Death Sentence
Death Sentence is a short story
Short story
A short story is a work of fiction that is usually written in prose, often in narrative format. This format tends to be more pointed than longer works of fiction, such as novellas and novels. Short story definitions based on length differ somewhat, even among professional writers, in part because...

 by the American science-fiction writer
A writer is a person who produces literature, such as novels, short stories, plays, screenplays, poetry, or other literary art. Skilled writers are able to use language to portray ideas and images....

 Isaac Asimov
Isaac Asimov
Isaac Asimov was an American author and professor of biochemistry at Boston University, best known for his works of science fiction and for his popular science books. Asimov was one of the most prolific writers of all time, having written or edited more than 500 books and an estimated 90,000...

. It was first published in the November 1943 issue of Astounding Science Fiction and reprinted in the 1972 collection The Early Asimov
The Early Asimov
The Early Asimov or, Eleven Years of Trying is a 1972 collection of short stories by Isaac Asimov. Each story is accompanied by commentary by the author, who gives details about his life and his literary achievements in the period in which he wrote the story.-Contents:* "The Callistan Menace" *...


Plot summary

Theo Realo, an eccentric researcher, approaches a psychologist
Psychologist is a professional or academic title used by individuals who are either:* Clinical professionals who work with patients in a variety of therapeutic contexts .* Scientists conducting psychological research or teaching psychology in a college...

 at Arcturus university. His story is that he's spent many years on an obscure out-of-the-way planet and has found evidence that it once formed part of a now-lost Galactic Federation, based on psychology far more advanced than that now known.

Based on his reports, a research group visits the planet to explore it. They discover documents that date back many thousands of years and make a small start in examining them. But Realo insists that the ancient psychologists of the Galactic Federation also set up a world of positronic robot
A robot is a mechanical or virtual intelligent agent that can perform tasks automatically or with guidance, typically by remote control. In practice a robot is usually an electro-mechanical machine that is guided by computer and electronic programming. Robots can be autonomous, semi-autonomous or...

s for the purpose of letting them develop their own society and carry out their own research. Realo insists that he has been on this very planet, that the robot society still exists and that he let them examine his spaceship.

It is feared that the robots will develop hyperspace
Hyperspace (science fiction)
Hyperspace is a plot device sometimes used in science fiction. It is typically described as an alternative region of space co-existing with our own universe which may be entered using an energy field or other device...

travel themselves, which will pit them against the current Federation. The government will then have no choice but to attack and destroy them - so the robot world is effectively under a death sentence. Realo refuses to let this happen, and sets off to warn the robots. He plans to return to the city where he first met them — a city the robots called New York.
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