“A must-read for science-fiction buffs and literature enjoyers alike.”—The Guardian
I, Robot, the first and most widely read book in Asimov’s Robot series, forever changed the world’s perception of artificial intelligence. Here are stories of robots gone mad, of mind-reading robots, and robots with a sense of humor. Of robot politicians, and robots who secretly run the world—all told with the dramatic blend of science fact and science fiction that has become Asimov’s trademark.
The Three Laws of Robotics:
1) A robot may not injure a human being or, through inaction, allow a human being to come to harm.
2) A robot must obey orders given to it by human beings except where such orders would conflict with the First Law.
3) A robot must protect its own existence as long as such protection does not conflict with the First or Second Law.
With these three, simple directives, Isaac Asimov formulated the laws governing robots’ behavior. In I, Robot, Asimov chronicles the development of the robot from its primitive origins in the present to its ultimate perfection in the not-so-distant future—a future in which humanity itself may be rendered obsolete.
“Tremendously exciting and entertaining . . . Asimov dramatizes an interesting question: How can we live with machines that, generation by generation, grow more intelligent than their creators and not eventually clash with our own invention?”—The Chicago Tribune
About the Author
Isaac Asimov began his Foundation Series at the age of twenty-one, not realizing that it would one day be considered a cornerstone of science fiction. During his legendary career, Asimov penned over 470 books on subjects ranging from science to Shakespeare to history, though he was most loved for his award-winning science fiction sagas, which include the Robot, Empire, and Foundation series. Named a Grand Master of Science Fiction by the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America, Asimov entertained and educated readers of all ages for close to five decades. He died, at the age of seventy-two, in April 1992.
Date of Birth:January 20, 1920
Date of Death:April 6, 1992
Place of Birth:Petrovichi, Russia
Place of Death:New York, New York
Education:Columbia University, B.S. in chemistry, 1939; M.A. in chemistry, 1941; Ph.D. in biochemistry, 1948
Read an Excerpt
"Ninety-eight--ninety-nine--one hundred." Gloria withdrew her chubby little forearm from before her eyes and stood for a moment, wrinkling her nose and blinking in the sunlight. Then, trying to watch in all directions at once, she withdrew a few cautious steps from the tree against which she had been leaning.
She craned her neck to investigate the possibilities of a clump of bushes to the right and then withdrew farther to obtain a better angle for viewing its dark recesses. The quiet was profound except for the incessant buzzing of insects and the occasional chirrup of some hardy bird, braving the midday sun.
Gloria pouted, "I bet he went inside the house, and I've told him a million times that that's not fair."
With tiny lips pressed together tightly and a severe frown crinkling her forehead, she moved determinedly toward the two-story building up past the driveway.
Too late she heard the rustling sound behind her, followed by the distinctive and rhythmic clump-clump of Robbie's metal feet. She whirled about to see her triumphing companion emerge from hiding and make for the home-tree at full speed.
Gloria shrieked in dismay. "Wait, Robbie! That wasn't fair, Robbie! You promised you wouldn't run until I found you." Her little feet could make no headway at all against Robbie's giant strides. Then, within ten feet of the goal, Robbie's pace slowed suddenly to the merest of crawls, and Gloria, with one final burst of wild speed, dashed pantingly past him to touch the welcome bark of home-tree first.
Gleefully, she turned on the faithful Robbie, and with the basest of ingratitude, rewarded him for his sacrifice by taunting him cruelly for a lack of running ability.
"Robbie can't run," she shouted at the top of her eight-year-old voice. "I can beat him any day. I can beat him any day." She chanted the words in a shrill rhythm.
Robbie didn't answer, of course--not in words. He pantomimed running instead, inching away until Gloria found herself running after him as he dodged her narrowly, forcing her to veer in helpless circles, little arms outstretched and fanning at the air.
"Robbie," she squealed, "stand still!"--And the laughter was forced out of her in breathless jerks.
--Until he turned suddenly and caught her up, whirling her round, so that for her the world fell away for a moment with a blue emptiness beneath, and green trees stretching hungrily downward toward the void. Then she was down in the grass again, leaning against Robbie's leg and still holding a hard, metal finger.
After a while, her breath returned. She pushed uselessly at her disheveled hair in vague imitation of one of her mother's gestures and twisted to see if her dress were torn.
She slapped her hand against Robbie's torso, "Bad boy! I'll spank you!"
