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R.U.R.: Rossum's Universal Robots Paperback – September 16, 2010


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 92 pages
  • Publisher: Wildside Press (September 16, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1557422559
  • ISBN-13: 978-1557422552
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.2 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.8 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #377,458 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Leonard Fleisig VINE VOICE on July 16, 2011
and not made them well, they imitated humanity so abominably." Hamlet, Act iii, scene 2.

The ultimate problem in Karel Capek's extraordinary play, R.U.R. (Rossum's Universal Robots) is that the robots created by humanity's journeymen imitated humanity so abominably well.

Written in 1920 and first produced in 1921 RUR opened to critical worldwide acclaim. Although RUR is best remembered for introducing the word robot into the lexicon (the word was coined by Karel's brother and some time collaborator Josef Capek) it is more a somber reflection on humanity than on the emergence of robots.

The play opens on an unnamed island at some point in time after 1920 where lifelike robots are being produced by Rossum's Universal Robots. The officers of the corporation meet a young lady, Helena, who has come to the island on behalf of the League of Humanity, determined to help liberate these robots from the inhumane working conditions that confront them. The executives fill Helena in on the history of the company, particularly the father-son team of Rossums that developed the first robots. Capek makes it a point to describe the difference between the father and the son. The father was a "scientific materialist" whose desire to create an imitation of man grew out of his wish to prove that God was unnecessary. The son thought this was both silly and inefficient and sought nothing more than to produce robots capable of working non-stop.

Each of the following scenes takes place at some unspecified point in the future. The millions of robots produced take on all the industrial and agricultural work performed formerly by men and women. This leads to unintended consequences. First, the lack of necessity (the need to work) in everyday life leads to a few worker revolts.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Patrick Brian Mooney on April 15, 2013
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Other reviewers have said great things about the play, and it deserves them. But it's as if it were laid out automatically and no one even bothered to proofread it. There are punctuation problems throughout the book, and they're pervasive enough to prevent me from enjoying it. I was thinking about using this edition for the course on science fiction this summer, but I've decided to use the free available online edition and put it in a course reader instead of using this one.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful By L. M. Crane on December 1, 2011
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"R.U.R." or Rossum's Universal Robots is a simple play by Czech science fiction and social commentator Karel Capek. It was first published in 1920 and was probably the first work to use the term "robot." In this short and simple play, the author presages later works by Asimov that introduced the three laws of robotics which were central to his thoughts of what could go wrong if man invented a mechanical version of himself.

Capek's many books all carry the central theme of man's darkness that appears when he thinks too simplistically and ignores the consequences of seemingly logical (at the time) acts. "R.U.R." is no exception. Yes, this short play is written tongue-in-cheek, with plenty of humor, but a dark undercurrent is always present. Although based in science fiction, Capek deals mainly with social commentary.

As a pure work, this play is too short and simplistic, but is elevated to four stars when the time period in which it was written is considered. One of his other works, "The Absolute at Large" is probably his best.
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