I, Robot (The Robot Series)

by Isaac Asimov

Paperback, 1991

Status

Available

Local notes

PB Asi

Barcode

721

Publication

Spectra (1991), Edition: Media Tie In, 304 pages

Description

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 orders given to 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. With these three, simple directives, Isaac Asimov changed our perception of robots forever when he formulated the laws governing their behavior. In I, Robot, Asimov chronicles the development of the robot through a series of interlinked stories: from its primitive origins in the present to its ultimate perfection in the not-so-distant future--a future in which humanity itself may be rendered obsolete. Here are stories of robots gone mad, of mind-read robots, and robots with a sense of humor. Of robot politicians, and robots who secretly run the world--all told with the dramatic blend of science fact and science fiction that has become Asmiov's trademark.… (more)

Language

Original language

English

Original publication date

1950-12-02 (Collection)
1944 (Catch that Rabbit)
1945 (Escape!)
1946 (Evidence)
1950 (The Evitable Conflict)
1941 (Liar)
1947 (Little Lost Robot)
1940 (Robbie)
1942 (Runaround)
1941 (Reason)

Physical description

304 p.; 4.15 inches

Media reviews

my own view
‘I, Robot’ Is a science fiction history book written by famous author Isaac Asimov, which contains a collection of interconnected stories.It has nine stories except the first story, other stories are interconnected, and these stories explore the relationship between humans and robots in a
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future society.They story starts with author is encouraging Doctor Susan Calvin, a robopsychologist who works at US Robots and Mechanical Men Corporation, who’s retirement day is that day, to tell stories of robots she encountered in her life.The first story was ‘Robbie’, where a young girl is being too much attached to her nursemaid robot Robbie.But to make her social human being, her parents removed the robot from her.This story goes on where Gloria was saved by Robbie.The next story is ‘Run around’,which is about a robot is facing contradiction of his three law and showing unexpected behaviour. The next story is about a robot Cutie who is not recognizing as human his master.Another story, Liar, Where a robot Harbie can read uman thoughts.But as his power grows stronger, it begans manipulating humans. So the whole book is a manifestation of human robot relationships, a society where we are being threatened by unexpected behavioural changes of robots and pushes readers to think of a world where humans are coexisting with Robots.
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User reviews

LibraryThing member baswood
[I Robot], Isaac Asimov
Asimov’s Three Laws of Robotics are as well known to many people as the opening lines to William Blake’s poem The Tyger: they have become part of our popular culture and so just as people who claim not to like poetry (and you know who you are) can trot out the first line
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to Tyger then those who don’t read science fiction (and you also know who you are) are familiar with Asimov’s Robotic Laws.

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.


The three laws appear as a frontispiece to Asimov’s [I, Robot] published in 1950, which consists of nine short stories written between 1940 and 1950 which were linked by a framing device for the books publication. Actually the stories fit together quite well and describe the history of Robotics as envisioned by the young author from 1950. The first story Robbie; features a nursemaid robot whose duties consist of looking after a child and he is one of the first prototypes; the last story takes place 56 years later when Robots are in control/running the earth for their masters, but are still functioning in accordance with the Three Laws.

Apart from the first story most of the others are themed around a challenge to the robotic laws, both by the robots and by the company and governments that make them. Robots used in mining operations on other planets are found to be more of a hindrance than a help: continually preventing their human colleagues from taking necessary risks. Robots used to design a new space ship make calculations that are beyond human understanding. Their “positronic" manufactured brains which allow them to reason and think are imprinted with the the three laws; but what happens when the imprinted laws are adjusted or when their own thoughts override their usefulness? Asimov does not get overly philosophical but in relating the issues back to his robotic laws he gives the stories a sense of cohesion and even of history.

The framing device is Susan Calvin who at the end of the book is the worlds foremost expert on robot psychology. She is being interviewed by a young journalist writing a feature on U. S. Robot and Mechanical Men Inc. the company that became the world leader in its field and is celebrating its seventy fifth year. It is Susan’s stories that are recorded and although related in the third person many of them feature her point of view. Her character develops as the stories unfold and Asimov does a reasonable job here, however the male characters are pretty much stock characters with the robots outshining them in personality and thoughtfulness.

