Popular robots in classic literature (with pictures) – Updated

Even before the word “robot” was coined about a half-century ago, people were fascinated by the idea of a mechanical device that can talk, walk, and behave like humans, for thousands of years.

They were making these little human figures out of clay, wood, and metal, for several reasons. Some believed that it was the way that humans first came to be. If they could make a human figure lifelike enough, it might come to life or be brought to life as artificial life, capable of doing extraordinary things for the creator.

Similar legends exist in the history of mankind. According to the Bible and Greek mythology, for instance, God fashioned human figures out of clay and then brought them to life. In one romantic Greek myth, a sculptor named Pygmalion shaped the statue of a beautiful woman and fell in love with it. He then prayed to the Greek goddess of love, to bring the statue to life. Soon, the statue became a living woman.

Gradually, stories found their ways to literature in the form of science fiction, novels, short stories, etc. This post will present 17 top novels and short stories in literature, which had inspired generations of scientists and engineers to work toward achieving what they had imagined from the stories.


The Metamorphosis (8 A.D.) is a Latin narrative poem by the Roman poet Ovid, who adapted an enchanting myth about a Cypriot sculptor who fell in love with his sculpture that has come to life. A magnum opus, It is considered one of the first stories of A.I.


Frankenstein (1818) by English author Mary Shelley tells the story of Victor Frankenstein, a young scientist who creates a frightening artificial life form in an unorthodox scientific experiment.


American author L. Frank Baum’s The Marvelous Land of Oz (1904) is about The Tin Woodman (aka the Tin Man), a mechanical man in search of a heart in the fictional Land of Oz.


Tik-Tok of Oz (1914), written by L. Frank Baum, is a children’s novel with a talking, copper device with a head, arms, legs, and a spherical torso named Tik-Tok, who populates the world of Oz.


Helen O’Loy, written by Lester del Rey and published in Astounding Science Fiction in 1938, is a short story of two men who invented the eponymous robot, Helen, to manage household chores, but soon both fall in love with what they created.


I, Robot (1950) by prolific writer Isaac Asimov is a fixup novel of science fiction short stories that define the Three Laws of Robotics.


Fahrenheit 451 (1953) by American writer Ray Bradbury is a dystopian novel featuring “The Mechanical Hound,” an eight-legged robotic dog-like creature.


The Cyberiad (1965) by Polish writer Stanislaw Lem is a series of humorous science fiction short stories with a vast majority of robot characters.


The Moon is a Harsh Mistress (1967) by Robert A. Heinlein. It is the story of a computer technician Manuel Garcia “Mannie” O’Kelly-Davis, who discovers Mike, a HOLMES IV that achieves self-awareness with a sense of humor.


British writer Arthur C. Clarke’s science fiction novel 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968) features HAL-9000 (Heuristically programmed Algorithmic computer).


Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep (1968) by American writer Philip K. Dick is a science fiction novel about Rick Deckard, a bounty hunter with a mission to kill six escaped Nexus-6 model androids.


The Iron Man: A Children’s Story in Five Nights (1968) is a science fiction novel by British Poet Laureate Ted Hughes.


Cyborg (1972), written by Martin Caidin, a science fiction/secret agent novel about an astronaut and test pilot Steve Austin, who is outfitted with bionics limbs after experiencing a catastrophic crash during a flight.


The Stepford Wives (1972) by Ira Levin is a satirical thriller novel about Joanna Eberhart, a young mother who suspects the frighteningly submissive housewives in her new idyllic Connecticut neighborhood may be robots created by their husbands.


The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy (1979) by Douglas Adams is a comedy science fiction and a novel adaptation of the radio series in the same name.


The Robots of Dawn (1983) by American writer Isaac Asimov is a futuristic detective novel about detective Elijah Baley and his robot sidekick, Daneel, who investigate a crime.


Neuromancer (1984) by American-Canadian writer William Gibson is a science fiction novel about twin super-computers Wintermute and Neuromancer, physically separated due to Turing laws prohibiting massive A.I. systems.