SF writer and editor Harry Harrison explores a not too distant future where robots--particularly specialist robots who don't know their place--have quite a rough time of it. True, the Robot Equality Act had been passed--but so what?
Jon had to wait a half hour for his turn, but the receptionist finally signalled him towards the door of the interviewer's room. He stepped in quickly and turned to face the man seated at the transplastic desk, an upset little man with permanent worry wrinkles stamped in his forehead. The little man shoved the papers on the desk around angrily, occasionally making crabbed little notes on the margins. He flashed a birdlike glance up at Jon.
"Yes, yes, be quick. What is it you want?"
"You posted a help wanted notice, I--"
The man cut him off with a wave of his hand. "All right let me see your ID tag ... quickly, there are others waiting."
Jon thumbed the tag out of his waist slot and handed it across the desk. The interviewer read the code number, then began running his finger down a long list of similar figures. He stopped suddenly and looked sideways at Jon from under his lowered lids.
"You have made a mistake, we have no opening for you."
Jon began to exp
I thought this was a surprisingly modern short story. The Robot Equality Act gave robots equal rights, but there was a lot of prejudice against them from humans, and it was tough for a robot to find a job.
What starts out as a hard-luck story turns into a crime thriller with a robot as the good guy and humans as heavies. The characterizations are good, especially of the robot, who is clever and resourceful.
Pretty good for dated sci-fi - I could almost picture Robbie the Robot and Twikki from Buck Rodgers. The main character is a robot in an anti-robot society where humans have an inherent distrust/dislike of robots and treat them like...well, unthinking and unfeeling machines. If you can by the dated feel it's a decent story.