I, Robot

I, Robot

by Isaac Asimov

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780553382563
Publisher: Random House Publishing Group
Publication date: 04/29/2008
Series: The Robot Series , #1
Edition description: Reprint
Pages: 256
Sales rank: 39,701
Product dimensions: 5.53(w) x 8.26(h) x 0.55(d)
Age Range: 12 - 18 Years

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

INTRODUCTION


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
-"

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.

I, Robot
Isaac Asimov
0-553-29438-5 (paperback)
0-553-80370-0 (hardcover)

Foundation
Isaac Asimov
0-553-29335-4 (paperback)
0-553-80371-9 (hardcover)

Foundation and Empire
Isaac Asimov
0-553-29337-0 (paperback)
0-553-80372-7 (hardcover)

Second Foundation
Isaac Asimov
0-553-29336-2 (paperback)
0-553-80373-5 (hardcover)

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?

Introduction

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 followare intended to enhance your reading of these four classics written by one of the most widely recognized fiction authors of our time.

I, Robot
Isaac Asimov
0-553-29438-5 (paperback)
0-553-80370-0 (hardcover)

Foundation
Isaac Asimov
0-553-29335-4 (paperback)
0-553-80371-9 (hardcover)

Foundation and Empire
Isaac Asimov
0-553-29337-0 (paperback)
0-553-80372-7 (hardcover)

Second Foundation
Isaac Asimov
0-553-29336-2 (paperback)
0-553-80373-5 (hardcover)

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I, Robot 4.2 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 255 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 6 months ago
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"
Niecierpek on LibraryThing 8 months ago
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.
LisaMaria_C on LibraryThing 8 months ago
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.
phaga on LibraryThing 8 months ago
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.
PhoebeReading on LibraryThing 8 months ago
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.
Milda-TX on LibraryThing 8 months ago
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.
joririchardson on LibraryThing 8 months ago
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."
mckenz18 on LibraryThing 8 months ago
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.
HayMicheal on LibraryThing 8 months ago
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).
carmelitasita29 on LibraryThing 8 months ago
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.
tkadlec on LibraryThing 8 months ago
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.
andreablythe on LibraryThing 8 months ago
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.
ASBiskey on LibraryThing 8 months ago
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.
CosmicBullet on LibraryThing 8 months ago
`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.
jjmcgaffey on LibraryThing 8 months ago
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...
MrsLee on LibraryThing 8 months ago
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.
StefanY on LibraryThing 8 months ago
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.