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Old 07-30-2016, 04:50 PM
Exapno Mapcase Exapno Mapcase is offline
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Stories where robots replace politicians

Isaac Asimov's "Evidence" from 1946 was about the possibility that a robot was so humanlike that he could be elected President. His 1976 "The Tercentenary Incident" was more specific, with a robot double taking the place of an assassinated President.

The theme of robot doubles taking over the world by duplicating politicians has been done to death since the 60s. Seems to me it has to be much older than that.

I know of one before 1946, a 1944 Mickey Mouse newspaper strip set in the future in which Pegleg Pete (now with two legs) is going to use his Mekka Men to replace the real leaders.

Those strips were so derivative of other gags that I can't believe that's original. What came before?
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Old 07-30-2016, 05:10 PM
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Old 07-30-2016, 05:48 PM
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Is "The Ablest Man in the World" from 1879 within the boundaries of your interest?
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Old 07-30-2016, 05:58 PM
The Other Waldo Pepper The Other Waldo Pepper is online now
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Originally Posted by Exapno Mapcase View Post
Isaac Asimov's "Evidence" from 1946 was about the possibility that a robot was so humanlike that he could be elected President. His 1976 "The Tercentenary Incident" was more specific, with a robot double taking the place of an assassinated President.

The theme of robot doubles taking over the world by duplicating politicians has been done to death since the 60s.
Just to prove your point, let me mention the MISSION:IMPOSSIBLE episode 'Robot', in which the dead Premier has been replaced by a flesh-and-blood impostor -- but our heroes would have a hard time proving it, so they instead make it look like he's been replaced by a robot impostor, because that's a comparatively easy sell, right?

Ah, the '60s.
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Old 07-30-2016, 06:05 PM
Exapno Mapcase Exapno Mapcase is offline
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Is "The Ablest Man in the World" from 1879 within the boundaries of your interest?
That's not really a match, but it's a fascinating find. Mitchell is well known in early sf circles, especially as author of "The Tachypomp."

That does remind me I have to go through Bleiler's books on early sf, which are indexed by topic.

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Just to prove your point, let me mention the MISSION:IMPOSSIBLE episode 'Robot', in which the dead Premier has been replaced by a flesh-and-blood impostor -- but our heroes would have a hard time proving it, so they instead make it look like he's been replaced by a robot impostor, because that's a comparatively easy sell, right?

Ah, the '60s.
Yeah, I'd be surprised if you didn't find the plot in The Man from U.N.C.L.E. and Get Smart and The Avengers and a dozen Marvel comics.
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Old 07-30-2016, 06:07 PM
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Nm..

Last edited by Duke of Rat; 07-30-2016 at 06:08 PM.
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Old 07-30-2016, 06:47 PM
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Yeah, I'd be surprised if you didn't find the plot in The Man from U.N.C.L.E. and Get Smart and The Avengers and a dozen Marvel comics.
No, I agree; my point was, it was such a storytelling commonplace by then that the idea of a robot double standing in for the Premier was easier for them to build a con around than the fact that a lookalike was just doing an impression of his voice.

(Incidentally, how would you count that classic TWILIGHT ZONE episode where the mysterious Old Man In The Cave calling the shots for a whole community turns out to have been a computer all along?)
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Old 07-30-2016, 07:08 PM
Exapno Mapcase Exapno Mapcase is offline
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No, I agree;
I was agreeing with you agreeing. It's a mutual admiration society!

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(Incidentally, how would you count that classic TWILIGHT ZONE episode where the mysterious Old Man In The Cave calling the shots for a whole community turns out to have been a computer all along?)
Doesn't ring a bell. (Memory? What memory?) But that seems to be a different subgenre.
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Old 07-30-2016, 07:17 PM
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The name of the episode was, in fact, The Old Man In The Cave.

[/hijack]
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Old 07-30-2016, 09:03 PM
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Quote:
Quoth Exapno:

His 1976 "The Tercentenary Incident" was more specific, with a robot double taking the place of an assassinated President.
Huh, I thought I had read all of Asimov's robot works, but that one doesn't ring a bell. Where might one find it?
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Old 07-30-2016, 09:20 PM
Exapno Mapcase Exapno Mapcase is offline
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It's in The Complete Robot. You can also find it by Googling.
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Old 07-31-2016, 11:07 AM
wintertime wintertime is offline
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You're quite right: it's a common enough trope starting with the 1950s but early examples seem to escape me.

The separate themes are all part of early SF: robots are mistaken for humans, artificial intelligence replaces human kind, and robots influence/make politics.

J. Storer Clouston's Button Brains from 1933 is likely one of the earlier stories where a robot is mistaken for his human counterpart. The novel is humouristic and could be either the source or an early collection of jokes that deal with malfunctioning robots.

Sydney Fowler Wright's Automata I-III (1929) deals with intelligent machines that take over the work of humans and become more and more their replacements.

In Lester del Rey's Helen O'Loy (1938) a man falls in love with a robot resembling a human woman - this theme is far more developed than the one you mention: It goes back to L’Eve Future by Auguste Villiers de l'Isle-Adam (1886), the story that popularized the term android. Though we could even go back to Olympia from E. T. A. Hoffman's The Sandman (1816).

The step from purely sexual object to political influence was taken with the female looking "Futura" in Thea von Harbou's novel from 1926, which became renown as a movie: Metropolis (1927) in which Hel/Maria incites the workers to riot and overcome the injust social order.

But Futura is still not what you're looking for.

In Rex (1934) by Harl Vincent, a robotic entity uses its "marvelous mechanical brain" to rule the world but is overthrown/despairs before it is able to remake man in the image of robots. Not a match either - but closer to the trope that became so popular later.

Interesting query, Exapno Mapcase.
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Old 07-31-2016, 01:11 PM
Exapno Mapcase Exapno Mapcase is offline
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Thanks. That was an interesting list.

Bleiler lists dozens of stories under the classification Robot, but doesn't break out any one featuring a deliberate replacement. Misunderstandings go way back, and I agree that it all starts with Hoffmann with renewed interest in the theme after Offenbach's opera The Tales of Hoffmann debuted in 1881.

The specific plot of replacement of leaders by robots for the purpose of ruling the world is not anything I can find.

However, it occurs to me that Bill Walsh, the Mickey Mouse writer, must have been influenced by Charlie Chaplin imitating Hitler in The Great Dictator only four years earlier. That theme goes back to The Man in the Iron Mask and The Prince and The Pauper. A 1932 film, The Phantom President, has a dull candidate replaced by a charismatic showman in public.

A short hop from there to a constructing a perfect double. It still bothers me that Bill Walsh, of all people, was the one to make it. Originality wasn't one of his strong points.
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