Top positive review
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Interesting, if flawed, compilation of popular robots
on 4 February 2005
I am trying to determine which audience this title is intended for. It seems too esoteric for someone with merely a casual interest in robots, yet far too superficial for the serious robot enthusiast. I cannot imagine there being very many people in the intermediary group, so I suppose the book will have a fairly limited audience.
Yet DK must be given credit for publishing it in the first place. It is not often one sees books delving into this particular subject matter.
How well does it do it, then?
The book is divided into a number of chapters dealing with a variety of robot types - toys, artistic representations, movie/TV robots, robot pets, robot kits, etc. The category boundaries, as well as the selection in each, seem at times somewhat haphazard.
In each category is represented a number of "main" entries, giving a fairly comprehensive amount of information on each entry, and "gallery" entries, merely showing what else is out there in that particular category.
Any assessment of the content must reasonably take into account two factors: First, how comprehensive and/or representative the selection of entries is, and second, how relevant and/or accurate the information given in the entries is.
For the first part, the book does cover most of the basics, although there are a number of glaring omissions. I would have to say that the selection is fairly comprehensive, but fails on the representativeness criterion.
As for the second part, I must say I am fairly disappointed. Most entries have some minor factual error, and some have grave, major errors. As for the relevance of the technical information presented, it is for the most part too limited to be truly useful.
In the end, the book still gets four stars from me, partly because of the beautiful, picture-laden physical presentation, and partly because it represents a stellar starting effort. Whereas the information contained within the binders has serious gaps, omissions, misrepresentations, and outright errors, it is still a handy - as well as beautiful - compilation of robots in popular culture. But that is where I see its main value: as a compilation for those who already know enough of the subject not to depend on the information given for its veracity. As a source of information, it is seriously flawed.
If Robert Malone gets around to writing a second, revised edition ... the work might live up to its potential.