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13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Classic Sci-Fi from the "pulp fiction" era--groundbreaking
This is groundbreaking science fiction, introducing a concept or philosophy that spread past the work of Asimov and penetrated the consciousness of the genre in general. The short stories in "I, Robot" introduce the idea of the non-Frankensteinian robot, one who cannot harm his creator by virtue of the Three Laws of Robotics:
1 - A robot may not injure a human being,...
Published on 8 Aug. 2004 by Joanna Daneman

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3.0 out of 5 stars A series of conundrums
I expected to enjoy this far more than I actually did, since it's 'classic' SF and recommended reading from several sources. Unfortunately, I found it rather dated and lacking in characterisation - and not much plot either. Ostensibly a series of interlinked short stories about robots, but actually more a series of puzzles. The famous Laws of Robotics are given at the...
Published on 16 Aug. 2011 by Archy


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13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Classic Sci-Fi from the "pulp fiction" era--groundbreaking, 8 Aug. 2004
By 
Joanna Daneman (USA) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)   
This review is from: I, Robot (Paperback)
This is groundbreaking science fiction, introducing a concept or philosophy that spread past the work of Asimov and penetrated the consciousness of the genre in general. The short stories in "I, Robot" introduce the idea of the non-Frankensteinian robot, one who cannot harm his creator by virtue of 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
We almost take these laws for granted, but their structure is brilliant, and they give rise to some great robot science fiction from the hand of one of sci-fi's most beloved authors.
Sad to say, despite creating a brilliant character in Susan Calvin, the iron-minded scientist who is central to the invention of the robot, Asimov's characters are typically cartoonish and cliche. Worse yet, he breaks the law of fiction whereby he uses the slang of the Fifties, thus dating the book immeasurably. If you grew up in the Fifties, reading this is a breath of nostalgia--not the best thing for futuristic fiction. If you are a Generation X'er, the style has the campiness of a comic book. Which is not helpful to the smart plots of the stories.
I have to say that "I, Robot" was one of my adolescent favorites and I still enjoy the stories. "Robbie" pits the big metal beast, beloved by a child, against the fears of the adults. Perfect showcase for the Laws. And the ideas in "Liar"--a mind-reading robot, are the nucleus for later novels by Asimov. These are worth reading, even though sadly dated.
Contents:
Robbie
Runaround
Reason
Catch That Rabbit
Liar!
Little Lost Robot
Escape!
Evidence
The Evitable Conflict
I have to say that "I, Robot" was one of my adolescent favorites and I still enjoy the stories. "Robbie" pits the big metal beast, beloved by a child, against the fears of the adults. Perfect showcase for the Laws. And the ideas in
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28 of 29 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Still good after all these years, 24 Mar. 2002
By 
P. R. Rustage - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: I, Robot (Paperback)
This book is THE robot classic. With that though come lots of problems for the contemporary reader.
Pretty well every robot in science fiction is somehow related to this book - either by being just like Asimov's robots (Star Treks's "Data" was openly acknowledged to be an Asimov robot) or by being deliberately unlike them. It is impossible to underestimate the importance of this novel - it created a precedent that could either be used or abused by subsequent writers.
Having said all that what is it like reading this ground breaking novel today 40 years later?
OK the style may be very 50's, the techno babble may no longer be credible but the stories are still good. Having set up the famous "3 laws of Robotics", Asimov then goes on to create a series of puzzles - each one is a mystery that can only be solved by understanding the rules he has created. The stories have the same appeal as whodunnits except the question is sometimes howdunnit, whydunnit, where or when dunnit. In general each of his stories poses the question " Considering the rules under which robots have to work how is it possible that ....?" Finding the answer is the fun.
It is a testament to Asimov that although the sci-fi, social, and stylistic elements of this book may now seem outdated, the stories are so good they still provide enjoyable reading.
Those seeking nano technology, alternative universes, worm holes etc may be dissapointed but those seeking a series of intriguing mysteries only solvable through logic will get a real kick out of this. Additionally, if you found Data's difficulties in coming to terms with the human view of the universe intriguing and entertaining, you will find lots to enjoy here.
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15 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A classic, 2 Sept. 2001
By A Customer
This review is from: I, Robot (Paperback)
Assimov's classic and masterful collection of short stories really needs no introduction. If you haven't read it or heard of it I urge you to buy it immediately especially if you're a fan of proper science fiction. Anyone with a logical and open minded dispostion with an interest in science, even cursory, will find this book enthralling. Many of the stories involve some problem that needs to be solved through logic, but psycology (both human and robot) also plays a large part. Don't expect the robots in this novel to be walking tin cans. Many of them display more human traits than their human researchers and their personalities are intricately complex and often play centre stage in the stories with the humans playing a second best. If ever their was a book to change your way of how you look at computer intelligence, then it's probably this one.
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Isaac Asimov laws down the Three Laws of Robotics, 20 Oct. 2004
By 
Amazon Customer (The Zenith City, Duluth, Minnesota) - See all my reviews
(HALL OF FAME REVIEWER)    (VINE VOICE)   
