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Poul Anderson

“You simply do not understand the human condition,” said the robot.

Hah! Do you think you do, you conceited hunk of animated tin?”

Yes, I believe so, thanks ot my study of the authors, poets, and critics who devote their lives to the exploration and description of Man. Your Miss Forelle is a noble soul. Ever since I looked upon my first copy of that exquisitely sensitive literary quarterly she edits, I have failed to understand what she sees in you. To be sure,” IZK-99 mused, “the relationship is not unlike that between the nun and the Diesel engine in Regret for Two Doves, but still… At any rate, if Miss Forelle has finally told you to go soak your censored head in expurgated wastes and then put the unprintable thing in an improbable place, I for one heartily approve.

Tunny, who was no mamma’s boy — he had worked his way through college as a whale herder and bossed construction gangs on Mars — was so appalled by the robot’s language that he could only whisper, “She did not. She said nothing of the sort.”

I did not mean it literally,” IZK-99 explained. “I was only quoting the renunciation scene in Gently Come Twilight. By Stichling, you know — almost as sensitive a writer as Brochet.”


Poul Anderson
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