6

In this story there is a toy device that can tell stories. The author manages to portray the impression that the device has some kind of increasing capability to empathise with the listener.

In the end, the machine breaks and just repeats a phrase over and over, which I cannot remember.

This story left quite an impression upon me as a child, would be great to find out who wrote it so I can read it again as an adult.

1
  • I think the Duplicate link could go either way. To be honest, I meant to build it the other way. This one's slightly more detailed. That one has more seniority... but it's a small enough difference that I don't plan to "correct" it.
    – FuzzyBoots
    Oct 17, 2019 at 11:40

2 Answers 2

8

This is "Someday" by Isaac Asimov.

From Wikipedia:-

"Someday" is a science fiction short story by American writer Isaac Asimov. It was first published in the August 1956 issue of Infinity Science Fiction and reprinted in the collections Earth Is Room Enough (1957), The Complete Robot (1982), Robot Visions (1990), and The Complete Stories, Volume 1 (1990).

The story is set in a future where computers play a central role in organizing society. Humans are employed as computer operators, but they leave most of the thinking to machines. Indeed, whilst binary programming is taught at school, reading and writing have become obsolete.

The story concerns a pair of boys who dismantle and upgrade an old Bard, a child's computer whose sole function is to generate random fairy tales. The boys download a book about computers into the Bard's memory in an attempt to expand its vocabulary, but the Bard simply incorporates computers into its standard fairy tale repertoire.

The story ends with the boys excitedly leaving the room after deciding to go to the library to learn "squiggles" (writing) as a means of passing secret messages to one another. As they leave, one of the boys accidentally kicks the Bard's on switch.

The Bard begins reciting a new story about a poor mistreated and often ignored robot called the Bard, whose sole purpose is to tell stories, which ends with the words: "the little computer knew then that computers would always grow wiser and more powerful until someday—someday—someday—

1
  • 2
    The Wikipedia description is funny. The "book" was an audio recording, and the boys played it into the audio input of the bard - basically, they read a book to the bard. Seriously. Audio book next to the microphone, and let it play. The story even mentions turning down the volume so it wouldn't bother the boys in their discussion. No "download" in the modern sense at all.
    – JRE
    Oct 17, 2019 at 11:31
5

That sounds very much like "Someday" by Isaac Asimov.

It is a story about two boys, and the story telling machine ("bard") that belongs to the poorer (less priveleged) boy. "Bards" make up stories to tell based on plot lines and general information programmed into them.

Much of the story revolves around the two boys "rediscovering" written text and how to read.

The story ends with the bard kicked in the corner and ignored while it begins telling a story of how the machines will take over someday - and the bard hangs, and repeats steadily to itself "someday, someday,..."

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.