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A Doctor Destroying a Robot

July 5th, 2005

(An Odyssey Journal)

1. A doctor sits at his secretary’s computer. He is hunt-and-peck typing a letter telling an insurance company that a particular client, a patient of his, has reached the final stages of spinal metastasis and likely has only nine months to live. He’s frustrated and angry, having symbolic difficulty with the “undo” command. He normally just has a mild distaste for machines, and avoids them as best he can. He normally succeeds, because his secretary is very good. His secretary is on her honeymoon. Mild undercurrent of attraction to secretary, jealousy, loneliness.

2. The nurse comes in, acting nervous. Doctor doesn’t notice at first, asks her help. They fiddle a little while, can’t get the deleted sentence to come back. Finally he gets so mad he shuts the computer off. Let the secretary sort it out when she gets back. I don’t need this kind of stress. What did you come in for anyhow, Nurse? The next patient is ready for him in the waiting room. What’s the trouble? he asks. He knows her moods. He’s never seen this one. She has tested the patient’s vitals and finds them strange. Reflexes are a little too fast, nothing unusual–but it’s the way the tendons react. Perfect repetition every time. Same with his eyes. No blurring at all between iris and pupil. Uncanny. Doctor says he’ll take a look.

3. Waiting room. Patient sits naked on the bench, bolt upright. “R. Daneel Olivaw?” “Yes.” “What does the ‘R’ stand for?” “Robert.” Doctor runs all the tests again, gets the exact same results. Nothing’s off by a millimeter or a fraction of a second. Doctor pulls away the penlight light, stares into the patient’s eyes as the pupils dilate. An uncomfortable silence. “Is something wrong, Doctor? Can I be of service?” “What?” “Can I be of service?”

4. Recognition. “Excuse me, Mr. Olivaw.” The doctor goes to the door. “Nurse? Cancel the rest of my appointments.” He retrieves a scalpel, goes back in, and locks the door. “Is something wrong, Doctor? Can I be of service?” “No, Mr. Olivaw. No, everything is fine.” He puts the scalpel down, goes back about his examination with excruciating slowness. Flips through medical history. Man has never been to the doctor before. “What brings you here, Mr. Olivaw? Something troubling you?” “I…feel unwanted. Unappreciated. Lonely. I’d like a recommendation to a therapist.” “You’re a robot, aren’t you?” “Yes.” “What makes you think you need a therapist, and not a…programmer?” Patient shrugs. “I’ve tried visiting engineers. Software specialists. Networking gurus. None of it seems to help. None of them really seem to understand how I work.” Doctor’s note-taking pen digs through the paper. “Damn.” He gets up, crumples it into the trash, lays down clipboard, picks up scalpel.

5. Murder. “Hold still, Mr. Olivaw. Hold very still.”

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  • Nubulus of the South Carolina Nubulotchkas says:

    Hi Boon. how come there are numbers like that? is this theoutline or are you going to make it into a real story? is this a new wave structure/content thing? its all numbered cause it makes you think its written in a computerized fashion? anyway, how do you say his first name? Daneel, is that a typo? is his last name supposed to be russian? because in russian you cant have the v sound and the w sound. maybe its polish. or maybe its a new ethnicity that i dont even know about cause its in the future. it sounds a bit like irobot. when they have to kill the one that feels human emotion. why is the nurse so uncomfortable and confused if people know about robots? now, you call #5 murder. is it really murder if hes a robot? what does one do with short stories? keep them short until you have a chance to make them long and then sell them posthumously? if i outlive you ill send them to the publisher again. and then well see. ummm am i the only one who frequents your various websites and comment spots?

  • Noob of the Nubian variety says:

    im a little confused about this commenting system. it still says there are 0 comments on the other page. aaaand it did it twice. it posted and i wasnt ready yet. so now there are two. stink.

  • mjd says:

    There, I deleted your second comment. All this is quite new. I don’t understand how it works yet myself.

    In answer to your questions, the numbers are there because this is an outline. I guess I could have tried to pretend I used them for some kind of highfalutin literary purpose but this Robot Murder thing really isn’t respectable enough to warrant that kind of effort.

    See, R. Daneel Olivaw is, as you so astutely guessed without knowing anything about it, quite significantly related to I, Robot. I, Robot is based on the writings of Asimov, whose sentient robot main character happens to be known as R. Daneel Olivaw. So no, not a typo. The “R” is for “Robot”.

    This outline came out of an odyssey journal where you were supposed to come up with a plot outline based on a doctor destroying a robot. I was trying to get something original out of ole Daneel, trying to play the robot fear Asimov used in his stories into a more modern context, coming up with some kind of parallel with the modern interaction between person and personal computer. I don’t think this outline manages to convey that particularly well. And I don’t think the idea is really worth fleshing out any further, derivative as it is. Otherwise I wouldn’t have posted it here for all to see, but hoarded it and made it better until I could try to sell it. See?

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