From The U.S.S.R. Ilya Varshavsky’s “Perpetual Motion,” translated by S. Ostrofsky, is a light-hearted extrapolation on the societal roles of humans and robots, with characters like Spoon and Tape Recorder.
“It was a very convenient invention, this calling every person by the name of some object, the image of which he wore on his chest. In this way, people talking to him were spared the trouble of remembering his name. Moreover, everyone tried to choose a name corresponding to his profession or hobby, thus letting people know in advance whom they were dealing with.”
Ilya Iosifovich Varshavsky (1908–1974) was born in Kiev, when it was part of the Russian Empire. His writing career began late in his life. Purportedly, after criticizing his son for wasting time reading science fiction, the young man challenged his father to write some of his own—which he did. Varshavsky’s work has been compared to O. Henry’s. Several of his stories have been translated in collections like Path Into the Unknown The Best Soviet SF (Macgibbon & Kee, 1966), The Ultimate Threshold: A Collection of the Finest Soviet Science Fiction (Penguin, 1978), Fantasy & Science Fiction (August 1967), and World’s Spring (Macmillan, 1981).