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Rossum's Universal Robots

3.86  ·  Rating Details ·  4,838 Ratings  ·  289 Reviews
Seen as a precursor to works such as Huxley's Brave New World, this true classic of the dystopian genre remains all too resonant in today's political climate


Determined to liberate the mass-produced but highly intelligent robots forged in the machinery of Rossum's island factory, Helena Glory arrives in a blaze of righteousness only to find herself perplexed and set aback
Paperback, 104 pages
Published August 1st 2011 by Hesperus Press (first published 1920)
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Glenn Russell
Sep 12, 2016 Glenn Russell rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition

Here are ten philosophical insights embedded in the extended prologue to this highly inventive 1920 science fiction three-act play by Czechoslovakian author Karel Čapek. And, yes, this play marks the very first appearance of the term “Robot” as in R.U.R. – Rossum’s Universal Robots – mass produced, human-like machines to perform manual labor and function as servants.

1. Old man Rossum was a biologist who failed to create actual humans in his laboratory; engineer son Rossum invented the living la
Sidharth Vardhan
This is the book that introduced concept of robots. And the play seems to get a lot of things about dynamics involved right too, and surprisingly right. It is criticism of result and productivity centered approach that seems to have taken over the world ever since industrial revolution:

" From a technical point of view, the whole of childhood is quite pointless. Simply a waste of time."


" He took a good look at the human body and he saw straight away that it was much too complicated, any good en
People who pick this up to read probably know already that this is the first time that the word 'robots' was ever used, and that's only interesting, I think, because all of the thematic explorations found in robot literature and art such as in Asimov and Kubrick and all those little 'Terminator' movies were already there in the play! There's the 'what does it mean to be human', the war on the humans, religious implications (did mankind kill god?), all that stuff. There was an interesting forward ...more
Muthuvel Deivendran
Nov 07, 2016 Muthuvel Deivendran rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: sci-fi
Indeed it was the first contact in literature through this relatively short play script.

Many thematic philosophical notions being set by the author, is something more extraordinary when considered that early timeline in which almost none (maybe except for a woman named Mary Shelley) had the mind to think about.

No doubt, the work inspired great sci-fi legends like Asimov, Clarke.

"A man is something that feels happy, plays the piano, likes going for a walk, and in fact, wants to do a whole lot of
Probably important as the prototype for the basic robot narrative, which is as follows:

a) Humans manufacture slave laborers whose own needs are minimal in order to lower costs and break unions;

b) Humans equip slave laborers with skills sufficient to carry out productive tasks, including heavy industrial, technical, academic, and military functions;

c) Humans construct slave laborers who lack any desires of their own and are accordingly not market participants and therefore require no wages;

d) Hum
Kayıp Rıhtım
1920 yılında yazılmış ve ilk kez 1921’de sahnelenmiş, üç perdelik bir tiyatro oyunu R.U.R. Bu eserle ilgili tek bilgim Çekçe olduğu ve “robot” sözcüğünün İngilizce’ye bu oyunla geçtiğinden ibaretti.

R.U.R.’un yazılmasının üzerinden doksan dört yıl geçmiş. Kullandığımız anlamıyla robot kavramının bu kadar “yeni” olmasına şaşırıyorum; kitap Cyrano de Bergerac’ın bilimkurguları gibi 1600’lerde yazılmış olsa daha az şaşıracaktım sanırım. Bir yandan da, yüz yıldır robotlarla ilgili yazılan, çekilen,
Anna Pavlíčková
Jul 17, 2016 Anna Pavlíčková rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favourite, i-own, 2016
Pane Čapku, tohle bylo skvělé. Já jakožto člověk, který nemám rád klasiku (navíc českou klasiku), jsem si toto dílo oblíbila a můžu ho vřele doporučit. Čeština je navíc v R.U.R. jednoduchá a lehce srozumitelná. Těším se na obhajobu u maturity. (Kdybych si to vytáhla, znáte to. :D)
Feb 09, 2013 Chazzbot rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
This short play is primarily of historical interest, since the story is (now) very familiar and the characterization is quite meager. The play is additionally hampered by a poor translation. I read two different editions of the play, both crediting the same translator, but found stark differences between them. The version pictured here seems more complete, but I found several passages truncated or entirely removed from the Dover Thrift Edition (go figure).

