podcast you know that we’ve discussed Asimov’s reluctance to rewrite stuff many times. Even more frequently we’ve discussed… let’s call it the Great and Glorious Az’s ability to write female characters. We’ve speculated that, after attending Boys High School in Brooklyn, Seth Low Junior College, and Columbia University, neither of which were co-educational, it’s possible that Asimov simply hadn’t spent time with many women. Aside, of course, from his mother and sister.

The Robot Chronicles

We were therefore intrigued by the following quote from “The Robot Chronicles” as published in Asimov’s Gold: the Final Science Fiction Collection. At this point in the essay, Asimov writes about his individual Robot stories and what made them significant. Here’s what he had to say about “Liar!”

In the very next issue of Astounding, that of May 1941, my third robot story, “Liar!” appeared. The importance of this story was that it introduced Susan Calvin, who became the central character in my early robot stories. This story was originally rather clumsily done, largely because it dealt with the relationship between the sexes at a time when I had not yet had my first date with a young lady. Fortunately, I’m a quick learner, and it is one story in which I made significant changes before allowing it to appear in I, Robot.

You can find the story in any edition of I, Robot or The Complete Robot and you can see the original version in the May 1941 edition of Astounding here.

The original artwork for “Liar!” by Charles Schneeman

If you haven’t read it, “Liar!” tells the story of Herbie, a robot accidentally created with the ability to read minds. As the roboticists at U. S. Robots and Mechanical Men work to find out what caused this ability we get a first-hand look at how Herbie’s ability to read minds interacts with the three laws. We also get to see how Herbie’s subsequent behaviors affect the humans around him.

For those of us on the podcast, it was nice to get some confirmation for the theory we’d proposed on the show. For anyone who considers themself an Asimovologist, the changes to “Liar!” are intriguing for two reasons. The first is to see how Asimov’s treatment of women progressed to address the clumsiness that he perceived. The second asks how much of a rewrite he considers “significant.”

The Individual Edits

So let’s take a look at the changes. The first occurs in the fifteenth paragraph. Here’s the text from Astounding.

“Bogert is right,” said Dr. Calvin. “Ever since the Interplanetary Code was modified to allow robot models to be tested in the plants before being shipped out to space, antirobot propaganda has increased. If any word leaks out about a robot being able to read minds before we can announce complete control of the phenomenon, Tyrone and his demagogs (sic) could make pretty effective capital out of it.”

In the I, Robot version, the underlined part has been changed to, “pretty effective capital could be made out of it.” This change does not seem substantive. The mention of Tyrone was likely Asimov teasing a story that was ultimately never written. We would need evidence before we could say that for sure.

The next change occurs shortly after the first section break. Again and going forward, we start with the Astounding version.

“She paused to readjust the huge ‘No Entrance’ sign upon the door and then approached the robot with a friendly smile.”

Here, Susan Calvin is entering a room to bring books to Herbie. In the revised version the underlined text is omitted, which makes sense. Between this version and the publication of I, Robot, the character of Susan Calvin evolved into a no-nonsense professional thus the friendly smile seems to be a bit out of character. In a larger sense though, a disarming smile might ease interaction with another human but there is no reason to try that with a robot, much less a mind-reading one. The brilliant robopsychologist would have known this so the original neither fits the character nor the story.

Dr. Calvin and Herbie have a conversation about Milton Ashe. Eventually, we get this.

“The psychologist paused in thought and then looked up suddenly. ‘A girl visited him here at the plant half a year ago. She was pretty, I suppose—blond and slinky. And, of course, could scarcely add two and two.’”

In the book, “slinky” becomes “slim,” a more conservative and genteel description that seems more in keeping with Calvin’s personality. “Slinky” implies things about the way the woman holds herself and how she dresses. The combination of “slinky” with the remark about the young lady’s intelligence creates a different and less complimentary image of the character.

A bit later, we see this bit of conversation about Susan Calvin.

