Eric was the best robot they'd ever had--perfectly trained, ever thoughtful, a joy to own. Naturally they had to destroy him!
g room. They rose, smiling, to greet their host. "Let's save the self-congratulations for later," snapped Burnett. "These were merely our own preliminaries. We're not out of the woods yet. This, ladies and gentlemen, is our newest recruit. He has seen the light. I have fed him basic data and I'm sure we're not making a mistake with him."
Hart was about to demand what was going on when a short man with eyes as intense as Burnett's proposed a toast to "the fiasco in the Plaza." Everyone joined in and he did not have to ask.
"Burnett, I don't quite understand why I am here but aren't you taking a chance with me?"
"Not at all. I've followed your reactions since your first visit to the library. Others here have also--when you were completely unaware of being observed. The gradual shift in viewpoint is familiar to us. We've all been through it. The really important point is that you no longer like the kind of world into which you were born."
"That's true, but no one can change it."<
Every ten years, on the High Holy Day, all the expired equipment in the country is piled up and destroyed to create demand for products and work for citizens. Who would question such a utilitarian plan? And even if you wanted to stop it, how could you? Besides, it would be unpatriotic.
Well, it's got social commentary, I'll give the story that. The characters seem interchangeable, and everything works way too smoothly, but it's an okay story.
"The Junkmakers" employs a common theme in science fiction -- a man who begins to doubt whatever societal conventions and restrictions are prevalent at the time. In this case, society is fixated on the mandoatory, almost religious destruction of useful equipment and a "healthy" (officially ordained) way of thinking. It is a controlled society in the style of Orwell, and main character Wendell Hart finds that he wants to be part of the underground rebellion against it.
Not a gripping story, but interesting for its prescience of things to come (the destruction of perfectly good equipment equates, eerily, with Cash for Clunkers, and the "healthy" thoughts and speech required by the government in the story smack mightily of today's political correctness).