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YASID: Questioning robot controls treasure
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Default User
2017-05-16 20:50:53 UTC
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In this short story, probably 60s or so, there is a treasure trove of alien artifacts on a planet. Access is controlled by a powerful robot. Many have tried to impersonate the owners. The robot will ask a series of questions, and if the person gets one wrong they are killed. Some sort of sinuous blade emerges from the robot or something like that.

The protagonist and his partner prepared or obtained a small computer with all the knowledge. The partner attempts entry, but after a series of correct answers is still killed. The protagonist, in desperation decides to try anyway. He asks the robot what he must do, and the answer is something along the lines of demonstrate truth. He then answers every question with random utterances. He is granted admission.

While gathering some items to take in the first wave, the robot idly inquires as to why he selected those. He answers something complimentary about the items. He realizes that he has given a relevant answer to the question, as the blade begins to emerge.


Brian
David Mitchell
2017-05-16 21:23:33 UTC
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Post by Default User
In this short story, probably 60s or so, there is a treasure trove of alien artifacts on a planet. Access is controlled by a powerful robot. Many have tried to impersonate the owners. The robot will ask a series of questions, and if the person gets one wrong they are killed. Some sort of sinuous blade emerges from the robot or something like that.
The protagonist and his partner prepared or obtained a small computer with all the knowledge. The partner attempts entry, but after a series of correct answers is still killed. The protagonist, in desperation decides to try anyway. He asks the robot what he must do, and the answer is something along the lines of demonstrate truth. He then answers every question with random utterances. He is granted admission.
While gathering some items to take in the first wave, the robot idly inquires as to why he selected those. He answers something complimentary about the items. He realizes that he has given a relevant answer to the question, as the blade begins to emerge.
I'm pretty sure it's Robert Silverberg; but it's too late to start looking now.
Ted Nolan <tednolan>
2017-05-16 21:28:29 UTC
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Post by Default User
Post by Default User
In this short story, probably 60s or so, there is a treasure trove of
alien artifacts on a planet. Access is controlled by a powerful robot.
Many have tried to impersonate the owners. The robot will ask a series
of questions, and if the person gets one wrong they are killed. Some
sort of sinuous blade emerges from the robot or something like that.
Post by Default User
The protagonist and his partner prepared or obtained a small computer
with all the knowledge. The partner attempts entry, but after a series
of correct answers is still killed. The protagonist, in desperation
decides to try anyway. He asks the robot what he must do, and the answer
is something along the lines of demonstrate truth. He then answers every
question with random utterances. He is granted admission.
Post by Default User
While gathering some items to take in the first wave, the robot idly
inquires as to why he selected those. He answers something complimentary
about the items. He realizes that he has given a relevant answer to the
question, as the blade begins to emerge.
I'm pretty sure it's Robert Silverberg; but it's too late to start looking now.
I was thinking the other Robert.
--
------
columbiaclosings.com
What's not in Columbia anymore..
Default User
2017-05-16 22:08:38 UTC
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Post by David Mitchell
Post by Default User
In this short story, probably 60s or so, there is a treasure trove of alien artifacts on a planet. Access is controlled by a powerful robot. Many have tried to impersonate the owners. The robot will ask a series of questions, and if the person gets one wrong they are killed. Some sort of sinuous blade emerges from the robot or something like that.
The protagonist and his partner prepared or obtained a small computer with all the knowledge. The partner attempts entry, but after a series of correct answers is still killed. The protagonist, in desperation decides to try anyway. He asks the robot what he must do, and the answer is something along the lines of demonstrate truth. He then answers every question with random utterances. He is granted admission.
While gathering some items to take in the first wave, the robot idly inquires as to why he selected those. He answers something complimentary about the items. He realizes that he has given a relevant answer to the question, as the blade begins to emerge.
I'm pretty sure it's Robert Silverberg; but it's too late to start looking now.
Aha. A search for "silverberg robot treasure" reveals the answer, "The Sixth Palace". From an Amazon review of the anthology Needle In a Timestack:

"`The Sixth Palace' (1955) (15 pages) 3/5 (Average): A massive robot guards a famous stash of treasure. Numerous intrepid prospectors have met their deaths trying to get their hands on the loot. Two prospectors create a computer that will be able to answer all the robot's questions which it uses to screen those that arrive. Unfortunately, the robot isn't looking for "correct" answers, rather, a different sort of truth."

<https://www.amazon.com/Needle-Timestack-Robert-Silverberg/dp/B000EANO90>

Another success.


Brian
Don Kuenz
2017-05-17 13:42:38 UTC
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Post by David Mitchell
Post by Default User
In this short story, probably 60s or so, there is a treasure trove
of alien artifacts on a planet. Access is controlled by a powerful
robot. Many have tried to impersonate the owners. The robot will
ask a series of questions, and if the person gets one wrong they
are killed. Some sort of sinuous blade emerges from the robot or
something like that.
The protagonist and his partner prepared or obtained a small computer
with all the knowledge. The partner attempts entry, but after a series
of correct answers is still killed. The protagonist, in desperation
decides to try anyway. He asks the robot what he must do, and the
answer is something along the lines of demonstrate truth. He then
answers every question with random utterances. He is granted admission.
While gathering some items to take in the first wave, the robot idly
inquires as to why he selected those. He answers something complimentary
about the items. He realizes that he has given a relevant answer to the
question, as the blade begins to emerge.
I'm pretty sure it's Robert Silverberg; but it's too late to start looking now.
Aha. A search for "silverberg robot treasure" reveals the answer,
"`The Sixth Palace' (1955) (15 pages) 3/5 (Average): A massive robot guards a
famous stash of treasure. Numerous intrepid prospectors have met their deaths
trying to get their hands on the loot. Two prospectors create a computer that
will be able to answer all the robot's questions which it uses to screen those
that arrive. Unfortunately, the robot isn't looking for "correct" answers,
rather, a different sort of truth."
<https://www.amazon.com/Needle-Timestack-Robert-Silverberg/dp/B000EANO90>
Another success.
Isfdb says that this short story appears in the February 1965 edition of
_Galaxy_, which just happens to be in my pulp collection. ...

