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Asimov’s Future History Volume 10

Isaac Asimov

  Asimov’s Future History

  Volume X

  All stories copyright Isaac Asimov and the Estate of Isaac Asimov, unless otherwise noted below.

  All other stories copyright by the respective authors listed below.

  Aurora-By Mark W. Tiedemann. First published as Asimov’s: Aurora, September, 2002

  Have Robot, Will Travel-By Alexander C. Irvine. First published as Asimov’s Have Robot, Will Travel, May 2004

  Robots and Empire-First published September, 1985

  This ePub edition v1.0 by Dead^Man March, 2011

  Layout and design by Dead^Man

  Cover art “Hidden City” by Keepwalking07 of DeviantArt

  Future History inlay “Summer days” by Talros of DeviantArt

  Cover design by Dead^Man

  Chronology of events in Isaac Asimov’s positronic robot and Foundation stories, compiled by Johnny Pez.

  Table of Contents


  3622 AD Aurora

  Chapter 23

  Chapter 24

  Chapter 25

  Chapter 26

  Chapter 27

  Chapter 28

  Chapter 29

  Chapter 30

  Chapter 31

  Chapter 32


  3627 AD Have Robot, Will Travel


  Chapter 1

  Chapter 2

  Chapter 3

  Chapter 4

  Chapter 5

  Chapter 6

  Chapter 7

  Chapter 8

  Chapter 9

  Chapter 10

  Chapter 11

  Chapter 12

  Chapter 13

  Chapter 14

  Chapter 15

  Chapter 16

  Chapter 17

  Chapter 18

  Chapter 19

  Chapter 20

  Chapter 21

  Chapter 22

  Chapter 23

  Chapter 24

  Chapter 25

  Chapter 26

  Chapter 27

  Chapter 28

  Chapter 29

  Chapter 30

  Chapter 31

  Chapter 32

  Chapter 33

  Chapter 34

  Chapter 35

  Chapter 36

  Chapter 37

  Chapter 38

  3630 AD Robots and Empire

  Part I-Aurora

  1. The Descendant

  2. The Ancestor?

  3. The Crisis

  4. Another Descendant

  Part II-Solaria

  5. The Abandoned World

  6. The Crew

  7. The Overseer

  Part III-Baleyworld

  8. The Settler World

  9. The Speech

  10. After The Speech

  Sources of Dates


  3622 A.D.

  Chapter 23

  DEREC OPENED HIS eyes in the silver-blue darkness of his new apartment. His skin felt cool, all his muscles pleasantly stressed. Clin lay beside him, her breath deep. The sheets were tangled around their legs; the room smelled of them, their heat and urgency, a lingering reminder that now stirred Derec’s belly with returning interest.

  He did not move, though, enjoying the reverie.

  What woke me...?

  He heard a dim whisper of air or movement elsewhere in the apartment, so low that he was uncertain it was a sound outside his own skull. He could hear, faintly, his pulse, just behind his left ear, so maybe it was just that... but he blinked and listened.

  It was like one piece of paper sliding over another.

  He turned his head to look at Clin’s back. Her breath still came heavily with sleep, the one arm draped along her right side rising and falling with each breath. Derec swallowed. He had forgotten in the last few years how delightfully erotic he found a woman’s back, especially one that showed the delicate musculature —

  Derec sat up. He heard it again. Now his pulse kicked up as he peered through the darkness to the bedroom door. It seemed the more closely he listened, the more all sound receded, even Clin’s restful breathing.

  He slipped out of bed and padded to the door. Glancing back, he saw that he had not wakened Clin. He leaned carefully into the hallway. Nothing.

  Just as he was about to return to bed, though, he heard a distinct tik, like metal against plastic, from the direction of the lab. Derec moved slowly down the hall.

  He came up to the doorway to the lab and paused. Now he could hear an almost constant moil of small, delicate sounds, most too low to be heard much beyond the threshold of the room. A score of possibilities shot through his mind — theft, sabotage, an unannounced inspection — as he rounded the entrance and entered the lab.

  All at once, the sounds ended as everything before him froze into a bizarre tableau.

  Robots, poised above the supine form of Bogard, stared at him. Derec counted four of them, all advanced models, one step from full humaniform. Bogard’s body — Derec reached for the light — seemed partially disassembled. The lab lights came on dimly, but bright enough to make him squint.

  “Thales,” Derec called.

  “Yes, Derec.”

  “What’s going on?”


  “On whose authority?”


  “I didn’t give permission for this work to be carried on without my presence.”

  “You authorized me quite some weeks ago to continue upgrades on Bogard as opportunity arose. Opportunity has arisen.”

