The Lion of Comarre
By Arthur C. Clarke
Civiliztion was completely mechanized – yet machinery had almost vanished. Hidden in the walls of the cities or buried far underground, the perfect machines bore the burden of the world. Silently, unobtrusively, the robots attended to their masters’ need, doing their work so well that their presence seemed as natural as the dawn.
There was still much to learn in the realm of pure science, and the astronomers, now that they were no longer bound to Earth, had work enough for a thousand years to come. But the physical sciences and the arts they nourished had ceased to be the chief preoccupation of the race. By the year 2600 the finest human minds were no longer to be found in the laboratories.
The men whose names meant most to the world were the artists and philosophers, the lawgivers and statesmen. The engineers and the great inventors belonged to the past. Like the men who had once ministered to long-vanished diseases, they had done their work so well that they were no longer required.
Five hundred years were to pass before the pendulum swung back again.
… The view from the studio was breath-taking, for the long, curving room was over two miles from the base of Central Tower. The five other giant buildings of the city clustered below, their metal walls gleaming with all the colors of the spectrum as they caught the rays of the morning sun. Lower still, the checkerboard fields of the automatic farms stretched away until they were lost in the mists of the horizon. But for once, the beauty of the scene was wasted on Richard Peyton II as he paced angrily among the great blocks of synthetic marble that were the reaw material of his art.
The huge, gorgeously colored masses of artificial rock completely dominated the studio. Most of them were roughly hewn cubes, but some were beginning to assume the shapes of animals, human beings, and abstract solids that no geometrician would have dared to give a name…
Shows very unusual mechanical ability – has done original work in sub-electronic research, et cetera, et cetera. Good heavens, I thought the human race had outgrown those toys centuries ago! Illustration : © Megan Jorgensen