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I, Robot

I, Robot

4.3 228
by Isaac Asimov

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In the late 1940s and early 1950s Isaac Asimov found a home on the pages of the science-fiction magazines Astounding and Super-Science Stories. World War II had just ended and the world was obsessed with air combat and the role of technology in society. Asimov’s stories reflected the concerns over the danger of technology but they also humanized robots,


In the late 1940s and early 1950s Isaac Asimov found a home on the pages of the science-fiction magazines Astounding and Super-Science Stories. World War II had just ended and the world was obsessed with air combat and the role of technology in society. Asimov’s stories reflected the concerns over the danger of technology but they also humanized robots, indicating that it is not technology that is evil but the way it is sometimes abused. His stories were so successful that in 1950 nine of his best short stories were selected for publication as the book I, Robot. In this book you get such greats as:

  • Catch That Rabbit
  • Runaround
  • The Evitable Conflict
  • Robbie
These classics revolutionized science fiction, and just a few years later, in 1957, Asimov’s birth country would forever change history by launching the world’s first artificial satellite, Sputnik.

If you like this book, you may also enjoy Asimov’s full-length featuresThe Caves of Steel and The Naked Sun, also available in eBook format.

Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
The Three Laws of Robotics, first presented in one of the nine short stories included in this collection, represent the basis of Asimov's robot universe and inspire much later robot fiction. The 2004 blockbuster film of the same name starring Will Smith, while merely inspired by Asimov's stories, exemplifies the extent to which the Three Laws have become mainstream.

Product Details

Random House Publishing Group
Publication date:
Product dimensions:
5.80(w) x 8.56(h) x 0.85(d)
Age Range:
12 - 18 Years

Read an Excerpt


I looked at my notes and I didn't like them. I'd spent three days at U.S. Robots and might as well have spent them at home with the Encyclopedia Tellurica.

Susan Calvin had been born in the year 1982, they said, which made her seventy-five now. Everyone knew that. Appropriately enough, U.S. Robot and Mechanical Men, Inc. was seventy-five also, since it had been in the year of Dr. Calvin's birth that Lawrence Robertson had first taken out incorporation papers for what eventually became the strangest industrial giant in man's history. Well, everyone knew that, too.

At the age of twenty, Susan Calvin had been part of the particular Psycho-Math seminar at which Dr. Alfred Lanning of U.S. Robots had demonstrated the first mobile robot to be equipped with a voice. It was a large, clumsy unbeautiful robot, smelling of machine-oil and destined for the projected mines on Mercury. - But it could speak and make sense.

Susan said nothing at that seminar; took no part in the hectic discussion period that followed. She was a frosty girl, plain and colorless, who protected herself against a world she disliked by a mask-like expression and a hypertrophy of intellect. But as she watched and listened, she felt the stirrings of a cold enthusiasm.

She obtained her bachelor's degree at Columbia in 2003 and began graduate work in cybernetics.

All that had been done in the mid-twentieth century on "calculating machines" had been upset by Robertson and his positronic brain-paths. The miles of relays and photocells had given way to the spongy globe of plantinumiridium about the size of a human brain.

She learned to calculate the parameters necessary to fix the possible variables within the "positronic brain"; to construct "brains" on paper such that the responses to given stimuli could be accurately predicted.

In 2008, she obtained her Ph.D. and joined United States Robots as a "Robopsychologist," becoming the first great practitioner of a new science. Lawrence Robertson was still president of the corporation; Alfred Lanning had become director of research.

For fifty years, she watched the direction of human progress change - and leap ahead.

Now she was retiring - as much as she ever could. At least, she was allowing someone else's name to be inset upon the door of her office.

That, essentially, was what I had. I had a long list of her published papers, of the patents in her name; I had the chronological details of her promotions - In short I had her professional "vita" in full detail.

But that wasn't what I wanted.

I needed more than that for my feature articles for Interplanetary Press. Much more.

I told her so.

"Dr. Calvin," I said, as lushly as possible, "in the mind of the public you and U.S. Robots are identical. Your retirement will end an era and -"

"You want the human-interest angle?" She didn't smile at me. I don't think she ever smiles. But her eyes were sharp, though not angry. I felt her glance slide through me and out my occiput and knew that I was uncommonly transparent to her; that everybody was.

But I said, "That's right."

"Human interest out of robots? A contradiction."

"No, doctor. Out of you."

"Well, I've been called a robot myself. Surely, they've told you I'm not human."

They had, but there was no point in saying so.

She got up from her chair. She wasn't tall and she looked frail. I followed her to the window and we looked out.

The offices and factories of U.S. Robots were a small city; spaced and planned. It was flattened out like an aerial photograph.

"When I first came here," she said, "I had a little room in a building right about there where the fire-house is now." She pointed. "It was torn down before you were born. I shared the room with three others. I had half a desk. We built our robots all in one building. Output - three a week. Now look at us."

"Fifty years," I hackneyed, "is a long time."

"Not when you're looking back at them," she said. "You wonder how they vanished so quickly."

She went back to her desk and sat down. She didn't need expression on her face to look sad, somehow.

"How old are you?" she wanted to know.

"Thirty-two," I said.

