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Back around 1985 I remember reading a short story, I think it was in Omni Magazine, of a post-apocalyptic world where something unexpected happens. The story begins during a storm over an ancient factory. A lightning strike hits the factory, which, with its advanced power systems, channels the electrical surge into its grid and activates the assembly line which produces three robots, a Mickey Mouse, a Donald Duck, and a Goofy robot. The power then being used up, the factory again shuts completely down.

Suddenly the three activated AI characters are alive in a desolate world where they cannot find any vestige of humanity. As the characters begin to explore the world around them, they manage to get in touch with a military satellite whose orbit is about to degrade completely. Before it degrades, however, it relays to them the location of some remaining humans. After a long, hard journey, they find the humans and while one of the characters gets damaged beyond repair and cannot go on, the other two are determined to help restore civilization to humanity.

Anyone know the name and author of this story?

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This sounds like "Heirs of the Perisphere" by Howard Waldrop, published in 1985 in Playboy rather than Omni, and even nominated for a Nebula Award.

It starts pretty much as you remember it, with a storm over a factory and a lightning strike that kicks it back into motion.

Things had not been going well at the factory for the last fifteen hundred years or so.

A rare thunderstorm, soaking rain, and a freak lightning bolt changed all that.

When the lightning hit, an emergency generator went to work as it had been built to do a millennium and a half before. It cranked up and ran the assembly line just long enough, before freezing up and shedding its brushes and armatures in a fine spray, to finish some work in the custom design section.

The factory completed, hastily programmed, and wrongly certified as approved the three products which had been on the assembly line fifteen centuries before.

Then the place went dark again.


“Gawrsh,” said one of them. “It shore is dark in here!”

“Well, huh-huh, we can always use the infrared they gave us!”

“Wak Wak Wak!” said the third. “What’s the big idea?”

  • Awesome idea for a story. It very slightly reminds me of Westworld. – Kodos Johnson Feb 2 '18 at 1:35
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    Even if they aren't named as such, it certainly is quite obvious who they are. – can-ned_food Feb 2 '18 at 2:49
  • @KodosJohnson - you might enjoy Cory Doctorow's Down and Out in the Magic Kingdom. Available via free download on his site. His other stuff is good too - craphound.com/category/down – ivanivan Feb 2 '18 at 3:05
  • If I may suggest, Baen appears to have included the story in their free library. You may want to include a link to the story. Find it here: baen.com/Chapters/9781597290838/9781597290838__25.htm – Broklynite Feb 2 '18 at 12:03
  • I stand corrected, that's a sample rather than the whole story. – Broklynite Feb 2 '18 at 12:11

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