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 book examines society’s introduction to robots and androids such as Robby and Rosie, Elektro and Sparko, Data, WALL-E, C-3PO and the Terminator, particularly before and after World War II when the power of technology exploded. Learn how robots evolved with the times and then eventually caught up with and surpassed them.

About the Author(s)

Steve Carper maintains a companion website to this book,, which contains more than 300 images page-keyed to the text, along with links to over 50 of his articles on robot history. He lives in Rochester, New York.

Bibliographic Details

Steve Carper
Format: softcover (7 x 10)
Pages: 301
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

Book Reviews & Awards

“A deeply entertaining and enlightening book”—