When a man has reached middle-age he generally feels with tenfold force the truth of those "sayings of the wise" which he learned in his early years, and has cause to regret, as well as wonder, that he had not all along followed their wholesome teaching. For it is to the young, who are about to cross the threshold of active life, that such terse convincing sentences are more especially addressed, and, spite of the proverbial heedlessness of youth, there will be found many who are not deaf to this kind of instruction, if their moral environment be favourable. But, even after the spring-time of youth is past, there are occasions when the mind is peculiarly susceptible to the force of a pithy maxim, which may tend to the reforming of one's way of life. There is commonly more practical wisdom in a striking aphorism than in a round dozen of "goody" books--that is to say, books which are not good in the highest sense, because their themes are overlaid with commonplace and wearisome reflections.
An old slave named "George Washington," going out as second in a duel, and being told by his master, greatly to his dismay, that he must stand up to be shot at in the absence of his principal, comports himself much after the fashion of Bob Acres, and furnishes plenty of that "African humor" which is the unadulterated material of P'laski's Tunament.
SF writer and editor Harry Harrison explores a not too distant future where robots--particularly specialist robots who don't know their place--have quite a rough time of it. True, the Robot Equality Act had been passed--but so what?
Mr Polly is an ordinary middle-aged man who is tired of his wife’s nagging and his dreary job as the owner of a regional gentleman’s outfitters. Faced with the threat of bankruptcy, he concludes that the only way to escape his frustrating existence is by burning his shop to the ground, and killing himself. Unexpected events, however, conspire at the last moment to lead the bewildered Mr Polly to a bright new future – after he saves a life, fakes his death, and escapes to a life of heroism, hope and ultimate happiness.