Wednesday, December 28, 2011

I, Robot (Classic Science Fiction Book)

“And that is all,” said Dr. Calvin, rising. “I saw it from the beginning, when the poor robots couldn’t speak, to the end, when they stand between mankind and destruction...”
I, Robot consists of nine short stories (with some transitions to tie the stories together) about robots that were written by Isaac Asimov and published between 1940 and 1950. Each story deals with one or more of the Three Laws of Robotics in some way. The book reminds me of the boxes of small puzzles I often see sold at Christmas time. Each story is a small puzzle about robot behavior that the characters must solve. Most of the stories include the main characters of Gregory Powell and Mike Donovan, who are robot engineers, or Dr. Susan Calvin, a robopsychologist. The complexity of robots within the book progresses from a very primitive robot that can’t speak in the first story to robotic machines that basically oversee the management of Earth in the last story.

While I found I, Robot enjoyable but not necessarily great science fiction, I highly recommend it to anyone who wants to read Asimov’s major books. The stories provide background into the later Foundation Series and Robot Trilogy. When I was reading the Foundation Series, I was jarred when robots first appeared; they seemed so out of context. In retrospect, I wish that I had begun reading with I. Robot and then read the Foundation and Robot books in order of their publication date. Some things would have made more sense.

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