Igor is the name Charlie Freeman gives to Charonese Crewmember 'Alpha' in the novel Charon's Ark.
WARNING! POSSIBLE SPOILERS!
Alpha is the Crewmember responsible for performing the actual hijacking, establishing first contact, and then bringing the teenagers from Earth to Charon at the beginning of the novel. He is the first Charonese to speak with the humans. He makes a mess of his mission by botching his attempts to communicate with the terrified hijackees, driving them to even greater fear and violence against what they perceive as attacking robot foes. He attempts to converse with them via the simulated face of Walter Cronkite on TV sets, but it of course makes the humans even less willing to cooperate.
"Please do not damage the parts and equipment. It is better to remain inside the aircraft, for your comfort and convenience." Now the pattern on the screen had formed into the newscaster's face. The image's mouth was moving, although the remainder of the face was still frozen. The effect was uncanny.
"Would you like me to tell you things? Give you advice?" Charlie said.
"Your cooperation is sincerely appreciated. It is the purpose of the TV."
"Well, the first thing you should do is stop using the TV faces. Most of the time they look like zombies. They give us the creeps."
"What are zombies? What are creeps?"
Charlie staged a ghoulish laugh: "Mwoo-ha-ha-haaa . . . Zombies are the lifeless undead," he intoned hollowly. "Human beings catch a disease from zombies called the creeps."
"I understand. Zombies must be similar to ghosts. I have seen many shows about ghosts, demons, and the person Dracula. I estimate that these things are fantasies or fictions." The voice was sounding slightly more human.
"Don't be too sure," Charlie said, grinning at the screen.
---Charon's Ark, p. 53
This ignorance of human interactions (aside from TV presentations) causes Alpha to send thousands of helper robots into the cabin of the airplane without predicting that the humans would be frightened or resistant. The humans think they are being attacked and fight back with everything they've got. The destruction of the robots and general non-cooperation cause many of the spaceship's systems to fail, making the arrival at Charon messy and dangerous. Alpha, cut off from the Ark Computer
, is preyed upon by the Proctor
and eventually "zombified" to make a suitable AI/robot assistant to Charlie, who facetiously names him Igor.
Igor's perogatives are as follows:
- Obey Charlie Freeman.
- Protect Charlie Freeman.
- Protect the secrets of the Proctor.
Charlie finds that Igor can be programmed to acknowledge orders in various humorous ways, and makes butler robots with droll accents and funny pre-programmed responses. If Igor cannot respond to a command, does not understand the command, or is responding to Charlie talking to himself, he will generally say "Very good, sir." While this is the majority I-Don't-Get-It response, others include quips such as "Mass bullshit, sir," which is Igor's response to Charlie's outloud craving for a bowl of Cheerios with sugar and milk (there is no grain on Charon, of course). Affirmative responses include "I hear and obey, o Master," and "Yes, Bwana!" (on safari).
Igor's finest moment is at the end of the book, after Charlie has severed the Proctor's main fiberoptic cable and been defensively sucked inside Charon's shell, where he helplessly orbits the black hole. The following scene shows the mesh between Charlie's programming, Alpha's remaining personality, and the pursuit of the Igor perogatives.
A little-girl voice said timidly, "Why don't we ask Igor to do it for us?"
Peake and Reilly raised their heads slowly to stare at Eva. She wriggled in her chair. "I mean, that's what Charlie used to do, isn't it?"
"It might work," Peake said wonderingly. He turned to the terminal. "Index!"
"Real-time contact with Igor."
SURRENDER IMMEDIATELY, PUNY HUMANS.
"What the hell?" The room came alive. They crowded behind Peake's chair.
PUNY HUMANS, IF YOU VALUE YOUR LIVES, SURRENDER. I'M TELLING YOU. OBEY OR DIE. I'M NOT KIDDING.
"What can it do to us?" Reilly said.
"Nothing, I'll bet," Peake said. "If it could, it would've done it already."
"Stop dorking around and tell it we surrender!" Chela shouted from behind the wall of backs. "Get its cooperation!" She jabbed her way to where she could see the screen.
"Okay, Chela, there's no need to get so---Igor, we humans surrender to you."
FORTUNATELY FOR YOU, EARTH SCUMBAGS. NOW YOU WILL OBEY ME. I ORDER YOU TO RESCUE CHARLIE FREEMAN.
"He's alive!" Chela shouted, causing Peake to wince.
IF YOU FAIL TO SAVE HIM, YOU WILL BE BEATEN WITH A LARGE STICK.
"Maybe this is really Charlie talking," Reilly said. "It sounds like him."
"It's not Charlie," Froward said. "If Charlie wanted something from us, he would'n't jerk us around about it. This sounds like a Charonese to me."
STOP DORKING AROUND. YOU WILL BEGIN IMMEDIATELY.
---Charon's Ark, p. 357