Asimovs own predictions of future technology are wildly optimistic (as were many science fiction writers at that time). Robbie the first robot in the book is fully operational in 1996 and by 2050 man has developed space ships with warp drive and has colonised the stars. He is more accurate in predicting the rise of large industrial corporations that hold real power and who strive to break free of governments or work in partnership in the pursuit of profit. This isn’t great literature, but it is a landmark in science fiction and Asimov writes well enough to spin his thought provoking stories and to provide them with a framework that serves its purpose beautifully.

I have served my debt to popular culture; I have listened to Queen’s Bohemian Rhapsody, I have sat through The Sound of Music and I have even read The DaVinci Code and so I would urge you to do likewise and read I, Robot. (have to confess to quite liking The Sound of Music, and Bohemian Rhapsody isn’t too bad, but Dan Brown …ugh). In my opinion it is up their with the best in its field and so it is a five star read.
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LibraryThing member StormRaven
This collection of short stories by Asimov introduces and explores his initial Three Laws of Robotics (later, in the foundation-robot crossover books, some nuances and new laws were adopted, but they just don't seem to be as well thought out as the first three laws). The stories are set within a
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framing story involving an interview with an aged robotics expert named Susan Calvin (who appears in some of the stories) and build a coherent picture of how robots and man interact.

The stories build upon one another, the first several introducing the Three Laws, and exploring what their implications are. The later stories deal mostly with situations resulting from the interaction between the Three Laws, or problems caused by rigid adherence to them, or, most frightening, what happens if a robot doesn't have the Three Laws programmed into him. Most of the stories take the form of puzzles: a robot does something odd or unexpected, or fails to do something that it is supposed to, and the human characters in the story have to figure out why. Most of the puzzles are, in true Asimov form, well constructed and the solutions arrived at quite logical.

Forget about the misnamed Will Smith movie - this book is entirely unlike the movie, and much better than it could have ever hoped to be.
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LibraryThing member mckenz18
In the interest of avoiding redundancy I will not enumerate the three laws of robotics. What I would like to note, however, is the seeming simplicity of these laws. It seems a difficult task to create a rich, believable, and interesting world from such basic premises, but Asimov manages to do this
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with ease. I could easily see this as a viable (and not necessarily even distant) future for mankind, with a few tweaks here and there. Not only was this book rich, believable, and interesting, but more than anything, it was ironically HUMAN for a book with a focus on robots. This mainly comes in through the character of Susan Calvin and her compassion and identification with the robots she works on. The capacity for emotion in robots is also explored with interesting repercussions.

Given the numerous narratives and storylines involved, a brief plot summary is not entirely feasible. In general, the book as a whole could probably best be described as a foundation upon which Asimov might build with his later novels in the robot series. It gives the reader a groundwork understanding of Asimov’s universe. The book takes the form of disjointed short stories exploring the myriad manipulations the three laws might undergo, but the stories are united in the person of Susan Calvin. Calvin was a major figure in the development of robotics and has reached retirement. She is being interviewed, and at the prompting of the reporter, she digresses into telling these stories, each of which had special meaning for her both in her professional career and in her personal interest and investment in robotics. The stories I especially enjoyed were “Reason” and “Little Lost Robot”, although all were good on the whole.
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LibraryThing member tloeffler
I'm not generally a science fiction reader, but I grabbed this from a stack to have a small book to keep in my purse. I was pleasantly surprised to find that I really enjoyed it. I did NOT see the movie, incidentally.
This was, in a nutshell, a collection of stories cataloging the progression over
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the years of the types of robots created, tied together via an interview with robopsychologist Susan Calvin. Considering that Asimov wrote most of the stories in the 1940s, I found his characterizations of the moral and psychological dilemmas strangely prophetic. It certainly gave me a lot to think about...
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LibraryThing member LisaMaria_C
This is a collection of 9 short stories published in 1950 framed and linked by an interview with Dr Susan Calvin, robot psychiatrist for US Robots and Mechanical Men. Dr. Calvin, a "frosty woman" is one of Asimov's strongest characters period, and one of the most memorable female characters in
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classic science fiction. I also think Asimov is often more effective in his short stories than novels, and robots are one of his signature themes. Despite that, I think other short stories and anthologies by Asimov are more impressive. Nevertheless, taken as a whole, the stories are great in their variations and development on the theme of Asimov's "Three Laws of Robotics" wired into every robot's "positronic brain."

