Henry Kuttner and C.L. Moore. Home There’s No Returning. (No Boundaries, 1955.)

Read in Judith Merril’s The Year’s Greatest Science Fiction and Fantasy, 1956.

Editor Merril helpfully informs us that the story was written by ‘Mr. & Mrs. Henry Kuttner’ in her introduction.

General Conway is exhausted. He has been heading up the defence of the Pacific Front Sector, and after a devastating attack by the enemy a week ago he has not slept. And now the computers are forecasting another attack in a day or two. Desperate times call for desperate measures, and he forces his lead scientist to activate EGO (Electronic Guidance Operator). It is in effect what we would call now an AI, an advanced computer able (theoretically) to make decisions based on incomplete data, unlike the current computer system the General has to work with.

For reasons not really explained EGO is housed in a ten-foot tall badass robot. And when it is turned on (against the lead scientist’s advice) it is clearly not operating as intended, thrashing around as it seeks ‘in-put’.

The story follows the General as he tries to stop EGO as he wreaks havoc around the military base (not unlike Terminator/Robocop movies decades in the future). The ending sees the General finally come to an understanding about his own personal ‘failings’, strengths and weaknesses, and those of the robot, as ‘Mr. & Mrs. Henry Kuttner’ ponder whether flesh & blood, despite their inherent weaknesses, are superior to computers.

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