THE ROD OF LIGHT
Methuen pb, 0-413-58160-8, 1985, cover art by Terry Oakes
Arbor House, hb, 1987
Beneath a false landscape in a wild bare desert, the impossible is happening. Robots are trying to make souls.
So far Jasperodus is the only robot with one. But his came from a different source and he is sworn to secrecy - for such knowledge would be dangerous to man.
However progress is relentless. Gargan, a robot of frightening intellect, has deduced what he lacks and begun a ruthless, methodical search for it. Soon the very future of mankind is threatened, and Jasperodus must choose where his priorities lie: should he stop Gargan's search, and condemn his fellow robots to eternal non-existence, or must man be crushed by his own creation - metal constructs now turned completely, frighteningly alive ?
Chilling, inventive and unusual, this is an exciting sequel to THE SOUL OF THE ROBOT, from the author of whom Michael Moorcock said, "There is no one else to match him.""His recent work, such as The Rod of Light or The Zen Gun are amazing pyrotechnic displays of invention and wit. Worthy of a P.K. Dick, but warmer, less alienated and dualistic. [..] Both writers use a quick loose hallucinatory style, like free jazz improvisation. Both use themes and images from mysticism and comparative religion. Both are endlessly inventive, tossing off ideas on every page that lesser authors would have hoarded and bloated into trilogies. Both are funny." - SEMIOTEXTE (SF)
"The Rod of Light is that most unusual of fictional accomplishments, both comic and serious, a parable of the search for consciousness or soul - what distinguishes humans from robots - that is at the same time an adventure story. Bayley has taken Isaac Asimov's robotics stories one step further... He brings the picaresque tradition to science fiction tradition about robots." - James Gunn
"Rich, finaly textured, fascinating and thought-provoking, paced and narrated in Bayley's distinctive, confident, smooth-flowing manner." - Richard A. Lupoff
"Ambitious super-robots demanding equal rights confront the human soul - a fascinating idea beautifully handled." - A. E. Van Vogt
Barrington Bayley: "If I come up with a good theme for a third book I'll do it. Is there anybody apart from me who hasn't done trilogies? But my instinct on finishing a book is to forget it and think about something different."