“He opened his eyes wide and frowned, “Say, Bogie, have you been noticing anything queer about the dame lately?”

The revised version replaces “dame” with “lady.” Another move toward more respectful language.

Next, we encounter one of the less substantive changes.

“Are you crazy? If you’ll reread Mitchell’s original paper in the Mathematical Journal—

“Mathematical Journal—” becomes “Transactions of the Far—.” The latter sounds more like an actual journal, but it loses the emphasis that the paper appeared in a mathematics publication. That should have been clear from the context, however.

The most substantive change comes when Milton Ashe shows Calvin a sketch of a house he’s planning to buy. All of the underlined text is removed from the later version.

“Susan Calvin gazed across at him with melting eyes. There had been a preliminary self-consciousness when she had first forced her hair into curls and lacquered her fingernails a bright red — a silly everyone-is-snickering-at-me feeling — but it always vanished when she was with him. There was nothing then but the hard metallic voice of Herbie whispering in her ear —. ‘It’s really beautiful,’ she sighed…”

It’s an edit that improves the story. This sentence seems more suited to a cheesy romance comic or a movie like Beach Blanket Bingo than it does to an Asimovian robot story. This sentence seems especially out of character for Susan Calvin as the character had developed over many stories and many years.

Most of the remaining edits were made because the “Three Laws of Robotics” weren’t carefully codified until published in “Runaround,” which appeared ten months after “Liar!” It makes sense for the collection to use the language to which the readers had become accustomed. Thus, instead of this,

She faced them and spoke wearily. “You know the fundamental law impressed upon the positronic brain of all robots, of course.”

we get this.

“She faced them and spoke sarcastically, “Surely you know the fundamental First Law of Robotics.”

There’s the additional change from “wearily” to “sarcastically.” That’s more in keeping with Calvin’s character and because the two men she was talking to would unquestionably know the three laws; this isn’t a case of having to remind someone of the three laws; Calvin is making a rhetorical point.

But it’s also an opportunity to remind the reader of what the first law says, so while we initially got this,

“Certainly,” said Bogert. “On no conditions is a human being to be injured in any way, even when such injury is directly ordered by another human.”

After “Runaround,” we get the now-familiar wording.

“The other two nodded together. “Certainly,” said Bogert, irritably, “a robot may not injure a human being or, through inaction, allow him to come to harm.”

The insertion of “irritably” follows nicely from the inclusion of “sarcastically.” We get one more edit concerning the three laws. In Astounding, the exchange above is followed by this.

“How nicely put,” sneered Calvin. “But what kind of injury?”

And in I, Robot, “injury” becomes “harm,” which seems to fit better with the revised version of the First Law.

The first use of “robotics” in “Liar!”

An interesting aside: In “The Robot Chronicles” Asimov claims that the term “robotics” first appeared in print in the initial printing of “Runaround.” The Oxford English Dictionary, notes this and gives Asimov credit for inventing the word. The use of “robotics” predates that, however, as it’s used twice in “Liar!” in addition to the time noted above, which exists only in the revised version.

The final edit in “Liar!” aside from one that appears to fix a typo, comes in the following passage at the very end of the story.

“It was minutes after the two scientists left that Dr. Susan Calvin regained part of her mental equilibrium. Slowly, her eyes turned to the living-dead Herbie and the tight smile returned to her face.”

“Tight smile” is aptly changed to “tightness,” as the operant emotion at this point is anger. This again seems to fit Susan Calvin’s character better than the original.

A Holistic Look

It’s more apparent in retrospect than it would have been in 1950 when I, Robot was compiled but “Liar!” is an important story in the Asimov canon. It’s the first time the idea of a robot with mental powers is discussed, an idea that becomes a pillar of Asimov’s later work, and the Oxford English Dictionary recognizes it as the earliest known use of the word “robotics.” more importantly though, “Liar!” is the first appearance of Susan Calvin, one of Asimov’s most consequential and well-known characters. She’s so central to the early robot stories that the framing sequence of I, Robot is written as a conversation between Calvin and a biographer. Through this conversation, she introduces each chapter. I, Robot is Susan Calvin’s story and the introduction tells us that “In 2008, she obtained her Ph.D. and joined United States Robots as a ‘robopsychologist’ becoming the first great practitioner of a new science.”

