I'm looking for a classic science fiction story where a man disguised as a robot is send to investigate a robot uprising on a mining/factory planet.

He is found out to be a human and brought before the robotic overlord of the planet who offers a deal, we will not kill you if you pretend to be a robot for the rest of your life. He agrees.

He later finds out that in fact all the robots on the planet are humans that made similar deals. We all think everybody else is a robot, but in fact nobody is.

Possibly from Lem or Asimov.

  • I’m sure a similar one to this has been asked recently. Can’t find it from a quick search though.
    – TheLethalCarrot
    Sep 28, 2018 at 20:07
  • Reminds me of Chapek 9.
    – RonJohn
    Sep 29, 2018 at 20:44

1 Answer 1


That's probably The Eleventh Voyage from Lem's Star Diaries.

The Eleventh Voyage, equally dark and hilarious, recounts Tichy’s journey to a planet supposedly ruled by a mutinous computer intelligence. Having abandoned its spacecraft and settled on an uninhabited planet, the computer built robots from spare parts (somehow) and declared the planet’s independence. Because of territorial and insurance squabbles, however, Earth ultimately intervened and tried to take the planet back. By the time that Tichy is sent there, disguised as a robot, to scout out the place, Earth had already sent over two thousand people to try and take possession of the planet. What Tichy realizes, after suffering in his robot suit and getting arrested multiple times for suspicion that he’s a prying human, is that, in fact, the only robots on the planet are the humans who had been sent there to put down the robots


  • I am reminded of a certain faction in Paranoia role-playing game. I wonder if Lem's story was the direct inspiration.
    – Dragomok
    Sep 29, 2018 at 19:31

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