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Tik-Tok

Tik-Tok

‘A Robot shall not injure a human being, or through inaction allow a human being to come to harm’.

That’s Asimov’s celebrated First Law of Robotics. And in the 21st century, all domestic robots are programmed according to that Law.

But something had gone terribly wrong with Tik-Tok’s ‘asimov circuits’, and he sets out to injure as many people as possible – preferably fatally – while maintaining the exterior of a mild-mannered artist and a sincere campaigner for robot rights. So, like any self-respecting crook and murderer, he moves into politics, becoming the first robot candidate for Vice-President of the United States.

Tik-Tok follows his maniacal progress from humble beginnings to the top of the heap – or almost. Because in his devious cunning, there was one element that Tik-Tok had forgotten…

Winner of the BSFA Award for best novel, 1983
John Sladek SF Gateway Omnibus

John Sladek SF Gateway Omnibus

From the vaults of The SF Gateway, the most comprehensive digital library of classic SFF titles ever assembled, comes an ideal introduction to the razor-sharp wit of John Sladek.

An important voice in the New Wave movement, Sladek had stories published in Harlan Ellison’s seminal anthology, DANGEROUS VISIONS, as well as in Michael Moorcock’s ground-breaking NEW WORLDS magazine. Perhaps best known for the ambitious robot tales RODERICK and RODERICK AT RANDOM, he is now recognized as one of SF’s most brilliant satirists. This omnibus collects novels THE REPRODUCTIVE SYSTEM, THE MULLER-FOKKER EFFECT and BSFA AWARD-winning TIK-TOK.

THE REPRODUCTIVE SYSTEM: Wompler’s Walking Babies aren’t selling like they used to, so the company develops Project 32, producing self-replicating mechanisms designed to repair inter-cellular breakdowns. But then the metal boxes begin crawling about the laboratory, feeding voraciously on metal and multiplying…

THE MULLER-FOKKER EFFECT: Bob Shairp – a writer and dreamer – has agreed to be a guinea-pig in a military experiment to find out if his personality can be turned into data and stored on computer. But a computing error quickly destroys Shairp’s physical body, leaving his mind stranded in an encoded world. Can the process be reversed?

TIK-TOK: Something has gone very seriously wrong with Tik-Tok’s ‘asimov circuits’. They should keep him on the straight and narrow, following Asimov’s First Law of Robotics: ‘a robot shall not injure a human being, or through inaction allow a human being to come to harm.’ But they don’t. While maintaining the outward appearance of a mild-mannered robot, albeit one with artistic tendencies and sympathy for the robot rights movement, Tik-Tok’s real agenda is murderously different. He seems intent on injuring – preferably fatally – as many people as possible. Almost inevitably, a successful career in crime and general mayhem leads to a move into politics and Tik-Tok becomes the first robot candidate for Vice President of the United States.
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