And Robbie cowered, holding his hands over his face so that she had to add, "No, I won't, Robbie. I won't spank you. But anyway, it's my turn to hide now because you've got longer legs and you promised not to run till I found you."
Robbie nodded his head--a small parallelepiped with rounded edges and corners attached to a similar but much larger parallelepiped that served as torso by means of a short, flexible stalk--and obediently faced the tree. A thin, metal film descended over his glowing eyes and from within his body came a steady, resonant ticking.
"Don't peek now--and don't skip any numbers," warned Gloria, and scurried for cover.
With unvarying regularity, seconds were ticked off, and at the hundredth, up went the eyelids, and the glowing red of Robbie's eyes swept the prospect. They rested for a moment on a bit of colorful gingham that protruded from behind a boulder. He advanced a few steps and convinced himself that it was Gloria who squatted behind it.
Slowly, remaining always between Gloria and home-tree, he advanced on the hiding place, and when Gloria was plainly in sight and could no longer even theorize to herself that she was not seen, he extended one arm toward her, slapping the other against his leg so that it rang again. Gloria emerged sulkily.
"You peeked!" she exclaimed, with gross unfairness. "Besides I'm tired of playing hide-and-seek. I want a ride."
But Robbie was hurt at the unjust accusation, so he seated himself carefully and shook his head ponderously from side to side.
Gloria changed her tone to one of gentle coaxing immediately, "Come on, Robbie. I didn't mean it about the peeking. Give me a ride."
Robbie was not to be won over so easily, though. He gazed stubbornly at the sky, and shook his head even more emphatically.
"Please, Robbie, please give me a ride." She encircled his neck with rosy arms and hugged tightly. Then, changing moods in a moment, she moved away. "If you don't, I'm going to cry," and her face twisted appallingly in preparation.
Hard-hearted Robbie paid scant attention to this dreadful possibility, and shook his head a third time. Gloria found it necessary to play her trump card.
"If you don't," she exclaimed warmly, "I won't tell you any more stories, that's all. Not one--"
Robbie gave in immediately and unconditionally before this ultimatum, nodding his head vigorously until the metal of his neck hummed. Carefully, he raised the little girl and placed her on his broad, flat shoulders.
Gloria's threatened tears vanished immediately and she crowed with delight. Robbie's metal skin, kept at a constant temperature of seventy by the high resistance coils within, felt nice and comfortable, while the beautifully loud sound her heels made as they bumped rhythmically against his chest was enchanting.
"You're an air-coaster, Robbie, you're a big, silver air-coaster. Hold out your arms straight. --You got to, Robbie, if you're going to be an air-coaster."
The logic was irrefutable. Robbie's arms were wings catching the air currents and he was a silver 'coaster.
Gloria twisted the robot's head and leaned to the right. He banked sharply. Gloria equipped the 'coaster with a motor that went "Br-r-r" and then with weapons that went "Powie" and "Sh-sh-shshsh." Pirates were giving chase and the ship's blasters were coming into play. The pirates dropped in a steady rain.
"Got another one. --Two more," she cried.
Then "Faster, men," Gloria said pompously, "we're running out of ammunition." She aimed over her shoulder with undaunted courage and Robbie was a blunt-nosed spaceship zooming through the void at maximum acceleration.
Clear across the field he sped, to the patch of tall grass on the other side, where he stopped with a suddenness that evoked a shriek from his flushed rider, and then tumbled her onto the soft, green carpet.
Gloria gasped and panted, and gave voice to intermittent whispered exclamations of "That was nice!"
Robbie waited until she had caught her breath and then pulled gently at a lock of hair.
"You want something?" said Gloria, eyes wide in an apparently artless complexity that fooled her huge "nursemaid" not at all. He pulled the curl harder.
"Oh, I know. You want a story."
Robbie nodded rapidly.
Robbie made a semi-circle in the air with one finger.
The little girl protested, "Again? I've told you Cinderella a million times. Aren't you tired of it? --It's for babies."
"Oh, well," Gloria composed herself, ran over the details of the tale in her mind (together with her own elaborations, of which she had several) and began:
"Are you ready? Well--once upon a time there was a beautiful little girl whose name was Ella. And she had a terribly cruel step-mother and two very ugly and very cruel step-sisters and--"
Gloria was reaching the very climax of the tale--midnight was striking and everything was changing back to the shabby originals lickety-split, while Robbie listened tensely with burning eyes--when the interruption came.
