08 October 2011
64. Second Variety
This was a great science fiction story. It was originally published in 1953, but is still a great read today.
The story takes place in a post-nuclear war earth. The war between the Soviet Union and the United Nations was disastrous for the planet. The Soviets took the early advantage and were dominating the planet. The UN government took refuge on a secret base built on the moon. The only folks left on Earth are military forces.
The UN forces have designed killer robots. They also gave the robots the ability to create better robots. They learn and improve and become deadlier as time passes. So much so that the Soviet Union is being defeated and there are talks of surrender.
The story take a twist as the robots "evolve". They learn to alter and eliminate the programming that keeps them from killing UN troops. They also learn to create human looking robots that can fool people. A wounded soldier version is used to enter Soviet bunkers and kill the troops within. A little boy with a teddy bear is designed to take the place of the wounded soldier when the troops catch on.
The second variety is a type of human looking robot and the actual identity of this type is not known or revealed in the novel. That is what makes it so good. The reader is spending the whole time trying to figure out who the second variety is? Think you have it figured out? Something happens to change that or cast doubt upon your prediction. It was a lot of fun to figure it out.
FYI...I did figure it out about half way through.
What was interesting is that the story reminded me a bit of the Terminator movies. Robots hunted people. Robots learned and modified the production of better and better weapons against humans. It was familiar, but very different also.
I like Philip K. Dick a lot. It was a quick read also. Perfect for work. :-)