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Invincible Warriors and Goofball Sidekicks: Robots in American Popular Culture by Steve Carper

Saturday, August 10th, 2019 | Posted by John ONeill

Robots in American Popular Culture-small Robots in American Popular Culture-back-small

Cover by Emsh

Steve Carper has been blogging about robots at Black Gate ever since his first post, The First Three Laws of Robotics, appeared back in November 2017. His delightful and entertaining articles have explored every facet of robots in America over the last century and a half. And now his first book on the subject, Robots in American Popular Culture, has been published by McFarland. Here’s what Steve tells us about it.

Robots in American Popular Culture is the first truly comprehensive prose history of the automaton, the mechanical man, the android, the robot, and all its variants. The index runs from “A. Lincoln, Simulacrum” to “Zutka” (stage act). Robots starts in the 19th century, long before Karel Capek used the old Czech word robota in his play, and the concept of the robot as a replacement for humans has been constantly present in the popular mind since. Both famous and long forgotten robots from comic books and strips, movies and television, stories and the stage, amateur and professional inventors, and science fiction of all flavors are part of this vast history.

Robots is available from my publisher and from Amazon. Because McFarland is an academic publisher, most bookstores will not have Robots on their shelves, but they can easily special order it for you.

But wait, there’s more. PBS publishes a companion book to their documentaries. I’ve created a companion website to my book. RobotsInAmericanPopularCulture.com has more than 350 images, movie and tv clips, music videos, and the ever-popular “other”, each keyed to the book’s page number so you can get a quick visualization and let you see what contemporaries saw. Not to mention over 50 additional articles on robots that grew out of the book…

Thanks to all who have long given me encouragement. I hope Robots will live up to and even surpass your expectations.

Robots in American Popular Culture is packed with vintage photos and Steve’s entertaining and superbly researched prose. It’s the best resource you’ll find on one of the most fascinating topics of our new century. Here’s the publisher’s description.

[Click the images for robot-sized versions.]

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.

Robots in American Popular Culture was published by McFarland on June 27, 2019. It is 301 pages, priced at $45 in paperback, and $9.99 for the digital edition. The cover (adapted from the January 1953 cover of Galaxy Science Fiction) is by Emsh.

See all our coverage of the latest releases from Black Gate‘s writers and bloggers here.

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