If you are at all interested in the hist
B.M.B. Johnson
Jan 05, 2016 B.M.B. Johnson rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Occasionally oddly told bit of satire, this is a play that should be seen and read by everyone. Where the term "robots" originates, the story tells of the sad eventual outcome of humans over-reliance on soulless workers.
RUR stands out for that third R, the first place robot was used to describe mechanical golems. In Capek's play, the robots are more like the modern cylons in BSG, indistinguishable from humans. The play tells the tale of the island factory where the robots are made, the worldwide demand for robot labor fast bottoming out the world work economy. The people who make the robots want to use them to introduce utopia, but the people who run nations use them to fight wars. Only instead of following the ...more
It was a great thing to be a man. There was something immense about it. (47)
These words are uttered in the face of a robot uprising and imminent takeover, when all seems lost for human beings. I am not a big science fiction fan, but R. U. R. had intrigued me for some time. Written in 1920, it introduced and popularized the word ‘robot’ (the term derives from a Czech dialect word for ‘drudgery’ – it was suggested to Karel by his older brother Joseph). An early classic of artificial intelligence,
I don't read that many plays, but I should probably read more considering that I work in theatre. I picked this one up primarily because it's famous for coining the term "robot". The creatures in Čapek's work aren't really what we typically consider robots today, though--they're more biological than mechanical.

Written in 1920 and first performed in 1921, this was way ahead of its time. The machines-rebelling-against-their-masters trope is ubiquitous in contemporary science fiction, and R.U.R. i
Tohle je teda drama! Napínavé, zajímavé a nádherně české. Sice mě pořád udivuje, jak dokáže kdokoli vecpat tak obsáhlý námět do sta stránek a přesto si zachovat důmyslnost, nápaditost a dokonce i nečekané zvraty. Karel Čapek je super, R.U.R. stejně tak a je vtipné, že i v nějakém 20. století byl tenhle autor tak pokrokový, že jeho díla jsou mnohdy reálná i dnes. Fakt se těším, až se dostanu k dalším jeho dílům!
Dec 19, 2012 Tony rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: drama
R. U. R. (Rossum’s Universal Robots). (1920). Karel Capek. ****.
Capek (1890-1938) was a Czech writer and playwright. This is probably his most famous play. Why? Because it’s where we get the word ‘robot.’ There is some argument as to who really invented the word; some scholars say that it was his brother, but what’s the difference. The play is set in some country in some period of time in the future. We first meet Mr. Domin, the General Manager of R.U.R. It is announced that he has a visitor. I
Oct 15, 2016 George rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Δεύτερο βιβλίο του Τσάπεκ που διαβάζω, μετά το αρκετά καλό "Η απελευθέρωση του Απόλυτου", που διάβασα τον Ιούλιο. Αυτή την φορά έχουμε να κάνουμε με θεατρικό έργο, σίγουρα αρκετά πρωτοποριακό για την εποχή του, μιας και γράφτηκε το μακρινό 1920. Ουσιαστικά σ'αυτό το έργο είναι η πρώτη φορά που συναντάει κανείς στην λογοτεχνία τον όρο "ρομπότ", με τον οποίο πλέον είμαστε τόσο συνηθισμένοι. Αυτό από μόνο του δείχνει την σημαντικότητα του συγκεκριμένου θεατρικού έργου. Όμως, εκτός από την εισαγωγή ...more
Hovering somewhere between 3 and 4 stars...
I loved the humor in this play. Also, something about "organic" robots is just really cool. I generally think of robots as being metal human-shaped computers, but the robots of "Rossum's Universal Robots" are made of flesh and bone. They're like us, but minus all that extra stuff, like souls and reproductive organs.

