The Category Inventor -- Arthur Sellings

Sunday, 29 November 2009 01:01 Dave Truesdale

English born Arthur Sellings (pseudonym of Robert Arthur Gordon Ley: 1911-1968) aside from being a gifted science-fiction storyteller, was not only a scientist, but a book and art dealer; quite a commendable blend of professions. His first genre work appeared in 1953, and from then until his death fifteen years later he would pen six novels (one published posthumously) and nearly 50 short stories in a handful of magazines in the UK and United States, most notably Fantastic Universe, Galaxy, and The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction.

Sellings' novella from the February, 1956 issue of Galaxy (cover at right), "The Category Inventors" (aka "Categorical Imperative"), tells of a time when robots have become so diversified and skilled in various disciplines that they have taken over nearly every job in the country. While this sounds wonderful on the surface, Sellings digs a little deeper, asking an uncomfortable question concerning some jobs perhaps robots were not meant to do. In fact, he shows us a world where those in that most emotional and creative side of humanity, the Arts, are losing their jobs to robots, and how a member of the opposition political party, a classical musician, cleverly outmaneuvering the cumbersome and convoluted bureaucracy, invents a job that no robot will ever have the power to usurp from its human creators. Listen now as this X Minus One dramatization from June 27, 1957 shows how Man is, perhaps, yet still the most clever creature on the planet.

Play Time: 21:22