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  1. Xoic

    Xoic Prognosticator of Arcana Ridiculosum

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    What was this novel? Boy, robot, desolate planet or moon, and laser

    Discussion in 'Book Discussion' started by Xoic, Jan 7, 2020.

    It's something I remember reading in grade school. I was reading a bunch of Heinlein around the same time, but pretty sure it wasn’t him (it MIGHT have been).

    As well as I can remember: it took place on a moon or some kind of barren rocky planet. If it was a moon it must have been a big one, because gravity seemed pretty earth-normal. There was a human settlement, and the boy and the robot had left it to chase each other across the wasteland. I think the robot was bought as a household helper and had run away and the boy was trying to stop it and bring it back home. I think the robot was headed for a spaceport, but not sure. And the boy might have been a young man?

    What stands out in my memory starkly is a particular scene where the MC is standing or hiding next to a rocky outcrop and the robot is somewhere out in the darkness. It fires a laser at him, and it's done very realistically, no sound or impact, just a little red dot appears on the rock and a little thread of smoke curls up from it. I don’t remember if he needed to wear an atmosphere suit but obviously that would ratchet up the tension––a tiny laser hole in the suit would become deadly.

    I also recall much of the chase involved the MC constantly scanning the darkness looking for the telltale red wink that meant another laser strike. A red dot appears out in the wasteland, another simultaneously on or next to him, and then pain if it’s a hit. So the robot's presence was only shown that way for much of the chase.
    Any help would be greatly appreciated, thanks!
     
  2. Xoic

    Xoic Prognosticator of Arcana Ridiculosum

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    Oh, I should add that I read it in the early 70's, so it had to be written prior to that.
     
  3. ArikaT

    ArikaT Member

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    When I was in elementary school I read a book called The Runaway Robot. It doesn't exactly fit your description, but, there is a boy and the 'household' robot in the story. However, the boy and robot are on the same side and running from other people. It was written by Lester Del Rey in 1966. I had to look up who the author was, I didn't have a shot of remembering that since I read the book about 40 years ago.

    Sorry if this isn't it.
     
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  4. Xoic

    Xoic Prognosticator of Arcana Ridiculosum

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    I've been working on this puzzle for years, and I kept running across Runaway Robot. From the synopsis it sounded tantalizingly similar, but I bought it and unfortunately it isn't the book I'm looking for. Thank you though, I appreciate the response. It does sound like the right book, but is more geared toward children and as you said, the boy and the robot are on the same side.

    It's almost impossible to remember, but I think the robot was programmed as a spy or something and was taking intel back to its nefarious masters.

    Lol, and I just realized it's almost the story of R2D2, though he wasn't a spy and didn't fire lasers at Luke. But he was purchased as household help and ran away across a barren desert. As I recall though the robot in the story didn't look like a fireplug. Interesting though, I wonder if George Lucas read the same story and took inspiration from it?
     
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  5. ArikaT

    ArikaT Member

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    It sounds like an interesting book. I hope you find the title, I'm very curious and now I want to read it. So, if you ever find it let us know. :)
     
  6. Xoic

    Xoic Prognosticator of Arcana Ridiculosum

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    I will. But I must say, I've managed to track down some other lost childhood memories, and some of them don't stand up so well. Often the memory is far better than the reality.

    One thought that occurs to me, the realistic laser reminds me of an old Michael Crichton movie called The Andromeda Strain. He wrote books based on real scientific technology. The underground facility and the laser defense system in Andromeda Strain were drawn from cutting-edge science of their day (Hah! No pun intended). I wonder if he might have written it? Though his other work I'm familiar with all takes place on earth in contemporary times. I doubt it was him, but it might have been a scientist or someone familiar with laser technology of the time. Back then we had silly ideas about computers and other tech that industry insiders and scientists understood much better and could write about realistically.
     
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