Maria's Reviews > I, Robot

I, Robot by Isaac Asimov
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did not like it

20140215 ◊ I was profoundly disappointed by this book. It was recommended to me by many SF fans, after I mentioned that I couldn't make it through Philip K. Dick's early work (The Philip K. Dick Reader.)

Instead of revolutionary, or even anachronistically charming, I found this book to be a disjointed collection of histrionic, cruel, and even racist sentiments. The robots in these stories, built to perform slave labor, are referred to as "boy"; humans are called "master". This wouldn't be so disturbing if the robots weren't also imbued with random emotions: they cringe in embarrassment, scoff in superiority, and become anxious, excitable, and depressed. I couldn't stop wondering if these stories, written at the cusp of the Civil Rights Movement, express the anxiety of white dominant hegemony losing control over the black/former slave population in the United States.

The human protagonists in these stories are all hyperbolic caricatures. Every single one of them is histrionic and short tempered; they yell, throw insults, and call each other names at the drop of a hat. They pull their own hair, sweat, pace and throw things at each other. The only main female character is described as an ice-cold, bitter, inflexible woman.

As far as I'm concerned, I, Robot is a series of stories in which Asimov sets up convoluted, seemingly unsolvable puzzles regarding robot behavior, then has either his field operatives or "robopsychologist" swoop in and save the day in a blaze of melodramatic, gloating glory. Facile, uninspired, and unendingly tiresome.

I really wanted to like this book. Especially in light of how highly it was recommended to me, I really, really did. I'm going to give Foundation a try, because I'd honestly like to be able to appreciate something about "the father of science fiction."

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Reading Progress

August 7, 2013 – Started Reading
August 7, 2013 – Shelved
February 15, 2014 – Finished Reading

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