Encyclopedia of Fantasy (1997)

If an automaton is defined as a clockwork creature that lacks self-motivation or free will, we can understand the paucity of examples in fantasy. But the giant metal figure in L Frank Baum's Ozma of Oz (1907), whose axe crushes anyone attempting to gain access to the Underground kingdom of the Nome King, is a fantasy automaton. E T A Hoffmann's "The Automatons" (1817) and "The Sandman" (1817), which inspired scenes in the Opera Tales of Hoffmann (1881) by Jacques Offenbach (1819-1880), both deal with automata, and several of the protagonists of Robert Aickman's later stories suffer such Bondage – particularly perhaps in "Meeting Mr Millar" (1972). A modern cognate of the automaton is the Toon. [JC]

This entry is taken from the Encyclopedia of Fantasy (1997) edited by John Clute and John Grant. It is provided as a reference and resource for users of the SF Encyclopedia, but apart from possible small corrections has not been updated.