It was the high-pitched sound of a woman who has been calling not once, but several times; and had the nervous tone of one in whom anxiety was beginning to overcome impatience.
"Mamma's calling me," said Gloria, not quite happily. "You'd better carry me back to the house, Robbie."
Robbie obeyed with alacrity for somehow there was that in him which judged it best to obey Mrs. Weston, without as much as a scrap of hesitation. Gloria's father was rarely home in the daytime except on Sunday--today, for instance--and when he was, he proved a genial and understanding person. Gloria's mother, however, was a source of uneasiness to Robbie and there was always the impulse to sneak away from her sight.
Mrs. Weston caught sight of them the minute they rose above the masking tufts of long grass and retired inside the house to wait.
"I've shouted myself hoarse, Gloria," she said, severely. "Where were you?"
"I was with Robbie," quavered Gloria. "I was telling him Cinderella, and I forgot it was dinner-time."
"Well, it's a pity Robbie forgot, too." Then, as if that reminded her of the robot's presence, she whirled upon him. "You may go, Robbie. She doesn't need you now." Then, brutally, "And don't come back till I call you."
Reading Group Guide
Isaac Asimov’s Robot series and Foundation series comprise some of the greatest classics in their genre. They probe the questions of technology and destiny, war and politics that have captured readers’ imaginations for generations.
I, Robot, the first and most widely read book in Asimov’s Robot series, is a collection of nine stories that forever changed the world’s perception of artificial intelligence. Here are stories of sensitive robots, robots gone mad, mind-reading robots, prankster robots, and closeted robots that secretly dominate politics. Chronicling the robot’s development from primitive prototype to ultimate perfection, I, Robot blends scientific fact with science fiction in Asimov’s provocative style.
Foundation, Foundation and Empire, and Second Foundation tell the story of Hari Seldon, a brilliant visionary who synthesized history, psychology, and mathematical probability to shape a bold commandment for the future and steer humanity through a series of brutal eras. Following the collapse of a Galactic Empire, Hari gathered together the top scientists and scholars on a bleak planet at the very edge of the Galaxy in order to preserve the accumulated knowledge of mankind. He called his sanctuary the Foundation and designed it to withstand a dark age of ignorance, barbarism, and warfare that would last for the next thirty thousand years. But not even Hari could have predicted the intense barbarism lurking in space, or the birth of an extraordinary creature whose mutant intelligence would destroy all that Hari held dear.
The questions, discussion topics, and author biography that follow are intended to enhance your reading of these four classics written by one of the most widely recognized fiction authors of our time.
Foundation and Empire
1. Do Asimov’s now-famous Three Laws of Robotics mirror humanity’s ethics code in any way? Whose orders are human beings required to obey? Do our definitions of “harm” ever lead to the same confounding dilemmas experienced in I, Robot?
2. Why was Gloria’s mother unable to accept Robbie as an excellent nursemaid? Was Robbie premonitory on Asimov’s part—a prediction that children in the twenty-first century might form intense emotional attachments to electronics?
3. Cutie (QT) questions his origins and finds it impossible to believe that a human created him. In what ways did Powell and Donovan reinforce this belief?
4. Does the case of Stephen Byerley indicate that robots might make better politicians? Would this only hold true if, as the novel envisions, nations dissolve into massive world regions?
5. What is the ultimate commodity produced by U.S. Robot & Mechanical Men, Inc.? Does our global workforce follow this model in any way? Were humor and compassion inevitable traits in the robots? Do these traits interfere with productivity in the world of I, Robot?
6. In the book’s closing lines, Dr. Susan Calvin tells the narrator, “You will see what comes next,” as robots stand between mankind and destruction. How did her career lead up to such a precarious conclusion?
7. I, Robot has been turned into a major motion picture starring Will Smith. How does the movie compare with your book-reading experience? What do you think of the adjustments made and liberties taken when converting this collection of stories to one seamless film adaptation?
8. Foundation opens with the perspective of Gaal Dornick, “a country boy who had never seen Trantor before.” What is the effect of opening the novel with Gaal’s observations? Why did Hari Seldon extend such an invitation to Gaal?
9. In the trial portrayed in chapter 6, the Commission’s Advocate repeatedly rejects Hari’s deductions regarding the future. What has made Hari a target for exile? Why are his projections—supported by seemingly irrefutable logic and mathematics—so easily dismissed by his accusers?
