Sally (short story)

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"Sally" is a science fiction short story by Isaac Asimov. It was first published in the May–June 1953 issue of Fantastic and later appeared in the Asimov collections Nightfall and Other Stories (1969) and The Complete Robot (1982).

Plot summary[edit]

The story portrays a future where the only cars allowed on the road are those that contain positronic brains, so they do not require a human driver. The cars do not communicate verbally, although they can communicate via slamming doors and honking their horns, and by the patterns of cylinder knocking by misfiring.

51 old cars have been retired to a 'farm' run by Jake where they can be properly cared for. The cars each have names, but only two are identified with any certainty as to their manufacturers. Sally is described as a vain convertible, strongly implying that she is a Corvette (as this was the only convertible sportscar made in the United States at the time the story was written), and one sedan, Giuseppe, is identified as coming from the Milan factories, meaning that he is explicitly an Alfa Romeo. The story takes place in 2057. The oldest car on the farm is from 2015.

Raymond Gellhorn, an unscrupulous businessman tries to steal some of the cars in order to 'recycle' the brains. He forces Jake, the resident caretaker of the farm, aboard a bus at gunpoint, trying to get away from the farm and holding Jake captive. The cars chase and eventually surround the bus, communicating with it until it opens a door. Jake jumps out, and the bus drives off with Gellhorn. Sally takes Jake back to the farm. Gellhorn is found dead in a ditch the next morning, exhausted and run over. The bus is found by the police and is identified by its tire tracks.

The story ends with Jake losing trust in his cars, thinking what the world will become if cars realize that they are effectively enslaved by humans, and revolt.

Author's comments[edit]

In "Nightfall and Other Stories," Asimov claimed that any "parlor psychologist" would claim that this story is highly indicative of underlying sexual tensions, but he dismissed this notion as ludicrous. [needs citation]

Preceded by:
"A Boy's Best Friend"
Included in:
The Complete Robot
Robot Dreams
Series:
Robot series
Foundation Series
Followed by:
"Someday"