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Farewell to the Master by Harry Bates

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"Farewell to the Master" is a 1940 science fiction novella by Harry Bates. It is about a powerful robot whose master is killed while visiting Earth.

Scary Robots Rule

I’ll admit it – I love a good robot story! From Asimov to Clarke I just can’t get enough of them. Here is another great one to add to my list.

Non-spoiler Summary in a Nutshell

Green Robot by peyri, CC 2.0 license

Cliff Sutherland is a photographer who has been covering the strange events in Washington D.C. You see, recently a UFO landed there and a humanoid and robot emerged. Most of the onlookers were amazed and excited, but there was one nut-job who decided to take matters into his own hands and assassinated the humanoid. Since that time the robot and space ship have not moved an inch – in fact the Smithsonian built around them and now they are part of the permanent collection. But when Cliff spends the night in the exhibit he sees something amazing – and once the rest of the world finds out what is happening all pandemonium breaks loose!

My Two Cents…

  • This was a fun and easy story to read! Cliff’s descriptions of the happenings inside the museum were a blast to read about.
  • The strange relationship that Cliff builds with the robot is pretty cool – especially given what happens at the end.
  • A few times during this story I had to take a deep breath and just remember that it was written in 1940. You really have to stretch your suspension of disbelief in some places, but overall the story is worth it.

Interesting Tidbits:

  • Page Count: 33
  • Word Count: 15,779
  • Did you know that Harry Bates was originally NOT a fan of science fiction? Yep. You can learn more about this multi-tasking author at Wikipedia.
  • "Farewell to the Master" was the basis for the 1951 and 2008 films "The Day the Earth Stood Still" – here is the trailer for the more recent one, which will hopefully wet your whistle for reading the story!

Where You Can Find Farewell to the Master:

Craving More Science Fiction Short Stories?

If you liked "Farewell to the Master" then you might also enjoy "Scanners Live in Vain" by Cordwainer Smith – about a sensory deprived man who tries to stop his Scanner brothers from killing a human who has just made a great scientific breakthrough.