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I, Robot by Isaac Asimov
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Showing 1-5 of 134 (next | show all)
The first story in this collection was exactly what I expected, as the tale Robbie allows Asimov to explore the relationship between man and machine, and to challenge the distinction between the two. The rest of the stories in this collection, to my surprise, were all puzzle stories, usually focusing on Asimov's famous three laws of robotics. In the initial setup a robot will be behaving in some unexplainable way, oftentimes apparently in violation of one of the three laws, and the humans in the story will have to solve what exactly is going on. Almost always, it is revealed that the robot was actually following the three laws after all, albeit in an unexpected way. Sometimes these little science fiction puzzles are satisfying, but other times it feels as though Asimov is bending the rules at his convenience to make a mystery. While the three laws of robotics appear clear as written, Asimov will in some stories transform them from hard rules to factors of indeterminate weight balanced by the robot when making a decision. Several stories require the robots to have perfect prediction powers in order for the puzzle solution to make sense, and there are numerous instances you can spot in the stories wherein the ways the rules are being interpreted wouldn't work in practice. These things mean that the puzzles, and therefore the short stories other than Robbie, are decidedly a mixed bag, with some feeling like satisfying logical conundrums while other feel like shoehorned mysteries. It's to Asimov's credit that although the same formula is used for eight straight stories in this collection, their repetitive nature only rarely became a bit annoying.

Outside of the nature of the stories and the focus on the three laws of robotics, these short works feature all the usual strengths and weaknesses of Asimov's writing: his prose is functional, but never impressive, and a few sentences jump out as particularly poorly constructed ("You are listened to with respect and yet your connection with them is no longer so tight but that you cannot possess considerable freedom of action"). Characters are usually flat, with most being defined by a single characteristic (I could never differentiate between Donovan and Powell except when hair color was mentioned). Dialogue is unnatural, both on the part of the robots and the humans. For all that, though, you get a decent helping of Asimov's ideas, and those ideas are why you read Asimov in the first place.

The framing narrative that Asimov wrote for this collection is fine, though only the first segment of it actually adds anything to the story by describing Dr. Susan Calvin via mechanical comparisons, immediately raising and problematizing the divide between human and machine. The rest of the framing narrative is insubstantial, creating tenuous connections between the stories, but the narrative actually spoils Evidence, one of the best stories in the collection. Because of that alone I would have preferred it if there were no framing narrative.

Despite the repetitive structure of the stories, the usual Asimov flaws, and the subpar framing narrative, these stories were decently entertaining and a breeze to read. Not Asimov's most inventive work, nor do any of the stories in this collection reach the heights of Asimov classics like The Last Question or Nightfall, but a solid collection nonetheless. This is Asimov, a major writer of science fiction who always succeeded on the strength of his ideas and not his writing. If that sounds like something you could find appealing, or if you've read Asimov before and liked it, and you're up for some sci-fi puzzle stories, then you'll probably like this collection as well. ( )
  BayardUS | Dec 10, 2014 |
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  ngunity | Nov 23, 2014 |
I want to give this book 5 stars, so let's call it 4.5; however, like other earlier works of Asimov that I have read, he still suffers from some sexist views. Leaving how he thinks of women aside, the rest of the collection of stories is completely enjoyable. I love the characters of Donovan and Powell the most. Their work testing out prototypes in the field and having to figure out all the weird idiosyncrasies made me chuckle out loud more than once. (Although Donovan really needs to chill out.)

Note: If you read this expecting it to be anything like the movie with Will Smith, you will be sorely disappointed. I knew they were miles apart, and yet, I'm STILL trying to figure out how they got to that script. Pretty sure the only commonalities were the title and the existence of robots. ( )
  ladypembroke | Nov 22, 2014 |
It was fun! More like a book of puzzles relating to how Asimov's Three Laws of Robotics have caused a problem, how the characters take advantage of the laws to solve the problem, and what it suggests about HUMANITY ITSELF! I think this would be a good one to read one chapter at a time over the course of some months, rather than all in one go. (Oh and there is a eye-roll-inducing line about the otherwise estimable Dr. Calvin when "some of the woman peered through the layer of doctorhood" and she worries about being beautiful or not, but hey, 1950!) ( )
  behemothing | Oct 25, 2014 |
I really wanted to like this--it's a classic--but let's face it, it's very dated, having been written in 1950. I was trying to sell this in my library, but I don't think kids would get the references to slide-rulers and vacuum tubes. The two hapless employees were kind of funny, but I just couldn't maintain an interest and stopped halfway through. ( )
  fromthecomfychair | Oct 22, 2014 |
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» Add other authors (47 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Isaac Asimovprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Berkey, JohnCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Cartier, EddCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Serra, LauraTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Youll, StephenCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Epigraph
Dedication
To John W. Campbell, Jr., who godfathered the robots
First words
Robbie:
"Ninety-eight — ninety-nine — one hundred."
Runaround:
It was one of Gregory Powell's favorite platitudes that nothing was to be gained from excitement, so when Mike Donovan came leaping down the stairs toward him, red hair matted with perspiration, Powell frowned.
Reason:
Half a year later, the boys had changed their minds.
Catch That Rabbit:
The vacation was longer than two weeks.
Liar!
Alfred Lanning lit his cigar carefully, but the tips of his fingers were trembling slightly.
Quotations
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 the orders given 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.
Last words
(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Wikipedia in English (5)

Book description
In dieser Veröffentlichung sind die Erzählungen zusammengefaßt, die in den Bänden "Ich, der Robot", "Geliebter Roboter" und "Der Zweihundertjährige" erschienen sind, entstanden zwischen 1940 und 1976.
Contents:

Introduction
Robbie
Runaround
Reason
Catch That Rabbit
Liar!
Little Lost Robot
Escape!
Evidence
The Evitable Conflict
Haiku summary

Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0553294385, Mass Market Paperback)

In this collection, one of the great classics of science fiction, Asimov set out the principles of robot behavior that we know as the Three Laws of Robotics. Here are stories of robots gone mad, mind-reading robots, robots with a sense of humor, robot politicians, and robots who secretly run the world, all told with Asimov's trademark dramatic blend of science fact and science fiction.

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:31:54 -0400)

(see all 8 descriptions)

In this collection, one of the great classics of science fiction, Asimov set out the principles of robot behavior that we know as the Three Laws of Robotics. Here are stories of robots gone mad, mind-reading robots, robots with a sense of humor, robot politicians, and robots who secretly run the world, all told with Asimov's trademark dramatic blend of science fact and science fiction.… (more)

» see all 10 descriptions

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