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You think it's silly. But really, Mr. Burckhardt, you wouldn't think so if you knew more about the Feckle. Let me show you this little booklet-". Burckhardt got back from lunch a full hour late. It wasn't only the girl who delayed him. There had been a curious interview with a little man named Swanson, whom he barely knew, who had stopped him with desperate urgency on the street-and then left him cold.

But it didn't matter much. Barth, for the first time since Burckhardt had worked there, was out for the day-leaving Burckhardt stuck with the quarterly tax returns. Burckhardt," she had said. He needn't have worried. As he walked in the front door, his wife said almost immediately, "I wonder if we can't afford a new freezer, dear. There was a man here to apologize about that noise and-well, we got to talking and-".

It had been the damnedest day, Burckhardt thought later, on his way up to bed. But the day wasn't done with him yet.

Robotics Through Science Fiction | The MIT Press

At the head of the stairs, the weakened spring in the electric light switch refused to click at all. He snapped it back and forth angrily and, of course, succeeded in jarring the tumbler out of its pins. The wires shorted and every light in the house went out. It wasn't so much that he cared about fixing the fuse, but he was too restless for sleep. He disconnected the bad switch with a screwdriver, tumbled down into the black kitchen, found the flashlight and climbed gingerly down the cellar stairs. He located a spare fuse, pushed an empty trunk over to the fuse box to stand on and twisted out the old fuse.

When the new one was in, he heard the starting click and steady drone of the refrigerator in the kitchen overhead.

Book: Isaac Asimov's Worlds of Science Fiction. Book 9: Robots

Where the old trunk had been, the cellar floor gleamed oddly bright. He inspected it in the flashlight beam.

Isaac Asimov on Science Fiction, The Three Laws of Robotics and Earth's Future (1975)

It was metal! He shook his head unbelievingly.

1920 - 1992

He peered closer, rubbed the edges of the metallic patch with his thumb and acquired an annoying cut-the edges were sharp. The stained cement floor of the cellar was a thin shell. He found a hammer and cracked it off in a dozen spots-everywhere was metal. The whole cellar was a copper box. Even the cement-brick walls were false fronts over a metal sheath! Baffled, he attacked one of the foundation beams. That, at least, was real wood. The glass in the cellar windows was real glass. He sucked his bleeding thumb and tried the base of the cellar stairs.

Real wood. He chipped at the bricks under the oil burner. Real bricks. The retaining walls, the floor-they were faked.


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It was as though someone had shored up the house with a frame of metal and then laboriously concealed the evidence. The biggest surprise was the upside-down boat hull that blocked the rear half of the cellar, relic of a brief home-workshop period that Burckhardt had gone through a couple of years before.

From above, it looked perfectly normal. Inside, though, where there should have been thwarts and seats and lockers, there was a mere tangle of braces, rough and unfinished. He leaned against the hull dizzily, trying to think this thing through. More information about this seller Contact this seller. Add to Basket. Waugh editors.

Seller Inventory Condition: Fine. First printing. Simak, George H. Smith, C. Kornbluth, Thomas Easton Published by Signet, Available From More Booksellers. About the Book.

We're sorry; this specific copy is no longer available. AbeBooks has millions of books. We've listed similar copies below. Stock Image. Kornbluth, Thomas Easton. Published by Signet Used First Edition Quantity Available: 1.