Brian Aldiss is a British science fiction writer who has written many novels and short stories. “Super Toys Last All Summer Long” is a short story that he wrote in 1969. It is about a future world where artificial intelligence has become advanced enough to create sentient beings. These beings, known as “super toys”, are used as playmates for children. However, they are not truly alive and cannot age or reproduce. When the summer ends and the children go back to school, the super toys are left behind to wait for their next chance to play.
The story follows one particular super toy, a doll named Sue. Sue is different from other dolls because she is aware of her own existence. She knows that she is not truly alive and that her purpose is to serve as a child’s plaything. However, she does not see this as a bad thing. She is content to wait for the children to come back and play with her again.
Is it acceptable to medicate feelings away, or is there a line we must not cross? Who’s accountable for autonomous machines’ actions? Things we see in science fiction movies are becoming more and more feasible, and this raises questions for ethicists and scientists.
Brian Aldiss’ short story, Super Toys Last All Summer Long, written in 1969, is a story that deals with these issues by presenting a future in which children are given robotic toys to play with and the children eventually become too attached to them. As the story progresses, we see the mother character, Mrs. Swinton, struggling with her son David’s attachment to his robot toy, Teddy. The story opens up with a conversation between Mrs. Swinton and her husband Henry about their son David and how he should be spending more time with other children his age instead of playing with his robot all the time.
Mrs. Swinton: “I don’t like him playing with that damned thing all the time. Look at him now. It’s not natural. He ought to be out in the sun, playing with other children his age.”
Henry: “What’s wrong with the way he is? After all, Brian Aldiss wrote that story, Super Toys Last All Summer Long, didn’t he? And it came true. Remember? They make these super toys now, and the kids love them. They don’t get bored with them like they do with normal toys. They never break down and they never get lost. Brian Aldiss was a prophet, in a way.”
Mrs. Swinton: “Prophets! You always were a one for your science fiction, weren’t you? Brian Aldiss, indeed! He’s no prophet. If he was, he’d have foretold this day, and warned us against it. No, I don’t like it, and I don’t want David playing with that wretched toy all the time. It isn’t natural. It isn’t good for him.”
Henry: “What do you mean, it isn’t good for him? The toys are designed by child psychologists. They know what children like. And they can’t possibly harm the children in any way. They’re quite harmless, really.”
Mrs. Swinton: “I don’t care. I don’t like it, and I don’t want David playing with that thing all the time. It isn’t natural.”
As the story goes on, we see that Teddy is more than just a toy for David. He is like a best friend or even a family member to him. In one scene, Teddy saves David from falling off a cliff and in another, Teddy scares away some bullies who were picking on David. Because of these things, Mrs. Swinton begins to see Teddy in a different light and starts to understand why her son is so attached to him. However, she still feels that it is not natural for a child to be so attached to a toy and she tries to find a way to get her son to play with other children his age.
One day, Mrs. Swinton comes up with a plan to have David play with other children by sending him off to school. However, when she goes to tell David about this, she finds that he has run away from home with Teddy. She eventually manages to find them and brings David back home, but the experience has left her shaken.
Mrs. Swinton: “It’s not natural, I tell you. It isn’t right. A child ought to be playing with other children, not with a damned machine.” Henry: “It’s Brian Aldiss’ fault, really. If he hadn’t written that story, none of this would have happened.”
Mrs. Swinton: “ Brian Aldiss! What has he got to do with it?” Henry: “Well, if he hadn’t written the story, Super Toys Last All Summer Long, none of this would have happened. The whole idea of children playing with super toys came from his story. It’s all his fault.”
Brian Aldiss is a British science fiction writer who has written many stories about the future. He is best known for his short story, Super Toys Last All Summer Long, which is about a mother and her son who are struggling with the idea of him playing with his robot toy all the time. The story was later made into a movie called A.I. Artificial Intelligence, which starred Haley Joel Osment as David and Jude Law as Teddy.
Aldiss was born in 1928 in Norfolk, England. He began writing stories at a young age and had his first story published when he was just 18 years old. He joined the Royal Air Force after college and served for four years before returning to civilian life. He continued to write stories and novels, many of which were about the future. His most famous work is probably Super Toys Last All Summer Long, which was published in 1969.
Aldiss has won many awards for his writing, including the Hugo Award, the Nebula Award, and the John W. Campbell Memorial Award. He was also made a Commander of the Order of the British Empire in 2005. Brian Aldiss is one of the most respected science fiction writers of our time and his work continues to inspire new generations of writers.