The word "robot" comes from Karel Capek's play "R.U.R.," where it refers to automatic laborers of organic origin (i.e., androids). However, the notion of "robot" that exists in the popular consciousness today is due in large part to the writings of Isaac Asimov. Before the short stories that were eventually collected as in this "I, Robot" volume robot stories in Science Fiction pulp magazines in the Frankenstein mode or as ways of delineating the differences between humans and machines. But Asimov reset the genre with his Three Laws of Robotics. The stories that followed explored the logical and narrative possibilities inherent in the apparent contradiction of those laws. The ethical question of whether robots are "human" is not central to these stories; they are clearly machines, but they are so inherently ethical that it is hard not to see some sort of superiority to their existence. After all, their prime directive of preserving of human life and limb in ingrained in their positronic brains; most human beings do not have that stricture any where near being firmly entrenched in their cognitive structures.
The "I, Robot" stories are arranged in a "chronological" order that traces the development of these robots from their primitive origins to their evolutionary destiny, where human beings may well end up being rendered obsolete. Asimov explores the possibilities of his three laws to present us robots that have gone insane, robots that can read minds, and robots that save humanity by taking over to run the world. If you are reading these stories for the second time, which is a fair possibility given that they are Science Fiction classics, then you should pay attention to the subtle differences between the Donovan & Powell stories with those featuring Susan Calvin; it basically comes down to whether Asimov wants to explain things in term of a dialogue or a lecture. Once you have read "I, Robot" be sure to check out the brilliant unproduced screenplay Harlan Ellison wrote from these stories as well as the Asimov robot novels, "The Caves of Steel," "The Naked Sun," and "Robots of Dawn."
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27 of 30 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars rightly considered a classic, 23 July 2004
By 
Joe Sherry (Minnesota) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: I, Robot (Paperback)
"I, Robot" is the classic science fiction novel by Isaac Asimov. It kicks off the best selling Robot/Foundation series, though when "I, Robot" was first published it was not intended to be a part of any larger series, nor were Robot and Foundation originally connected. While the format of "I, Robot" is loosely a novel, it is truly a collection of short stories that is bridged by a common thread and text that connects all stories together.
The tie that connects these stories together is Susan Calvin, a robopsychologist. At the start of the book, Calvin is retiring from her position at U.S. Robotics. A reporter is trying to get her thoughts on the history of robotics, but not the official position, more of her personal impressions. Calvin was at U.S. Robotics when the first truly "thinking" robots were released for sale and was at the forefront of figuring out why some robots were acting the way they were. The format of "I, Robot" is such that Calvin is essentially giving a little bit of background which moves into the short story, giving an episodic feel to the book.
As the stories move in chronological order, the reader is presented with the evolution of robots, starting with "Robbie", which deals with the relationship a little girl has with her robot, Robbie. Robbie was designed as a playmate for a little girl and her parents feel that she has become too attached to the robot and has forsaken real friends. Robbie is an earlier design robot: large, clunky, and without the ability to speak. The subsequent stories show the development of robots and include: a mind reading robot, a robot who does not believe it is possible that a human could create a robot, and one that may even end up ruling the world.
Through these stories, Asimov has set up the Three Laws of Robotics, which are:
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.
These Three Laws are the driving force within each of the stories. What is interesting here is that all of the stories are something of a "whodunit". Something is not working exactly right with a robot and it is up to Susan Calvin, or the team of Martin and Donovan to figure out why a robot is not working how it is expected to. Each time, it has something to do with the Three Laws and everything makes sense within the confines of the Three Laws: Calvin, Martin, and Donovan just have to figure out what.
The writing style here is simple, and easy to read. Despite the fact that there is little "action" happening in the stories, they move along quickly. These are stories of humanity and science and the robots seem to fit into both categories at the same time. "I, Robot" is rightly considered a classic of science fiction and these are simple little gems with a depth of complexity that makes everything fit together.
-Joe Sherry
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Good stuff..., 8 Aug. 2005
This review is from: I, Robot (Paperback)
I've read Asimov before, but not for, oh at least 12 years. And I've never enjoyed it as much as I did this one.
His characterisations and dialogue are often a little bland and uninspired, but the most important thing about Asimov's work is the ideas and investigations.
When he invented the famous Three Laws of Robotics he really struck literary gold. From then on he was able to carve out a niche of his own, creating stories that are based around them.
This selection describes the development of robotics from it's earliest days to the days when machines run the world, as 'robopsychologists' and mathemiticians attempt to iron out logical problems with robot behaviour.
The result is like science fiction detective stories. Some are disappointing, but on the whole the dilemmas described are fascinating, and not altogether unsolvable by the reader.
If you are interested in exercising your mind while reading, I recommend this stuff.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The best science fiction i've ever read, 13 Mar. 2011
This review is from: I, Robot (Paperback)
I imagine most people have seen the Will Smith movie from 2004 or are, at the very least, aware that a Hollywood adaptation exists. It is a tired cliche now but I feel it is appropriate to say that Isaac Asimov would spin in his grave if he could. Don't get me wrong; as a standalone film I, Robot is very entertaining but as an apaptation of what is clearly one of the greatest science fiction books ever written, it is tripe. I am confident when I say that the only similarities between the film and the book is the title. Even Will Smith's character does not exist in the book.