That said, I was disappointed by Helena's role in the whole story. When I stumbled across this book at the library, I was excited to read a
Alistair Sewell
Mar 19, 2012 Alistair Sewell rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This play captivated me, I have had a fascination of the obsession Man has with the "self." I hope I to have the pleasure of seeing this one day.
The comparison between Young and Old Rossum was especially interesting to me, it seemed Old Rossum recognized God by shaking his fist and saying "I can create just like you, I have made a flawless 'human being,' unlike you!" Young Rossum denied God completely by just exploiting Rossum's Robots, and not recognizing that what he is doing is "Godlike."
نادر أسامة
قبل روايات إيزاك أزيموف وويليام جيبسون وآرثر كلارك.. وقبل مستقبليات فيليب ديك المظلمة.. وقبل سكاي نت ورؤى جيمس كاميرون المخيفة.. كتب كارل تشابك المخطوطة الأم التي أرست القواعد لكل أدبيات الروبوتات الساخطة وثورات الآلات. روبوتات روسوم العالمية.

دراما مسرحية بديعة وضرورية لكل محب للخيال العلمي.. شكر واجب لدار ويلز لإحياء النص المترجم من جديد.
Robert Sheppard
Jun 07, 2013 Robert Sheppard rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition


Czech author Karel Čapek,(pronounced CHOUW-pek) the author of "The War of the Newts" and "R.U.R.-(Rossum's Universal Robots)" did one thing that made him world-famous and remembered for the last hundred years: he invented the word "Robot." The word first appe
Jan 08, 2017 Táňa rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: povinná-četba
Od Čapka jsem již četla V zajetí slov a jeho styl psaní se mi velmi zalíbil. K R.U.R jsem se dostala díky povinné četbě a po dočtení musím uznat, že tohle drama je geniální. Líbil se mi námět, celá zápletka i konec... všechno bylo velmi dobře promyšleno a napsáno.
Sep 04, 2016 sabisteb rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Wenn man an Sci-Fi denkt, denkt man meist, dass die ein amerikanisches Genre ist. Erfunden von den Amerikanern mit einigen britischen Beiträgen. Wenn man anfängt, sich mit Sci-Fi zu beschäftigen, merkt man jedoch sehr bald, dass es eines der wirklich internationalen Genre ist, das sich weit über Landesgrenzen hinaus befruchtete.
R.U.R. - Rossums Universal Robots von Karel Čapek, einem tschechischen Schriftsteller, ist einer dieser Meilensteiner der Sci-Fi, die das Genre formten. Robotnik, tschech
(Disclosure: I listened to a BBC Radio production of Capek's playscript; my assumption is that they did an accurate translation from the Czech.)

Having recently read E.V. Ogle's The Clockwork Man, widely regarded as the first 'cyborg' novel (although the term is never actually used in the book), I realized that I had never actually seen a production of, nor read, Karel Capek's R.U.R., in which the term "robot" was used for the first time. I decided, as I've beeen listening to more audiobooks and
Czarny Pies
Oct 13, 2014 Czarny Pies rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Go to it, if you hear of a theatrical production in your city that has garnered good reviews,
Recommended to Czarny by: Dominik Hasek
Shelves: czech-lit
Theatre directors must absolutely love R.U.R. that licenses them to do absolutely anything with it. R.U.R. which is about everything also belongs to all known twentieth century literary movements: theatre de l'absurde, Dadaism, surrealism, symbolism and modernism. I agree with the critic who described it as the great masterpiece of the Czech avant-garde.
The basic plot line is simple. A mad scientist invents a Robot which is more like Mary Shelley's Frankenstein in that it is built with plasma t
Jul 13, 2012 Phakin rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition

ผูทีเขาใจวาตัวเปนมนุษย สรางหุนยนตขึนมาเพือทำงานหนักแทนมนุษย พวกเขาทนรับความกดขีทางชนชันไมไดอีก เขากลาววามันลดทอนความเปนมนุษย ดังนัน ทางออกคือ พวกเขาตองสราง 'อะไรสักอยาง' มารับภาระแทน อะไรทีไมมีความเปนมนุษยอยูแตแรก ไมรูสึกรูสากับการกดขี เพราะเมือไรความเปนมนุษย งานหนักกไมอาจลดทอนความเปนมนุษยได และการปลดปลอยสูอิสรภาพกไมใชเรืองจำเปน

เปนจริงเชนนัน ดูเหมือน 'หุนยนต' จะไมเปนเดือดเปนรอนกับการกดขี กระทังมีความพยายามเพิมสวนของจิตใจลงไป หุนยนตผูเจบปวดได รูสึกได และคิดเปน จึงเริมมีความเปนมนุษย
Nov 02, 2013 Brent rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I was hoping for so much more from this. Unfortunately it it so poorly written. Maybe it was the translation. The dialogue is stilted and unnatural. The scenes poorly laid out. Something a middle-schooler could do.

