November 09, 2004

Always a lovely day, somewhere, sir.

"His senses uncrossed in the ivory-and-gold Star Chamber of Castle Presteign... he saw the high mirors and stained glass windows, the gold tooled library with android librarian on library ladder... he heard the android secretary tapping the manual bead-recorder at the Louis Quinze desk... he sipped the cognac that the robot bartender handed him.

...He ignored his enemies and examined the perpetual beam carved in the robot face of the bartender, the classic Irish grin.

'Thank you,' Foyle said.

'My pleasure, sir,' the robot replied and awaited its next cue.

'Nice day,' Foyle remarked.

'Always a lovely day somewhere, sir,' the robot beamed.

'Awful day,' Foyle said.

'Always a lovely day somewhere, sir,' the robot responded.

'Day,' Foyle said.

'Always a lovely day somewhere, sir,' the robot said. "

The bartender robot hurled its mixing glass across the room with a resounding crash. In the amazed silence that followed, Dagenham grunted: Damn! My radiation disrupted your dolls again, Presteign.'

'The answer is yes,' the robot said, quite distinctly.

'What?' Foyle asked, taken aback.

'The answer to your question is yes.'

'Thank you, Foyle said.

'My pleasure, sir,' the robot responded. 'A man is a member of society first, and an individual second. You must go along with society, whether it chooses destruction or not.'

'Completely haywire,' Dagenham said impatiently. Switch if off, Presteign.'

'Wait,' Foyle commanded. He looked at the beaming grin engraved in the steel robot face. 'But society can be so stupid. So confused. You've witnessed this conference.'

'Yes, sir, but you must teach, not dictate. You must teach society.'

'To space-jaunte? Why? To reach out to the stars and galaxies? What for?' "

"'Because you're alive, sir. You might as well ask: Why is life? don't ask about it. Live it.'

'Quite mad,' Dagenham muttered.

'But fascinating,' Y'ang-Yeovil murmured.

'There's got to be more to life than just living,' Foyle said to the robot.

'Then find it for yourself, sir. Don't ask the world to stop moving because you have doubts.'

'Why can't we all move forward together?'

'Because you're all so different. You're not lemmings. Some must lead, and hope that the rest will follow.'

'Who leads?'

'The men who must . . . driven men, compelled men.'

'Freak men.'

'You're all freaks, sir. But you always have been freaks. Life is a freak. That's its hope and glory.'

'Thank you very much.'

'My pleasure, sir.'

'You've saved the day.'

'Always a lovely day somewhere, sir,' the robot beamed. Then it fizzed, jangled, and collapsed. "

-- Bester, Alfred. The Stars My Destination. New York: Berkley Publishing (1975; c. 1956); pg. 240.

Posted by Vanderleun at November 9, 2004 01:15 AM | TrackBack

One of my favorite novels. Thanks for reminding me of it. Along with "The Demolished Man" some of the very best of the 1950s. While I hardly read fiction anymore, it's sad that the SF corpus from the 1940s and 1950s seems to be lost. Doubly sad to walk the SF aisle at the bookstores anymore.

If I may, you might enjoy "Altered Carbon" by Richard Morgan. However, it is quite violent but also imaginative and has a sense of wonder.

Finally, while I didn't like the novel "The Broken God" (David Zindell) as much as some, a quote from it is suggested by this post: "An acorn does not fear becoming an oak." Some will sieze humanity's future and others, alas, will remain acorns.

Posted by: Dong Nyugen at November 9, 2004 11:42 AM
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