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3.88  ·  Rating details ·  8,152 ratings  ·  579 reviews
R.U.R.--written in 1920--garnered worldwide acclaim for its author and popularized the word "Robot." Mass-produced, efficient and servile labor, Čapek's Robots remember everything, but lack creative thought, and the Utopian life they provide ultimately lacks meaning. When the Robots revolt, killing all but one of their masters, they must attempt to learn the secret of self ...more
Paperback, Dover Thrift Editions, 58 pages
Published August 20th 2001 by Dover Publications, Inc. (first published 1920)
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Glenn Russell
Sep 12, 2016 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
R.U.R, Rossum's Universal Robots. Written in 1920 by Czech writer Karel Capek. It is a science fiction play, and it has the distinction of introducing the word robot into the English language. Here comes a big spoiler; humans build robots to make their life better, robots become self aware and kill humans to make the world better. All the other species in the world gave a big thank you to the robots. That wasn't in the play, I just added that.
May 29, 2018 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: science-fiction
Finishing R.U.R. was a bit of a chore and gets three stars, mostly on the strength of the brief pieces of dialogue between the characters. I can see how that and that alone might work with an audience. No long soliloquies. But that is all I can appreciate about R.U.R.

The play itself is muddled in different genres, and makes a grandiose point in the tritest manner for its conclusion at the end of the third act. With the Epilogue, R.U.R. tries to arrive at a more meaningful conclusion than the th
May 01, 2018 rated it it was amazing
R.U.R. (Rossum’s Universal Robots) by Karel Capek is an interesting read. It is a Sci-fi play. This story was completely new to me. I didn’t know who came up with robots but now I know. This is the first Sci-fi story with the word Robot. The world of Sci-fi can thank this man for bringing Robots into the world. So, Karel, thank you!

Old Rossum, a mad scientist, wanted to be a substitute for God and decided to make man, but years came and went and nothing happened. No life. Young Rossum decided h
May 17, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I'm not sure what to make of this. It's a classic of SF, the origin of the word 'robot' although the idea had been around for quite some time & the 'robot's are actually not mechanical, but biological androids more like those in "Blade Runner". The story itself oscillates wildly between extremely profound to awful.

On the profound side is the entire idea. Capek encapsulates all our technological striving into one, short play. Overall, it's fantastic. There are also some great quotes:
A guilty par
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
Arun Divakar
Mar 29, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Popular culture makes us think of Robots as entities that achieve a near mythical status over time and thereby replacing humans in the natural order of things. In a multitude narratives across books and movies we see them rising up in rebellion over humans and being superior beings they pulverize human resistance in no time. This plot has now be rehashed so many times that it is a cliché and yet at a very early stage in the life of sci-fi this might have been an amazingly fresh idea. This little ...more
Nov 07, 2016 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
Khashayar Mohammadi
Frankly, I can't remember the last time I read a play I enjoyed. Its adequate, even witty; but feels incredibly outdated. By Outdated I do not mean technologically, but when I read the words spoken by the female characters I damn near wanna pull my hair out.

Homicidal Robots I can tolerate; but when Helena timidly asks if she's "going to be punished" for having audaciously underestimated the technological capabilities of a Robot, its hard to imagine this book was written by a leading Czech thinke
Apr 14, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I listened to this as a play instead of just reading the script.

Even though this was written in the 1920's many of the themes still resonate today.

And be warned, this was written before Asimov wrote his rules for robots.
Ed Erwin
May 12, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: sf, book-club
You all know this is the play that introduced the word "Robot". But is this 100-year-old play worth reading? I think so. You probably won't find many ideas here you haven't seen before. But you might be surprised by how many of the modern tropes were already there this early.

So, if you don't read Czech language, which version should you use? They are considerably different.

The most common version in English is by Paul Selver (1922) then modified by Nigel Playfair (1923)
May 05, 2018 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: classic, sf-fantasy, drama
This book foretells many of the dangers and desasters of modern life, including ecological destruction, artificial intelligence, autonomous devices. And it demonstrates the importance of technology impact assessment. Here robots are living creatures from the onset and the way they are treated reminds of slavery and serfdom.