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 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.

In that regard, most of these stories examine a permutation of these "laws" and are interesting puzzles, though they lack emotional punch. The one that comes closest in that regard, I think, is "Liar!" and that is the story I remembered best.

I've never seen the film with Will Smith. Reading the plot summary of it, I can see common elements, but if you're expecting this to follow the film you're going to be surprised--among other things, this isn't really a unified story, and Smith's character, Del Spooner, doesn't exist in the book.
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LibraryThing member Stevil2001
I've read this book many many times since I was a young child, and it still remains a favorite. Powell and Donovan are still a great double-act, the logic puzzles are second to none, and then there's Susan Calvin. What a masterful character, so complex: the ending of "Liar!" is still one of the
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most chilling things I've ever read. I find the ending of the book absolutely fascinating, and so unusual: the robots have taken over, no one knows, and that's a good thing. It's so unusual, that the book's own film adaptation undoes it in a heartbeat. It's a weirdly unfocused novel, but I think a lot of things about it make sense if you think of robotics itself as the protagonist and not any of the human characters. By the end, robotics has overcome all obstacles and achieved its biggest desire; with that thought in mind, the novel can't end any other way.
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LibraryThing member andreablythe
I, Robot is the classic science fiction novel that sets down 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 to it by human beings, except where such orders would conflict with the
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First Law. 3. A robot must protect its own existence as long as such protection does not conflict with the First or Second Laws."

The novel is an episodic historical account, as told by robopsyschologist Dr. Susan Calvin, of the development of robotics and how it affected the development of the human world. Each chapter is story told by Calvin about robots interacting with humans, most of which have a problem with robots, which is either caused by some conflict within the three laws or solved by enacting one of the laws. As such, while each story was interesting on its own, there was a bit of redundancy in structure that began to get old after a while. My favorite stories was the first in which a young girl loves her robot playmate and the final two in which the Stephen Byerley character appears.

I was less attached to the humans in this book, who came off as rather one dimensional and cold. Rather it was the robots I liked and cared about, many of whom showed more emotional depth than the people. This also creates an interesting quandary for me. While the people in the book insist the robots are just machines and therefore believe it's okay to treat them as slaves, I can't help but feel that the moral compass is more confused due to the fact that robots feel. If a robot is sentient and has emotions, then it could be considered alive even though it's been constructed, in which case it could demand rights. There is certainly an interesting discussion point there, which I'm sure someone has brought up before (I may have to do a search for essays on the topic).

On top of that, there's the fact that the book is a bit old fashioned in terms of how it depicts women. Sure, Dr. Calvin is a genius and considered at the top of her game throughout the book, but Asimov also felt the need to write a story proving she's a woman because she falls for a man, dresses womanly, and acts vindictive. I'm not against love stories or women falling in love or whatever, but this one annoyed me because her actions seem out of character.

At any rate, despite some flaws, this is an entertaining set of robot stories and definitely worth a read.
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LibraryThing member aethercowboy
Featuring a collection of short stories set in his Robot/Empire/Foundation universe, Asimov brings us into close contact with the Three Laws of Robotics, as well as all the different loopholes therein.

From robots who seem to lack the Three Rules to robots who have enveloped them with a pseudo
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religion, we experience the full spectrum of what it is to be a robot.

Wonderful read for fans of Asimov as well as those fascinated by tales of robots.
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LibraryThing member smg626
I met Isaac Asimov while a college student and have forever been impressed with his science fact in science fiction. This book is not at all like the movie, but more detailed with the consequences of Robotics on the entire planet, Earth and beyond. There is much dialogue to get through and is a
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long story. It is not so easy to follow unless this subject matter is of interest. I believe technical young (and older) men would enjoy this book more than the average female.
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LibraryThing member john257hopper
This was Isaac Asimov's first collection of robot short stories, first published in magazines during the 1940s and collected into book form in the early 1950s. The stories are linked together through a narrative involving a young journalist interviewing Doctor Susan Calvin, a key figure in the
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history of early robotics in Asimov's fictional universe. The stories all concern aspects of the Three Laws of Robotics, and the problems they throw up and the issues humans have to face in solving them. This description probably makes them sound a bit dry, but they're good little stories for the most part in the ideas they throw up and the logical paradoxes that form their bases, though some of the characters, especially Powell and Donovan, who feature in many of them, come across as rather ludicrous and stereotyped from a modern viewpoint. This is a classic collection of stories in the genre, from the era often called the Golden Era of science fiction, when the magazines containing such stories as these prevailed over full length novels.
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LibraryThing member mohi
A compilation of the earlier Robot short stories, a format that Asimov is quite strong in. 'The Complete Robot' is a better and more complete compilation, but 'I, Robot' retains what are probably his best.
LibraryThing member steadfastreader
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
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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.
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LibraryThing member laxon
I hate it when they put a movie cover on a book, especially when the movie and book have very little in common. Asimov's book was written in the 1950s, the beginning of the cold war. The technology boom is just beginning.