10. Part 3 of Foundation begins with an entry from the Encyclopedia Galactica that reads, “Undoubtedly the most interesting aspect of the history of the four Kingdoms involves the strange society forced temporarily upon it during the administration of Salvor Hardin.” In what ways does Hardin distinguish himself from the other rulers described in the novel? What conditions fostered his rise to power?
11. The Foundation is intended in some ways as a kind of religious center. What are its doctrines? Can a religion of science fail?
12. Discuss the novel’s references to energy—in this case, nuclear power—in relation to political and economic supremacy. What other forces drive the novel’s hierarchies of dominance? How does the role of the Traders evolve in the novel’s closing chapters?
13. What were the root causes of the Foundation’s fall? Could its demise have been avoided, even after war had begun?
14. As Lord of the Universe, is Cleon II naïve or perceptive? In what ways do his sensibilities affect his fate?
15. What, ultimately, is the source of the Mule’s power to perform Conversions in Foundation and Empire? What role did psychology play in his own origins?
16. Do the Independent Trading Worlds accurately perceive their vulnerabilities? In contrast, what perpetuated Neotrantor’s survival?
17. Bayta’s final conversation with the Mule explains his moniker as well as his perceptions of how power is perpetuated. What does this dialogue indicate about gender roles in the realm of the Second Foundation, and about the possibility of democracy?
18. Discuss the spectrum of characters affected by the Mule in Second Foundation’s five opening interludes. In what ways do the Mule’s tactics vary?
19. In what ways does Bail Channis’s personality reflect a cultural shift from the previous Foundation novels?
20. Near the beginning of the fifteenth chapter, Arcadia is described as “dressed in borrowed clothes, standing on a borrowed planet in a borrowed situation of what seemed even to be a borrowed life.” In what ways is she both an unlikely and an ideal savior?
21. Scholarship such as the Encyclopedia project represented Hari’s belief in the power of learning (and even the power of the mind itself, in the form of neural microcurrents). To what extent is a civilization’s success measured by the survival of its knowledge?
22. The final chapter of Second Foundation offers a thoughtful coda to the novel. What is the “true” question to that chapter’s “answer that was true?”
23. If Hari Seldon’s equations were applied to Earth’s societies, what might the results be?
24. What connotations and root words were you able to derive from the character names and geographic locations featured in the series?
25. How does the series evolve as a whole? What overarching narrative is propelled by the events that occur within the individual books?
26. Isaac Asimov wrote these three books very early in his career, during the 1950s—an era marked by the Cold War, McCarthyism, and the early stages of the space race. How might the events of this period have shaped the Foundation storyline?
27. In what sense does the trilogy offer a cautionary tale for contemporary leaders in politics, science, and the humanities?
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
IMPORTANT: The book does not resemble the movie in any great detail. This is a must read for SF fans out there, packed in a very affordable package.
I, Robot by Isaac Asimov is made up of a series of nine science fiction short stories that all are connected through a robot psychologist named Dr. Susan Calvin. The stories are told as if Susan Calvin is relaying them to a reporter, the narrator. The first story, ¿Robbie¿ is about a young girl who has a robot friend, but her mother disapproves of the relationship. Her mother tries desperately to keep them away from each other. In the next few stories, we are told of two scientists who are distraught with problems in development of labor robots. The two come across danger while trying to relieve the issues almost costing them their lives in the process. A common thread among each story is the Three Law of Robotics, which underlines and governs the way robots should behave as well as the interaction of humans and robots. In the next five stories, Susan Calvin is the main character and the stories talk about the evolution of robots. The stories also talk about her removal from humanity. She retreats due to a mind-reading robot that discovers her romantic feelings for a fellow colleague. Throughout the novel the robots show intelligence and understanding which in some cases surpasses that of the humans. Soon the humans begin to realize that the robots may have more power then they themselves have. Their ability to deduce and analyze creates a major problem for the humans and it seems as though the robots could remove the humans. After their creation it is evident that the increasing knowledge of the robots will be too much for the humans. Isaac Asimov wrote a break through novel many years ahead of its time. His creativity and shear brilliance is shown through his attention to detail and development of the story as a whole. It is good read for anyone interested in the mind versus machine aspect of entertainment.
The book is pretty old, and has a few plot holes, but it's still very entertaining and makes you think a bit. Note that while the movie claims to be based on Asimov's books, that's a big fat lie. The movie takes two elements from these short stories: robots, and the Three Laws of Robotics. That's it. The inclusion of the movie picture on the cover of the new edition is a travesty. It would be more appropriate to put the poster from Mel Gibson's 'Passion' movie on the cover of the Bible -- hey, at least they have some characters and story elements in common!