So, let’s look at the changes holistically. There appear to be three categories.

There seems to be one change to smooth out the prose, where “Mathematical Journal—” becomes “Transactions of the Far—.” This reads better because the partial title seems more believable for an academic journal.

There are several bookkeeping changes, namely the one removing “Tyrone and his demagogues” and all those updating the Three Laws of Robotics. These are exactly the kinds of edits one should expect in a fix-up like I, Robot. In any series of stories, details will never be completely determined initially. The book will feel more cohesive if small changes are made for the sake of consistency.

The changes that remain must be what Asimov was referring to when he wrote, “This story was originally rather clumsily done, largely because it dealt with the relationship between the sexes at a time when I had not yet had my first date with a young lady.

I’m not sure that these edits hit that mark and I’m certain that they fall short of being significant.

Let’s recap these changes. We have:

  • Calvin doesn’t approach Herbie “with a friendly smile.”
  • Calvin describes Ashe’s girlfriend as “slim” rather than “slinky.”
  • Ashe refers to Calvin as a “lady” rather than a “dame.”
  • The removal of the sentence where Calvin feels self-conscious about changing her hair and wearing make-up, but that feeling disappears when she’s with him.

So, are women written better as a result of these edits? When Asimov wrote about “significant” changes, it is reasonable to expect something like a fundamentally different subplot for Susan Calvin. Her subplot still resolves around a cringeworthy mistaken impression. It depends on some unfortunate tropes, like Calvin changing her hair and makeup to attract Ashe and destroying Herbie in a fit of pique. That subplot remains “clumsy,” and Asimov’s treatment of female characters isn’t significantly better. For example, although Ashe’s unnamed girlfriend is no longer “slinky,” she remains unable to add two to two.

But the changes are likely more about Susan Calvin than writing women in general or making the story less clumsy. It’s disappointing to ponder “Liar!” as Calvin’s initial appearance because it means that Asimov had the silly unrequited love subplot in mind and Calvin was created because the subplot required a female character. But over the following nine years Calvin and the characters surrounding her became the centerpiece of Asimov’s robot stories; they turned into the brilliant, serious professionals who drove the plots and resolved the problems. These edits are just enough to make this story fit with the rest of the book but is it a consistent portrayal? Let’s look at the framing sequence. In the run-up to “Liar!” Calvin tells the biographer “I was foolish once, young man. Would you believe that?” “No,” he replied.

Resources

  • Asimov, Isaac. “Liar!” Astounding Science Fiction, May 1941, pp. 43-55.
  • Asimov, Isaac. “Liar!” I, Robot, ©1950, 1977, Bantum Spectra
  • Asimov, Isaac. “The Robot Chronicles,” Gold: The Final Science Fiction Collection, ©1995, Harper Collins e-books
  • Liar! (short story), Wikipedia, accessed 30 June 2022

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My Voyager Rewatch: S4E19

My #StarTrekVoyager rewatch S4E19 The Killing Game Part 2

Last time: the Hirogen had taken over the ship and were forcing the crew to act out scenarios from Earth’s history. A WWII fantasy is about to escape the holodeck into the rest of the ship. I wasn’t impressed with part 1. Hopefully, this one is better.

In a metaphor for the show’s the new status quo, Janeway & Seven know what’s going on. Everybody else is little better than a side character. The head Hirogen, who thinks holodeck tech is the key to saving his race from extinction is tying everyone else’s hands.

Along the way, there’s a nice character moment with Janeway and Chakotay but only sort of because Chakotay doesn’t know who he is. According to Paris, Nazis are “totalitarian fanatics bent on world conquest — the Borg of their day.” Ugh.

