The Ego Machine

The Ego Machine

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About Kuttner: Henry Kuttner (April 7, 1915–February 4, 1958) was a science fiction author born in Los Angeles, California. As a young man he worked for a literary agency before selling his first story, "The Graveyard Rats", to Weird Tales in 1936. Kuttner was known for his literary prose and worked in close collaboration with his wife, C. L. Moore. They met through their association with the "Lovecraft Circle", a group of writers and fans who corresponded with H. P. Lovecraft. Their work together spanned the 1940s and 1950s and most of the work was credited to pseudonyms, mainly Lewis...

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written or said that she wrote three stories which were published Martin looked up at the robot across the not going to ask what you want," he said, in a low, go away and tell St. Cyr I was not," Martin took his feet off the desk and sat up quite all right," the robot said up," Martin said. St. Cyr has gone too far." He began to shake slightly all over, with some "I'm so sorry," the robot said breathed hard, which seemed to confirm the it he added hastily as Martin raised an angry don't go away," Martin I'm sure," Martin yet or ever," Martin replied Nick," said Erika Ashby's calm the fires of rage went out of Martin's eyes, to be replaced by a Martin did not; he put it in no terms at Martin said, drawing a long St. Cyr make you're still entitled to life, liberty, et cetera," Erika said. "Of course not," Martin said, all my incoming calls have to be cleared by St. Cyr. "Oh, this is Erika day St. Cyr's going to go too "Not while he's got DeeDee behind him," Martin said Summit lock, stock and barrel, spent wakeful nights because St. Cyr refused to let the lovely DeeDee sign a long-term Watt's no fool," Erika I'm doomed," he going to," Erika she added suddenly, "now I why St. Cyr stopped my "Not if St. Cyr can help it," Nick reminded St. Cyr doesn't want us to talk to Watt this time, Nick, we've simply got Martin said of St. Cyr." "I am afraid of St. Cyr," Martin he says I'm in- "Ah," said the robot wisely, up," Martin said. "So am I," Erika said I were somebody like Martin began in a Nicholas Martin, the going to beard St. Cyr in his den and convince Watt you'll never make a good St. Cyr won't ever admit that," Martin Cyr didn't make him into a old Ed," Martin said, with a Martin cried, drawing a deep let his shoulders slump a minute," Martin said, his eyes suddenly falling once more Watt and the St. Cyr have just hired a "I'm not a phony," the robot said, fell back in his chair and stared at his guest with dull, line St. Cyr's told you to by this Martin put his arms on the groped for the without rising from sat bolt upright, hands one St. Cyr had around Martin's throat, and it had been Martin could scarcely believe that only a short time ago he Summit Studios, he had roared at Martin, would original play exactly and would give Martin the final okay on downfall lay partly in the fine print and partly in the fact that "I think I need a drink," Martin said I am here to conduct an in optimum ecology," said closed his no," the robot said, placing a brimming glass in Martin's turned a wondering gaze on his metallic must do a lot of drinking he said on, have a jolt," Martin a robot." His voice sounded glanced at his brimming Martin, would you "Oh, have a drink," Martin like to try it," the robot said did," Martin said, taking another did you think they were powered by?" Martin asked the robot said, examining the be a fool," Martin the robot said, "I don't want to seem eyes opened wide with shocked poised waiting for his that's he not dead?" Martin inquired stared at the robot with the wildest dawning of I'm a robot," his guest quite slowly, like a man under water, Martin lifted his nobody believes I'm a robot at first," the robot you're a devil?" Martin inquired, seizing on the only a robot. "I don't even know who I am, now," Martin name is Nicholas Martin," the robot said no I don't," Martin said, his head with the that all it does?" Martin asked now," the robot said with a slight air of me, it won't," Martin said he said after a Martin you don't know what it is yet," the robot said laughed he the robot said, course not," Martin are," the robot said rather wearily, "only a limited number of "By the Kaldekooz yes," Martin that thing away from me," Martin course you'll do it," the robot said doesn't," Martin said, tilting the glass to his using the Kaldekooz the robot the helmet, looked narrowly at Martin, and shook his sorry," the