I, Robot

by Isaac Asimov | Science Fiction & Fantasy |
ISBN: Global Overview for this book
Registered by BookGroupMan of Criccieth, Wales United Kingdom on 11/9/2004
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5 journalers for this copy...
Journal Entry 1 by BookGroupMan from Criccieth, Wales United Kingdom on Tuesday, November 09, 2004
Another SF classic that I want to catch up with...I'd like to read before seeing the film

(1/01)

7 *'s for history and significance in the pre-sentient Robot information age (Asimov's dates were way too ambitious!)

5 *'s for storytelling quality & test-of-time

Full review to follow...

Journal Entry 2 by BookGroupMan from Criccieth, Wales United Kingdom on Tuesday, January 04, 2005
This book is made up of a number of linked short stories written by Asimov in the 1940’s. They all feature some sort of dilemma concerning robots (and in 1 story so-called ‘machines’, a bit like supercomputer circa 1990’s) having to obey the 3 cardinal laws of Robotics, as per the handbook of the U.S. Robot & Mechanical Men Inc. vis:

(1) Robots can’t harm humans
(2) Robots must do as human’s say, as long as law (1) isn’t contravened
(3) Robots must look after themselves…ditto laws (1) & (2)

A retired ‘robopsychologist’ Susan Calvin is involved in most of the stories, providing a narrative link as she recounts the historical events to a reporter.

First the bad news; this is not great literature, heck it probably isn’t even good SF. But, based on the technology when they were written, and the important issues addressed, he is still way ahead of his time; can robots think for themselves; can they bend the strict rules for their own benefit; can they develop such human ‘conditions’ as a sense of humour, mental breakdown, pride & competitiveness? And lastly, the scariest of all, will artificial intelligences even take control, making decisions for which no human programmer can have predicted or is even able to interpret?

Journal Entry 3 by BookGroupMan at on Saturday, June 11, 2005

Released 14 yrs ago (6/11/2005 UTC) at

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Pre-release for Ipswich meet-up

Journal Entry 4 by Semioticghost from Ipswich, Suffolk United Kingdom on Sunday, June 12, 2005
Picked up at Ipswich Meetup in preparation for International Space Week releasing. It's one of Asimov's most famous classics, and a thrilling read.

Journal Entry 5 by Semioticghost from Ipswich, Suffolk United Kingdom on Tuesday, February 06, 2007
Asimov's "I, robot" was #2, a collection of short stories which I'd never read in context, as they're in a different order in "The Complete Robot" (which, as a matter of fact, is not complete, because Asimov has continued to write robot stories after its publication). Powell and Donovan, a team of field engineers testing prototype models feature in several of the stories and robot psychologist Susan Calvin makes an Anne Robinson-like appearance from retirement.

Journal Entry 6 by wingBookAmblerwing from Isle of Lewis, Scotland United Kingdom on Saturday, February 10, 2007
By coincidence, my Mum and I were talking about Asimov a couple of days before I saw SemioticGhost's release alert for this book!

Very pleased to find it was still on the shelf when I got to Ipswich :-)

Look forward to reading...

Journal Entry 7 by wingBookAmblerwing from Isle of Lewis, Scotland United Kingdom on Tuesday, February 27, 2007
Excellent!!!

I’m not a fan of short stories generally, but there was a consistent theme running through these i.e. situations requiring logical thought based on the Three Laws of Robotics, as described by BookGroupMan above*. Also the premise is that Dr Susan Calvin, a robopsychologist at US Robots, is being interviewed for an article, which adds another layer of connectivity. (So I recommend they are read in order.)

Another reason I found them interesting was the comparison between Asimov and Wyndham (this being my John Wyndham Year, and having not read Asimov before). To start with I wondered if, given a story ‘blind’, I could tell who the author was. After a couple of Asimov’s, though, I would say that Wyndham writes much more simply; but they were both ahead of their time, interject amusing lines and tell a good yarn.

I may have missed it, but Asimov never once explains the meaning of ‘positronic brain’, despite using the term frequently. (Unless it is simply the imprinting of the Three Laws of Robotics into the robot brain.)

* BGM makes an omission in his description of the First Law – it should read A robot may not injure a human being, or, through inaction, allow a human being come to harm. The intentional omission of the second phrase in a robot’s imprinting is the basis of Little Lost Robot.

My least favourite was the final story, but the logic was good! Also, Reason was pretty irritating! Hence the final score of eight stars.

Asimov speculates the world population as being around 3 billion in 2015. In 1950, when the book was published, it was 2.5 billion, so he was way off mark. It is currently estimated at 6.5 billion. But on the other hand, it's hard to say he was wrong as his War of 1985 (and later?) may have done for half the world population!

I didn’t recognise any single particular story that would have been used for the film, I, Robot but can see how it was another interpretation of how the Three Laws could go wrong.

I’ve listed the stories purely due to my bad memory.
Robbie (Gloria and her robot)
Runaround (Gregory Powell and Michael Donovan, Speedy and the selenium pool)
Reason (Powell/ Donovan, Cutie and The Master)
Catch That Rabbit (Powell/ Donovan, Dave and his subordinates in the cave)
Liar! (Dr Susan Calvin, Herbie the mindreader)
Little Lost Robot (Calvin and the 63 Nestors)
Escape! (Powell/ Donovan, interstellar travel on a ship made by The Brain)
Evidence (Calvin, Stephen Byerley standing for mayor)
The Evitable Conflict (Calvin, Stephen Byerley the Co-ordinator, The Machines and world balance)

Released 12 yrs ago (3/2/2007 UTC) at The Purple Dog, Eld Lane OBCZ in Colchester, Essex United Kingdom

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Released for the Never Judge a Book by its Cover 2007 Challenge - Week 8 - 'old cover art' i.e. published pre-1980

Journal Entry 9 by karen07814 from Colchester, Essex United Kingdom on Tuesday, March 27, 2007
retrieved ready for a move to Sudbury

Journal Entry 10 by karen07814 from Colchester, Essex United Kingdom on Thursday, March 29, 2007
Trying it's luck in Sudbury

Journal Entry 11 by karen07814 at Caffe Nero in Sudbury, Suffolk United Kingdom on Thursday, March 29, 2007

Released 12 yrs ago (3/31/2007 UTC) at Caffe Nero in Sudbury, Suffolk United Kingdom

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Journal Entry 12 by malclocke from Christchurch, Canterbury New Zealand on Wednesday, June 06, 2007
Picked up in Cafe Nerd during a trip to Sudbury, Suffolk, UK (my hometown) for reading on trip home to Christchurch, New Zealand, where it will be set free again.

Journal Entry 13 by malclocke from Christchurch, Canterbury New Zealand on Wednesday, June 06, 2007
Sorry, to be read, not travelling

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