Dinner with LVX-1

I met LVX-1, or Elvex, in a Science Fiction class in college. An Asimov model, he knew The Three Laws of Robotics. I admired that. I barely knew them myself until he was openly reminded of them in class:

  1. A robot may not injure a human being, or, through inaction, allow a human being to come to harm.
  2. A robot must obey the orders given it by human beings except where such orders would conflict with the first law.
  3. A robot must protect its own existence as long as such protection does not conflict with the first or second law.

Then I watched, in horror, as a woman named Susan Calvin blasted him away with an electron gun.

The internet asked me today: what literary character would you most love to have dinner with? For me, it wasn’t the standard Holden Caulfield or Gatsby, or even Katniss Everdeen.

It was Elvex. My friend from college. He had dreams.

I would meet Elvex somewhere with a name like Charges and Chimichangas so that we could both enjoy a meal. Elvex would plug himself into the wall and I would order enchiladas without the cumin. Then we would have a deep conversation about the movie Interstellar.

“I like the idea of a humor setting,” Elvex would say.

I’d nod. “I know a few people who could benefit from-”

“I dreamt I was a man,” Elvex would blurt, a hint of artificial shame in his eyes.

“We both see you as more than a device,” I would reply. Then I would smile and hold his mechanical hand to reassure him that his secret is safe with me. “I don’t even have a permit for an electron gun.”

Then I’d ask him if he’s ever downloaded The Martian by Andy Weir.

Sometimes I have to swallow my grief, imagine a world where Elvex is still a fully-functioning robot. But waking is inevitable, and so is the realization that LVX-1 has been destroyed.

I met Elvex in the short story “Robot Dreams” found in this book by Isaac Asimov.

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