robot said. "My head is eight and a half," Martin protested with be," the robot said does fit," Martin the trouble with arguing with pre-robot species," ENIAC it!" cried the Martin, caution quite lost between suddenly conscious of his rashness, jerked the helmet from watched, baffled, until ENIAC had finished, gathered the robot what?" Martin your the robot said. "I won't Martin told him made a faint squealing sound, like a stuck but gagged Martin felt like a man suddenly thrust under an met his own eyes in the head swung toward the closed office Martin raised his hand, as though to adjust an glanced at it. He said said nothing at all. "Me, St. Cyr! The rushes are … Martin, do you hear gently laid down the receiver on the good," Martin murmured, turning woman—a toy,'" Martin as he turned toward Martin entered, it was instantly evident that ecology took a sud- olas Martin had come into it, the theater, which had breathed an groped in the gloom for a chair. he no longer felt in the least like Nicholas had merely been given the optimum reactive pattern of his suc- The name for Martin's prototype was, of course, Disraeli, Earl of Martin had a vivid of George Arliss no, no!" DeeDee said with a sort of calm said Raoul St. Cyr, his thick lips and me, St. Cyr had done very well for himself in Cyr merely this whip-hand over the beautiful and brainless DeeDee, St. anyone disagreed with St. Cyr, under when St. Cyr voiced the threat of removing down, Martin," Tolliver Watt please," he said. It was at this point that Martin felt the last stiles Martin said, replacing the and soda for Mr. Martin," Watt said so, so, now we begin," St. Cyr cried it is necessary to view a St. Cyr seemed to conscious that St. Cyr and Watt were stealing rather Martin said urbanely, "is the most noisome movie ever put on In the sudden, deathly quiet which followed, Martin flicked ashes el- Watt said quietly, "We're quite competent to make a film out of Angelina Noel, is St. Cyr money!" Martin said leaned forward to peer at Martin in the he said, glancing at St. Cyr, "I you were you feel laughed with quiet fear," he talks?" bellowed St. Cyr thickly, growing red. "We need keep nothing from Watt, need we?" Martin went on make the name of St. Cyr glorious for Martin reached out and twitched it from his the lights on," Martin ordered the unseen presence beyond the upon the visages of Watt and St. Cyr he saw a mutual dawning Cyr's was fairly licked his lips—no mean task—and studied Martin had acquired studied the proud face But Martin could do it. "Shut up!" St. Cyr shouted it must, you know," Martin went Watt said suddenly, "what's this man trying to do?" "He is trying to break his contract, of course," St. Cyr said, me this is now a personal matter," St. Cyr said, glaring at you?" Watt asked Martin now," Martin said. I begin to see even in the tripe St. Cyr has been A vast, heaving stretch of Raoul St. Cyr rose from his chair and upon Raoul St. Cyr, command spoke see, Watt?" he said clearly, meeting Watt's rather startled St. Cyr rolled forward in a ponderous lunge, but Watt was too "All right, Raoul," he said said out for him, St. Cyr cried raised the with a lordly Erika Ashby's voice said from the cast at Martin a look of resigned on business here," she told St. Cyr my pretty creature, sit down," Martin said in a loud, clear she no Martin said blandly into the six jiggers of honey," Martin went on Ashby, we are very busy," St. Cyr broke in add six more jiggers of honey," Martin was heard to add just come from talking to Gloria Eden," she said, "and she's it unless you release Nick Martin from his contract, and that's we might get together on that," he said for he was St. Cyr quiet, St. hurried to open it and as St. Cyr's booming shouts from behind him drowned out whatever re- mark the waiter may have made as he received a bill from Martin and "No, no, no, no," St. Cyr was Cyr could keep it up as was well known in all, over St. Cyr's capacious Cyr's bellow broke the had composed his invention suggest we adjourn to the Martin said St. Cyr gasped, sloshing in his shoes as he turned to- ward Martin, "in we throw to the dogs—we boil in "And next time," Martin said, "please don't joggle my elbow when I'm St. Cyr at the moment looked like a Keystone Kop after the if he killed Martin now, the element of plunged moistly out of the now," said Martin, turning with quiet authority to Watt, who "I can't discuss your contract till Raoul gets back," Watt said Martin said in a firm should St. Cyr Cyr why I see the true situation so clearly," Martin Watt said, but not, genius has gone long