Janeway’s alone with the lead Hirogen. If this is true Trek, she’ll offer to help his plan to stop extinction. She strikes the deal. ✔

Too much time left for that to be the end. The other Hirogen must rebel. They do. ✔

But not without a pep talk first from a holographic Nazi.

Soon the one Hirogen who’s not a complete idiot is dead. The species is doomed, but not before a lot of tedious conflict. The pacing is terrible. There’s a subplot in Holodeck One with some Klingons but it doesn’t advance the story. It’s filler that provides screen time for the Doctor & Neelix.

Neelix is a ridiculously bad Klingon. Eventually, the Klingons kill some of the Nazis. That’s not too bad. Finally, there’s a truce. Janeway gives the Hirogen holodeck tech which is probably useless without the smart one.

The Hirogen, like the Nazis, are headed for the dustbin of history. There’s more action in Part 2 but it’s not interesting. What might have been one decent episode is ruined by filler as it’s stretched to two. Must have been fun to write though. I hope the writers had more fun than I.

Rating: 1 out of 5.

#StarTrek #StarTrekVoyager

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My Voyager Rewatch: S4E18

My #StarTrekVoyager rewatch S4E18 The Killing Game Part 1

In the teaser, Janeway is cosplaying a Klingon. That’s just odd. We quickly learn that the Hirogen have taken control of the ship and are programming the crew to act in holodeck simulations. I hope these Hirogen aren’t idiots.

I hate holodeck episodes. Usually, they’re an excuse for weak writing. Now it’s a WWII restaurant fantasy in occupied France. Yawn. The setup is taking too long. We see Janeway deciphering a message. “That might be fun to look at assuming it’s a real message, ” I thought. No luck.

And there’s some Hirogen philosophizing. Most of them are idiots but one of them at least is smart enough to realize that they’re all a bunch of idiots racing toward extinction. His plan to stave off extinction is too simplistic though.

The cliffhanger is marginally interesting; the crew, believing themselves to be WW2 combatants are about to encounter the rest of the ship. It’s not awful, but the whole episode reminds me of an old double album with way too much filler. There just isn’t enough here.

Rating: 1.5 out of 5.

#StarTrek #StarTrekVoyager

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Next Time on Stars End

We’re not recording our next episode until Saturday, but if you’re reading ahead, we’ll be discussing chapters 8-13 of The Caves of Steel, corresponding to the second installment that was published in Galaxy Science Fiction in November 1953.

Galaxy SF, 11/1953

It’s an interesting issue. Asimov didn’t score the cover this time. The cover references the non-fiction piece about the famous experiment that saw complex amino acids generating spontaneously when the conditions on primordial Earth were recreated in a laboratory.

Also of interest is “Galaxy’s 5-Star Shelf.” which reviews a compilation of Olaf Stapledon’s work, the non-fiction Man in Space by Heinz Haber, Second Stage Lensman by E. E. (Doc) Smith, Against the Fall of Night by Arthur C. Clarke and Second Foundation. In that last review, Groff Conklin calls the now-completed Foundation Trilogy “Our first great sociological space opera.” He compares it favorably with Smith’s Lensman series saying, “…Asimov’s work, based as it is on fairly sound social principles and the activities of fairly normal human beings, has a pressing sense of reality that Smith’s fairy tales lack…” He concludes “it is a thoroughly satisfying and adult play of the scientific imagination.”

But back to The Caves of Steel. Here’s the promotion for this installment in Galaxy’s October Issue.

And here are some pages from the story.

i

I’m particularly liking the opening two-page spread, with artwork once again by Ed Emshwiller. It depicts the encounter in Chapter 8. The synopsis is nicely done as well and continues for the entire next page. Here’s the remainder in case you want to remind yourself of the last installment before continuing to read this one.

Finally, here are the rest of the illustrations from the story. We have Lije and Daneel leaving Space Town (top right), traveling through a power plant (left), and Daneel being examined by Dr. Gerrigel, a roboticist.

Season 3, Episode 15 will be available soon!

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