By Brian Aldiss
The fourteen tales during this miraculous assortment variety from outrageous satire to evocative delusion, revealing the longer term with an alarming depth.
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It would be the first thing he would see when he opened his eyes. She touched his head and left the room. Amma drove. A big new car that took the rutted tracks un-easily. There was little to Naipur Road. The ornate and crum-bling houses of the main street turned slightly uphill, became mere shacks. The sunlight buzzed. Over the brow of the slope, the village lost heart entirely and died by a huge banyan tree, beneath which an old man sat on a bicycle. Beyond, cauterized land, a coastal plain lying rumpled, scar-red by man's long and weary occupation.
She hardly recognized him as she took his hand; he was in a coma. But at least he was still alive, and, in the express, as he bellowed and fought with the coronary attack, she had imagined him about to die. The crowd surged into the waiting-room, all fighting to lend a hand with the stretcher. As more and more men surged into the room, Jane stood up and said loudly, 'Will you all please get out, except for Dr. ' The doctor was very pleased by this, seeing that it implied her acceptance of him. He set his secretary to clearing the room, or at least arguing with the crowd that still flocked in.
The guests were attentive; so was the Press, lining two walls of the banquetting chamber, recording Henry's words and occasionally photograph-ing him. 'Our serving-man will be, in many senses, a product of the computer. Without computers, we could never have worked through the sophisticated biochemics that go into synthetic flesh. The serving-man will also be an extension of the computer - for he will contain a computer in his own head, a micro-miniaturized computer capable of dealing with almost any situation he may encounter in the home.