30 July, 2010

Book Review: I, Robot

Title: I, Robot
Author: Isaac Asimov
Publisher: Bantam Books
Genre: Science Fiction
Page Count: 224
Rating: 5 out of 5
Cover Rating: 4 out of 5. I like the red and black, and the robot is good. The background is okay, although I wish that the actual title of the book was bigger than the author's name. I don't really like it when they do that.

Back cover:

They mustn't harm a human being, they must obey human orders, and they must protect their own existence . . . but only if doing so doesn't violate rules one and two. With these Three Laws of Robotics, humanity embarks on perhaps its greatest adventure: the invention of the first positronic man.

Isaac Asimov's I, Robot launches readers on an adventure into a not-so-distant future where man and machine struggle to redefine life, love, and consciousness itself. For the scientists who invented the earliest robots weren't content that their creations should remain programmed helpers, companions, and semisentient workermachines. And soon the robots themselves, aware of their own intelligence, power, and humanity, aren't satisfied either. Now human men and women find themselves confronting telepathic robots, robot politicians, robots gone mad, and vast robotic intelligences that may already secretly control the world in the next great evolutionary struggle for survival. And both man and robot are asking the same questions: what is human? And is humanity obsolete?

My expectations: were high. And they were met. :)

This book is based on the fact robots run on the Three Laws of Robotics, as said above. They are:

1. A robot must 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 Laws.

   Digest that. All of the chapters/stories are based on those laws, and it can result in many strange scenarios you really wouldn't think possible. This book gets abstract at times--when explanations come in about figuring out the equilibrium between the first, second, and third laws, outsmarting the smartest objects on Earth and beyond, and arguing with a robot about spirituality of all things, sometimes I had to more slowly than I usually do through a book. But it was really, really interesting, and the cast of characters was varied, which I liked.

   There's Dr. Susan Calvin, robopsychologist. She's a little cold, a little strange, very smart, and I like her no-nonsense attitude. I got a little irked when she started acting funny around Milton Ashe, but that smoothed itself out.

   Byerly was one of my favorites. He/it is smart, calm, and reasonable. I thought the cripple was a mystery (I like mysteries) which never really got explained, but I don't particularly mind that being left a loose end. I'm not sure--no one's sure, really--whether the summary on the book gives something away, but it might. Or it might not.

   Mike Donovan and Gregory Powell . . . well, I can't help but find their predicaments funny. They get stuck with the worst of luck. They get stuck on a ship, they get stuck being in charge of robots who march like soldiers, Powell is forced to risk his life, they are continually put into precarious situations.

   All in all, this is a well-written piece of science fiction with diverse settings, a really good plot, interesting ideas, and I like the dialogue. (I love good conversations.) It's actually given me some inspiration for my own book, and I love it when my reading gives me ideas. :)

Other: no bad language in this book. I think they might have used the d-word once or twice, but I can't remember anything specific . . . They do use phrases describing the character's speech like "colorful" and "derogatory" but that's it. Nothing terrible.

I read a take on this story called I, Rowboat, (short story) who I can't remember the author of. But now I can understand just what they were talking about more clearly.

Do I recommend this book? Absolutely! I'd say I'd send Speedy after you if you don't, but that would violate the First Law, wouldn't it? ;)

-----The Golden Eagle


Elliot Grace said...

...good grief, apparently I've been living under a rock. Never realized Will Smith's movie was based on one of Isaac's novels. I'll have to give it a read. Thanks.

The Golden Eagle said...

Anytime. :)

RA said...

One of the best books I have read. And the best part is, it read again and again, it never gets old. ;)

The Golden Eagle said...

Well, I've only read it once so far, but I plan to do it again. :D

The Words Crafter said...

I've never read one of his books. This sounds like a winner so I'm going to check it out. Thanks for the review!

The Golden Eagle said...

It's a winner all right!