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I, Robot by Isaac Asimov
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Originally published at FanLit.

??..all conflicts are finally evitable. Only the Machines, from now on, are inevitableƒ?

Most science fiction fans know Isaac Asimovƒ??s Three Laws of Robotics:

Robots must not hurt human beings or allow them to come to harm.
Robots must obey human beings so far as it doesnƒ??t violate Law 1.
Robots must not harm themselves as long as this doesnƒ??t violate Laws 1 and 2.
In I, Robot, Asimov presents nine stories within a frame story that explore the implications of these Three Laws of Robotics. The introduction presents the frame story, which introduces Dr. Susan Calvin, who has recently retired from a 50-year career as the worldƒ??s first robopsychologist. A reporter is attempting to interview the somewhat reclusive Dr. Calvin, who is reluctant to share her experiences. Through clever flattery, questions and prompts, he finally gets her talking, which gives Asimov a chance to reprint these nine stories which were originally published between 1940 and 1950 in the pulp magazines Astounding Science Fiction and Super Science Stories:

ƒ??Robbieƒ? ƒ?? (revised version of ƒ??Strange Playfellow,ƒ? Super Science Stories, 1940) A little girl named Gloria is given one of the worldƒ??s first robotic companions, but her mother worries about Gloria being raised by a machine, so she takes Robbie away. ƒ??Robbieƒ? is Isaac Asimovƒ??s first robot story. Itƒ??s sweet and simple, dealing with Law 1 in the most obvious way and portraying robots as tools made by man to help him with his work. Dr. Susan Calvin makes a cameo appearance in this story. Sheƒ??s sitting in a museum studying the first talking robot when Gloria comes to ask the robot a question.

ƒ??Runaroundƒ? ƒ?? (Astounding Science Fiction, 1942) Engineers Gregory Powell and Mike Donovan, a couple of Asimovƒ??s recurring characters, have been sent to Mercury to work on a mining station. When they send Speedy the robot out to fetch some selenium, he doesnƒ??t come back and they have to go looking for him. When they find Speedy, he seems confused and Powell and Donovan discover that thereƒ??s a delicate balance between the three Laws of Robotics. They must figure out how to use the laws to get the robot back on track. This is Asimovƒ??s first story that specifically explains the Three Laws and shows that they are not as clear as they seem.

ƒ??Reasonƒ? ƒ?? (Astounding Science Fiction, 1941) Powell and Donovan are working on a space station with a robot named QT1 (ƒ??Cutieƒ?). When Cutie decides that humans do not exist and that heƒ??s a prophet of The Master, the engineers, thinking that the Three Laws are in jeopardy, try to reason with him.

ƒ??Catch That Rabbitƒ? ƒ?? (Astounding Science Fiction, 1944) Powell and Donovan are overseeing a mining operation on an asteroid and are accompanied by Dave, a new kind of robot that is still under development. Dave is in an overseer position over six subservient (ƒ??fingerƒ?) robots. Powell and Donovan notice that when humans are not around, Dave and his ƒ??fingersƒ? sometimes quit working and begin marching aimlessly. When the engineers try to figure out whatƒ??s wrong, they end up in a dangerous position and need to figure out how to get Dave and his team working correctly so the robots can save them.

ƒ??Liar!ƒ? ƒ?? (Astounding Science Fiction, 1941) A robot named Herbie misapplies the First Law of Robotics (never hurt a human being) by telling people what he thinks they want to hear. However, Herbieƒ??s lies end up embarrassing and hurting humans, including Dr. Susan Calvin. According to Wikipedia, which cites the Oxford English Dictionary, ƒ??Liarƒ? contains the first published use of the word ƒ??robotics.ƒ?

ƒ??Little Lost Robotƒ? ƒ?? (Astounding Science Fiction, 1947) When a human tells the robot named Nestor to ƒ??get lost,ƒ? he does, by hiding himself in a room full of identical robots. This is a problem for Dr. Susan Calvin and the other scientists because Nestor is an experimental robot that (for a good reason) was produced with a slightly different version of the First Law. While it canƒ??t harm humans, it is not compelled to step in to stop them from being hurt. Dr. Calvin realizes that this programming could logically lead to a situation in which a robot could actually harm someone. They must find Nestor.

