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Book review: I, Robot

I, Robot I, Robot by Isaac Asimov


My rating: 2 of 5 stars
I've only seen a few minutes of the film adaptation of I, Robot, but for some reason I was expecting a large-scale epic. It probably didn't help my expectations that I've been told this is one of the great sci-fi classics. So, I was somewhat underwhelmed to find that this book is actually a collection of mildly interesting short stories.

The book was published in 1950, but the stories take place from 1996 to 2064. Playing a role in most of the stories is Susan Calvin, a robopsychologist who's often called upon to explain robot behavior in the light of the 3 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 any 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.

As time progresses between each story, the robots become increasingly advanced; they begin as mute mechanical workers handling menial tasks, and eventually take the form of robotic Machines that control the sociological and economic forces of the 4 Regions of planet Earth. Along the way, humanity is confronted with issues of morality, ethics, and sentience that arise when humans and robots share space.

The stories are somewhat entertaining and intellectual. There's usually some mysterious robotic behavior that needs to be corrected, which requires humans to logically analyze how the Laws of Robotics are being obeyed to unexpected ends.

The book contains a lot of classic science fiction fare: sentient machines, mind-reading, planetary colonies, and interstellar travel. The stories are fairly interesting, but I don't think it's deserving of its high reputation in the sci-fi genre.

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I'm seriously considering retiring this blog. When I started it in 2008, it was a place for me to share thoughts and links on a variety of topics. For at least the last year, however, it's just been a place where I re-post book reviews from Goodreads.

You can see all my book reviews on my Goodreads profile, and subscribe to my Goodreads RSS feed to be notified of new reviews. I also intend to keep blogging about WordPress, web design, and web-related topics on my OptimWise blog, which also has an RSS feed.

Would you miss this blog if I discontinued it? Please leave a comment.