My Awesome New Robot Book

The biggest and best book of my career is finally out in public where people can see it, read it, and even buy it. Robots in American Popular Culture (by someone named Steve Carper) is the first comprehensive history of robots in media. Despite the academic title (fought 'em for six months and lost) and the academic publisher, McFarland, I guarantee that it contains no academic speak and should be loads of fun to read. (But the name got me in to deliver a paper on robots at the Mid-Atlantic Popular & American Culture Association conference in November, so it has its uses.)

I believe that robots as we know 'em first entered popular culture on January 8, 1868, when a young inventor unveiled a seven-foot-tall steam man, designed to replace the horse. (Yes, it was a con, just like almost every other supposed robot unveiled over the next century.) There’s a huge amount of lost history predating modern science fiction: I don’t get to Isaac Asimov until midway through Chapter 9. (He was beaten to the three laws of robotics, too.) Then I breeze through robot history right down to Stormy Daniels as a sexbot in 2016. Every entry is backed by massive documentation: 750 footnotes, a thousand-item bibliography (sorted by media type), and a 1500-entry index. If you want to use this as a textbook you’ll find information available nowhere else.

The mods ruled that I couldn’t post where to buy the book in my post in CS, so I get to do so here.

The easiest place to get it is Amazon. Price is $45.00, steep for a trade paperback, but academic publishing is like that. A Kindle edition is available for $9.99.

Barnes and Noble also sells the trade pb for $45.00 but the Nook edition is $18.99

My publisher, McFarland, also has the book for $45.00 but does not have the ebook available.

Since it’s an academic title, most bookstores will not carry it, but they can all order it for you.

Thanks to one and all. If you want to comment you can do so at my companion site, You should stop there in any case. It has over 350 images keyed to the text page, so you can follow along as you read. And there are links to more than 50 other robot articles I’ve done.

Available for Kobo? I’m interested…

Congratulations! I think I’ll get this for my hubby. He worked in robotics at one point.

I honestly don’t know how McFarland is handling the ebook formatting. I’m surprised they don’t have a downloadable version on their own site. I’ll have to remember to ask if it’s available in other formats.


Woulda been cool if the images had been included in the book itself. I assume there would have been difficulties or added expense involved in getting the rights to print them, and/or in actually printing them, as compared to a book of all text.

The cheapest permissions for images start at $50 and can run much higher. I’d need at least one per chapter. My budget was zero.

Also, to show up properly, images need to be at least 300 dpi. Copied internet images won’t cut it. You need to scan originals.

Moving stuff over from Google Images to a website was really the only solution.

A quick check shows that Yes , it is.

I’ll be picking it up along with the new Expanse book this weekend!

A foreign sale! I’m international!

Thanks and hope you enjoy it.

Do you get into the older (fictional) automatons? Probably not in this book, since it’s about American popular culture. It still sounds interesting.

Older such as the mechanical nightingale from the Emperor and the Nightingale fairy tale, or the artificer’s anthropomorphic automaton mentioned in the Lieh-tzu. I think that dates back to the warring states period. I have always wondered about the history of early machines and mechanical thinking.

I might get the kindle version if I can find my kindle.


Really, really cool, Exapno. I’m not that into robots, but I have so much appreciation for the work that went into your book. I’m sure it was a labor of love!

So I’m into the book around Ch.6. Max it does talk a fair bit about automatons. I’ve learned quite a bit and it’s a really engaging read. I’ll probably have it done by the weekend.

Exapno, you must have spent months researching, Wow! Great book thus far!

Just finished! I have to say that I learned more than I thought I would, especially the last chapter on music. A thoroughly enjoyable read, I’ll be posting a review this weekend along with iiandyii’s book.

It was about a month per chapter.

Looking forward to it!

I don’t know if you’re aware of this but they have your book in stock at the Pittsford Barnes & Noble in the Local Authors section. I bought a copy there today.

They had scheduled a local author group-book signing for this month and then abruptly cancelled it. (Or maybe postponed it. Who knows? Certainly not the authors.) Maybe they ordered books by everyone and now are stuck having to do something with them. Or maybe they’ll actually hold the signing. Tune in tomorrow, same robot time, same robot channel!

Anyway, thanks for the news and thanks for buying the book. I think you’ll have fun. If not, I’ll turn over my entire advance as recompense.

That goes for all of you!

When I went to Amazon this morning the Kindle edition was $3.99… probably for a limited time.

Interesting. I see it too so it’s not based just on your history. For the past couple of weeks, they had the paperback discounted to under $40 but no longer.

I don’t pretend to understand Amazon pricing. I don’t think anybody does.

In any case, I look forward to reading it just as soon as I finish my current book.

Congratulations you