It was a short story taking place on an island. Two(?) scientists wanted to create nano robots by placing self replicant, metal searching robots and let evolution take place.

It worked until dusk, when the remaining big guys with batteries had the advantage over the solar driven small guys.

The story ended with one of the robots approaching one of the (by the time really displeased) scientists, who was suddenly very aware of his golden tooth.


2 Answers 2


This is almost certainly Russian SF: "Crabs walk on the Island" by Anatoly Dneprov.

The robots are crabs that rapidly evolve, as part of an experiment by the Navy. The crab robots are constantly seeking to build better robots, and compete for the (purposefully limited) minerals on the island. When the minerals start running low, there is open warfare between competing crabs which evolve differently: there are extremely fast and small crabs which run on solar power, and hulking slow giants with batteries. The scene you remember is when the crabs kill the chief engineer, one of the two guys on the island, in order to extract his stainless steel tooth.

I reached up and got on its back. For an instant Cookling's distorted face came level with mine. "His teeth!" suddenly crossed my mind. "His stainless steel false teeth!" I struck the parabolic mirror, shining in the sunlight, as hard as I could with my fist.

This is a fun story. Not sure where it can be obtained legally, but it's easy to find an English translation if you google it.

  • From memory, the plan was for the crabs to evolve to the point where they could create the worker's paradise by eliminating the need for manual labour. Excellent short-story. Jul 3, 2014 at 0:20
  • @JamesSheridan No, there is no mention of Communism or workers or anything of the sort in the story (you can verify this if you, ahem, google for the story. I assume I can't just give you the link here). It is a plain old the-dangers-of-science SF story, a trope well known in Western SF :)
    – Andres F.
    Jul 3, 2014 at 0:22
  • @JamesSheridan No, I read it in Spanish. I can't read Ukrainian or Russian. I'd be interested in your translation of the relevant passage (regardless of translation quality, I just want to see the subtext :) ). In the English version I just googled, the only relevant hit for "purpose" is that the crabs might have been useful for automated metal mining.
    – Andres F.
    Jul 3, 2014 at 0:28
  • Had a short look on it, that's it. Can't wait to read it again. THX Jul 3, 2014 at 6:24

Second Variety by Philip K. Dick. It also came to my mind.

  • 3
    It would behoove you to add an explanation as to why you think this book fits the question's description.
    – Kevin
    Jul 3, 2014 at 0:17
  • I've read Second Variety recently. It's not what I searched for. Jul 3, 2014 at 6:23

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