But, it is most definitely of historical significance. Written in 1920, it coined the word "robot." And that alone makes it worth reading. Clearly Capek was ahead of his time.

The Rossums (elder and younger) invent and grow artificial people, and call them robots. They start a company
Aug 03, 2011 Matthew rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was a very good play! I picked it up because it was the first occurence in literature that had the word 'robot.' Not really a deep reason, but I figured that it would be worth a read.

I was definitely right. I found great criticism of Marxism and of aspiring for the 'easy life' within Capek's R.U.R.. As such, I believe that Capek's work should be a piece of literature more greatly studied in classes around the country, since it offers a great rebuttle against writers like Franz Kafka and oth
Bob J
Dec 15, 2015 Bob J rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Very wordy, as political satires of the time tended to be, but fascinating in what it covers. Great to see that this 1920 first appearance of robots is also the first appearance of the genocidal robot uprising, and even of the kind of post-uprising robot regret that would play through scifi all the way to the Flight Of The Conchords song, "Robots". In fact, somewhat like Somerset Maugham's Ashenden did for superspy novels (and the Hitchcock adaptation The Secret Agent for superspy movies), this ...more
Francine Maessen
I really liked this book, but more because of its position in literature than because of the actual book. The characters didn't really speak to me, but it was amazing to read the first time the word 'robot' got mentioned, and how Capek envisioned this. It got all the classics of a robot tale: robot uprising, love interests, men who want money, women who want freedom for the robots. The end wasn't as dark as I'm used to with robot stories, and I actually like that: it's good to know that the very ...more
May 24, 2016 Panagiotis rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This science fiction play,way ahead of it's time, is a must read for every science fiction literature admirer. Not only cause it gave birth to the word ''robot'' which by its self is of huge significance, but also for its dystopic nature and the philosophical conversation that creates regarding it's characters' motives based on their personal beliefs about what is right and what is wrong and how, many times, the road to hell can be indeed, paved with good intentions.
Erik Graff
Apr 21, 2008 Erik Graff rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: theatrical producers
Recommended to Erik by: Arthur Kazar
Shelves: sf
Capek is familiar to me for his play, R.U.R., and novel, The War with the Newts. Both might be classified as science fiction, but as they antedate the genre as self-aware they are at once prototypical and different. Capek's approach is humane and ironically amusing--rather like Kurt Vonnegut.
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Goodreads Librari...: Add cover: R.U.R. (1920) 1 11 Jan 11, 2015 09:03AM  
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Karel Čapek is one of the the most influential Czech writers of the 20th century. He wrote with intelligence and humour on a wide variety of subjects. His works are known for their interesting and precise descriptions of reality, and Čapek is renowned for his excellent work with the Czech language. His play R.U.R. (Rossum's Universal Robots) first popularized the word "robot".
More about Karel Čapek...

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“La historia no se hace con grandes sueños sino con las insignificantes necesidades de todas las gentes honradas, moderadamente maliciosas y que se buscan a sí mismas.” 2 likes
“Dr Gall: Hoši, je to zločin staré Evropy, že naučila Roboty válčit! Nemohli už dát, u čerta, pokoj s tou svou politikou? To byl zločin, udělat z živé práce vojáky!
Alquist: Zločin byl vyrábět Roboty!
Domin: Cože?
Alquist: Zločin byl vyrábět Roboty!
Domin: Ne. Alquiste, ani dnes toho nelituju.
Alquist: Ani dnes?
Domin: Ani dnes, v poslední den civilizace. Byla to veliká věc.”
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