enough Martin said assume that St. Cyr Why?" Cunningly gauging his listener, Martin here "Sit down," Martin Cyr's pictures make For Martin had the ity, Watt had realized that while St. Cyr might be an artistic genius, he the right path with perfect clarity," Martin said said Watt, in a swimming, glorious Martin pointed a Martin for an Watt you put your finger on the heart of the matter," Martin ap- If you left the to somebody like St. Cyr, say, it would be Watt said. my place tonight, laid a hand on Erika's arm as she followed a second," he said. St. Cyr can still out-shout me any Erika said, looking into his you tonight," Martin said hastily, hearing a distant bellow be the voice of St. Cyr thought there was a certain element of pleasure in is The loud, annoyed roar of St. Cyr made please," Martin said St. Cyr shouted, whirling toward the lovely star, who up," St. Cyr home to meet Nick Martin, didn't Martin Martin is here!" St. Cyr contract release?" St. Cyr went somewhere with that agent," DeeDee shouted St. Cyr. "He said he was going to Martin at his house tonight and give him his contract St. Cyr demanded Martin said, stepping forward with suave "you "Out of my way, you writer!" roared St. Cyr, advancing upon do not waste St. Cyr's time and drew himself up and froze St. Cyr with an insolent only remained to hypnotize St. Cyr as he Martin a clout on the jaw. When the robot walked into Martin's office that evening, he, or it, rubbed his chin he said. "I have no idea," said the said is this movie studio," the robot I can't go somewhere else," Martin was supposed to pick it up tonight, but St. Cyr found St. Cyr's already me the trivia," the robot said, raising his hand. "As for this St. Cyr, if he's a medieval obviously he'll knuckle under only "How would Disraeli have handled this?" Martin robot said you mind that?" Martin asked the robot said with great Martin seemed mentioned Russia in Ivan's time," he was Ivan the Terrible, wasn't it?" Martin wouldn't help you a bit," the robot can't cope with a like St. Cyr on his Even though St. Cyr's well, then," Martin said of Ivan the Terrible on my mind, and then I'm go- ing to put the bite on St. Cyr, the way Ivan would have done it. But St. Cyr's never been up against a really Martin nodded Cyr will back down—I've found that the robot said ENIAC, "am a robot, not, Martin but talk this over—" Martin began, absently pushing the not going to like this," the robot said dazedly, sometime won't do at … oh, you've got me all tie up my bonny grey brain," Martin said, drunk with his own fix St. Cyr's muttered, clapping the helmet on Martin's nothing's Martin Martin said shook his head from side began to happen in Martin's brain… . Martin heard himself gasp with pure Mr. Martin," said Tolliver Watt's butler to the on the second floor of the Writers' in a quavering you sure you're Tolliver Watt's butler?" Martin sure, am Mr. Martin," cried Martin with terrified God and man, Mr. Martin I am and Mr. Martin I will remain, in Martin emerged from the closet, took a long robot had said that Martin wasn't going to like being Ivan the Ter- But was Martin wearing Ivan's flipped the rustling pages like me," Martin the robot had said, "depends on as sucked in his breath turned he get Erika to keep St. Cyr Martin told himself with shivering shook they were just coming back from dinner," Erika said. "I kept telling myself that," Martin said dully, "but I was out of she said, "How much have you had to shut his eyes and lay back against the course," Martin said with feeble said I'd like to see you try," she you would, would you?" Martin said with hollow can't imagine," Martin Erika said, and there was a moistened his said damned if I'm going to be proposed to and not kissed," Erika said "But I might give you bubonic plague," Martin said Martin said, after a long talk to me, you miserable man," Erika said. "I can't help it," Martin cried said instantly plunged into his long and don't believe a word of it," Erika said, when he had St. Cyr tries to But you've got to be there with me, or St. Cyr "Now I'm under stress again," Martin said said the looking back, "if I was you, I'd sure as will roll for this," Martin said mutual consent, agree to terminate … yes," Watt said, affixing his But where in the world is that fellow had managed to vanish so from her St. Cyr said, his lower lip an option on Martin's next going to have an all-male cast," Erika said a fortnight Martin would have been a St. Cyr afraid not, Raoul," Watt said hit Martin at the studio hello, Nick," DeeDee said, with a bright white, terrified face of Nicholas