Review: I, Robot by Isaac Asimov

February 28, 2015 2015, Audiobook Challenge, Audiobooks, B+, book rating, COYER Winter, Goodreads, Reading Challenges, reviews 0

i-robotI, Robot
by Isaac Asimov
Narrated by Scott Brick
Series: Robot #0.1
Genre: Science Fiction
Published by Random House Audio, 2004 (originally published 1950)
Audiobook, purchased
225 pages
8 hours, 20 minutes
Grade: B+
Narrator Grade: B+
Synopsis: 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 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-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.

“I, on the other hand, am a finished product. I absorb electrical energy directly and utilize it with an almost one hundred percent efficiency. I am composed of strong metal, am continuously conscious, and can stand extremes of environment easily. These are facts which, with the self-evident proposition that no being can create another being superior to itself, smashes your silly hypothesis to nothing.”

and

“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.”

Cheers

  • The stories all show robots and humans, their interactions and the philosophical questions of using robots. Lots of food for thought.
  • I thought I’d read this book, but what I remember reading are the Robot novels #1-4 which are more science fiction mysteries with a partnership between Elijah Baley and R. Daneel Olivaw (the R stands for Robot).
  • The narrator is good. He talks very clearly and because he’s portraying a journalist he doesn’t display a lot of emotion which works. However, during some of the stories there is some emotion and he does show that.
  • Isaac Asimov coined many ideas and terms which are now used in other science fiction novels and even in science.
    • The Three Laws of Robotics, for example, is an idea used in many books and movies.
    • The positronic brain, robotics, psychohistory are all words and ideas credited to Isaac Asimov.
    • He influenced many other science fiction writers.
  • These stories told by Susan Calvin as she’s interviewed at the end of her career as a robopsychologist are fascinating as they show the evolution of robots, the many different types of robots, the funny and frightening aspects as well as the fear most humans have for robots.
  • The field of robopsychology is very interesting. How Susan Calvin solves problems with robots . . .  the puzzles of why these robots behave the way they do.
  • I feel like Data from Star Trek: The Next Generation owes a lot to the way Isaac Asimov developed his robots.
  • Several other characters besides Susan are recurring. The most interesting to me are the two human troubleshooting engineers sent to test new robots in field conditions. The ways they figure out the problems and idiosyncrasies of the robots are sometimes funny and sometimes frightening.
  • One of the most interesting robot is the mind-reading robot. This robot interacts directly with Susan and other directors of U.S. Robots. Since he can read minds he’s able to tell them things they want or “need” to know. However, because of the Three Laws things don’t work out quite how the humans hope!
  • I felt sorry for some of the robots.

Jeers

  • I would have liked to have known more about some of these characters, but we learn very little about them. Except perhaps the loneliness of Susan Calvin’s life.

And a few thoughts . . .

  • The movie I, Robot starring Will Smith has very little in common with this book. As I recall they use the Three Laws of Robotics, but that’s about it. Some of the same names, but anything else? No.

About Isaac Asimov

  • He wrote over 500 fiction and nonfiction books; won many awards during his life including the Hugo, Locus and Nebula Awards; and had a PhD from Columbia in biochemistry. Considered one of the pioneers of science fiction writing.

Have you read this book? How did you like it?

  • 2015 Goodreads Challenge
  • Audiobook Challenge–hosted by Hot Listens and The Book Nympho blogs
  • Ultimate Reading Challenge–hosted by the Popsugar blog (a book that became a movie)
  • COYER Winter Reading Challenge–hosted by Berls @ Fantasy is More Fun and Michelle @ Because Reading (audiobook)
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