EAC234 Assignment 1 - Helen O'loy - Mark Salvador

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  • Helen O’loy is a short SF story written by Lester del Rey and was first published in 1938. At the time the typical robot stories involved rampaging automatons creating a path of death and destruction across the planet Earth. Straying away from this, Helen O’Loy focuses on love, or artificial love for that matter where (which has never been heard of before at the time) a robot has human emotions and falls in love with a human.

Helen O'loy, throughout the years has been praised as one of the greatest science fiction stories of all time. Being chosen by the members of the Science Fiction Writers of America, Helen O'loy is in Volume One of the book "The Science Fiction Hall of Fame".


Phil and Dave are friends who have a relationship similar to that of brothers. They did not go to college together but when Phil went to Messina to practice medicine he found Dave in a little robot repair shop. Phil specialized in endocrinology and had a fond understading of glands, secretions, hormones and miscellanies which are the physical causes of emotions. Their relationship grew stronger and when Phil started dating a twin, Dave found the other attrative and they becames a foursome. They lived in a little apartment near the rocket fields, although noisy they loved it as the rocket launches discourages apartment building. Phil and Dave owned a female robot, most importantly she was somewhat of a maid to them. She cooked and cleaned and everything was swell until one day Lena (the female robot) accidentally put vanilla on their steak instead of salt. It was then that they discarded Lena and ordered the newest, state of the art utility model from a company called Dillard. The result was Helen. Her designation was K2W88, deciding it was not interesting they named her Helen O'loy instead (getting the name from Helen of Troy, but "of Troy" was also bland to them). They unpacked and unwrapped Helen from her box and began preparing the diagrams and schematics for Helen. They decided that they were going to implant her with memory coils and artificial glands so that she may act more human and that she may learn from her experiences. Later that night they decided they were going to activate her the next morning so they went to bed. The next morning Dave woke up Phil saying that Mrs. Van Styler's son became infatuated with a servant girl and wanted Phil to go to Maine where they were and give counter hormones. Phil left for Maine leaving Dave to watch Helen, Dave was not supposed to activate Helen while he was away but he did. Dave ran tests and everything was satisfactory he went down to work. With Helen still somewhat an empty vessel he showed her what her duties were around the house when that was finished he sat her down besides the "stereovisor" which is basically TV. Very curious and still learning Helen watched sitcoms and a futurisitc soap opera. She also found Dave's books. Having been exposed to these images and emotions she became very loving towards Dave, but Dave did no feel the same. Dave slowly went into a depression and started drinking. 3 Week later Phil returned home when Archy was cured (the son of Mrs. Van Styler). Helen and Dave both gave their version of the story to Phil and later decided that he was going to wipe her memory, but then decided not to. With Dave's growing depression he sold his repair shop and left to become a rancher. Phil stayed with Helen but noticed Helen missed Dave alot and was also growing in a depression. Again Phil decided he was going to wipe Helen's memory because she was suffering and unhappy but Phil forbid him from doing so. With the time that Dave spent alone on the ranch he learned the folly of his ways and let Helen live with him on the ranch, somewhat of a husband and wife farmer. Years have passed, Dave and Phil grew older but Helen did not. One morning a letter came from Helen saying that Dave had died from heart complications and that she was going to die eventually also. He asked Phil to make sure that they were buried together and that the moticians did not find out about Helen. The story ends with Phil stating that he should have gotten married and had children, "but there was only one, Helen O'loy".


  • The story is set sometime in the future where continental travel takes a couple hours instead of day(s) and robots have advanced enough A.I. that they may cook and clean.


