Copyright (c) 1951 by Ziff-Davis Publishing Co.
Tony was tall and darkly handsome, with an incredibly patrician air drawn into every line of his unchangeable expression, and Claire Belmont regarded him through the crack in the door with a mixture of horror and dismay.
“I can’t, Larry. I just can’t have him in the house.” Feverishly, she was searching her paralyzed mind for a stronger way of putting it; some way that would make sense and settle things, but she could only end with a simple ‘repetition. ‘ “Well, I can’t!”
Larry Belmont regarded his wife stiffly, and there was that spark of impatience in his eyes that Claire hated to see, since she felt her own incompetence mirrored in it. “We’re committed, Claire,” he said, “and I can’t have you backing out now. The company is sending me to Washington on this basis, and it probably means a promotion. It’s
perfectly safe and you know it. What’s your objection?”
She frowned helplessly. “It just gives me the chills. I couldn’t bear him.”
“He’s as human as you or I, almost. So, no nonsense. Come, get out there.”
His hand was in the small of her back, shoving; and she found herself in her own living room, shivering. It was there, looking at her with a precise politeness, as though appraising his hostess-to-be of the next three weeks. Dr. Susan Calvin was there, too, sitting stiffly in thin-lipped abstraction. She had the cold, faraway look of someone who has worked with machines so long that a little of the steel had entered the blood.
“Hello,” crackled Claire in general, and ineffectual, greeting.
But Larry was busily saving the situation with a spurious gaiety. “Here, Claire, I want you to meet Tony, a swell guy. This is my wife, Claire, Tony, old boy.” Larry’s hand draped itself amiably over Tony’s shoulder, but Tony remained unresponsive and expressionless under the pressure.
He said, “How do you do, Mrs. Belmont.”
And Claire jumped at Tony’s voice. It was deep and mellow, smooth as the hair on his head or the skin on his face.
Before she could stop herself, she said, “Oh, my-you talk.”
“Why not? Did you expect that I didn’t?”
But Claire could only smile weakly. She didn’t really know what she had expected. She looked away, then let him slide gently into the comer of her eye. His hair was smooth and black, like polished plastic-or was it really composed of separate hairs? And was the even, olive skin of his hands and face continued on past the obscurement of his formally cut clothing?
She was lost in the shuddering wonder of it, and had to force her thoughts back into place to meet Dr. Calvin’s flat, unemotional voice.
“Mrs. Belmont, I hope you appreciate the importance of this experiment. Your husband tells me he has given you some of the background. I would like to give you more, as the senior psychologist of the U. S. Robots and Mechanical Men Corporation.
“Tony is a robot. His actual designation on the company files is TN-3, but he will answer to Tony. He is not a mechanical monster, nor simply a calculating machine of the type that were developed during World War II, fifty years ago. He has an artificial brain nearly as complicated as our own. It is an immense telephone switchboard on an atomic scale, so that billions of possible ‘telephone connections’ can be compressed into an instrument that will fit inside a skull.
“Such brains are manufactured for each model of robot specifically.