He was unique. Alone in a world that did not understand him, he tested the super powers of his mind and body. More than a machine, but less than a man, he searched restlessly for the truth. Before his quest was done, he had died and been reborn, had fought his way from a grim dungeon to a royal throne.
Jasperodus, the only super-robot to have been granted consciousness, must decide whether to share his soul-possessing secrets with the other robots or to betray them to save mankind.
Robot evolution has advanced to the point that intelligent robots have liberated themselves from servitude, defending themselves from servitude, defending themselves against the humans who work to exterminate them using super-machines.
The ultimate hope of the most powerfully intelligent robots lies in the attainment of human consciousness. And they are willing to steal men’s souls if they must, to get this final elusive quality for themselves.
Only one free robot, Jasperodus, has been granted true consciousness – a soul – by his maker, now long dead. Brought into the soul research project by force, Jasperodus faces a moral dilemma: to release his secret and bring about the final downfall of humanity to a new race of super-robots, or to keep his own kind forever from the light of consciousness. And the mechanized armies of the humans press ever forward, seeking the robot hideout.
Although largely, and unjustly, neglected by a modern audience, Bayley was a hugely influential figure to some of the greats of British SF, such as Michael Moorcock and M. John Harrison. He is perhaps best-known for THE FALL OF CHRONOPOLIS, which is collected in this omnibus, alongside THE SOUL OF THE ROBOT and the extraordinary story collection THE KNIGHTS OF THE LIMITS.
THE FALL OF CHRONOPOLIS: The mighty ships of the Third Time Fleet relentlessly patrolled the Chronotic Empire’s 1,000-year frontier, blotting out an error of history here or there before swooping back to challenge other time-travelling civilisations far into the future. Captain Mond Aton had been proud to serve in such a fleet. But now, falsely convicted of cowardice and dereliction of duty, he has been given the cruellest of sentences: to be sent unprotected into time as a lone messenger between the cruising timeships. After such an inconceivable experience in the endless voids there is only one option left to him. To be allowed to die.
THE SOUL OF THE ROBOT: Jasperodus, a robot, sets out to prove he is the equal of any human being. His furturistic adventures as warrior, tyrant, renegade and statesman eventually lead him back home to the two human beings who created him. Question: Does he have a soul?
THE KNIGHTS OF THE LIMITS: Nine brilliant stories of infinite space and alien consciousness, suffused with a sense of wonder…
The Taking of AT1: Before AT1 had ground down the slipway unchristened – rightly, said seamen, for it would be a ship with no soul – it had been dubbed ‘Zombie’. That sinister name would stick and prove its accuracy.
AT1 was a robot-ship, a ship with no crew, only a tiny security force of three men & a woman. ‘Invulnerable,’ said its inventors, ‘foolproof’. But it was neither – not if one of the four security guards was an insane, ruthless killer. And if the greatest, most powerful self-contained nuclear reactor in the world fell into the hands of such a person, the whole world was in peril!