"A Story That Stayed with Me!" —Isaac Asimov
Meet the Zoromes, who inspired Asimov's own characterization of his positronic robots.
After spending forty million years in suspended animation while his one-man ship circles twenty thousand miles from earth, Professor Jameson awakes to discover humanity has perished and he is the only one left alive. Jameson faces a very lonely existence indeed—until he meets the Zoromes, highly advanced intellects who have transferred their minds into near-immortal metal bodies, roaming the universe in search of strange worlds and high adventure.
Soon the Professor has been persuaded to accompany them in a metal body of his own. With his trivial human passions off-screen, the author is free to focus on creating and painting wonder after wonder: planets with double suns, societies of intelligent fish, hollow planets, metal moons, cat people, twin worlds, mausoleums of vanished races...
In fact, the Jameson series is one of the seminal sf works that gave birth to the term "sense of wonder." Professor Jameson Interstellar Adventures #1 presents the two short novels in this classic series from the early 1930s: The Jameson Satellite and The Planet of the Double Sun. In the second short novel, Jameson and the Zoromes encounter a planet of two suns whose triped inhabitants pose a problem in space exploration that threatens to end the professor's career before it has started!
As Asimov would write, "What I responded to was the tantalizing glimpse of possible immortality and the vision of the world's sad death, to say nothing of the contracting spirals of the planetary orbits forty million years hence [and the way] Jones carried his Zoromes to a new and startling world in each... Jones's Zoromes—were robots really. Their organic brains were just a detail. Jones treated them as mechanical men, making them objective without being unfeeling, benevolent without being busybodies. Although the Zoromes remained without individual personality, I could easily recite the number-letter combinations of those who appeared most often. It is from the Zoromes, beginning with their first appearance in 'The Jameson Satellite,' that I got my own feeling for benevolent robots who could serve man with decency, as these had served Professor Jameson. It was the Zoromes, then, who were the spiritual ancestors of my own 'positronic robots,' all of them, from Robbie to R. Daneel."