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For a Breath I Tarry
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For a Breath I Tarry

4.43 of 5 stars 4.43  ·  rating details  ·  161 ratings  ·  9 reviews
[From Wikipedia] "For a Breath I Tarry" is a highly-regarded 1966 post-apocalyptic novelette by Roger Zelazny. Taking place long after the self-extinction of Man, it recounts the tale of Frost, a sentient machine ("...a silver-blue box, 40x40x40 feet,... featured in whatever manner he chose.") Though Man has disappeared, his robotic creations (and their creations in turn) ...more
Paperback, 1st edition, 68 pages
Published July 1980 by Underwood Miller (first published September 1966)
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Short and to the point, this story is very good and has aged well, despite being nearly 47 years old. It describes a robot named Frost in a post-apocalyptic wasteland, trying to learn more about humanity, which had already been extinct for millennia. I could describe it, but this quote from the story will tell you everything you need to know about it.

"Regard this piece of ice, mighty Frost. You can tell me its composition, dimensions, weight, temperature. A Man could not look at it and do that.
I picked this up because it was a Hugo candidate and because i liked the title.
I would recommend it to anyone who wants to find out you don't need hundreds of pages in order to write a great story. This novella is set on Earth after the last Man has died. His creations remain in the form of Artificial Inteligence automatons.
From this point, Zelazny goes to explore the limitations of A.I. and the definition of humanity.
The ending is very satisfactory, with the lines from what I doscovered to be
I just re-read this novelette for the umpteenth time. It is one of my very favorite novelettes by one of my favorite authors.
As with much of Zelazny's stories there is a touch of spirituality in them. He pulls much of his ideas from mythology and scriptures.
In this story it is almost a retelling of creation (Genesis 1-3) and the Book of Job.

It's been 10,000 years since man has become extinct and Frost is a machine that controls the northern hemisphere of earth while Beta controls the southern
Thai Son
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This is one of the best short stories I have ever read. A wonderful examination of what it means to be human.
This is a science fiction that manages to stand the test of time because it does not specify its place in time and is more philosophy based than science based. It is simple yet effective. My only criticism is that the personalities of the machines were at times just that - personalities. This weakened the central question of the story. Other than that, it is an easy, thoughtful read.
It was interesting, an interesting setting, but didn't really justify or explain why advanced machines would think or act the way they did in this story, and the fact that its protagonist was a unique AI created during a solar flare with an implied extra 'spark' of something undefined is a pretty good summary of its limited scope.
Lucy Pray
I'm not sure if I have read a short story that is as powerful as this one was. Zelazny creates a beautiful story in a way that a simple line can grip you with such intense emotion. This story is incredible, and I find myself unable to find the words for it.
A strangely beautiful tale of the birth of humanity from and by a machine, For a Breath I Tarry asks all those thought provoking questions about what it is to be human, following the story of a lonely supercomputer on an empty planet Earth.
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Roger Zelazny made his name with a group of novellas which demonstrated just how intense an emotional charge could be generated by the stock imagery of sf; the most famous of these is 'A Rose for Ecclesiastes' in which a poet struggles to convince dying and sterile Martians that life is worth continuing. Zelazny continued to write excellent short stories throughout his career. Most of his novels d ...more
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