ƒ??Escape!ƒ? ƒ?? (originally ƒ??Paradoxical Escapeƒ? in Astounding Science Fiction, 1945) In this weird story, an artificial intelligence called ƒ??The Brainƒ? becomes a practical joker, using humor to deal with its cognitive dissonance. Gregory Powell and Mike Donovan are the unfortunate victims and robopsychologist Susan Calvin must discover whatƒ??s gone wrong.

ƒ??Evidenceƒ? ƒ?? (Astounding Science Fiction, 1946) Stephen Byerley is running for mayor but his opponent claims Byerley is a robot because nobody sees him eat or sleep. Byerley, running on a civil rights platform, refuses to let his opponents examine him. When Dr. Susan Calvin tries to use the Three Laws to determine whether heƒ??s human, she canƒ??t tell if heƒ??s a robot, or just a ƒ??very good man.ƒ? This makes her wonder if a robot might actually be a better leader than a man.

ƒ??The Evitable Conflictƒ? ƒ?? (Astounding Science Fiction, 1950) The world is now efficiently run by artificial intelligence. Supply and demand are perfectly balanced and humans thrive. When some of the machines start to make mistakes, Stephen Byerley and Susan Calvin want to know why. What they discover is an entirely new extension of the First Law and it might mean doom (or liberation) for the human race.

I, Robot is an excellent collection of some of Isaac Asimovƒ??s best stories. Here we meet friendly robots, religious robots, prankster robots, robots with superiority complexes, robots that are confused by moral or logical dilemmas, and robots with cognitive dissonance. Asimov explores the implications and the limits of his Three Laws and leaves us with a lot to think about.

The order of the stories in I, Robot makes the collection especially effective; with ƒ??Robbieƒ? we start with a simple and obvious application of the Three Laws and with ƒ??The Evitable Conflictƒ? we end with a head-spinning potential interpretation of these very same laws. Though Isaac Asimov was optimistic about our future with artificial intelligence, he shows us that even though humans are programming robots, it may be difficult for us to understand and predict some of their behaviors because of the way they use logic to interpret the laws we give them.

I listened to Scott Brick narrate Random House Audioƒ??s version of I, Robot. Scott Brick is always a great narrator and I highly recommend the audiobook. ( )
  Kat_Hooper | Apr 6, 2014 |
24 Jan 11

"There is no Master but The Master, and QT-1 is his prophet."

So far so good, I'm listening to this one on audio - and it's great for the commute. So far it's providing a very interesting commentary on god and the circular logic that goes behind believing in a 'higher power'. I like it. I think.

14 Feb : Finished the audio. The book was more of a frame story held together by the three laws of robotics. But it was very very good. Unfortunately it's another fabulous sci-fi book that has a movie that has bastardized it's name. Great commentary from the 1950's on the future. Which is now. ( )
1 vote steadfastreader | Mar 18, 2014 |
I had read most of the stories in this collection, but some of the stories and the encompassing narrative were new to me. A very good introduction into Asimov's Robot universe.
  Frenzie | Feb 19, 2014 |
Classic sci-fi about the development of robots in human history. At first, the book was hard to follow because it's a series of short stores about the development of robotics. Then, when that became obvious, the book became a fun listen. After Asimov describes the three rules of robots, the book develops around those--from mute robots through politician robots. The book draws on human characteristics. I think I'll read number two in the series. ( )
  buffalogr | Feb 15, 2014 |
Still looking for Kindle editions with Wendel Urth. #JustSayin'
  jmcalli | Feb 6, 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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To John W. Campbell, Jr., who godfathered the robots
First words
"Ninety-eight — ninety-nine — one hundred."
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.
Half a year later, the boys had changed their minds.
Catch That Rabbit:
The vacation was longer than two weeks.
Alfred Lanning lit his cigar carefully, but the tips of his fingers were trembling slightly.
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
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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.

Catch That Rabbit
Little Lost Robot
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 8 descriptions

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