If the first story says science is essentially evil, bent around destruction, & the third story says it must be controlled by American political first principles, this second story is unusual: It shows how men & robots learn to live together. It says the evil robots’ science undergirds ancient slave empires. Apparently, the ancient gods required tyranny & slavery. Under the pyramids, supposedly worshipping the sun, we find engines to destroy it. Previous combinations of men & that for which robots stand were spurious. Men need a new science, which would not be tyrannical.
We are told another story about the origin of the robot wars. Needing the energy of stars, the evil robot came to our planet, decided to destroy mankind. But the good robots decided to save us. Apparently, physical science can detect energy, needful for survival, but not rational human beings. The good robots resisted necessity by sacrificing their lives. Had their science detected reason rather than energy, they might have lived. Optimus also has an odd penchant for suicide.
That kind of sacrifice was indecisive, not to say useless. The kid eventually has to repair the robot. In his new life, he decides it is better to kill the other robot, for which purpose he needs powers he does not have. Therefore, another robot turns himself into spare parts, which are promptly put to good use. But these robots are not mere tools: this spare-parts robot was originally bad, then he turned good; then he turned off; now, turned back on, he is in a heroic mood.
When the boy starts learning the robots’ science, it almost kills him. Far from teaching anything, its inhumanity proves overpowering. But when the kid dies, the robots who sacrificed themselves for mankind bring him back to life. If he does not win, they will have wasted away.
Therefore, men & some robots agree that if it’s a contest, the robots must die, so the humans will live. If they live together, they must live by the human beings’ rules, which do not destroy the robots. Men cannot take the beings of the robots as they are. All we can do is take the actions of the robots with our speeches.
Thus the poet claims to teach wisdom surpassing the robots’ science: Poetic wisdom is fit for the human beings & men need it. The boy, always peripheral to the action, quietly reveals the truth about robot science & human science that is concealed in the hocus-pocus of power & technology, conspiracy theorists & government agencies. The kid is the comic image of the poet. The beautiful woman he keeps dragging into explosions & battles represents his love of beauty.
The sequel. If you’ve seen the first, see this one, too.