Title: RUR and War with the Newts
Author: Karel Capek
Page Count/Review Word Count: 358
This book was on course for a 5/5 but then about a third of the way through it did the same thing that George Orwell did in 1984 where the action suddenly cuts out so there can be pages and pages of background information. In 1984, it was a detailed history of the different nations in the postapocalyptic future. In this book, the equivalent is a lengthy section that reads like an essay on how the newts reproduce and how they act during scientific experiments.
Still, this is a great little read, and there’s something here for everyone – but particularly for fans of classic science fiction. It also has the benefit of basically being two books in one. Let’s take a look at each of them.
RUR is short for ‘Rossum’s Universal Robots’ and it’s credited with introducing the word ‘robot‘ to our vocabulary. It’s also a stage play, which makes it easy to absorb and highly entertaining, and I just flew through the pages and loved the whole thing from start to finish. I particularly liked how it posed the question of who’s ultimately responsible for the actions of a piece of software or a machine. Is it the machine itself, or is it the human who designed and created it?
War With the Newts contains many of the same themes, except this time it’s focusing on a species of intelligent newts that humanity discovers and subsequently takes advantage of until they eventually rise up against them. What’s interesting here is that the war itself doesn’t take up much of the book, but rather it tends to focus on the events that led up to the war and humanity’s role in them. It’s very cleverly done, but like I said – there’s a lengthy bit in the middle that gets kind of tedious, and I found it difficult to pick up momentum again after that.
Still, though, this is definitely worth reading – especially for hardcore sci-fi fans. I’m definitely glad I picked it up.