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Sunday, August 25, 2013

Laundromat Books #3

Yesterday, I traded a copy of international bestseller, The Da Vinci Code for a well-worn double volume of science fiction novels from the 70s entitled Robot-Killer.

It might seem like something of a strange choice, seeing as how The Da Vinci Code is the behemoth that it is. However, I was drawn in by the title (of's a book called ROBOT-KILLER). Are they two books about people killing robots or two books about robots killing astronauts (as the cover art might suggest). Or maybe even one of each. I DON'T KNOW.

Turns out the first novel in the volume is called Operation ARES by Gene Wolfe (whose most famous professional achievement in engineering, according to Wikipedia, was a contribution to the machine used to make Pringles.). Skimming through the pages, I saw references to Russian/Chinese/generally anti-communist leanings, a Martian invasion, and a president named Fitzpatrick Boyle. But not really any robots (killers or the killed).

The second story in the volume is a novelization of George Lucas' first feature film THX 1138, but here the title was translated into German as Das Drogen-Paradies (The Drug Paradise). It, of course, has all the science fiction-y/Orwellian tropes that you know and love (and enjoyed watching be re-hashed in The Matrices, Gattaca, Equilibrium, etc). And robot cops. I guess some of them do kill people. Probably. They're either killers or, by the looks of the trailer, extras in a Daft Punk video.

Anyway, I thought it was an interesting find and it gave me a lot to think about, which is already more than I can say about The Da Vinci Code. I'll even forgive the description "Zwei utopische Romane in einem Band" ("Two utopian novels in one volume"), because clearly the publisher meant "dystopian novels". Unless, they have a different understanding of the word utopia. It was quite possibly on purpose. All German-like.

And just one more tidbit that makes this laundromat book so intriguing.

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