Moxon's Master

"Moxon's Master" is a short story by American writer Ambrose Bierce, which speculates on the nature of life and intelligence. It describes a chess-playing automaton that murders its creator. First published in The San Francisco Examiner on April 16, 1899, it is one of the first descriptions of a robot in English-language literature written much before the word 'robot' came to be used.

Plot summary

The master, Moxon, who creates a chess-playing automaton, boasts to the narrator that even though machines have no brains, they can achieve remarkable things and therefore should be treated just like men of flesh and blood. After a thorough discussion about what it is to be "thinking" and "intelligent", the narrator leaves. The narrator returns to Moxon's house later to learn more. He enters and finds Moxon playing chess with an automaton. Moxon wins the game, and the automaton kills him in an apparent fit of rage. The narrator later questions whether what he saw was real.

See also

External links

Ambrose Bierce

Ambrose Gwinnett Bierce (June 24, 1842 – circa 1914) was an American short story writer, journalist, poet, and Civil War veteran.

Bierce's book The Devil's Dictionary was named as one of "The 100 Greatest Masterpieces of American Literature" by the American Revolution Bicentennial Administration. His story "An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge" has been described as "one of the most famous and frequently anthologized stories in American literature"; and his book Tales of Soldiers and Civilians (also published as In the Midst of Life) was named by the Grolier Club as one of the 100 most influential American books printed before 1900.A prolific and versatile writer, Bierce was regarded as one of the most influential journalists in the United States, and as a pioneering writer of realist fiction. For his horror writing, Michael Dirda ranked him alongside Edgar Allan Poe and H. P. Lovecraft. His war stories influenced Stephen Crane, Ernest Hemingway, and others, and he was considered an influential and feared literary critic. In recent decades Bierce has gained wider respect as a fabulist and for his poetry.In December 1913, Bierce traveled to Chihuahua, Mexico, to gain first-hand experience of the Mexican Revolution. He disappeared, and was rumored to be traveling with rebel troops. He was never seen again.

Androids, Time Machines and Blue Giraffes

Androids, Time Machines and Blue Giraffes is an anthology of science fiction novelettes and short stories compiled by Roger Elwood and Vic Ghidalia, actually packaged by the former and edited by the latter. It was first published in hardcover by the Follett Publishing Company in August 1973.The book collects twenty-four novelettes and short stories by various science fiction authors, together with a preface by the packager. The stories were previously published in 1835-1973 in various science fiction and other magazines.

List of fictional robots and androids

Robots and androids have frequently been depicted or described in works of fiction. The word "robot" itself comes from a work of fiction, Karel Čapek's play, R.U.R. (Rossum's Universal Robots), written in 1920 and first performed in 1921.

This list of fictional robots and androids is chronological, and categorised by medium. It includes all depictions of robots, androids and gynoids in literature, television, and cinema; however, robots that have appeared in more than one form of media are not necessarily listed in each of those media. This list is intended for all fictional computers which are described as existing in a humanlike or mobile form. It shows how the concept has developed in the human imagination through history.

Static computers depicted in fiction are discussed in the separate list of fictional computers.

List of science fiction short stories

This is a non-comprehensive list of short stories with significant science fiction elements.

Machines That Think

Machines That Think is a compilation of 29 science fiction stories probing the scientific, spiritual, and moral facets of computers and robots and speculating on their future. It was edited by Isaac Asimov, Martin H. Greenberg, and Patricia S. Warrick.

Published in 1984 by Holt, Rinehart, and Winston, it features a foreword by Asimov, the creator of the Three Laws of Robotics. In addition, each story has introductory notes by Warrick, author of The Cybernetic Imagination in Science Fiction, explaining the significance of the story in the context of science fiction's evolution of ideas concerning artificial intelligence. This book is a companion piece to that book, providing the source material upon which Warrick's analysis is based.

Maelzel's Chess Player

"Maelzel's Chess Player" (1836) is an essay by Edgar Allan Poe exposing a fraudulent automaton chess player called The Turk, which had become famous in Europe and the United States and toured widely. The fake automaton was invented by Wolfgang von Kempelen in 1769 and was brought to the U.S. in 1825 by Johann Nepomuk Mälzel after von Kempelen's death.

Although it is the most famous essay on the Turk, many of Poe's hypotheses were incorrect. He also may or may not have been aware of earlier articles written in the Baltimore Gazette where two youths were reported to have seen chess player William Schlumberger climbing out of the machine. He did, however, borrow heavily from David Brewster's Letters on Natural Magic. Other essays and article had been written and published prior to Poe's in Baltimore, Philadelphia, and Boston—cities in which Poe had lived or visited before writing his essay.

Science Fiction Thinking Machines

Science Fiction Thinking Machines: Robots, Androids, Computers is an anthology of science fiction short stories edited by American anthologist Groff Conklin. It was first published in hardcover by Vanguard Press in May 1954. An abridged paperback edition titled Selections from Science Fiction Thinking Machines was published by Bantam Books in August 1955 and reprinted in September 1964.The book collects twenty-two novelettes and short stories by various science fiction authors, together with an introduction and bibliography by the editor. The stories were previously published from 1899-1954 in various science fiction and other magazines.

The Turk

The Turk, also known as the Mechanical Turk or Automaton Chess Player (German: Schachtürke, "chess Turk"; Hungarian: A Török), was a fake chess-playing machine constructed in the late 18th century. From 1770 until its destruction by fire in 1854 it was exhibited by various owners as an automaton, though it was eventually revealed to be an elaborate hoax. Constructed and unveiled in 1770 by Wolfgang von Kempelen (Hungarian: Kempelen Farkas; 1734–1804) to impress the Empress Maria Theresa of Austria, the mechanism appeared to be able to play a strong game of chess against a human opponent, as well as perform the knight's tour, a puzzle that requires the player to move a knight to occupy every square of a chessboard exactly once.

The Turk was in fact a mechanical illusion that allowed a human chess master hiding inside to operate the machine. With a skilled operator, the Turk won most of the games played during its demonstrations around Europe and the Americas for nearly 84 years, playing and defeating many challengers including statesmen such as Napoleon Bonaparte and Benjamin Franklin. The device was later purchased in 1804 and exhibited by Johann Nepomuk Mälzel. The chess masters who secretly operated it included Johann Allgaier, Boncourt, Aaron Alexandre, William Lewis, Jacques Mouret, and William Schlumberger, but the operators within the mechanism during Kempelen's original tour remain a mystery.

Books
Short stories

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