The Positronic Man
to prevent any kind of innovation that might further the concept of robot rights. If robots become free entities, they might be able to claim job seniority-union membership-all kinds of things of that sort."
    "Yes, I know, Mrs. Charney. But they are filing a petition of intervention, all the same. And they are not the only ones who are."
    "Who else?" said Little Miss in an ominous voice.
    "The United States Robots and Mechanical Men Corporation," Feingold said.
    "They are?"
    "Is it so surprising? They are the world's sole manufacturers of robots, Mrs. Charney. Robots are their main product. Their product, let it be said, with some stress on that word-and products are inanimate things. The U.S.R.M.M. people are disturbed at the idea that anyone might come to consider robots to be anything more than that. If Andrew's petition succeeds in gaining freedom for robots, U.S.R.M.M. probably fears, then it may succeed in gaining other rights for them as well-civil rights, human rights. So of course they will want to fight against that. Just as a manufacturer of shovels and pick-axes regards its products as mere inanimate tools, not as persons, Mrs. Charney, and would be likely to oppose any legal ruling that gave its shovels and pick-axes any sort of civil rights which might lead the shovels and pick-axes to attempt to control the way they are manufactured, warehoused, and sold."
    "Nonsense. Absolute nonsense!" Little Miss cried, with a ferocity in her tone that was worthy of Sir.
    "I agree," Stanley Feingold said diplomatically. "But the interventions have been filed, all the same. And there are others besides these two. We also find ourselves faced with objections from-"
    "Never mind," said Little Miss. "I don't want to hear the rest of the list. Just go in there and refute every single stupid argument that these reactionaries put forth."
    "You know I'll do my best, Mrs. Charney," Feingold said.
    But there wasn't a great deal of confidence in the lawyer's tone.
    The next development came just a week before the trial. Little Miss called Feingold and said, "Stanley, we've just received notice that television crews will be coming to my father's house on Monday to set up the special wiring for the hearing."
    "Yes, of course, Mrs. Charney. It's quite routine."
    "Is the hearing going to be held at my father's house?"
    "Andrew's deposition will be taken there, yes."
    "And the rest of the trial?"
    "It isn't a trial, exactly, Mrs. Charney."
    "The rest of the proceedings, then. Where will they take place? In Judge Kramer's courtroom?"
    "The usual procedure," Feingold said, "is for each concerned party involved in the action to participate electronically. The judge will receive all the inputs in his chambers."
    "No one goes to court in person any more?"
    "Rarely, Mrs. Charney. Very rarely."
    "But it does still happen?"
    "As I said, very rarely. The world is so decentralized now, people have spread out over such great distances-it's so much easier to do these things electronically."
    "I want this done in a courtroom."
    Feingold gave her a quizzical look. "Is there any special reason why-"
    "Yes. I want the judge to be able to see Andrew face to face, to listen to his actual voice, to form a close-range opinion of his character. I don't want him to think of Andrew as some sort of impersonal machine whose voice and image are coming to him over telephone lines. Besides which, I very much don't want my father to have to put up with the stress and turmoil of technical crews invading his privacy to wire his house for whatever kind of transmission is necessary."
    Feingold nodded. He looked troubled. "In order to assure a courtroom hearing at this late date, Mrs. Charney, I would have to file a writ of-"
    "File it, then."
    "The intervening parties will certainly object to the extra expense and inconvenience involved."
    "Let them stay home from the hearings, then. I wouldn't want them put to the slightest inconvenience, not for all the

Similar Books

Not Your Hero

Anna Brooks

Mr Cavell's Diamond

Kathleen McGurl

Fraser's Line

Monica Carly

The Spook Lights Affair

Bill Pronzini, Marcia Muller

Dead Wrong

J. A. Jance

Brave (Healer)

April Smyth


Malcolm Knox

Alpha Rising

G.L. Douglas