There was a great SF story I read some time ago (probably 25+ years ago) where there was a well known treasure trove, guarded by a killer robot that would ask all comers a series of difficult questions from all areas (math, physics, literature, history, etc.) But everyone eventually failed and died... until the last person managed to make it past the robot:

By just answering gibberish to the robot. Unfortunately, after collecting a ton of treasure, the robot casually asked him why he wanted it, he answered in a sensible way (something like "because it's valuable"), and the robot killed him, because he failed the final test.

Any ideas who wrote this? What it was titled?


Sounds like it could be "The Sixth Palace" by Robert Silverberg. It seems to have appeared in a number of anthologies.

In a game strangely like "Who Wants to be a Millionaire" a robot asks questions of adventurers looking for treasure. If you answer all the questions correctly, you get the treasure, a vast trove of priceless artworks. But watch out! There are no lifelines in this version, and the penalty for a wrong answer literally is your life!

The story was originally published in Galaxy, February 1965 and you can read it at the Internet Archive.

  • I had a feeling that this could be Robert Silverberg, but I had no idea why that popped into my head. But as soon as you said the title/author I knew it was right. Um...how on earth did you find this? – Beska Dec 9 '11 at 12:36
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    @Beska: The Google search that worked for me was "sci fi story treasure guarded by robot questions". The second link (the first one being for this question!) was to some foreign language message board page, which towards the bottom has an English summary of some of the stories from the anthology Deep Space (search "treasure" on the page). Then it was just a matter of searching around for the contents of that anthology, and voilà. – gnovice Dec 9 '11 at 18:45
  • Thanks to a comment on a potential dupe, you can read it online at archive.org – Zommuter Jul 6 '17 at 6:18
  • I read this in the Needle In A Timestack anthology! – zeta-band Oct 30 '19 at 23:12
  • Thank you so much I've been wondering about this for years! Thing is, I remember hearing it on the radio, sometime in the 1970s. I wonder whether I'm imagining that. – eac2222 Oct 31 '19 at 15:28

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