By Isaac Asimov
Rebound by Sagebrush
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Not many people realize that I, Robot was not originally written as a single book, but rather as a group of short stories that were later combined to make I, Robot. The title is even taken from a short story written by someone other than Asimov. He didn’t like that much, but the publisher over-rode him, and now it’s here to stay. The copy I linked to above has an excellent introduction from Asimov that explains the history of the book, so I won’t spend too much time on it.
This book is most heavily sociological. Functional bi-pedal robots are made possible by the invention of “the positronic brain”. Not much is explained about that, so I tend to not classify it as deep science, and there isn’t much action.
The book is cast as a collection of interviews of Susan Calvin, a woman who was deeply involved in robotics from about the time the positronic brain was invented. The interviews take place near the end of her life, and she reviews how robots have affected mankind to that point.
I first read I, Robot about 10 years ago, and at the time I was disappointed. I’d read a good deal of Asimov’s short stories, and was looking for something longer. I, Robot struck me then as merely another collection of shorts. I’ve come to realize that in the context of the next 3 books, it is a longer story. It’s simply the basis for a larger story.
Something that has impressed me about Asimov is his ability to take a book he wrote long ago and build on it without seeming to simply re-write the original. He did that twice with the Robot series, and once with the Foundation series.
I still haven’t seen the movie titled I, Robot, but people tell me it’s more like a combination of the entire Robot series. I had planned on not seeing it, but now that I’ve read all 4, I’m intrigued.
Long story short, this is a decent book by itself if you’re looking for sociological sci-fi. In the greater scope of the whole series, it’s an excellent base for a good series. It’s also a fundamental piece of sci-fi literature, in the same way that the Lord Of The Rings is a fundamental of Fantasy. Even if you don’t love it, you’ll understand the genre of sci-fi better for having read it.