I, Robot

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robot.jpg

Isaac Asimov

GENRES:
Science fiction, Short story

SUMMARY:
Spanning over 70 years, this collection of nine loosely related stories chronicles the development of the robot as well as the associated political, social and cultural consequences. Through the eyes of several interconnected characters, the reader sees the technology evolve from the first non-speaking robots to the rise of the globally dominant Machines. Dr. Susan Calvin is a robopsychologist who relates to robots better than humans, and Powell and Donovan are a pair of field technicians who often find themselives in sticky situations while trying to identify flaws in new models.

The stories all revolve around 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 all human orders, unless they conflict with the first law.

3) A robot must protect its own existence, unless this conflicts with the first and second laws.

RESPONSE:
I, Robot is considered a classic and justifiably so. Asimov assembles a diverse, entertaining, and thought-provoking collection of stories that centre around the Three Laws and the characters involved with their implementation and expression.

Dr. Calvin is a remarkably cold and unengaging character, but this is obviously deliberate; and I actually came to respect her intelligence and committment more because of her personality flaws. The reader is given a rare glimpse into her emotions in 'Liar!', and it is not a comfortable feeling.

Powell and Donovan are slightly goofy and sarcastic, with a bickering friendship born of sharing too many tense and odd situations together.

The main strengths of the Asmimov's stories lie in the revelations of unexpected loopholes in the seemingly inpenetrable Three Laws. Each story centres around one or more of the laws in a novel way, weaving social and political undertones throughout (and just a few little character themes).

POINT BLANK:
Everyone loves robots. Read it even if you don't.