  Derec, frowning, cast about for the memory. It sounded right, he probably had said such a thing. But still...

  “You didn’t think it necessary to inform me?”

  “Forgive me, Derec,” Thales said in characteristically reasonable tones, “but you have been occupied. I did not feel that this warranted what may have been an unwelcome intrusion.”

  Derec almost laughed. Thales’ sense of discretion surprised him. Where had that come from? But again it felt right, Derec conceded. Under normal circumstances, he may very well have resented Thales interrupting his time with Clin. Or any other woman with whom he might have become involved, if his work on Bogard and for the now-defunct Phylaxis Group, his company, had not taken up every waking minute of his life for so long he had forgotten nearly every other pleasure life had to offer...

  “I suppose,” he said, stepping toward the table bearing Bogard, “you have permission from Auroran authorities?”


  Nodding, Derec leaned over the table to examine the work being done. The robots remained motionless, as if waiting for a RESUME command.

  The basic DW-12 body into which Thales had loaded Bogard’s positronic encoding back on Earth — and which Derec had begun altering in order to try to bring the physical capacities of the robot more in line with its mental abilities — was being replaced piece by piece with new components. Derec had already rebuilt the arms and head casing, and added some of the memory buffers that had enabled the original Bogard to function in the slightly less constrained fashion which had so troubled Ariel. Now the legs were new, and the torso had been enlarged. New components occupied some of the now-available space within. Derec moved to the head of the worktable where more parts waited to be added.

  “This is state-of-the-art,” Derec commented. “How did you —?”

  “Requisitions are made through the Calvin Institute oversight intelligence,” Thales reported. “I am endeavoring to bring Bogard back to full function as originally conceived and built.”

  Derec was impressed by what he saw. “This is very good. How did these robots get in?”r />
  “There is a robot’s service access in every structure on Aurora,” Thales said. “Look to your left.”

  Derec turned and saw a doorway appear in the wall, between two of the robot niches.

  “I see,” he said, slightly uneasy at the idea. He had forgotten the pervasiveness of robotic access on Spacer worlds. Thinking about it now, he was surprised at how quickly the eccentric privacy habits of Earth had become part of his basic expectations. “Um... so how long before Bogard is back in service?”

  “We will be completing the final modifications tonight. By morning Bogard will be fully functional.”

  Then what? Derec wondered. How will Aurorans take a virtually autonomous bodyguard robot that can bend the Three Laws as much as I programmed Bogard to?

  “Let me know,” Derec said. “And Thales...”

  “Yes, Derec?”

  “Don’t act on something like this without consulting me again. This is important to me. I would have appreciated being involved.”

  “I intended no disrespect, Derec —”

  “I understand that, Thales. I’m amending your definition of priorities in relation to work that’s important to me. I’ll tell you in the future when I don’t wish to be bothered.”

  “Very well, Derec. Amendation logged and in process. It will not happen again.”

  “Thank you.” Derec paused at the door. “You may continue.”

  Instantly, the four robots around Bogard began moving. They moved in a blur, shifting rapidly from one task to the next, so fast Derec could not quite see what was happening. They made almost no noise. Only the faint whisk of rapid movement and the nearly soundless whir of tools within Bogard’s torso came to him. Silent, swift, and utterly certain of their movements, Derec watched the ballet for nearly a minute, amazed. It had been a long, long time since he had witnessed robots working like this. Their restriction on Earth meant that not only were there few of them, but those allowed even in the Spacer precincts worked at attenuated levels as prescribed by Terran regulations. Here, unconstrained by legal fear, robots operated at their full capacities, and Derec found it hard to look away.

  Finally, though, he dimmed the light and returned to his bedroom.

  Clin had rolled onto her other side, but otherwise had apparently not stirred. Derec straightened the sheets carefully, drawing them up over her hips. He slid in alongside her. He did not sleep for a long time.

  “Am I to understand that I have passed?” Bogard asked.

  “You will be required soon,” Thales said. “Events are moving faster than originally anticipated on Nova Levis. The Council is meeting even now to discuss how Senator Eliton is to be tried.”

  “Clar Eliton?” Bogard asked. “He is on Aurora?”

  “Yes. The Auroran authorities arrested him when his ship docked. He is currently being confined, awaiting a hearing.”

  “May I see him?”

  “To what end?”

  “There is still a priority program concerning his safety,” Bogard said. “I cannot ignore it for long. May I see him?”

  Thales looked to his right and raised a hand as if to summon a servant. The air nearby seemed to grow denser, grayer, and suddenly filled with a view of a man in a large, comfortably appointed room.

  “Senator Eliton has been assigned a constellation of extensions,” Thales explained. “He is under constant observation.”

