Devil Car • (1965) • shortstory by Roger Zelazny

★★★

Meta: ISFDB. This shortstory appeared in Galaxy, June 1965, edited by Frederik Pohl . It was nominated for the Nebula in 1966. I’ve read it in The Doors of His Face, the Lamps of His Mouth and Other Stories, my review here. There is a followup story Last of the Wild Ones not contained in that collection.

A computer virus has changed some of the artificial intelligence cars to turn against humans. Coffee-drinking and smoking protagonist Murdock goes on a revenge crusade against a black caddy called Devil Car who murdered his brother. At his side his a hot blonde, this time in the form of an A.I. car called Jenny who develops some very emotional capabilities.

This action adventure is an easy SF read around the topic of Wild West romanticism (freedom, loyality) with car profanity/emotions/seducing. It is quite a contrast to King’s Christine, and I thought more of the more recent Megan Lindholm’s Old Paint where the cars were also infected by a computer virus.

As with many other Zelazny stories, the SF aspect is a bit artificial and it could have been set easily in a cowboy vs. American indians context. But it is a good story, and I like Zelazny’s language.

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