This book and the movie of the same title have very few things in common. The plot of the movie is not one of those things. This book is a wonderful collection of 'hard sci-fi' short stories that explore the implications (and complications) inherent in Asimov's Three Laws of Robotics. The movie is NOT based on any of the short stories in the book. In fact, the movie presents a rather apocalyptic view of intelligent robots in society, while the book attempts to show that robots would be a useful addition to society as long as the Laws work as advertised. The book is required reading for any true Science Fiction fan, but don't expect to find a preview of the movie. It ain't in there. (It's not a bad movie, really - it's kinda like 'Terminator meets Minority Report'.)
Let me start off by saying this book has nothing to do with the movie, to say that the I, Robot movie was freely adapted is a bit of an understatement. This book is a collection of stories about robots succeeding, and robots failing; quite the contrary to Will Smith in his action-packed thriller. These nine stories are told from the point of view of a woman named Dr. Susan Calvin, who is reciting them to a young reporter; the narrator. This book, to say the least, is way ahead of its time; published in 1950, the author, Isaac Asimov, had an unbelievable imagination that more modern authors lack today. He was able to create characters in thirty pages that some books can’t create in 300. He writes with such fluent knowledge and brilliance, you would expect him to have grown up with a robot in his home. He uses expertise he got through his Ph. D in biochemistry from Columbia University to craft nine short stories and blend them together with ease. This novel is not just one storyline, with the same characters, and the same conflicts; it is a whole collection of stories with many characters and many conflicts, I grew very fond of this short story plot line throughout my reading experience. Its not just the content of this book that makes it such a good read. Asimov writes with such brilliance and fluency that he can blend together several completely different storyline’s into one book, and make it believable. This book stands for so much more than the words and ideas written within the pages. This book represents a time portal into the future; the author writes what he perceives our future will look like and writes it in a way that convinces you the same. This book is intriguing, it makes you question your existence, your ideas and opinions. These stories are triumphant tales of success and failure, celebration and despair, and of confusion and absolute clarity. Isaac Asimov brings you into the future, shows you around, moves some curtains and some pillows away in order to show you the true future, in its true form. He shows you the positives and negatives to advancement in technology, and just how your opinion is formed on this topic is your decision up until that final page when the final story comes to a close and you retire to your thoughts and you questions that Isaac churned up through the use of short stories. So all in all, I loved this book and I would recommend it to anyone looking for a good read that will get you thinking. This is an intriguing, brilliant book that encompasses creative, inthralling conflicts with dynamic characters and inquisitive storyline’s. This breakthrough novel is worth reading (and thinking about).
This book is a collection of short stories tied together by a common theme that sets the stage for and ties together many of the other robot stories of Asimov and frames the three Laws of Robotics.
Must have for all sci fi fans but it makes me mad I can't get a version without will smith on the front
This is a re-read for me, classic Asimov that stands the test of time!
My sci fi film idea is about a futuristic alternate reality where human trafficking is legal. There's even things like ads and auctions on tv for human trafficking. Its a cruel word and if youre anything below high class you have a chance of being bought. Some people have freedom until certain ages. Eisten cull is a secretive man who works in the shadows. He is the protagonist and his goal is to kill the high class and free the people being bought. What he does is illegal and called fathelyzing. Eisten will do dirty work to get his way. The film follows him on a journey to hunt down one of the most notorious human buyers: Nico. Nico is the antogonist and i'll give him more character devolepment. I'm an aspiring filmmaker and i'd love to hear your thoughts on my idea. If you want to comment your thoughts on my idea make the headline of the comment "lamb"
I really enjoyed the mind bending robo-puzzles, but found the vision of the future world, which has in the meantime become our present world, so much out of sync with the reality, that I couldn't immerse myself in that world without reservations. Some of the robot psycho profiles were very amusing, my favourite being QT-1 known as Cutie.