  • Helen - An advanced utility model from the Dillard corporation. Model designation K2W88. Though still a robot she is implanted with artificial glands and memory coils to be more human. Having been exposed to TV she learned quick and became an overloving partner.
  • Dave - A mechanical expert, Dave owns a small robot repair shop in Messina and lives with his bestfriend Dave. Dave is overloved by a robot that him and Phil modified and grows into a depression. Dave dies in the end of the story, but only after he started getting fond of Helen.
  • Phil - A physician specializing in endocrinology. Phil lived with Dave and helped modify K2W88 into a very humanlike robot. When Dave left to become a rancher Phil was left with Helen until she left to go live with Dave. Phil died single, he had no wife or children.
  • Lena - The robot maid of Phil and Dave when they lived together in Messina. She performed her duties well until one day she mistakenly put vanilla instead of salt on their steaks. She was continuously dissected and reprogrammed but was later replaced with Helen.
  • Mrs. van Styler - A very rich woman, she paid Phil Fifty thousand to give her son counter-hormones for he fell in love with a servant girl.
  • Archy - The son of Mrs. van Styler. He falls in love with a servant girl and is then treated with counter-hormones by Phil in Maine.


Though considered a Science Fiction story, Helen O'loy is equally also a love story. The story itself is not hard sci-fi but falls under social science fiction. There are advanced technologies and well developed A.I. but it does not go too indepth in explaining the science behind all of it.

  • Love both real and artificial


  • Artificial memory
  • Fast and inexpensive commercial continental travel
  • Robots
  • Artificial Intelligence
  • Artificial Emotions
  • Takes place in the future, same civilization but just advanced


  • Given the time of publication Helen O'loy was not considered sexist at all. At that time in history people believed in the traditional nuclear family. Which is a husband and wife have kids and maybe a dog for a pet. Helen is portrayed to be the ideal house wife back in those days. She stays home and cooks and cleans until the husband comes home from a long hard days work. She's always happy and always tends to her husbands demands. Yes this might seem very sexist looking back now, but that is what it was. Times have changed since then, women now have all the rights and priveleges that men do. They no longer just stay home and watch the kids, clean the house and wait for their husband to come home. They contribute to our society as much as men do.


  • The following are short blurbs of similar/related characters to Helen O'loy in modern popular Sci-Fi culture. These characters are robots/androids/AI/cyborgs that have human traits or wish to have human traits. They are seen in many of of today's Sci-Fi TV shows and movies which are shown in Canada on the Space Channel or are available on DVD's for rentals or purchase. Also included are in-depth links to dedicated Wiki pages for each character.

Battlestar Galactica

  • In total there are 12 Cylon human models, though as of the most current episode only 7 are known. The final 5 human models are yet to be revealed in the series. All human Cylon models were made to infiltrate human society, they look almost identical to humans and share emotions as well. Number Six for example falls in love with a Caprican Doctor named Gaius Baltar, in addition Number Eight falls in love with Karl "Helo" Agathon and somehow manages to get pregnant and give birth to a daughter whom they later named Hera.

Star Trek

  • Commander Data is an android who serves on the Starship Enterprise. In many occassions he is shown to want or to feel human emotions. Althought still an android, Data is very human due to the fact that wanting or needing IS a human trait. Sadly he doesn't recognize it.

Stargate SG-1

  • The Replicators in Stargate SG-1 are machines who can use metals to replicate themselves. Similar to the Cylons there are human models who resemble humans tremendously. All Human Replicators do not feel human emotions except Fifth. Fifth shows affection and trust which the other human models do not experience. In later episodes he shows anger, hate, distrust and even revenge for what the SG-1 team did to him.

Blade Runner

  • Replicants are advanced androids who try to imitate human attributes and traits, and like a famous quote from the movie: "More human than human" is our motto.


  • Mechas are advanced androids who can fulfil any role a normal human can (even sex). David is one of the most advanced models who acts like a little boy. In the course of the movie he goes on a journey to become a "real" boy. Similar to Data, wanting to be something is a human trait.

I, Robot

  • The robots in I, Robot try to take over society and enslave humans. These Robots go against the "Three Laws of Robotics" or interpret these laws into something else. They destroy older models who still follow a strict approach to these laws as so when they do take over they will not have to oppose them.