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R.U.R. (Rossum's Universal Robots) (Penguin Classics) Paperback – March 30, 2004

4.1 out of 5 stars 22 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Review

A great writer of the past who speaks to the present in a voice brilliant, clear, honorable, blackly funny, and prophetic. (Kurt Vonnegut, Jr.)

?A great writer of the past who speaks to the present in a voice brilliant, clear, honorable, blackly funny, and prophetic.? (Kurt Vonnegut, Jr.)"

Language Notes

Text: English (translation)
Original Language: Czech --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.
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Product Details

  • Series: Penguin Classics
  • Paperback: 112 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Classics; Rossum's Universal Robots edition (March 30, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0141182083
  • ISBN-13: 978-0141182087
  • Product Dimensions: 5 x 0.3 x 7.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 0.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (22 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #78,323 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Lonya VINE VOICE on April 7, 2005
Format: Paperback
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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Format: Paperback
This science fiction play by the Czechoslovakian writer Karel Capek (1890-1938) introduced the word "robot" (from the Czech word "robota" for work). Any serious student of science fiction should read this play. A factory on an island produces robots (actually, in today's terminology, the products being made by this factory are androids, not robots) to do man's labor and to grow his food. But, as the years go by, governments misuse the robots, having them replace soldiers. Robots begin to be used in wars everywhere. They rebel and man is exterminated. However, the robots don't know how to build new robots and discover that they are doomed to extinction as well. But, the sole two robots of a later model discover beauty, compassion, and love. They become a new Adam and Eve. Interestingly, one of the characters in the play builds robots so that man won't have to work. Yet, he doesn't build any to do his work since it is something he enjoys doing.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
There are two parts to this classic. There is the play itself. And there is the extensive introduction material with its background and explanatory text.

The play itself is both a very interesting perspective on early thinking about man's relationship with modern technology and a critical reflection on man and his humanity. (Although it isn't terribly deep in its reflection.)

The extensive introduction is a cornucopia of information about the author as well as many events in Europe between the two wars.

In its time this was a worldwide sensation. Obviously the fact that it caught the whole world's attention attests to its historical significance. Who hasn't heard of Robots?

Overall this should be required reading for anyone interested in either modern literature or science fiction or dystopian fiction.
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I bought this for a university class, not thinking much of it at the time. After reading it though, I found it to be fantastic. So detailed, and when the detail is left out there is a thoughtful reason for it. As much as I do not read a novel twice, I have a feeling this one will get a second read.
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This is the first work to refer to automatons as robots. The first two acts are hard to read because this work is firmly rooted in early twentieth century cultural ideas. However, if you keep going to act 3 you will see some of the seeds of the best science fiction themes ever.
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This is a classic piece of playwriting, way ahead of its time. It is simplistic and it is just a tad melodramatic, but it's going to surprise anyone who thinks artificial intelligence and robotics is just oh, so modern . . . .Capek did it first and it's a really interesting read.
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Format: Paperback
I first read this play in the late 1940's when I was in High School. The author died in 1938 at about the time Turing was "inventing" the Turing Machine. Perhaps the author intended this work as a parable about Bolshevism, but the steady growth of the computer makes it read today like a straight-forward prophecy which will come true in about 50 more years. The technology projected is all wrong in the details, of course, but it is fun to read today and draw the parallels and differences.
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Format: Audible Audio Edition
Very well written and performed production. Enough twists and turns to keep an otherwise, overdone, topic very interesting. Still a valid point of contention about where AI will lead us.
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