Galley Slave

Galley Slave

: "Galley slave" is a term used to refer to prisoners condemned (in an obsolete form of punishment) to man the oars of a galley."

Infobox Short story |
name = Galley Slave
author = Isaac Asimov
country = United States
language = English
series = Robot Series
genre = Science fiction short story
publication_type = Periodical
published_in = "Galaxy Science Fiction"
publisher = World Editions
media_type = Print (Magazine, Hardback & Paperback)
pub_date = December 1957
preceded_by = Lenny
followed_by = Little Lost Robot

"Galley Slave" is a science fiction short story by Isaac Asimov, originally published in the December 1957 issue of "Galaxy Science Fiction" and reprinted in the collections "The Rest of the Robots" (1964), "The Complete Robot" (1982), and "Robot Visions" (1990). Asimov identified it as his favorite among those of his robot stories featuring the character of Susan Calvin.

The story is a courtroom drama. It opens in 2033, with Simon Ninheimer, a professor of sociology, suing US Robots for loss of professional reputation. He contends that robot EZ-27 (aka "Easy"), while leased to North Eastern University for use as a proofreader, deliberately altered and rewrote parts of his book "Social Tensions Involved in Space Flight and their Resolution" when it checked the galley proofs (hence the title). Ninheimer holds that the alterations to his book make him appear an incompetent scholar who has misrepresented the work of his professional colleagues in fields such as criminal justice in absurd ways.

Susan Calvin (US Robots' Chief Robopsychologist) is convinced that the robot could not have acted as Ninheimer claims and that it was ordered to do so, but infers from its refusal to answer questions about the matter that it has been ordered into silence by Ninheimer. For Calvin, it is easy to find this out by careful questioning and a process of elimination. However, a robot's testimony in its own defence is not legally admissible as evidence.

During the trial, Ninheimer is called as a witness for the defence in the presence of EZ-27, and is led into giving testimony which acts to release EZ-27 from Ninheimer's earlier orders silencing the robot. Seeing Ninheimer about to suffer harm, EZ-27 stands up to lie on his behalf, its First Law conditioning overriding all other commands and conditioning. Ninheimer shouts "I told you not to say anything!" He thus implicitly confesses to having attempted to pervert the course of justice, and his case is dismissed.

The story's final scene consists in the post-trial encounter between Ninheimer and Calvin in which Ninheimer explains his attempt to frame EZ-27 in order to bring disgrace on US Robots. He was motivated by his fear that the automation of academic work would destroy the dignity of scholarship and argues that EZ-27 is a harbinger of a world in which a scholar would be left with only a barren choice as to what orders to issue to robot researchers. The critic Joseph Patrouch has pointed out that the speech Asimov gives Ninheimer is an eloquent self-exculpation rather than a caricatured luddite tract and cites the story as an example of a general rule that Asimov's best stories are those in which his personal technophile optimism is thus qualified.

included1=The Rest of the Robots
included2=The Complete Robot
series1=Robot Series
series2=Foundation Series
next="Little Lost Robot"

Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • Galley slave — Galley Gal ley, n.; pl. {Galleys}. [OE. gale, galeie (cf. OF. galie, gal[ e]e, LL. galea, LGr. ?; of unknown origin.] 1. (Naut.) A vessel propelled by oars, whether having masts and sails or not; as: (a) A large vessel for war and national… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • galley slave — slave forced to operate an oar on a galley, slave who rows on a galley (ancient sailing vessel propelled by oars and sails) …   English contemporary dictionary

  • Galley slave — A galley slave was a slave rowing in a galley. The expression has two distinct meanings: it can refer either to a convicted criminal sentenced to work at the oar ( French : forçat), or to a kind of human chattel, often a prisoner of war, assigned …   Wikipedia

  • galley slave — noun 1. a slave condemned to row in a galley • Hypernyms: ↑slave 2. a laborer who is obliged to do menial work • Syn: ↑drudge, ↑peon, ↑navvy • Derivationally related forms: ↑drudge …   Useful english dictionary

  • galley slave — noun A slave who rows in a galley …   Wiktionary

  • galley slave — Synonyms and related words: bargee, bargeman, barger, beast of burden, boat handler, boater, boatman, boatsman, bondmaid, bondman, bondslave, bondsman, bondswoman, captive, chattel, chattel slave, churl, concubine, debt slave, dray horse, drudge …   Moby Thesaurus

  • galley slave — 1. a person condemned to work at an oar on a galley. 2. a drudge. [1560 70] * * * …   Universalium

  • galley slave — /ˈgæli sleɪv/ (say galee slayv) noun 1. a person condemned to row in a galley. 2. an overworked person; drudge …   Australian English dictionary

  • galley-slave — …   Useful english dictionary

  • Galley slave амер. — Наборщик …   Краткий толковый словарь по полиграфии