James's Reviews > I, Robot

I, Robot by Isaac Asimov
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Dec 08, 2007

it was amazing
bookshelves: 1001-books-you-must-read, science-fiction
Read in December, 2007

The laws known as the Three Laws of Robotics are as follows:

LAW1 A robot may not injure a human being, or, through inaction, allow a human being to come to harm.

LAW2 A robot must obey the orders given it by human beings except where such orders would conflict with the first law.

LAW3 A robot must protect its own existence as long as such protection does not conflict with the first or second law.

This is in itself the plot of the short stories that make up this collection. There are in all nine stories in the book I, Robot which are laced together by the narration of Susan Calvin (a robopsychologist) and an unnamed reporter.

All of the stories tell how robots react to situations that interfere with the three laws, sometimes with hilarious results.

Even though I have seen that people judge books mainly by how well they are written, I do not, the plot and the message are much more important than how the messenger is dressed.

The characters are very good and a person can bond with them easily and empathise with the situations they go through. There is some very good interplay between two in particular that I found most enjoyable.

The most powerful stories, I would say, are "Liar" and "Little Lost Robot". "Liar" brings up the fabulous idea of a robot that reads minds and how would that robot be able to talk to people about what others think without interfering with the Three Laws? "Little Lost Robot" tells of a robot that was told "To go loose yourself" and does so to the best of his ability. How does a person find a robot that has been ordered to loose itself and how does the robot keep itself lost?

The morals here are morals that we all should have. A person has to wonder if Asimov, when thinking of the laws, was in fact dreaming about how humans should treat each other.
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