I, Robot is a collection of short stories, all featuring the same characters, beginning with the first tentative steps of robotics and ending with machines controlling every aspect of everyday life on earth.

Asimov's visions of the future are not only interesting and exciting but, in my view, quite plausible. His depiction of robots is absolutely wonderful and the robots who feature in the book are never in the background nor are they dull. You can see where Asimov influenced future sci-fi writers both in books and the silver screen. The characters are brilliant especially the hapless Powell and Donovan, two US Robots engineers who are assigned the thankless, and often dangerous, task of field testing new robots. The two are always finding themselves in trouble and often had me creasing up with the predicaments they get into.

With the Three Laws in place most readers would think it impossible for anything to go wrong however Asimov has come up with numerous scenarios which prove even the most watertight of laws are not foolproof and soon things are going wrong with the robots as they struggle to come to practical terms with the laws they are programmed to obey. Usually the unfortunate Donovan and Powell are on the receiving end as robots disobey the rules or just go insane because of conflicting information.

The best, and most profound, story of all of the collection in my opinion is 'Robbie' a powerful and emotional story which reminded me in some ways of the childrens book 'The Snowman' by Raymond Briggs.

All in all a fantastic book I intend to re-read in the future.
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10 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A timeless classic with profound insights for our times, 13 Sept. 2003
By 
Mr David Clements (London United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
This review is from: I, Robot (Paperback)
In this collection of short stories written in the 1940s, Asimov explores the human condition and our changing understanding of it, vis-a-vis the robot. Each is linked by the reminisces of Susan Calvin, robo-psychologist with US Robot and Mechanical Men, Inc.
'Robbie' is the playmate that causes a mother to worry about her child's isolation from her peers. 'Dave', the asteroid mining multi-robot, is troubled by his personal initiative circuit. 'Speedy' is the risk-averse robot collecting selenium on Mercury. 'Nestor 10' is uniquely tweaked with only a qualified recognition of the First Law of robotics, that he may not injure a human being. The other robots would instinctively rush in to protect humans exposed to gamma rays, however improbable the potential harm. 'The Brain' is only able to create a hyper jump craft because Calvin suppresses the law protecting humanity from its supposed folly.
'Cutie' thinks himself a prophet, so unconvinced is he by the notion of his subservience to humankind.
The embrace of risk as a feature of progress is uppermost in what Asimov is doing with these tales. Or perhaps that's what speaks to the modern reader. The 'logic' thing, referred to by other reviewers, is perhaps one for the sci-fi obsessive. For me, 'I, Robot' is a critique of the social pessimism and all pervading anxiety that holds back potentially beneficial advances. A timeless classic, nevertheless with profound insights for our times.
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5.0 out of 5 stars I writer, you reader, 13 Sept. 2013
I Robot is the book that first introduced the world to the Three Laws of Robotics, which are: 1. A robot may not... yadda yadda yadda. 2. A robot must obey... etcetera, etcetera, etcetera. 3. A robot must protect... yeah, we get it already! Read 'em in the other reviews if you really need reminding.

