Friday Favourites: Robots
By Hodderscape Team
Posted on July 3, 2015 in Books, Film with tags Science Fiction
From C3PO to Wall-E, from Bender to Baymax – robots are all over everything. Today the Hodderscape team pick their favourites. Weirdly, many have names that begin with B.
The Lucy Liu bot from Futurama
After destroying a planet, visiting the edge of the universe, and riding a dinosaur, Fry decides that he has done everything he wanted to do. Except date a celebrity. So, he heads to the internet and downloads Lucy Liu’s personality, installs it in a blank robot and dates Lucy Liu (kind of). She’s programmed to like Fry so the relationship is a success and they spend a lot of time making out. Lucy Liu bot doesn’t quite pass the Turing Test, but it’s okay because ‘she’s stuck in an infinite loop and he’s an idiot’. It all goes well for a while. However, unbeknownst Lucy Liu’s personality was acquired by nefarious means and she’s been held hostage. Eventually he does the rights thing and erases Lucy Liu bot – you go Fry!
Colin the Security Robot
I haven’t read Douglas Adams’ Mostly Harmless in years, but my strongest memory from the book is of Colin, a small, round robot that Ford rewires into ecstatic happiness. Because Colin made me laugh, he became my favourite robot. That’s… pretty much it! (Honourable mention for Marvin, of course.)
Marvin the Paranoid Android
Since my first read of The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy (and there have been several subsequent reads) I’ve loved Marvin the Paranoid Android. Marvin is the robot aboard the Heart of Gold who suffers from severe depression and boredom. He has such a vast intellect that no task could ever satisfy him, and he spends most of the time inflicting his misery on those around him and pointing out that the crew are probably heading for certain death. Douglas Adams managed to create a character so infectiously miserable that other computers commit suicide after talking to him.
Some absolute classic lines from Marvin:
“My capacity for happiness you could fit into a matchbox without taking out the matches first”
“What’s up?” [asked Ford.]
“I don’t know,” said Marvin, “I’ve never been there.”
“I ache, therefore I am.”
“[Trillian] is one of the least benightedly unintelligent life forms it has been my profound lack of pleasure not to be able to avoid meeting.”
Arthur: “Marvin, any ideas?”
Marvin: “I have a million ideas. They all point to certain death.”
Robot B9 from Lost in Space
We got our first TV in 1966 and my first exposure to science fiction came soon after with this series. It’s not the castaway Robinson family who steal the show but the hapless yet evil Dr Smith, an agent of a foreign power dedicated to sabotaging America’s space programme, and his sidekick, the Class M-3 Model B9, General Utility Non-Theorizing Environmental Control Robot, which Smith has programmed to do his will. Dr Smith: ‘Now come along with me, you ludicrous lump, there’s much to be done.’ On the surface everyone’s favourite talking, guitar-playing, kitchen blender (favourite line: ‘That does not compute’), this robot is no follower of Asimov’s Three Laws of Robotics and frequently turns out to be as cuddly as a Magimix blade. I was soon hiding behind the sofa in terror, hands clamped to my eyes and ears. Even at this distance in time it’s difficult to forget the episode with the talking vegetables. Unpredictable, alien and terrifying but often hilarious too: if you think kitchen utensils are capable of both evil and opera singing, this robot is the one for you.
I’m a bit of a marshmallow when it comes to anything Disney-related so it’s unsurprising that I’d fall in love with a character that actually looked like one. Big, bouncy and incredibly naïve (at least at the start of the movie), Baymax from Big Hero 6 is the antithesis of everything you assume a robot should be. Originally created as a healthcare nurse, he starts the movie as a simple but hilarious robot, but gradually becomes more human, developing a personality and beginning to love the hero of the movie, aptly named ‘Hiro.’ Watching their relationship unfold is enough to make even the hardest hearts weep-not a reaction one expects to have from watching a robot-human relationship. Nor is the intense desire to squish him in a hug.
Surely everyone’s favourite robot should be Bender, the comic anti-hero from Futurama (whisper it – it’s better than The Simpsons). He drinks, he smokes, he’s cruel, and yet, you just have to love him! The affection he has for his ‘mother’, the delightfully hideous Mom of ‘Mom’s Friendly Robot Company’ fame, is rather touching, and his comedic partnership with protagonist and all-around dimwit Fry is something quite beautiful.