Autofac

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"Autofac" is a 1955 science fiction short story by American writer Philip K. Dick that features one of the earliest treatments of self-replicating machines (and Dick's second, after his 1953 short story Second Variety). It appeared originally in Galaxy Science Fiction of November 1955, and was reprinted in several collections, including The Variable Man published in 1957, and Robots, Androids, and Mechanical Oddities published in 1984.

The story was adapted by Travis Beacham for an episode of the 2017 TV series, Philip K. Dick's Electric Dreams.

Plot summary[edit]

It is set some years after an apocalyptic world war has devastated Earth's civilizations, leaving only a network of hardened robot "autofacs" in operation to supply goods to the human survivors. Once humanity has recovered enough to want to begin reconstruction, the autofacs are immediately targeted for shutdown since they monopolize the planet's resources, but the ability to control them was lost in the war. This leaves the future of humanity, and the planet, in uncertainty as the autofacs consume every resource they can attain to produce what they perceive as needed. The story involves the human survivors as they try to steal the supplies they need and search for a way to take the power of production back into their own hands.[1]

In this story the distinctive catch-phrase, "This milk is pizzled", is used as a first wedge into the system, trying to confuse a robot which keeps delivering food, including milk. Thus "pizzled" is now taken to mean faulty, in some unspecified—and perhaps unspecifiable—way.

Translations[edit]

  • French: "Le Règne des robots", anonymous, August 1956, in "Galaxie Anticipation" issue 33

Television version[edit]

The TV series Philip K. Dick's Electric Dreams includes a one-hour episode based on the story, with considerable differences in the plot and outcome.[2]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Philip K. Dick, Selected Stories of Philip K. Dick
  2. ^ Autofac (TV)

External links[edit]