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Liar

written by Isaac Asimov

published in 1941

A short story
in the
Asimov's Robots series

Also a title in the Susan Calvin series.

Set in the Foundation universe


Cover Notes

Through a fault in manufacturing, a robot, RB-34 (a.k.a. Herbie), is created that possesses telepathic abilities. While the roboticists at U.S. Robots and Mechanical Men investigate how this occurred, the robot tells them what other people are thinking. But the First Law still applies to this robot, and so it deliberately lies when necessary to avoid hurting their feelings and to make people happy, especially in terms of romance.

However, by lying, it is hurting them anyway. When it is confronted with this fact by Susan Calvin (to whom it told a lie that was particularly painful to her when it was shown to be false), the robot experiences an irresolvable logical conflict and becomes catatonic.

Publication History

Publication history in print

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Page last modified on 10 November 2015, at 13:38 GMT