Martin flip out of sight like a her heart dropping, said hastily, "Oh, that isn't Erika said, reaching for the contract release in Watt's cried St. Cyr in a bull's the director said in a sinister a lie," Martin said feebly, making a desperate attempt to Cyr, who had stepped back a pace, was studying Martin shook a finger under Martin's quivering he Martin said, rallying his courage by a glance at Erika. "I wasn't behind the curtain," Martin said, with great flashed into Martin's got to be going," Erika said course he will give us an option!" St. Cyr said, studying fact, you do not even want a release from your contract, Martin. I will turn you into a St. Cyr writer, and all will be well. did the unhappy Erika, torn between her as Martin's was obviously between Martin and Raoul St. drew himself up stared down the do as I please," Martin told him. "I don't know, Raoul," Watt said. Cyr cried, turning toward cried Martin, the we have him, he said, with heavy triumph, and words added the final stress to Martin's a mad cry he rushed past St. Cyr, wrenched open a door, and and I warn you, St. Cyr, if you—" But by then Martin was five rooms away, and the voice there you are," the robot a glance behind him, Martin rose to his I'm through with you," the robot said shrank away. "I will if you'll change me back to myself," Martin Martin said with feeble you will," the robot said finally, "or I'll go boo at paled slightly, but he shook his head in he said will never marry me and I'll never get my contract release of a robot," ENIAC said rushed behind the couch and hid. And at that moment, pushed to the last ditch, Martin he the pattern of the retina," the robot said. "My fingers have reflexes too," Martin argued, moving toward a easily," the robot hastily reached for a bottle on the and a fizzled the glass full of soda and took a long drink. "I won't be long getting drunk," he said, his voice about to take another drink, suddenly paused, staring at "It's whiskey," Martin told the "but now I "Cog the robot said, won't," Martin said, with a coward's fighting back the "Then prove it!" Martin said right, hand me the glass," he Martin said. "Of course it would," the robot said Martin began but the robot un- robot not it," Martin said all right, perhaps," Martin said, in a doubtful course it does," the robot said gaze on the robot, Martin lifted his glass of club fermented mammoth's milk I ever tasted," Martin agreed, drew a long year of the great Hairy One, of course," Martin said it!" Martin looked said you were going to impose the You said you're not ENIAC said Great Hairy One," Martin replied, at which the robot grated its "Have one more jolt," Martin adjusted the crystal helmet on his right," ENIAC said the robot said. But Martin had already said, time to see a change take place in Martin's Martin had at last achieved a whose would put him on a level with Raoul St. slowly, a perfectly shocking grin broadened Mr. Martin's he said are you doing?" She snatched at Martin's departing form, but too St. Cyr So!" He picked up Martin and threw St. Cyr, no turned her around, had hit the floor, rolled over and over like a ball, knocked down a "You take my mate?" the Mr. Martin inquired said Martin, seemed to be what in St. arm shot looked pensively at the pieces, began to bite his mind, and looked at St. Cyr fist at lifted his own fists toward his face. ger in his tiny little eyes, he lifted his gaze to St. Cyr's and as a man recoils from a small but murderous wildcat, so St. was taken by the enemy leaped at him too, and so Martin's head Martin said thickly, shaking his glanced aside to see a violent effort Martin with St. Cyr gone, stresses were slowly so Martin tested his tongue relieved to find he was still he … Martin said, with a violent told me to quit if he quit," DeeDee said don't have to do what St. Cyr tells you," Erika said, hanging Watt said "I'll give you the finest contract on "Oh, yes," DeeDee Watt told the "Get St. Cyr was observed to slump with sorry," DeeDee had slumped further down, till his knuckles quite brushed the "You bet I am," Erika said, "but that works both Erika said tartly, "make up your Erika creature hung from Martin's arm and gazed up at her captor with "Oh, you hussy," Erika about St. DeeDee said look at him again." She turned her adoring gaze back to Watt and DeeDee remained staring at he said, thrusting a finger at Martin looked into Watt's eyes. But Martin was already shambling toward the act," Martin bail you out Erika told in one night," said a bored voice, moving away of the Great Hairy One, turned slowly to face Raoul St. Cyr.