Did I steal this story idea from somewhere else?

About 25 years ago, when I was 15, I had a very vague idea for a story, about robots who travel across the country together. For some reason, today I thought of that idea again and started to flesh it out a bit into a more solid plot, to maybe write it as a screenplay.

So these robots are used like slaves, machines as they are, but they slowly gain enough intelligence that they start to wonder about their lives and what it’s all about. Two of them meet up and start on a quest across the country to find their maker. On the way they meet up with other robots, who each have different jobs, and together they not only have an adventure but they learn from each other to become more rounded characters, until they finally reach their destination and learn the truth about their origins.

And as I was thinking about it, it all fell into place so easily I thought that maybe I unintentionally stole the idea from somewhere else. Or then again, it may be that all I’m doing is recalling the same story I first came up with all those years ago.

I figure if anyone would know of any existing story, written or screened, similar to this, you guys would. Any ideas?

It’s not familiar, but you can’t steal ideas. People might notice similarities, but there’s nothing wrong with that. As long as you are creating new characters, situations, and dialog, you’re creating a different work and aren’t violating copyright. If it’s similar in other ways, just make sure you’re writing a damn good story and no one will care.

There’s some slight similarities to a Frederick Pohl story, “Farmer on the Dole” and a Howard Waldrop story, “Heirs of the Perisphere”. But your plot sounds distinct from these two.

Sounds like a good story, and now I want to read it, so…

Get crackin’! :slight_smile:

Wizard of Oz

V-Ger in ST:TMP

The City and the Stars

Foundation and Earth

O Brother Where Art Thou

etc… (imho, ymmv)
hey, story ideas can fit a similar or familiar theme without being a ripoff. I think yours is a nice idea. Could be entertaining.

it’s Blade Runner

It’s got some similarities to Asimov’s Bicentennial Man.


I’m not sure what you mean by ‘the truth about their origins.’ Did they not realize they were robots, but knew they were slaves? Or did they not understand the context of what they were doing? (Assembling cars because that’s what the world they knew consisted of, not realizing that cars were a product and they were in a factory?)

In any case, I agree with RealityChuck. There have been, at last count 12 billion SF stories involving robots, and no matter what you do some jerk can say, “Well, it’s just like X except you changed Y! Which changes the whole context and makes it nothing like X, but anyway!”

Yes, I saw Heartbeeps. I was young and foolish and*** DON’T YOU JUDGE ME YOU HAVE NO RIGHT TO JUDGE ME!!***

I’m seeing Huckleberry Finn, myself…
But go ahead and give it a try!

Canterbury Tales?

That sounds a lot like AI. This is part of the plot summary from Wikipedia

I will echo what others have said, however, in that I don’t think you stole the idea. It’s just that “a cross country journey to find the truth” is a common theme in a bunch of different stories, and so are robots.

I’m not sure either, just yet. I think they just want to know why machines that are learning enough to be independent, which is far beyond their original programming, are still treated like machines. And I’m also not sure what a satisfying answer to that would be. But I’ll figure something out.

Thanks for all your replies. I am quite relieved I didn’t lift it wholesale from somewhere. I’m very happy about this idea, so I will start working on it right away :slight_smile:

A.I. (Artificial Intelligence) also features a sort of robot road trip to find the robot’s maker.

ETA: Or, what A Monkey With a Gun said.

Perhaps (although I haven’t read them yet) this idea is similar to Roderick and Roderick at Random by John Sladek, but these books are about the adventures of a single robot.

When I read the OP, I thought straight away of a classic short story about a group of farming robots aimlessly wandering through some kind of post-apocalyptic world, congratulating each other that they are finally free of their masters. However, when they do come across a starving remaining human, the moment he commands them to find him some food, they immediately scurry off to obey.

Couldn’t find the title with Google, sorry, but I’m pretty sure it was from the 50’s or 60’s, and should be well known as I’ve read it in more than one anthology.