Kerry's Reviews > I, Robot

I, Robot by Isaac Asimov
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did not like it
bookshelves: audiobook, fromthelibrary, scifi

I listened to this book because I feel like I needed to read some Asimov. It was AWFUL. I HATED it. I understand that sometimes one has to be forgiving with science fiction written years ago, but come ON. Everything just pissed me off. Especially the gender roles. It was . . . ridiculous. I'd forgive it in a book that was written in the '50s that was supposed to take place in the '50s, but this guy couldn't imagine that maybe, just maybe, fifty years in the future, if we had invented robits that could talk and walk and mine asteroids and whatnot, there might be some women who are both intelligent, AND capable of a successful romantic relationship? That the man might not be the de facto head of every household? Jeezy creezy.

And the application of the "three rules of robotics" was fucking stupid also. It was like each story was a little exercise in logic, so we could figure out which harebrained application of the three laws was leading to this particular robot's apparently aberrant behavior.

Oh man just thinking about this book is making me angry all over again. I honestly don't see how this book can still be considered a classic of science fiction. It may have been important in its time, but it is utterly useless now. It shows us nothing about the nature of humanity, which is what good scifi is supposed to do. All the men in Asimov's future are hotheaded jackasses, and all the women -- oh excuse me I mean all BOTH of them -- are shrews.

I want to read more Asimov just to give him a chance -- he is an important author after all -- but I also don't feel like getting all pissed off again. So we'll see.
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Reading Progress

Started Reading
April 1, 2007 – Finished Reading
September 6, 2007 – Shelved
September 6, 2007 – Shelved as: audiobook
September 6, 2007 – Shelved as: fromthelibrary
September 6, 2007 – Shelved as: scifi

Comments Showing 1-2 of 2 (2 new)

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Frank I'm going to break down your review just to make this easier for myself to tackle...

"'d forgive it in a book that was written in the '50s that was supposed to take place in the '50s, but this guy couldn't imagine that maybe, just maybe, fifty years in the future"

Do you think the Germans, fifty years before Hitler, could have seen that coming? Let's just consider that Asimov was not a feminist and that the feminist movement wasn't doing anything yet, at time of publication. There is no logical reason for you to believe that he should have seen equality coming...

"there might be some women who are both intelligent, AND capable of a successful romantic relationship?"

Susan Calvin is very intelligent, but what does it matter if she can't hold down a relationship? That's part of her character. There are women in the real world who are very much the same, tied down by work all the time and can't keep a boyfriend, do you criticize them? If Susan could have a relationship she'd be a drastically different character.

" It was like each story was a little exercise in logic, so we could figure out which harebrained application of the three laws was leading to this particular robot's apparently aberrant behavior. "

I don't see what is wrong with this... How is this a bad thing? Explain... Is it because you actually had to use your head to figure it out?

"It shows us nothing about the nature of humanity"

Doesn't it though? Robots are banned from Earth due to people's irrational fears, despite the existence of the three laws. Robots begin to emulate human characteristics, such as forming a religion, questioning existence, and forming relationships (i.e. Robbie). Furthermore, there is the case of Stephen Byerly. If you actually got to his story. Is he a man? Is he a robot? Does it matter? What does it mean to be human, what constitutes a human? If you can answer any of those questions competently then you must clearly know what you're talking about.

"All the men in Asimov's future are hotheaded jackasses"

Are they? I didn't think so. Donovan and Powell are two of my favorite characters now, they're meant to be a sort of Abbot and Costello act. Also, Powell was pretty smart about a lot of things, I don't see how the term jackass could be applied to him. Please clarify.

"I want to read more Asimov just to give him a chance"

You really should, except instead of just running your eyes over the page stop and think about it. Asimov shouldn't have to jump straight out and ask you "WHAT IS A MAN" straight in the text, you should be able to find that question yourself, answering it is a whole different struggle.


Traveller Bravo Kerry, for daring to go against the masses and giving this only one star. At least you're independent and not easily influenced. The book does show a characteristic early 20th century mysogyny indeed, but that is not the biggest factor that makes it poor fiction.

Even worse is the clumsy style and dialogue, the unrealistic characterizations, but worst of all, really worst of all is that there is zero true science in it.

Catch-words (which are totally made up, actually) like "positronic brain" are used to try and make it sound more science-fictiony, but in actual fact, it is simply complete fantasy.

There is no such thing as a positronic brain or robots having emotions or completely on their ownsome developing a will to dominate, or robots having or inferiority or superiority complexes. Believing that, is projecting human characteristics onto inanimate objects. That is the kind of superstition that is akin to animism and totemism. Battlestar Galactica is one of my fave shows, but at least I know it is only fantasy, and the show never tried to palm itself off as hard SF.

I'm grateful to have found your review, Kerry, because I'm starting to become obsessed with trying to figure out why this specific book is so popular. I agree with your sentiments about it, although the feminist aspects are those that bother me less than a whole lot of other issues I have with it.

I expect to have similar resistance when I post my review (which will be soon), but so be it.


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