Farewell to the Master

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"Farewell to the Master"
AuthorHarry Bates
Genre(s)Science fiction
Published inAstounding Science Fiction
Publication typeMagazine
Publication dateOctober 1940 (1940-10)

"Farewell to the Master" is a science fiction short story by American writer Harry Bates. It was first published in the October 1940 issue of Astounding Science Fiction.[1] It provided the basis of the 1951 film The Day the Earth Stood Still and its 2008 remake. In 1973, the story was adapted by Marvel Comics for its Worlds Unknown series with Bates' blessing.


The story is told from the viewpoint of Cliff Sutherland, a free-lance picture reporter, who is present when a mysterious "curving ovoid" ship suddenly appears on the grounds of the United States Capitol in Washington, D.C. Two days later, "visitors from the Unknown" emerge: a "god-like" person in human form and an 8-foot (2.44 m) tall robot made of green metal. The former only manages to state "I am Klaatu and this is Gnut" before he is shot and killed by a lunatic. Klaatu is buried nearby. In the days that follow, Gnut remains motionless, while laboratories and a museum are built around it and the ship. Both prove impervious to the investigations of scientists.

Sutherland discovers that the robot enters the ship each night when no one is watching, emerging to resume its position for the day. Gnut is aware of the reporter, but ignores him. After several odd encounters, Sutherland informs the world what he has learned. Gnut is encased in "glasstex", finally forcing the robot's hand. It breaks out, unaffected by all attempts to destroy it, picks up Sutherland and travels to the mausoleum containing Klaatu's corpse. It opens the tomb and takes a recording of Klaatu's voice stored there. It then returns and goes inside the ship.

Sutherland daringly boards the ship before the entrance closes and learns that the robot is working on a way to create a copy of Klaatu from an audio recording of his greeting. The new Klaatu is flawed, because the recording is imperfect, and he dies soon after speaking with the reporter. Sutherland then suggests retrieving the original recording device to study it and discover how to compensate for its imperfections. Gnut eagerly adopts this idea. Sutherland arranges that the equipment be brought to it; later, when he intuitively senses that the robot is ready to depart, he impresses upon it the need to tell his masters that Klaatu's death was an accident. Gnut replies, "You misunderstand, I am the master."


  1. ^ Isaac Asimov presents The Golden Years of Science Fiction, Isaac Asimov and Martin H. Greenberg, 1979, ISBN 0-517-40147-9

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