In contrast to the accelerated development of technology the human mind (or 'rozum' in Czech language) has not evolved much beyond premordial times. The motivation for men's a
Maggie ☘
Sep 15, 2020 rated it liked it
Shelves: classics
Many already know that it was in this short play R.U.R. that the word Robot first appeared. I wanted to get into the author's books and this work gave me the opportunity to try with a shorter work first, before trying for War with the Newts. I was also really interested to read the novel where Čapek invented the than new word as well as see the sci-fi elements - very slight elements, while ahead of its time in theory and thought, it's still a novel of it's time (for example I would've expected t ...more
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
Sep 17, 2020 added it
The word 'robot' turns one hundred next year... although these creations would more technically be known today as 'androids'.
"There will be no poverty. All work will be done by living machines. Everybody will be free from worry and liberated from the degradation of labor. Everybody will live only to perfect himself."

▫️From R.U.R. (Rossum's Universal Robots) by Karel Čapek, translated from the Czech by Paul Selver and Nigel Playfair

A manufacturing company engineers humanoid machines to take over all manual labor, progressing humans towards a utopian society... That is the plan, of course, until a small change in the "r
Feb 09, 2013 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
Mar 28, 2018 rated it liked it
When you read about robots, you have Capek to thank. He’s the one who first came up with that word for a separate group of manufactured people (automatons?) who carry out work around the house, in factories and in the fields, subservient to the needs of humans. He’s the first one who posited how they might rise up, and declare themselves as people too. It’s a shortish play, and one which I don’t always quite get — what’s with the men all falling in love with the one female character? Why do the ...more
B.M.B. Johnson
Jan 05, 2016 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.
Noah Eigenfeld
Moderately interesting, but only really worth reading now for curiosity’s sake.

This play’s claim to fame is the invention of the word “robot.” While a fun fact, I’m not sure that there’s much else of significance in the play itself. It’s a robot uprising story, sure, but the ideas at hand are not necessarily new, and have been explored in more interesting ways since this play was written. What’s more of a stumbling block is the way the plot unfolds offstage and the lacking characters. Most of th
Czarny Pies
Oct 13, 2014 rated it really liked it
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
Jan 26, 2011 rated it liked it
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,
Jul 24, 2011 rated it it was amazing
I can't believe I'd never read this before. I love Robots, I love robot revolts and the end of man. This is the book where we get the word robot from and I'd still not gotten around to reading it! But I am SOOOO glad I did. It was brilliant. Everything that modern scifi has been trying to say about robots since is all here!!! It's the perfect continuation on from Frankenstein. It's depressing and sees the destruction of the human race, yet it has a happy ending. I would love to see it performed ...more
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
Andrei Vasilachi
Feb 04, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
A play about a factory that makes artificial people. As others have said this is actually the origin of the word robot.
It's really amazing that this was written in 1920. It contains so many modern ideas about the creation of artificial life which are reused today by writers and film makers.
Despite a little sexism which is to be expected from the 1920's, this is an astonishing piece of work and deserves to be remembered as a pivotal piece of science fiction.
I listened to this on LibraVox as
Feb 05, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: drama
In the introduction, Klima notes that you can detect relativistic philosophy in this play, that everyone has their own truth. Coining the term “robot,” Capek introduces a science fiction play all the way back in the 1920’s. Rossum, in the play, invents robots who will take on the role of work. Domin states that, “Those two quarreled brutally. The old atheist didn’t have a crumb of understanding for industry, and finally young Rossum shut him up in some laboratory where he could fiddle with his m ...more
tortoise dreams
Dec 31, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Humanoid robots are created to ease the burden of work for humanity, but the story doesn't end there.

Play Review: R.U.R. is parenthetically titled Rossum's Universal Robots, and this year will be a century old. Which means we need to place it in time to discuss it in context. In 1920 industrialization was king. The telephone, automobile, radio, and airplanes were new technology. Factories and the assembly line were also new, which led to a hellish vision of the future for workers. Were humans to
Tomáš Klásek
Feb 09, 2020 rated it really liked it
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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".

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