Robots in American Popular Culture


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About the Book

They are invincible warriors of steel, silky-skinned enticers, stealers of jobs and lovable goofball sidekicks. Legions of robots and androids star in the dream factories of Hollywood and leer on pulp magazine covers, instantly recognizable icons of American popular culture. For two centuries, we have been told tales of encounters with creatures stronger, faster and smarter than ourselves, making us wonder who would win in a battle between machine and human. This books examines society’s reactions to robots and androids such as Robby and Rosie, Elektro and Sparko, Data, WALL-E, C3PO and the Terminator in popular culture, particularly before and after World War II when the power of technology unfolded. It shows how robots evolved with the times and then eventually caught up with and surpassed them.

About the Author(s)

Steve Carper maintains an ongoing robot column from He lives in Rochester, New York.

Bibliographic Details

Steve Carper
Format: softcover (7 x 10)
Bibliographic Info: notes, bibliography, index
Copyright Date: 2019
pISBN: 978-1-4766-7041-6
eISBN: 978-1-4766-3505-7
Imprint: McFarland

Table of Contents

Introduction 1

Part One: The Robot ­Pre-Computer 9

 1. The Robot and the Android: The Origin of the Species 11

 2. The Heimlich Maneuver: Robots in Early Fiction 21

 3. Is It Mechanism or Soul? Robots on the Stage 35

 4. The Wonderful Walking Mechanical Men 46

 5. “Quiet, Please—I’m Talking”: The Westinghouse Family of Robots 64

 6. Iron Monster Turns Traitor: Amateur Robots 74

 7. Buck, Flash, Tillie and Mickey: Robots in Comic Strips 89

 8. A Tribe of Living Mechanical Men! Robots in Comic Books 110

 9. Utterly Alien and Nonhuman: The Robot in Golden Age Science Fiction 128

10. The Automaton! Robots in Movies 148

Part Two: The Robot ­Post-Computer 157

11. Robots as Camp 159

12. Robots and Kids 172

13. Robots as Androids 192

14. Robots as Sexbots 208

15. Robots as Enemies 220

16. Robots, Robots Everywhere 229

Chapter Notes 245

Bibliography 261

Index 285