The Complete Roderick

John Sladek
The Complete Roderick Cover

The Complete Roderick


With five titles left of my journey through David Pringle's Science Fiction: the 100 Best Books, I've just finished John Sladek's The Complete Roderick, which was originally published as Roderick (1980) and Roderick at Random (1983). The story is highly satirical and follows Roderick, the world's first self-aware robot, as he navigates his way through human culture.

Much of the novel is designed to make fun of the modern world from the point of view of an innocent. Roderick is created in a second-rate university hired by a representative from NASA who is only using the project to cover his own embezzling. As Roderick makes his way through the world (and to be fair, Roderick has no gender, so I should be saying "makes its way") it comes across all sorts of groups and institutions that simply refuse to see it as a robot, and instead assume Roderick is a disabled child. The novel doesn't have a lot of trust for larger institutions and is definitely against capitalism run amok, but at the same time shows how a creature unfamiliar with our world can construct a world view so alien as to seem impossible.

A fascinating read.