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R.U.R.

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3.83  ·  Rating details ·  12,187 ratings  ·  792 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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Average rating 3.83  · 
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 ·  12,187 ratings  ·  792 reviews


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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
...more
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."

Or

" He took a good look at the human body and he saw straight away that it was much too complicated, any good en
...more
Duane
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. ...more
Patrick
May 01, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: sci-fi, classics
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
...more
Bill
I'd never heard of this play by the Czech writer Karel Čapek until recently, even though it's the origin of the word 'robot' and was quite a hit when it was widely translated and performed in the 1920s.

Helena Glory visits the unnamed island where Rossum's Universal Robots are mass-produced and shipped throughout the world, ostensibly to drive down labor costs, thus prices, freeing mankind to perfect itself. General Manager Domin, her guide, suddenly proposes to her and she accepts, even though t
...more
Helga
Dec 19, 2021 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: classics, play
Robots of the world! Many humans have fallen... we are masters of the world. The era of man has come to its end. A new epoch has arisen! Domination by robots!...
...The world belongs to the strongest. Who wishes to live must dominate. We are masters of the world! Masters on land and sea! Masters of the stars! Masters of the universe! More space, more space for robots!


Humans have succeeded in making robots using synthetic organic matter. But eventually the robots revolt, take over and destroy the
...more
Jim
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
...more
Dan
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
...more
Peter
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
...more
Stephen
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
Quirkyreader
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.
...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
Mel
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
muthuvel
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
...more
Paul Haspel
R.U.R., a Czech play written by a man named Karel Čapek and first staged in the year 1920, is a literary work that might not be familiar to many readers. But whether you have heard of Čapek and R.U.R. or not, this author and his play have influenced your life – because in this play, Čapek gave the world not only the first literary presentation of robots in creative literature, but also the very word “robot.”

Čapek was born into a Kingdom of Bohemia that was a constituent part of the Austro-Hungar
...more
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)
http://preprints.readingro
...more
Philip
Famous today mainly for originating the term "robot" (from the Czech term "robota," meaning "forced labor" or "drudgery"), Karel Čapek's slim play tells the cautionary tale of a world where sentient automatons eventually realize they are in many ways better than their masters, and so destroy humanity - only to realize they then lack the knowledge to create more of themselves. So, y'know, oops.

Interestingly, these first robots were not "mechanical men," but biological constructs that very closely
...more
Riona
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
...more
Hank
Aug 29, 2021 rated it really liked it
Shelves: owned_kindle
Oh book of long ago, how do I rate thee? Lets get the pervasive 1920's treatment of women out of the way and say that it sucks and I am glad that it has change a bit (not saying it is perfect now, just better), since then.

This is a play, one demerit. This has lots of 1920's language, two demerits. There is much of interest and value outside of those two negatives for me. Probably some/most of you know this is the play that introduced or at least popularized the word Robot. It also introduced all
...more
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
sologdin
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
...more
Nicky
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
Lost Planet Airman
The word 'robot' turns one hundred next year... although these creations would more technically be known today as 'androids'. ...more
Lauren
"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
...more
Chazzbot
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
...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. ...more
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
...more
Igor Neox
Nov 01, 2021 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Awesome, but very short
Philip Athans
Sep 29, 2022 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Obviously, I've heard of this play my entire life but never actually sat down and read it. But now that I have… Wow. First of all, this is a hundred-page treatment for Blade Runner and Blade Runner: 2049. It sees into a future that includes elements of socialism, automation, reproductive rights, unrestrained capitalism… Amazing. ...more
Czarny Pies
Oct 13, 2014 rated it really liked it
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
...more
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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

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