I, Robot

This is one of the books that has been on my TBR stack for a while now, and after reading it today I’m kind of mad at myself that I put it off for this long.  I believe that this is the first Asimov that I’ve read, but it definitely won’t be the last.

Book Stats

272 pages

Science Fiction

First book of Asimov’s Robot Novels

Enjoyment

While this book is considered a novel, I think it’s easier and better to analyze the book as a collection of short stories.  Through the frame story of a young journalist talking to an experienced robopsychologist, we’re shown the growth of robots over the course of 70 years from being advanced toys to running the Earth.

The robots in this book are all bound by the Three Laws of Robotics: no robot can ever harm a human being, all robots must obey human orders, and a robot must protect it’s own existence, so long as that doesn’t violate the first two rules.

The stories in this book are all interesting to read and cover a variety of issues.  The very first story involves a very early robotic model and a young girl who treats the robot as her best friend.  I thought it was very well done and the child’s behavior (she was 8 in the story) seemed very fitting.  Everything revolved around her relationship with her robot, in much the same way that some children revolve their lives around a pet or a best friend.

Some of the stories also deal with robots behaving strangely when commands they are given are in conflict with the Three Laws of Robotics.  One of the more interesting chapters dealt with a robot who was instructed to lose himself and decides to do just that, by hiding in with other similar models of robots.  Asimov did an excellent job throughout all of these stories of analyzing the Three Laws and looking for loopholes in the laws.  Everything that the robots do throughout these stories makes perfect sense within the realms of the twisted logic that they’re forced to use.

The last set of stories deals with how advanced the robots become in the future.  The stories here really blur the lines of what is human and what is robotic, as well as asking which is superior.

I actually bought this book because I’d watched and enjoyed the movie by the same title.  The book was nothing like the movie (overall the movie was probably inspired by the chapter with the robot in hiding) but every bit as good.

Overall Grade

This is the first book of Asimov’s fiction that I’ve read, it won’t be the last.

8/10

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9 Comments

  1. I Robot is just wonderful, and a perfect place to start with Asimov’s works. It is SO different from the movie! I’d read it long after reading Asimov’s Foundation series and his Robot trilogy, so it was nice for me to see where everything started.

    If you liked what you read, I certainly recommend his Robot Trilogy, which is mostly murder mysteries investigated by a human detective and his humanoid robot partner. I think the first book is Robots of Dawn.

    Reply
    • I enjoyed the book, and I’ll definitely have to check out his Robot Trilogy. I read several Agatha Christie books last year and I’ve been meaning to look for mysteries written by different authors as way to compare the form of her mysteries to others, this seems like as good a place as any to start.

      Reply
  2. Asimov’s Robot stories actually introduced me to the wonderful world of books & reading & writing. It is a story I must write in full some day. I was studying for my finals in School (Secondary/High-school) & the most convinient way to study back then was to meet up with friends at the public library, where we could study with scarce books together. But merry-go-jolly lads like me only went along for the show of it & not to really study much. But then one boring day, I randomly picked up an old copy of Asimov’s Robot stories from the dusty ends of the decaying book shelves. I forced myself to read the shortest story in the book while I killed some time, I got hooked & returned to the book almost daily till I finished. And here I’m today, always reading, always with a book handy and writing my own share of stories for others to read.

    Reply
    • If I had to name a specific series that got me started on reading it would have to be The Wheel of Time, through a fairly convoluted series of events that series got me to read all the time as I do now.

      Thanks for stopping by.

      Reply
      • I really can’t remember which of the stories did it for me. They all were simply wonderful. Thanks for sharing this.

  3. I read I, Robot over a year ago and absolutely loved it. All the short stories kept my interest and kept me wanting more. I recently read his Foundation Series and really enjoyed it.

    Reply
  4. The only Asimov that I’ve read thus far was the Foundation Series, which I greatly enjoyed. I like the way that Asimov uses short episodes or stories to talk about larger social trends; at first I didn’t think it would work for me, but it does.

    Reply
    • It’s definitely a unique way to tell a story. When you’re doing something like that as a different way of telling the story it’s fairly easy to lose the quality of the book because you’re focused so much on the gimmick of how you’re telling it (see my review of Palahniuk’s Rant) but Asimov does a fantastic job of working within the form he gave himself to tell an interesting story.

      Reply
  1. April 2012 Month in Review « Reviews and Ramblings

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