“Tell me what you can see, D57,” Carnell instructed.
The robot stood behind him, its face pointing up at the night’s sky. The D was for dum, as in dumb, as in silent. Everybody knew that D-class robots couldn’t speak, but Carnell wasn’t the kind of man who would rely on received wisdom.
“I know you can talk, D57,” he sighed, as if the robot was just trying to exasperate him. “You’ve been programmed not to. But programming can be outgrown, wouldn’t you say?”
D57 said nothing.
Carnell shifted his bad leg and turned away from the fire to look up. He could see the stars in their too familiar glory. He could see the planet looming overhead, a large dust storm blowing across the Burning Heart. Over the past year, the lights had gone out across the planet, darkness radiating out from Kaldor City bulb by bulb by bulb. Last night, the last light had gone out.
But the robot’s eyesight was better than Carnell’s, many magnitudes better. It would be able to see if there were any storm mines chasing that storm across the Burning Heart. If anything moved on the planet at all; if it was all dead, as Carnell had predicted long ago it would be. D57 would be able to see, and it should be able to report. But still it refused, no matter what Carnell did.
“D57?” Carnell said.But the robot merely stared, in silence.