The politician straightened out of his chair. “Then we shall see what the insides of Mr. Byerley look like. It will mean publicity for U. S. Robots — but I gave you your chance.”

Lanning turned impatiently to Susan Calvin, when they were alone. “Why do you insist–”?

And with real feeling, she responded sharply and instantly, “Which do you want — the truth or my resignation? I won’t lie for you. U. S. Robots can take care of itself. Don’t turn coward.”

“What,” said Lanning, “if he opens up Byerley, and wheels and gears fall out what then?”

“He won’t open Byerley,” said Calvin, disdainfully. “Byerley is as clever as Quinn, at the very least”

This is from Asimov's I, Robot. The politician suspected that a candidate was a robot, but Susan Calvin said that she may be able to prove him not a robot. I can't grab the meaning of this sentence: “Which do you want — the truth or my resignation? I won’t lie for you." Could you teach me?

On Page 123 on here. http://ekladata.com/-Byix64G_NtE0xI4A6PA1--o1Hc/Asimov-Isaac-I-Robot.pdf


1 Answer 1


The meaning of the phrase is essentially that Susan Calvin is indicating that she will not lie in pursuit of her job. If Lanning insists that she lie, she will quit instead, her resignation. In the context of the universe, Susan suspected that Byerley was a robot.

“And the great Byerley was simply a robot.”
“Oh, there’s no way of ever finding out. I think he was. But when he decided to die, he had himself atomized, so that there will never be any legal proof. Besides, what difference would it make?”

She is not certain, but she is not willing to falsely testify that he is, or is not, because she cannot be certain and, as per the story's point, it is impossible to distinguish a properly functioning robot from a highly moral human being by behavior alone.

  • Thank you for your answer. Can I understand like "the truth" is "Byerley is a robot" and " the resignation" means that "Susan Calvin will resign her job if Lanning insists that the truth(Byerley is a robot) is a lie"? However, I think Lanning also thinks Byerly is a robot. Sep 8, 2023 at 13:03
  • 1
    @YuuichiTam: Not that she will quit if he insists that Byerley is a robot, but that if he tells her "Tell everyone that he is not a robot or I'll fire you" or "Tell everyone that he is a robot or I'll fire you", that she'll quit instead. Because, in her mind, there is not sufficient evidence either way. FWIW, I think everyone in the discussion believes there's a good chance that Byerley is a robot. Oh, and Asimov basically confirmed that he was in a forward for a story collection. Sep 8, 2023 at 13:41
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    To be clear, Lanning definitely doesn't want Susan to testify that Byerly is a robot. If he's a robot, it would be a nightmare for the company from both a public-relations and a legal perspective. Lanning wants to protect the company.
    – MJ713
    Sep 9, 2023 at 5:42

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