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The Proud Robot: The Complete Galloway Gallegher stories    by Henry Kuttner & C. L. Moore order for
Proud Robot
by Henry Kuttner
Order:  USA  Can
Collins, 1983 (1952)
* *   Reviewed by Hilary Williamson

Science fiction often takes itself much too seriously, but no-one could accuse the authors of The Proud Robot of a lack of humor. This collection of short stories about Galloway Gallegher was originally published in the U.S. as Robots Have No Tails by Lewis Padgett (one of the many pseudonyms of prolific writing partners Henry Kuttner and C. L. Moore, who were also married to each other). This 1983 version of the book identifies Henry Kuttner as its author 'with C. L. Moore'.

I have always loved this book for its robot - instead of Asimov's earnest robots who save us from ourselves, or Clarke's sinister Hal who is out to get us, these authors give us Joe, a vain robot. His genius inventor, Galloway Gallegher, 'played at science by ear' and is at his most creative on one of his drinking binges. As he says about Joe, 'I made him when I was drunk, and I haven't the slightest idea how or why. All he'll do is stand there and admire himself'. Joe also 'sings like a banshee', and can extend his eyes on stalks the better to view his own beauty.

Unfortunately, Gallegher accepted various commissions while in his state of inebriation. In the title story, clients like Vox-View Pictures are pressing him for answers and he's in debt for diamonds ground to dust in an experiment that he doesn't remember doing - the comically sinister Kennicott threatens a dire fate if he doesn't have his money soon. Gallegher discovers things that Joe can do, like vasten and hypnotize people, at the same time as the 'rattle-geared Narcissus' manages to get his creator into deeper and deeper trouble. When he finally discovers Joe's purpose in life, it's hilarious.

Futher stories continue the Odd Couple relationship of Joe and Gallegher, with the introduction of the latter's Grandpa for more comic relief. Tales involve time travel, a ray gun, a disappearing corpse, Martian Lybblas who look like upright rabbits, a metabolic accelerator, a time locker and more - a great diversion for any SF fan. The only problem is that this book is out of print, so until someone has the sense to get it back into publication, look for it in libraries and second hand stores as either The Proud Robot or Robots Have No Tails. It's worth the effort.

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