I, Robot

I, Robot

4.2 216
by Isaac Asimov

View All Available Formats & Editions

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 givein 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…  See more details below


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 givein 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 changed our perception of robots forever when he formulated the laws governing their behavior. In I, Robot, Asimov chronicles the development of the robot through a series of interlinked stories: 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.

Here are stories of robots gone mad, of mind-read 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 Asmiov's trademark.

Read More

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:
Robot Series , #1
Sold by:
Random House
Sales rank:
File size:
502 KB

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.

"Which one?"

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."

Another semi-circle.

"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."

Robbie turned to go, but hesitated as Gloria cried out in his defense, "Wait, Mamma, you got to let him stay. I didn't finish Cinderella for him. I said I would tell him Cinderella and I'm not finished."


"Honest and truly, Mamma, he'll stay so quiet, you won't even know he's here. He can sit on the chair in the corner, and he won't say a word,--I mean he won't do anything. Will you, Robbie?"

Robbie, appealed to, nodded his massive head up and down once.

"Gloria, if you don't stop this at once, you shan't see Robbie for a whole week."

The girl's eyes fell, "All right! But Cinderella is his favorite story and I didn't finish it. --And he likes it so much."

The robot left with a disconsolate step and Gloria choked back a sob.

George Weston was comfortable. It was a habit of his to be comfortable on Sunday afternoons. A good, hearty dinner below the hatches; a nice, soft, dilapidated couch on which to sprawl; a copy of the Times; slippered feet and shirtless chest;--how could anyone help but be comfortable?

He wasn't pleased, therefore, when his wife walked in. After ten years of married life, he still was so unutterably foolish as to love her, and there was no question that he was always glad to see her--still Sunday afternoons just after dinner were sacred to him and his idea of solid comfort was to be left in utter solitude for two or three hours. Consequently, he fixed his eye firmly upon the latest reports of the Lefebre-Yoshida expedition to Mars (this one was to take off from Lunar Base and might actually succeed) and pretended she wasn't there.

Mrs. Weston waited patiently for two minutes, then impatiently for two more, and finally broke the silence.



"George, I say! Will you put down that paper and look at me?"

The paper rustled to the floor and Weston turned a weary face toward his wife, "What is it, dear?"

"You know what it is, George. It's Gloria and that terrible machine."

"What terrible machine?"

"Now don't pretend you don't know what I'm talking about. It's that robot Gloria calls Robbie. He doesn't leave her for a moment."

"Well, why should he? He's not supposed to. And he certainly isn't a terrible machine. He's the best darn robot money can buy and I'm damned sure he set me back half a year's income. He's worth it, though--darn sight cleverer than half my office staff."

He made a move to pick up the paper again, but his wife was quicker and snatched it away.

"You listen to me, George. I won't have my daughter entrusted to a machine--and I don't care how clever it is. It has no soul, and no one knows what it may be thinking. A child just isn't made to be guarded by a thing of metal."

Weston frowned, "When did you decide this? He's been with Gloria two years now and I haven't seen you worry till now."

"It was different at first. It was a novelty; it took a load off me, and--and it was a fashionable thing to do. But now I don't know. The neighbors--"

"Well, what have the neighbors to do with it. Now, look. A robot is infinitely more to be trusted than a human nursemaid. Robbie was constructed for only one purpose really--to be the companion of a little child. His entire 'mentality' has been created for the purpose. He just can't help being faithful and loving and kind. He's a machine--made so. That's more than you can say for humans."

"But something might go wrong. Some--some--" Mrs. Weston was a bit hazy about the insides of a robot, "some little jigger will come loose and the awful thing will go berserk and--and--" She couldn't bring herself to complete the quite obvious thought.

"Nonsense," Weston denied, with an involuntary nervous shiver. "That's completely ridiculous. We had a long discussion at the time we bought Robbie about the First Law of Robotics. You know that it is impossible for a robot to harm a human being; that long before enough can go wrong to alter that First Law, a robot would be completely inoperable. It's a mathematical impossibility. Besides I have an engineer from U.S. Robots here twice a year to give the poor gadget a complete overhaul. Why, there's no more chance of anything at all going wrong with Robbie than there is of you or I suddenly going looney--considerably less, in fact. Besides, how are you going to take him away from Gloria?"

He made another futile stab at the paper and his wife tossed it angrily into the next room.

"That's just it, George! She won't play with anyone else. There are dozens of little boys and girls that she should make friends with, but she won't. She won't go near them unless I make her. That's no way for a little girl to grow up. You want her to be normal, don't you? You want her to be able to take her part in society."

"You're jumping at shadows, Grace. Pretend Robbie's a dog. I've seen hundreds of children who would rather have their dog than their father."

"A dog is different, George. We must get rid of that horrible thing. You can sell it back to the company. I've asked, and you can."

"You've asked? Now look here, Grace, let's not go off the deep end. We're keeping the robot until Gloria is older and I don't want the subject brought up again." And with that he walked out of the room in a huff.

Mrs. Weston met her husband at the door two evenings later. "You'll have to listen to this, George. There's bad feeling in the village."

From the Hardcover edition.

Read More

Customer Reviews

Average Review:

Write a Review

and post it to your social network


Most Helpful Customer Reviews

See all customer reviews >

I, Robot 4.2 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 216 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 5 months 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
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
*tilts my head confused* ehh none of my business.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
You dont find much better in this style of science fiction writing
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The movie is absolutely nothing like this collection of short stories. That is why hollywood had to invent Will Smith's character. The book on the other hand IS the robot sub genre of sci fi. This is a fun and engaging look at how humanity defines themselves.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago