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The Reproductive System by John Sladek
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The Reproductive System (1968)

by John Sladek

Other authors: See the other authors section.

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272564,286 (3.13)5
Wompler's Walking Babies once put Millford, Utah, on the map. But they aren't selling like they used to. In fact, they aren't selling at all and the only alternative to winding the company up is to tap the government for a research grant. And so Wompler Research Laboratories and Project 32 come into being. The plan is tp produce self-replicating mechanisms; identical cells equipped to repair intracellular breakdowns, convert power from their environment and create new cells. But suddenly the nondescript grey metal boxes start crawling about the laboratory, feeding voraciously on any metal... and multiplying at an alarming rate.… (more)

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» See also 5 mentions

English (4)  Italian (1)  All languages (5)
Showing 4 of 4
(Original Review, 1980-08-18)

A few years back, I picked up John Sladek's "Mechasm" as part of a special series of "forgotten classics" by some publisher. (this series also included L. Frank Baum's delightful "The Master Key"). "Mechasm" has been reprinted in paperback, so I thought I'd review it here.

"Mechasm" is a story of a toy company, which has made the same style of doll since the 1930's. Finding itself going bankrupt, it decides to get money for doing government research. They come up with "The Reproductive System", a machine which reproduces itself and self-mutates. Inevitably, the system gets out of hand of its creators. "Mechasm" is very funny, with some interesting characters and situations. Sladek writes something like Laumer, but the quality is somewhat uneven. You will have to suspend your disbelief for this book, since some of the situations and coincidences are just
TOO unbelievable.

I liked this book, and believe that many will enjoy it as light reading. It's only $1.95; a bargain at today's prices.

[2018 EDIT: This review was written at the time as I was running my own personal BBS server. Much of the language of this and other reviews written in 1980 reflect a very particular kind of language: what I call now in retrospect a “BBS language”.] ( )
1 vote antao | Nov 14, 2018 |
When you read the title The Reproductive System: A science fiction novel what immediately springs to mind? If it's machines that can self-replicate then you're spot on. John Sladek has somehow managed to hit on almost every single sci-fi cliché in this one slim book and create a delicious parody that had me shaking my head at the ridiculousness of it all. The basic premise is that a scientist has discovered how to create machines that can reproduce. However, it's pretty clear that he plans to put them to a nefarious purpose (also the name of my rap group). Characters are introduced almost at random with the most insane backstories and names (Wompler? Sounds like something from Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.). In true sci-fi fashion, all the individual storylines merge together at the end to create something completely over the top and scientific ++. I thought it was a really fun read and if you're a fan of the more 'classic' science fiction novels then you'll most definitely enjoy this. It's satirical and sarcastic without being preachy. In short, it's hilarious.

Sorry this one's a bit short but the book itself wasn't that lengthy and I can't say much without revealing the ludicrous plot. :-P ( )
  AliceaP | Apr 19, 2016 |
Very dated SF humor. The bits about the self-replicating machines are still funny, especially the image of the toolbox stealing the train, but the characterization is so dated as to be unreadable. Didn't really finish reading it, just skimmed the second half for the machine story. ( )
1 vote SF_fan_mae | Jan 15, 2016 |
A typical Sladek tongue-in-cheek title leads us into a satirical tale of a doll factory that has fallen on hard times, and engages a super-scientist from MIT to help them get a lucrative military contract. However, the super-scientist in question graduated from the Miami Institute of Technocracy, and his idea, of a self-replicating machine, gets out of control... ( )
  RobertDay | Mar 19, 2010 |
Showing 4 of 4
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» Add other authors (5 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
John Sladekprimary authorall editionscalculated
Curtoni, VittorioTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Dillon, DianeCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Dillon, LeoCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Foss, ChrisCover Artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Gaughan, JackCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Wilson, MarkCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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