Monday, April 29, 2019

Let's Get Together

Image from Parigi Books

Let's Get Together is a 1957 science fiction short story by Isaac Asimov. It's one of his robot stories, but these are a different kind of robot than his better-known ones. These are perfectly willing to serve as tools of war. You can read it online here. It begins,
A kind of peace had endured for a century and people had forgotten what anything else was like. They would scarcely have known how to react had they discovered that a kind of war had finally come.

Certainly, Elias Lynn, Chief of the Bureau of Robotics, wasn’t sure how he ought to react when he finally found out. The Bureau of Robotics was headquartered in Cheyenne, in line with the century-old trend toward decentralization, and Lynn stared dubiously at the young Security officer from Washington who had brought the news.

Elias Lynn was a large man, almost charmingly homely, with pale blue eyes that bulged a bit. Men weren’t usually comfortable under the stare of those eyes, but the Security officer remained calm.

Lynn decided that his first reaction ought to be incredulity. Hell, it was incredulity! He just didn’t believe it!

He eased himself back in his chair and said? "How certain is the information?”

The Security officer, who had introduced himself as Ralph G. Breckenridge and had presented credentials to match, had the softness of youth about him; full lips, plump cheeks that flushed easily, and guileless eyes. His clothing was out of line with Cheyenne but it suited a universally air-conditioned Washington, where Security, despite everything, was still centered.

Breckenridge flushed and said, "There’s no doubt about it.”

"You people know all about Them, I suppose,” said Lynn and was unable to keep a trace of sarcasm out of his tone. He was not particularly aware of his use of a slightly-stressed pronoun in his reference to the enemy, the equivalent of capitalization in print. It was a cultural habit of this generation and the one preceding. No one said the "East,” or the "Reds” or the "Soviets” or the "Russians” any more. That would have been too confusing, since some of Them weren’t of the East, weren’t Reds, Soviets, and especially not Russians. It was much simpler to say We and They, and much more precise.

Travelers had frequently reported that They did the same in reverse. Over there, They were "We” (in the appropriate language) and We were "They.”

Scarcely anyone gave thought to such things any more. It was all quite comfortable and casual. There was no hatred, even. At the beginning, it had been called a Cold War. Now it was only a game, almost a good-natured game, with unspoken rules and a kind of decency about it.

Lynn said, abruptly, "Why should They want to disturb the situation?”


  1. Hmmm, robots as tools of war. Doesn't that contradict the 3 laws?

    1. Indeed it does. Not all of Asimov's robots take place in the 3 Laws environment. This one focuses on a world that's a continuation of Cold War politics.

  2. your title got me to go astray... "let's get together, the two of us over a glass of champagne" (sailor, 1975)... how i have an earworm for the rest of the day:)))

    1. I remember that song! Fond memories :)