In the Kazuo Ishiguro 2021 novel Klara and the Sun the main character is an "artificial friend", i.e., a construction intended to be a child's companion. The idea of a child's robot companion is not new; in fact, I believe I have run across the phrase "artificial friend" used in this sense in an earlier story, but I cannot recall which. Can anyone point to an earlier story using this phrase in that sense?

  • 1
    Is this limited to only English-language works?
    – bobble
    Jan 14 at 4:00
  • No, but I am sure I read it in English, so it would have to have been translated into English.
    – rlandster
    Jan 14 at 4:20
  • Are you looking for the first instance of this phrase or some specific work that you remember reading?
    – bobble
    Jan 14 at 4:27

Here’s a notable early example of the phrase being used in this sense:

A certain robot, planning to go on a long and dangerous voyage, heard of a most useful device which its inventor called an electric friend. He would feel better, he thought, if he had a companion, even a companion that was only a machine, so he went to the inventor and asked to be shown an artificial friend.

Stanisław Lem (1972). ‘Automatthew’s Friend’. In Cyberiada, 3rd edition. Cracow: Wydawnictwo Literackie. Translated by Michael Kandel (1977). Mortal Engines, p. 79. New York: Seabury.

  • I have read most of Lem's stuff so I am fairly sure this is where I ran across it in the past.
    – rlandster
    Jan 14 at 15:43

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.