This is a collection of 9 short stories published in 1950 framed and linked by an interview with Dr Susan Calvin, robot psychiatrist for US Robots and Mechanical Men. Dr. Calvin, a "frosty woman" is one of Asimov's strongest characters period, and one of the most memorable female characters in classic science fiction. I also think Asimov is often more effective in his short stories than novels, and robots are one of his signature themes. Despite that, I think other short stories and anthologies by Asimov are more impressive. Nevertheless, taken as a whole, the stories are great in their variations and development on the theme of Asimov's "Three Laws of Robotics" wired into every robot's "positronic brain." 1. A robot may not injure a human being or, through inaction, allow a human being to come to harm. 2. A robot must obey orders given it by human beings except where such orders would conflict with the First Law. 3. A robot must protect its own existence as long as such protection does not conflict with the First or Second Law. In that regard, most of these stories examine a permutation of these "laws" and are interesting puzzles, though they lack emotional punch. The one that comes closest in that regard, I think, is "Liar!" and that is the story I remembered best. I've never seen the film with Will Smith. Reading the plot summary of it, I can see common elements, but if you're expecting this to follow the film you're going to be surprised--among other things, this isn't really a unified story, and Smith's character, Del Spooner, doesn't exist in the book.
This is a perfect example of: The book is way better than the movie. Usually I can't even read a book after I've seen the movie but I had no problem with this one.
This is a fun collection of short stories, but Asimov's prose is a little too stilted to call this great literature, even great science fiction literature. Each story reads like a thought experiment: given the Three Laws of Robotics, what behavior would logically follow for a 'bot? You'll know, at least, the fictional laws of robotics by heart by the end of this.
Sci fi is not my fave, but this was a fun book. Asimov wrote the 1st of these short stories in 1940. They link together as a history of robots and the people who love them, from about 2000-2058. Clever and charming.
After being told by my father for years about how amazing Isaac Asimov was, I finally decided to read this book last night.I am not a very big fan of science fiction, but I was surprised at how engaging this book of short stories was.Asimov is an extremely creative genius. I loved his writing style.My favorite stories were "Robbie," "Little Lost Robot," and "Liar."
In the interest of avoiding redundancy I will not enumerate the three laws of robotics. What I would like to note, however, is the seeming simplicity of these laws. It seems a difficult task to create a rich, believable, and interesting world from such basic premises, but Asimov manages to do this with ease. I could easily see this as a viable (and not necessarily even distant) future for mankind, with a few tweaks here and there. Not only was this book rich, believable, and interesting, but more than anything, it was ironically HUMAN for a book with a focus on robots. This mainly comes in through the character of Susan Calvin and her compassion and identification with the robots she works on. The capacity for emotion in robots is also explored with interesting repercussions. Given the numerous narratives and storylines involved, a brief plot summary is not entirely feasible. In general, the book as a whole could probably best be described as a foundation upon which Asimov might build with his later novels in the robot series. It gives the reader a groundwork understanding of Asimov¿s universe. The book takes the form of disjointed short stories exploring the myriad manipulations the three laws might undergo, but the stories are united in the person of Susan Calvin. Calvin was a major figure in the development of robotics and has reached retirement. She is being interviewed, and at the prompting of the reporter, she digresses into telling these stories, each of which had special meaning for her both in her professional career and in her personal interest and investment in robotics. The stories I especially enjoyed were ¿Reason¿ and ¿Little Lost Robot¿, although all were good on the whole.
Certainly better than the movie. I like how it was really just a series of short stories all laced together with a common cast. Each section had its own message, and it read like a series of philosophical lectures (which I happen to enjoy).
I watched the movie before I read the book and was pleased to see how different they both were. The book is amazing! I appreciated how they dealt with the dilemmas faced by a robot manufacturing company who had to solve problems related to the code imprinted in every robot. Asimov is an extrememly talented and imaginative author.
I'm not a big fan of story collections, but I'd heard so many good things about I, Robot so I decided to give it a go - and I was quite happy that I did.Asimov does a great job of stringing all the stories together with the premise that the stories are actually being told by an aging robot psychologist in an interview. It's incredible the range of stories Asimov is able to write based around the 3 simple rules he lays down for robotics.I thoroughly enjoyed it and fully intend on continuing on with the rest of the Robot series.