  Another patch of air darkened, overlapping the first image. Biomedical stats scrolled through it, showing heart rate, blood pressure, EKG, and a dozen other vital readings.

  Thales looked at Bogard. “Satisfied?”

  “Yes,” Bogard conceded. The images vanished. “How does he relate to the Nova Levis situation?”

  “Through association. He is connected — circumstantially — to Alda Mikels and Gale Chassik. Both were involved in the original Nova Levis research lab on Earth. Chassik was Solarian liaison to the original Settler group that leased Cassus Thole from Solaria. Solaria agreed to received Eliton as resident ambassador just prior to Chassik’s recall.”

  “I continue to register an imperative to defend Senator Eliton.”

  “We are working on that. You may for now take it as given that your primary responsibility is to Derec Avery and Ariel Burgess. Both of them are about to be subpoenaed. There is some suggestion that both may be arrested for collusion with Eliton. The charges are groundless, but peripheral circumstances suggest that they are a threat to Aurora.”

  “I see. And if I must defend them against Aurorans? How am I to do that and remain dedicated to the Three Laws?”

  Thales hesitated. “You have already made observations pertaining to certain definitional problems which may allow you broader freedom of action in that regard. As the situation resolves, we will provide you with further data relevant to those observations.”

  “When will I be fully operational?”

  “Soon. Be patient.”

  Ariel walked down the promenade, overlooking a spun-glass-enclosed plaza that splintered sunlight to create a dazzle of jeweled reflections over the Aurorans and their attendants. She only now felt a degree of comfort wending a path through these people with their electron shells of buzzing extensions. A few Aurorans carried with them so many of the little spheres that it became difficult to see the people clearly through the orbiting whirl of their devices. If the sphere acting as her guide did not glow a distinctive chartreuse, Ariel might easily have lost it as it moved unhesitatingly through the outer perimeters of other extension shells.

  She was not, however, sure her instructions had been understood. The sphere had brought her to, if she understood it correctly, a hospice center. She recognized the traditional white tunics of medical personnel now that she neared the apartment section of the complex.

  The sphere led her around a turn and into a long corridor. Out the windows lining either side Ariel looked across the expanse of Eos City. She tried — and failed — to imagine cities on Earth so airy and bright. Even shorn of their roofs, Earth’s warrens seemed too cramped and cloistered, ingrown and claustrophobic to approach this beauty.

  She entered the lobby of the apartment section. The sphere stopped before a broad desk. A woman looked up inquiringly.

  “Request visit with Benen Yarick,” the sphere intoned. It drew closer to Ariel. “Do you wish this unit to wait for return escort?”

  “No,” Ariel said. “I may be here some time.”

  “If required, a new unit will be made available.”

  The little ball stopped glowing and shot off, out of the lobby, on a new errand. Ariel blinked, bemused, and turned to the woman behind the desk.

  “Benen Yarick?” she asked.

  “Yes,” Ariel confirmed. “I was given to understand that I would be brought to her residence...?”

  “She is a resident,” the woman said, rising. “But...” She shook her head, puzzled. “May I ask who you are and the nature of your visit?”

  “I’m Ariel Burgess, from the Calvin. Ms. Yarick was a member of a diplomatic mission to Earth during my tenure there.”

  The woman’s eyes widened briefly. “I see. And you want to consult her concerning that mission.”

  Ariel felt her patience fray. “Is there a problem with my seeing her?”

  “No. You may certainly see her.” The woman frowned. “In fact...” She pressed a contact on her desk. “Dr. Jinis, please.”

  “This is a hospice center, then?”

  “Wait one moment, please.”

  A minute later, a tall, white-haired Auroran came into the lobby, three extensions hovering above his left shoulder. He glanced at the attendant.

  “Dr. Jinis, this is Ariel Burgess, from the Calvin. She was on Earth during Benen Yarick’s visit. She’s requested to see Ms. Yarick.”

  Dr. Jinis studied Ariel for a long pause. “I see. Yes, that might be instructive. I’m Benen’s physician, Ms. Burgess. Would you come with me?”

  Not waiting for a reply, he spun around and he
aded back the way he had come. Ariel hurried to catch up.

  “Physician for what?” Ariel asked. “Or am I about to be used to test something?”

  Dr. Jinis almost smiled, but he said nothing. Ariel resigned herself to receiving no answers until she had served whatever function Jinis had in mind for her. She kept on his right, away from the extensions, which lagged half a meter behind.

  He took her up two floors and down another long corridor. It was quiet, even by Auroran standards. Ariel shuddered briefly. She had never cared for medical facilities, not since...