"Then you don't remember a world without robots. There was a time when humanity faced the universe alone and without a friend. Now he has creatures to help him; stronger creatures than himself, more faithful, more useful, and absolutely devoted to him. Mankind is no longer alone. Have you ever thought of it that way?"

"I'm afraid I haven't. May I quote you?"

"You may. To you, a robot is a robot. Gears and metal; electricity and positrons. - Mind and iron! Human-made! if necessary, human-destroyed! But you haven't worked with them, so you don't know them. They're a cleaner better breed than we are."

I tried to nudge her gently with words, "We'd like to hear some of the things you could tell us; get your views on robots. The Interplanetary Press reaches the entire Solar System. Potential audience is three billion, Dr. Calvin. They ought to know what you could tell them on robots."

It wasn't necessary to nudge. She didn't hear me, but she was moving in the right direction.

"They might have known that from the start. We sold robots for Earth-use then - before my time it was, even. Of course, that was when robots could not talk. Afterward, they became more human and opposition began. The labor unions, of course, naturally opposed robot competition for human jobs, and various segments of religious opinion had their superstitious objections. It was all quite ridiculous and quite useless. And yet there it was."

I was taking it down verbatim on my pocket-recorder, trying not to show the knuckle-motions of my hand. If you practice a bit, you can get to the point where you can record accurately without taking the little gadget out of your pocket.

"Take the case of Robbie," she said. "I never knew him. He was dismantled the year before I joined the company - hopelessly out-of-date. But I saw the little girl in the museum -"

She stopped, but I didn't say anything. I let her eyes mist up and her mind travel back. She had lots of time to cover.

"I heard about it later, and when they called us blasphemers and demon-creators, I always thought of him. Robbie was a non-vocal robot. He couldn't speak. He was made and sold in 1996. Those were the days before extreme specialization, so he was sold as a nurse-maid -"

"As a what?"

"As a nursemaid

Meet 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.

Brief Biography

Date of Birth:
January 20, 1920
Date of Death:
April 6, 1992
Place of Birth:
Petrovichi, Russia
Place of Death:
New York, New York
Columbia University, B.S. in chemistry, 1939; M.A. in chemistry, 1941; Ph.D. in biochemistry, 1948

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I, Robot 4.3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 228 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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.
Justint More than 1 year ago
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.
Guest More than 1 year ago
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!
Guest More than 1 year ago
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'.)
BearsReadBR More than 1 year ago
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).
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Must have for all sci fi fans but it makes me mad I can't get a version without will smith on the front
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is a re-read for me, classic Asimov that stands the test of time!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
There is a chat at july res1-2 Just search july and click on the first or second result.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Asimov, "I, Robot", 1950 Classic Asimov, of course; substantive, and fun to read. Asimov foresaw issues which are only now becoming worrisome regarding artificial intelligence and humanity's responsibilities toward its eventual creation of new life forms. If you saw the 2004 movie before you read the book, don't expect many similarities -- the movie just lifted the title. I read the book on my Nook HD+. The electronic form from B&N worked well on the Nook.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Foxy the pirate fox, I found you! Where is Foxita and the others?
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
"What?" Turns and looks at jason nervously.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
((Im back!!))*mangle walks in with her hair cut diagnaly an white an pink headphones with n nice white tee an pink tights with yellow belt an pink flats an monster high eye patch over broken eye*"Hiiiii boooys!!!" * says mainly toward witherd foxy*
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Hey! I'm the original Foxy!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
*runs in and jumpscrares everyone* "its good to be back"
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Im back!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Me too!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Foxy The Pirate Fox got locked out so here we are.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Just classic
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
if you like this read the three Caves of Steel about the earth policeman and the robot policeman on esrth and on a planet where each human is alone in middle of acres of land but hundreds of robots
semcdwes More than 1 year ago
<b>I, Robot</b> by Isaac Asimov Audio Narration by Scott Brick 3.5 Stars Imagine a world in which the science of robotics has become the driving force behind our economy. Not just a robot to vacuum your floor, a la The Roomba, but actual talking and thinking robots. In this short story collection Asimov has done just that. Much as in today's world where we have those who object to science in one or more of its aspects, Asimov's Earth has many of the same. It is due to these objections that robots have been limited to off Earth use and their brains impressed with three unbreakable laws. 1) A robot may not harm a human. 2) A robot must follow all orders given to it by a human, so long as such orders do not conflict with the First Law. 3) A robot must protect its own existence at all costs, except so far as it conflicts with the First or Second Law.  Framed around the reminisces of robo-psycologist Susan Calvin as she prepares to retire, we are presented 8 short stories going back to the first uses of robots and their subsequent ban from Earth use to the Machines or Brains which have come to control global economy. I am not typically a reader of short story collections, as I find short stories never give me as much information as I want. However, I thought this one was quite well done. I rather liked that they were all connected, so that it felt more like reading one complete novel as opposed to eight individual stories. Many of the characters spanned several of the stories, so we got to know them better than we might otherwise have done. Unfortunately, I am not a science fiction reader and I occasionally tuned out for brief periods and would have to back up to re-read/listen. I think someone who enjoys the genremore than I did. In all this is a solid book, and I feel like I got a good sense of Asimov as an author and will be interested in trying more by him.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Book Nook Club at taylor swift result one! More details there! Happy New Year!!!" - Blinkyboo
Anonymous More than 1 year ago