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Berserker (Saberhagen)

Fred Saberhagen[?]’s Berserker series is a space opera where robotic machines intend to destroy all life.

"Berserker" stories - many of the books are short story collections - describe humans' fight with the Berserkers, ancient asteroid-sized killing machines designed to destroy all living things in the universe. The Berserkers were a doomsday weapon from an ancient interstellar war[?]. Humans are the only sentient species who are aggressive enough to put up a fight.

The first story, "Without a Thought" (1963) was basically a puzzle story where the protagonist faced a problem of simulating intelligence to fool an enemy trying to determine whether there is any conscious being present on a ship.

Saberhagen came up with the Berserker as the rationale for the story on the spur of the moment, but the basic concept was so fruitful, with so many possible ramifications that it has since been the basis for many of his stories. A common theme in the stories is of how the apparent weaknesses and inconsistencies of living beings are actually the strengths that enable the machines' eventual defeat.

In later stories there are “goodlife” – ie. sophont[?] traitors or collaborators[?] who cooperate with the berserker machine to stay alive – at least for a while.

Berserker books

  • Berserker (collection, 1967)
  • Berserker Wars (collection, 1981)
  • Berserker Blue Death (1985)
  • Berserker Throne (1986)
  • Berserker Base (1987)
  • Ultimate Enemy (collection, 1987)
  • Berserker Attack (collection, 1987) Limited edition collection)
  • Berserker Planet (1991)
  • Berserker Lies (collection, 1991)
  • Berserker Man (1992)
  • Berserker Kill (1993)
  • Brother Assassin (collection, 1993)
  • Berserker Fury (1997)
  • Shiva in Steel (1998)
  • Berserker Star (2003)

Some of the collections have the same stories.

Note: "Berserker" is a registered trademark of Fred Saberhagen[?] (presumably only in the field of science fiction?).

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