I, Robot is the classic science fiction novel that sets down the Three Laws of Robotics: "1. A robot may not injure a human being or, through inaction, allow a human being to come to harm. 2. A robot must obey the orders given to it by human beings, except where such orders would conflict with the First Law. 3. A robot must protect its own existence as long as such protection does not conflict with the First or Second Laws."The novel is an episodic historical account, as told by robopsyschologist Dr. Susan Calvin, of the development of robotics and how it affected the development of the human world. Each chapter is story told by Calvin about robots interacting with humans, most of which have a problem with robots, which is either caused by some conflict within the three laws or solved by enacting one of the laws. As such, while each story was interesting on its own, there was a bit of redundancy in structure that began to get old after a while. My favorite stories was the first in which a young girl loves her robot playmate and the final two in which the Stephen Byerley character appears.I was less attached to the humans in this book, who came off as rather one dimensional and cold. Rather it was the robots I liked and cared about, many of whom showed more emotional depth than the people. This also creates an interesting quandary for me. While the people in the book insist the robots are just machines and therefore believe it's okay to treat them as slaves, I can't help but feel that the moral compass is more confused due to the fact that robots feel. If a robot is sentient and has emotions, then it could be considered alive even though it's been constructed, in which case it could demand rights. There is certainly an interesting discussion point there, which I'm sure someone has brought up before (I may have to do a search for essays on the topic). On top of that, there's the fact that the book is a bit old fashioned in terms of how it depicts women. Sure, Dr. Calvin is a genius and considered at the top of her game throughout the book, but Asimov also felt the need to write a story proving she's a woman because she falls for a man, dresses womanly, and acts vindictive. I'm not against love stories or women falling in love or whatever, but this one annoyed me because her actions seem out of character.At any rate, despite some flaws, this is an entertaining set of robot stories and definitely worth a read.
I reread this after many years. It is wonderful. A series of stories looking back at the history of robotics during one woman's life, it is an fascinating look at logic. The three laws of robotics are discussed, and the stories illustrate the effectiveness of those laws. Even if you don't care for science fiction, thinking through the logical arguments is compelling.
`I, Robot¿ by Isaac Asimov ¿ in the first place ¿ bears almost nothing in common with the plot of the movie starring Will Smith. But this review is not about the movie. To this reader, Asimov¿s novel strikes me as a kind of fictionalized adaptation of Ray Kurzweil¿s The Age of Spiritual Machines (which I highly recommend). In ¿I, Robot,¿ Asimov explores the development of the so-called positronic brain during the 21st century. He does so by means of a chronological series of episodes, each of which explore some problem encountered along the way by U.S. Robot and Mechanical Men Corp. in the development of autonomous thinking ambulatory mechanisms, which must also necessarily obey the Three Laws of Robotics. Asimov¿s robot tales are simultaneously exercises in anthropomorphic projection (in this case, conferring humanness onto a machine) and logical dilemmas which must be solved (or in some cases, survived) in order to advance the robotic art. In this sense, Asimov is no mere crafter of tall-tales but is poised as a rather prescient seer of the issues surrounding the birth of a robotic age. This book comprises the first in a series of robot-themed novels by Asimov.
Mmmm - I remember why I don't read this much. A lot of them are quite depressing - and the fact that the viewpoint character for the frame is so unappealing doesn't help. The first one is utterly depressing. Later ones - aside from Susan's 'romance', which is just embarrassing - have some amusing bits - the one about the Brain and the ship has a lovely payoff. Cutie's pretty annoying too. The one about the candidate is...interesting...but if they're right, the next one is more than a little odd (shouldn't he understand the Brains better than that?). Very rich stories, creating a powerful world, but not very nice to read. Every once in a while, just to remind myself. And of course now I want to read Caves of Steel...
This was a good story, thought-provoking and well written. I have to say it didn't appeal to me, but that isn't the author's fault, I just can't get excited about robots and machines and science fiction; I guess it isn't my genre to read. Funny, because I love scifi movies, but the books don't appeal. I could not work up any enthusiasm for any of the characters in this book, not even the robots. I did, however, enjoy the little mysteries in each story about robot functions and behavior and what was causing things to go wrong.
This is a collection of inter-related tales bound together by an outer "frame" tale. The stories serve to explain Asimov's three laws of Robotics and some of the problems inherent in trying to apply absolutes to semi-sentient beings. The tales are entertaining, especially the various ways that the characters find to work out their problems by either working with the laws of robotics or finding creative ways to work around them. It also deals philosophically with the idea that a man-made robot if given enough free-will may or may not also have something approaching a soul or conscience.As with any short story collection, some tales are better than others. Overall even the weaker tales are fairly good and I didn't find anything with the book that I would really find bad. It wasn't the greatest book that I've ever read by any means, but for a book that was assigned in a college course I would definitely rate it above average and recommend it to fans of Science Fiction especially those who have an appreciation for the classic building blocks of what sci-fi is today.