The Doomsday Machine is also the title of an episode of the original series of Star Trek, in which an alien planet-killer threatens the starship Enterprise and her crew. Mr. Spock hypothesizes that the machine is a robot, the function of which is to break down planets for fuel. Captain Kirk believes that it is truly a "doomsday machine," built according to the theory of mutually assured destruction. Although Kirk succeeds in rendering the immense device inert, the episode ends with speculation that if this really is a doomsday machine, it may not be the only one roaming the Galaxy.
The term "berserker" is sometimes used in science fiction to refer to a large, space-going autonomous war machine that is programmed to destroy all intelligent life not resembling its long-lost creators. In some cases, the weapon is also a von Neumann machine – capable of building copies of itself with the same mission. The term was coined and used in this context by the SF writer Fred Saberhagen in his Berserker series of novels, the first of which was published in 1967. In Norse mythology, a berserker is a warrior prone to battle frenzy.
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