Predicting the future is an impossible thing, and reading about visi-phones,
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robots and a world-wide government seems more quaint than futuristic. But Asimov's stories (many of the chapters were originally short stories published in pulp sci-fi magazines)stitch together an unfolding evolution of an artificial intelligence which continually surprises, and sometimes surpasses, the humans which created them.

Asimov's "I, Robot" sets the standard for future robot stories, and introduces the enduring three laws of robotics. Its holds a mirror up to human culture, politics and religion, reflected by the positronic brains of the robots.

Definitely a classic.
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LibraryThing member jjmcgaffey
Mmmm - I remember why I don't read this much. A lot of them are quite depressing - and the fact that the viewpoint character for the frame is so unappealing doesn't help. The first one is utterly depressing. Later ones - aside from Susan's 'romance', which is just embarrassing - have some amusing
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bits - the one about the Brain and the ship has a lovely payoff. Cutie's pretty annoying too. The one about the candidate is...interesting...but if they're right, the next one is more than a little odd (shouldn't he understand the Brains better than that?). Very rich stories, creating a powerful world, but not very nice to read. Every once in a while, just to remind myself. And of course now I want to read Caves of Steel...
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LibraryThing member mugwumpman
A selection of brilliant short stories, set in the future in a golden age of mankind, where robots are put to work for humanity. Theoretically they can't go wrong, but somehow they always do, and these stories are short logical puzzles as such that are very clever in a deep way. A book to make you
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think and is both an encouragement for the future and a word of caution. (Completely different to the film, but that's good)
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LibraryThing member Cecrow
While I find Robot Dreams to be a superior Asimov collection, this set of short stories was still quite good. Too bad the movie went its own route, but that's Hollywood.
LibraryThing member jasongibbs
Forget about the idiotic movie by the same name. This book should be read because it's clever and fun to read. A great Sci-fi book.
LibraryThing member ranger1
A good collection of short stories. Very enjoyable.

If you expecting to be like the movie of the same name, you will be very surprised.
LibraryThing member mnd88
The history of robotics and its relation to humanity is traced through the memories/stories of a woman working at US Robotics. Though I haven't seen the movie, I cannot find much of a similarity between the book and the film (based on the IMDb plot synopsis). I didn't love this book, but I did like
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it enough to finish it in 2 days. Because the book is comprised of many stories with overlapping characters, it is easy to read in chunks.
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LibraryThing member lindentree
This is one of my favorite works by Isaac Asimov. I absolutely love these stories -- each one is so inventive, and they stay with you for so long after you read them. I think it's really easy to write an unsatisfying "short story" -- so often the ones I read aren't stories at all. These are,
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though. They're all so well-polished.
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LibraryThing member carmelitasita29
I watched the movie before I read the book and was pleased to see how different they both were. The book is amazing! I appreciated how they dealt with the dilemmas faced by a robot manufacturing company who had to solve problems related to the code imprinted in every robot. Asimov is an extrememly
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talented and imaginative author.
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LibraryThing member ctorstens
The movie really didn't have a thing to do with this book; a very good book
LibraryThing member cranbrook
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
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world, all told with Asimov's trademark dramatic blend of science fact and science fiction.
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LibraryThing member cranbrook
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
Show More
world, all told with Asimov's trademark dramatic blend of science fact and science fiction.
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LibraryThing member Crowyhead
A fantastic collection of stories from a true master of SF.

Pages

304

Rating

½ (4045 ratings; 4)
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