Jan. 3rd, 2015

mithen: (Deaded)
[personal profile] rileyc asked me about this pairing, which I just wrote for the first time for Yuletide, but have loved for a couple of decades!

OK, I could go on for a LONG time about R. Daneel Olivaw and Elijah Baley. They're the main characters from Isaac Asimov's Robot mysteries: the two of them appear together in The Caves of Steel, The Naked Sun, The Robots of Dawn, and (in flashback) Robots and Empire. Baley is a detective from Earth, while Daneel is a humaniform robot from an Earth colony. Baley--like most Earth people--distrusts and dislikes robots, but comes to first respect and then love (the word is used at least three times to describe how he feels about Daneel--the first time it is qualified to be love "like a friend," but the second two times it's simply love) his robotic partner.

Asimovian robots have three Laws that are necessary to function--later books explicitly argue that they're not programmed that way, their brains will not function without these Laws in place. The third, weakest Law is that a robot must protect its own existence. The Second Law is that a robot must always obey a human. And the First Law of Robotics is that "a robot may not injure a human being, or through inaction allow a human being to come to harm." Asimov created these Laws in the 1950s as basically a logic puzzle: most of his robot stories revolve around mysteries that play with the Three Laws. As the books progress and Asimov develops the society he's created, they also become ethics puzzles: what does free will mean to a robot if it must obey the three laws? Are they slaves to humanity, or purely altruistic beings? Or both?

Baley and Daneel make a very classic odd couple: Baley is homely (Asimov's descriptions make it clear, I think, he mentally cast a more rumpled Humphrey Bogart in the role) and Daneel is basically perfectly handsome (I would cast Chris Evans in the role if I were making a movie of it now--superficially blandly blondly pretty, with more underneath than it seems). Daneel is unemotional; Baley wavers between gruff and demonstrative. Daneel goes by the book (or Law); Baley trusts his intuition and instinct.

Asimov writes Baley as moving from resentment to friendship to deep affection for Daneel: there's a beautiful scene where Daneel re-asserts that he would be willing to die for Baley, and Baley, overcome with emotion (for a stoic noir detective, Baley is overcome with emotion a lot in these books) asserts that he feels that would be a poor exchange indeed. There's another great scene where Baley suddenly realizes the villains of the book are after Daneel, not him, and he has to try to convince Daneel to leave him and flee to save himself, Daneel is extremely reluctant to leave him in danger, and Baley is terrified at how the First Law might lead to Daneel's destruction. At the end of his life, Baley asks that Daneel come to him and holds on to life until they can have a last conversation. He sends Daneel away at the last second because he fears the sight of his death would hurt Daneel, and dies the moment Daneel leaves his side. MY KRYPTONITE.

In the long run, the last conversation Daneel has with Baley leads him to an ethical epiphany: the Zeroth Law, that a robot must not hurt HUMANITY. Armed with this breakthrough, in Baley's name Daneel dedicates his life to guiding humanity toward a utopian future.

Daneel is close to immortal. So for 20,000 years he works in the background, trying to ensure the survival and happiness of the human race--all for Elijah Baley, as he explicitly states much later. His efforts eventually cross over into the Foundation series, once a totally desperate space opera by Asimov, where we discover that he orchestrates the very creation of psychohistory, the science that at the end of the series appears to be leading humanity toward a perfectly harmonious collective mind.

And so a grumpy, agoraphobic noir detective ends up shaping the history of all humanity for more than twenty millennia, because a robot loved and admired him. If that's not romantic, I don't know what is.
mithen: (Coffee S/B)
Title: Body Double
Pairing/Characters: Clark Kent/Bruce Wayne
Rating: PG-13
Warnings/Spoilers: None
Fandom: DC Comics
Summary: A very late fill for the Unconventional Courtship Fest! Prompt: Scarred inside and out by a past he can't remember, Bruce Wayne doesn't know if he's the playboy billionaire, or the hit man who killed him and assumed his identity. While he is determined to remain in the shadows, it's Clark Kent who forces him back into the light. When the gorgeous reporter is attacked, Bruce comes to his rescue…and finds it impossible to walk away. Now, with a dangerous stalker determined to get his hands on the man who got away, protecting Clark becomes Bruce's priority. But with his memories still in question, Bruce fears what will happen when the bad guy comes calling. Can he prove he's the good guy Clark is convinced he must be?
Word Count: 5500

It was actually quite easy to pretend to be Bruce Wayne, he realized a few hours later: no one expected you to have much personality, so conversations mostly stayed vague and polite. A couple of women had given him looks which led him to believe they were previous lovers, but hadn’t seemed terribly surprised when he hadn’t seemed to remember them clearly. A man who hadn’t left much mark on the world, it seemed. A man no one would miss if he were replaced. )


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