Three better-known laws (in SF circles) one can hardly imagine. But it should be simpler, shouldn't it? They are servants, right? "Hey Robot, butter my toast!" How hard can it be? If you should order your robot to kill somebody, it's your fault, not the robot's. Much like if you order your car to run somebody down, your gun to shoot someone, or your chainsaw to chop somebody in half.

But no. Because of the Three Laws, I Robot is not a collection of stories of detectives forensically trying to find out who ordered the robot to kill (which is what the movie was). Instead it is a collection of stories in which robot mechanics try to logically work out why robots are doing seemingly illogical things given that they are governed by three logical protective laws. Like running in circles around a pool of selenium. Or telling Dr Calvin that the hunky guy down the hall secretly loves her when he doesn't. Or playing hide and seek.

The Three Laws will of course never really work in practice. We need our robots to be able and willing to kill us. What would most video games be if the 'bots couldn't shoot back at us? Boring.

Okay, I'd better say something about the stories. They're great. They're well-written in a straightforward kind of way, which is what is needed when the story is otherwise tying you into logical knots. In no case did I actually guess the solutions in advance. But I am easily confused.

And the characters. The mechanics Powell and Donovan, who turn up in all the stories, are really just tools of the author. Dr Susan Calvin, however, is a real literary character. She is larger than life, unlikeable, irritating, loveless, and a genius. She's fantastic. She's one of those characters other writers like to use. I wonder if she herself was based on another character, who was in turn based on another, and so on. Her actual inspiration might have been my great great grandmother who, I understand, was a bit of a cow.

The robots themselves deserve special mention. They are characters too, and often much more interesting than the other human characters. Which serves to confirm Dr Calvin's belief that robots are better than people, and to make one wonder if Isaac Asimov was a robot himself.

Reviewed by the author of Copout.
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5.0 out of 5 stars I, Robot, 3 Aug. 2008
By 
D Brookes (Sheffield, UK) - See all my reviews
This review is from: I, Robot (Paperback)
One of the most important and influential sci-fi books ever, and a prime example of Asimov's best work. You might have seen the film, which draws upon the primary theme of robotic "awakening" and some of the story aspects - but forget about it, and read the book anyway. As a collection of short stories with strong thematic links connecting all of them, the book works wonderfully as a collection and as a fragmented novel.

The three primary recurring characters - Susan Calvin, a "robopsychologist", and two field-testers of new robotic models going by the names Donovan and Powell - create a wonderful frame for the collection, and their career growth and personal development over the years is one of the most enjoyable aspects of the book.

The stories themselves provide an engaging series of surprises and shocks in the best Asimov tradition, probably closer to his books "The Caves of Steel" and "The Naked Sun" than his famed "Foundation" series. They are also supremely chilling, the cumulative precursors to full blown terror building up as the novel continues. The history of robotics begins and ends here, and also includes Asimov's first mention of the "Three Laws of Robotics", which form the keystone of the book. A lot of the stories centre around either the bickering duo Donovan and Powell figuring out why a particular machine is malfunction, or Susan Calvin doing the same. Usually it is through a twist or loophole in the Laws - which provides the biggest chill, knowing that "infallible" machines, fully integrated into human society, might slowly begin to make their own changes as their distorted logic sees fit...

I cannot recommend this book highly enough; an absolute must for any fan of classic or contemporary sci-fi, and 100% necessary for any writer, established or otherwise.
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I, Robot
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