Book review: I, Robot by Isaac Asimov


The classic collection of robot stories from the master of the genre. One of the Voyager Classics collection, now I, Robot is a major Fox movie starring Will Smith. In these stories Isaac Asimov creates the Three Laws of Robotics and ushers in the Robot Age. When Earth is ruled by master-machines, when robots often seem more human than mankind, the Three Laws ensure that humans remain superior and the robots are kept in their rightful place. But an insane telepathic robot results from a production error; a robot assembled in space logically deduces its superiority to non-rational humanity; and when machines serve mankind rather than individual humans, the machine’s idea of what is good for society may itself contravene the sacred Three Laws… Amazing and timeless robot stories from the greatest science fiction writer of all time.

My rating:

If you want to read about a Robot named Cutie or a drunken Robot or a ballet dancing Robot- Asimov is your man. He has a knack for writing Robots in such an endearing way that sometimes you wish you had a puppy-robot. But of course things are much more complicated, I am just exaggerating.

“It is the obvious which is so difficult to see most of the time. People say ‘It’s as plain as the nose on your face.’ But how much of the nose on your face can you see, unless someone holds a mirror up to you?”

Isaac Asimov is a genius who introduced the world to 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.

I wanted to read Azimov’s books since the time I saw the movie I, Robot with Will Smith in the leading role. I loved the movie, though I am sure the Hollywood simplified a lot to make it into the blockbuster type. But still the topic of Robots vs Humans is very relevant today when we live in the age of technological advance (though I am the sceptic who shouts that we are aeons away from creating AI (artificial intelligence). You can ask me why and I’d give you a list of valid reasons, but this review is not the place nor the time for it!):

“You can prove anything you want by coldly logical reason—if you pick the proper postulates.”

Coming back to Asimov and his creation, I can’t understand why I’ve been waiting for so long to read his book?! I, Robot is an entry collection of short stories introducing us to the world of Robots, told in a chronological sequence. Apart from the history of inducing robots into the lives of people I, Robot is spiced with a dose of healthy intelligent humour. There’s this peculiar lightness to Asimov’s style that endears readers to his stories, submerging them into the world and directing to the main question: should we treat Robots as Humans? It is a very philosophical question, and Asimov is relentless in torturing us with different opinions, withholding us from pointing in the direction of only one answer. Philosophy in its finest!

But I, Robot is also a complicated scientific tome, where I often got confused with unknown phrases and expressions. I can fully admit I am not educated enough in mechanics or physics to understand all of the things the characters were discussing in the book. So it took a little bit from my enjoyment, but nevertheless, I am eager to get acquainted with more of Asimov’s books in the future.

Classic sci-fi in its finest!

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