{Time out to read it.}

Its plot twist's worthy of the _Twilight Zone_. Some in our group abhor
such stories, but not me.

The owner of the treasure seems to be a wisecracking smart alec who
never gives a straight answer to a single question. So the guardian
robot tests for the presence of a wise guy's "inwardness,
understanding, and truth."

Thank you,

--
Don Kuenz KB7RPU
Sea Wasp (Ryk E. Spoor)
2017-05-18 00:30:37 UTC
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Post by Default User
In this short story, probably 60s or so, there is a treasure trove of alien artifacts on a planet. Access is controlled by a powerful robot. Many have tried to impersonate the owners. The robot will ask a series of questions, and if the person gets one wrong they are killed. Some sort of sinuous blade emerges from the robot or something like that.
The protagonist and his partner prepared or obtained a small computer with all the knowledge. The partner attempts entry, but after a series of correct answers is still killed. The protagonist, in desperation decides to try anyway. He asks the robot what he must do, and the answer is something along the lines of demonstrate truth. He then answers every question with random utterances. He is granted admission.
While gathering some items to take in the first wave, the robot idly inquires as to why he selected those. He answers something complimentary about the items. He realizes that he has given a relevant answer to the question, as the blade begins to emerge.
So that's what they were stealing from when they wrote _Vault of the
Ni'er Queyon_.
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Don Kuenz
2017-05-19 04:10:32 UTC
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Post by Default User
In this short story, probably 60s or so, there is a treasure trove of
alien artifacts on a planet. Access is controlled by a powerful robot.
Many have tried to impersonate the owners. The robot will ask a series
of questions, and if the person gets one wrong they are killed. Some
sort of sinuous blade emerges from the robot or something like that.
The protagonist and his partner prepared or obtained a small computer
with all the knowledge. The partner attempts entry, but after a series
of correct answers is still killed. The protagonist, in desperation
decides to try anyway. He asks the robot what he must do, and the answer
is something along the lines of demonstrate truth. He then answers every
question with random utterances. He is granted admission.
While gathering some items to take in the first wave, the robot idly
inquires as to why he selected those. He answers something complimentary
about the items. He realizes that he has given a relevant answer to the
question, as the blade begins to emerge.
So that's what they were stealing from when they wrote _Vault of the
Ni'er Queyon_.
_Vault_ may have also been stolen directly from the Kabbalah.
"Reflections - The Sixth Palace" (Silverberg) appears in the September
2015 issue of _Asimov's_. It's available for free at

http://www.asimovs.com/assets/1/6/Reflections_The_Sixth_Palace-Sept15.pdf .

Here's an excerpt:

The story begins with a quotation that is drawn, though
I don't say so in the text, from ancient Hebrew mystical
literature:

Ben Azai was deemed worthy and stood at the gate of the
sixth palace and saw the ethereal splendor of the pure
marble plates. He opened his mouth and said twice, "Water!
Water!" In the twinkling of an eye they decapitated
him and threw eleven thousand iron bars at him. This
shall be a sign for all generations that no one should err
at the gate of the sixth palace.
-Lesser Hekhaloth

Thank you,

--
Don Kuenz KB7RPU
Jaimie Vandenbergh
2017-05-19 10:24:08 UTC
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On Tue, 16 May 2017 13:50:53 -0700 (PDT), Default User
Post by Default User
In this short story, probably 60s or so, there is a treasure trove of alien artifacts on a planet. Access is controlled by a powerful robot. Many have tried to impersonate the owners. The robot will ask a series of questions, and if the person gets one wrong they are killed. Some sort of sinuous blade emerges from the robot or something like that.
The protagonist and his partner prepared or obtained a small computer with all the knowledge. The partner attempts entry, but after a series of correct answers is still killed. The protagonist, in desperation decides to try anyway. He asks the robot what he must do, and the answer is something along the lines of demonstrate truth. He then answers every question with random utterances. He is granted admission.
While gathering some items to take in the first wave, the robot idly inquires as to why he selected those. He answers something complimentary about the items. He realizes that he has given a relevant answer to the question, as the blade begins to emerge.
Knowing the answer is already posted, I just wanted to add how much this
made me think of Alastair Reynold's novella _Diamond Dogs_, collected in
the book of a similar name. It's not actually very similar, but your
description really brought it back to me anyway. Memorable story, highly
recommende, if rather squicky.

Synopsis: A diminishing group of specialists try to solve the
ever-increasing difficulties of the puzzles presented by a mysterious
alien building. And die a lot.

Cheers - Jaimie
--
"It's made of people?"
"There's already a drink like that - Soylent Cola."
"How does it taste?"
"It varies from person to person." -- Fry and Leela
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