R.U.R. – written in 1920, premiered in Prague in 1921, and first performed in New York in 1922 – garnered worldwide acclaim for its author and popularized the word ‘robot’. Mass-produced as efficient laborers to serve man, Capek’s Robots are an android product-they remember everything but think of nothing new. But the Utopian life they provide ultimately lacks meaning, and the humans they serve stop reproducing. When the Robots revolt, killing all but one of their masters, they must strain to learn the secret of self-duplication. It is not until two Robots fall in love and are christened “Adam” and “Eve” by the last surviving human that Nature emerges triumphant.
Written against the background of the rise of Nazism, War With the Newts concerns the discovery in the South Pacific of a sea-dwelling race, which is enslaved and exploited by mankind. In time they rebel, laying siege to the strongholds of their former masters in a global war for supremacy. R.U.R., or Rossum’s Universal Robots, seen by many as a modern interpretation of the ‘golem’ myth, is regarded as the most important play in the history of SF. It introduced the word ‘robot’ and gave the genre one of its most enduring tropes.