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The Soul of the Robot

The Soul of the Robot [Kindle Edition]

Barrington J. Bayley
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)

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Product Description

Product Description

He was unique. Alone in a world that did not understand him, he tested the super powers of his mind and body. More than a machine, but less than a man, he searched restlessly for the truth. Before his quest was done, he had died and been reborn, had fought his way from a grim dungeon to a royal throne. Jasperodus, the only super-robot to have been granted consciousness, must decide whether to share his soul-possessing secrets with the other robots or to betray them to save mankind.

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 454 KB
  • Print Length: 206 pages
  • Publisher: Gateway (29 Sep 2011)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B0061QGHMM
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #427,156 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Robot seeks the meaning of life 4 Dec 2002
I've always liked robot stories: this is one of the better novels in the genre. While being entertaining to read, there are some interesting philosophical points raised about the nature of conciousness. The story is set in the far future where a new robot, Jasperodus, is brought to 'life'. Jasperodus sets out to explore the world and find a purpose in life. He is constantly searching for the answer to the question of whether he has a soul but, as everyone knows, robots don't have souls. He thinks he has, but this is explained as a programming trick to make him think he has a soul . He finds the answers he seeks at the end of the story. Personally I felt the explanation was unsatisfactory or even a cop-out but presumeably the author didn't think so.
Nevertheless, an enjoyable novel.
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By A Customer
Hats off to Cosmos books for reprinting this novel. It is a thoroughly engaging exploration of the nature of consciousness which deserves a wider readership. Barrington J Bayley's books are always packed with ideas, and I would recommend them to anyone with a taste for thoughtful science fiction. If Jack Vance was crossed with Borges in some strange matter transmission accident, the result would be Barry Bayley.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 4.0 out of 5 stars  4 reviews
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A robot with a soul, a subject treated like an object. 5 Nov 2009
By Jasperodus - Published on
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Barrington Bayley died last year, in my opinion the most under-rated and under-appreciated sci-fi author of all time. Just about every novel he wrote should be considered a classic, so it's hard to say this is one of his best--but it's one of his best.

In a far future, after the fall of a great civilization, technology has climbed back to a more-or-less 20th century level, except for the science of robotics which somehow survived and even advanced. A lone robotician, working in the artisanal style of the age with only the help of his wife, discovers an arcane, almost alchemical procedure whereby human souls (described as an 'immaterial material') can be transferred into a robot of sufficient complexity. The childless couple thereby decide to each transfer a portion of their soul into his latest and finest creation, the robot Jasperodus, thus engendering a son. Like all children, Jasperodus lacks gratitude. Upon awakening he takes one look at the shy, lonely, pleading expressions on the faces of his parents, laughs, and strides out the door to meet his fortune, dashing their hopes for a companion in their old age.

Jasperodus doesn't know, however, that because of his uniqueness he is doomed to suffer. The only robot on earth with a genuine soul (his father kept the technique of soul transference secret lest robots learn of it and enslave humanity) his protestations of being a sentient, self-determining being are met with universal dismissal. (In fact, he eventually learns that robot sentience had been mathematically proven to be an impossibility.)

Soon after leaving home, he is impounded by authorities and taken to a courtroom to establish his ownership. When he declares he has no owner, he is confiscated as chattel and assigned to a local landholder. He responds with one of my two favorite lines in the book: "Your legal proceedings are based upon a mistaken premise, namely that I am an object. On the contrary. I am a sentient being." (A sentiment that could well be expressed by anyone with handcuffs on their wrists.)

Tormented by what he believes is a programmed-in conviction of his own self-awareness--'an aberrant self-image' in the words of the court-appointed robotician--our embittered protagonist decides that even if he doesn't have a soul and his self-awareness is just an illusion, he will fight to assert himself in, and do his utmost to mold and even master, the human world around him.

Anyone who can't see the allegorical depths of this story shouldn't bother to read it. It is a brilliant examination of alienation in a secular world and has much to say to anyone who has ever felt that society was treating them like an object. The simple, straightforward, almost 'young-adult' level of the writing just makes it that much more of an intellectual achievement.
1.0 out of 5 stars Are you kidding me? 30 Aug 2014
By Steve - Published on
Format:Kindle Edition
This is the most misogynistic thing I've ever read.

One woman had some lines.
One woman had a character trait (but that character trait was lust for the protagonist).
One woman had a name.
There was one other woman who was mentioned briefly.

Those are all the women "characters" in this book. None of them ever had two of the above, unless you count his mother who might have had "mother" as a character trait in addition to her lines. The author even casually made every robot in this book male-identified for no apparent reason. It's incredibly clear that it just never occurred to him that females might add anything to a story, other than simply as props for the men to do things to.

Perhaps the most horrifying part happens pretty early on, though, when the protagonist wonders why he, as a robot who identifies as male, doesn't find a mass kidnapping and rape to be erotic. My first thought was, "why doesn't he find this scene horrifying?" But that thought never occurs to the protagonist. I can only assume because it never occurred to the author that such a scene might be considered horrifying, as it should be for any thinking being.

I read this book all the way through. There is some stupid stuff about thought and personal identity, but the author clearly doesn't understand anything about philosophy or programming or science. Basically, the author asks "How can a robot be sentient without a soul?" It turns out the answer is, "it can't." I really can't imagine how anyone would find this to be an interesting thought.

If it didn't so obviously and carelessly devalue women, it might be worth a read, but probably not. Please, just don't bother. I'm really not exaggerating.
5.0 out of 5 stars Should be better known- a classic hidden gem of science fiction 31 May 2014
By Mike Medel - Published on
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
This book is an enjoyable and thought provoking read. I'm grateful to get the chance to experience it again after so many years.
5.0 out of 5 stars Love that Bayley! 14 Sep 2013
By Teh Arbitrageur - Published on
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Typical high B-grade prose from the 1970's pulp sci-fi near-master. Up to his usual high standards of writing: good characters, nice scenic depictions, well-paced action, though it won't change most people's lives. Bayley was a bit formulaic, but I can appreciate that, as he had a good formula -- if you like one of his novels, you'll probably like them all, believe me.

Glad to see most/all of the Bayley catalog is now on Kindle. I've happily bought every one, and will have days and days of entertainment for just double-digit dollars. Smiling now.
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