As humans and robots struggle to survive together, and sometimes against each other, on earth and in space, the future of both hangs in the balance. Here human men and women confront robots gone mad, telepathic robots, robot politicians, and vast robotic intelligences that may already secretly control the world. And both are asking the same questions: What is human? And is humanity obsolete?
©1950, 1977 Isaac Asimov; (P)2004 Random House, Inc. Random House Audio, a division of Random House, Inc.
I listened to this before I saw the movie. It's too bad that Will Smith is on the cover. Don't get it wrong, I love Will Smith and never miss any of his movies. He did a great job in the Movie. The problem is giving the movie the title of a great book and then turning the story up-side-down is an injustice.
I have to admit, until I heard a review of the movie on NPR I had never read any of Asimov's Fiction. Yes, he wrote GREAT Non-Fiction. Being a programmer I enjoyed the book. In fact I liked it so much I have listened to it three times and suspect there will be a fourth.
I recommend this book to anyone who likes technical detail with their SciFi Fiction. I am sure you will want to listen to it more than once. Oh, and I would rate this book G for Great for General Audiences.
Thank you so much for publishing this classic, I Robot! I have been waiting the five years of my membership for this to happen! This is the first book I read as a child in elementary school.At that age I naively wrote Asimov a letter offering him $7 for the plans for the robot character. The mench he was, Azimov wrote me back appologizing for the plans not being his to sell. I Robot is the foudation of all science fiction robot behavior published in written or film form. I reccommend this audio rendition highly.
I think the original cover would have been better suited, as the movie has very little in common with the book other than the title and some scant homage to the laws of robotics.
This is a classic example of 1950's science writing, though thankfully omitting the sensationalism pervasive in many of the SciFi short stories written in that time period. Considering that it was written when vacuum tubes had not been replaced by transistors, slide rules and paper were used to make calculations, and precision parts were turned out by human eye/hand coordination, the author's vision was still predictive in the ways that matter (although, unfortunately, we still haven't invented the positronic brain). It's amazing to me that the story, 57 years later, still has validity and raises issues that will continue to inspire musing about our future. Those who enjoyed this for what it is should also enjoy "Caves of Steel".
The book is a classic and if you haven't read it -- you won't be dissapointed with the picture of the future it paints.
The narration is excellent along with the audio quality.
The only minus -- it bears the image of Will Smith from the movie "I, Robot." The movie has 0.0% to do with the book, is the opposite of it in many ways with its hordes of killer robots. Dr. Asimov must be rolling in his grave.
That's right! I'm not saying you'll like it, just that if other writers have written more detailed stories, more exciting in your opinion... then I promise you one thing. Before they started WRITING, they READ Asimov. I love every word of this story, I read them first when I was a boy and they had an impact of how I saw the world. For the "bad" reviewers, I suggest you read a few hundred of the books that Asimov wrote and you'll have a better idea what this man was capable of. Great science fiction of course, great mysteries too, and yes! Great non-fiction, like the book that got me through Organic Chemistry. If you have not read Asimov, just pick one. Give it a whirl. I will bet you will glad that you did.
Thanks for taking the time to read this. Peace.
I'm the managing editor of the Fantasy Literature blog. Life's too short to read bad books!
Originally posted at FanLit.
“..all conflicts are finally evitable. Only the Machines, from now on, are inevitable”
Most science fiction fans know Isaac Asimov’s Three Laws of Robotics:
Robots must not hurt human beings or allow them to come to harm.
Robots must obey human beings so far as it doesn’t violate Law 1.
Robots must not harm themselves as long as this doesn’t violate Laws 1 and 2.
In I, Robot, Asimov presents nine stories within a frame story that explore the implications of these Three Laws of Robotics. The introduction presents the frame story, which introduces Dr. Susan Calvin, who has recently retired from a 50-year career as the world’s first robopsychologist. A reporter is attempting to interview the somewhat reclusive Dr. Calvin, who is reluctant to share her experiences. Through clever flattery, questions and prompts, he finally gets her talking, which gives Asimov a chance to reprint these nine stories which were originally published between 1940 and 1950 in the pulp magazines Astounding Science Fiction and Super Science Stories:
“Robbie” — (revised version of “Strange Playfellow,” Super Science Stories, 1940) A little girl named Gloria is given one of the world’s first robotic companions, but her mother worries about Gloria being raised by a machine, so she takes Robbie away. “Robbie” is Isaac Asimov’s first robot story. It’s sweet and simple, dealing with Law 1 in the most obvious way and portraying robots as tools made by man to help him with his work. Dr. Susan Calvin makes a cameo appearance in this story. She’s sitting in a museum studying the first talking robot when Gloria comes to ask the robot a question.
“Runaround” — (Astounding Science Fiction, 1942) Engineers Gregory Powell and Mike Donovan, a couple of Asimov’s recurring characters, have been sent to Mercury to work on a mining station. When they send Speedy the robot out to fetch some selenium, he doesn’t come back and they have to go looking for him. When they find Speedy, he seems confused and Powell and Donovan discover that there’s a delicate balance between the three Laws of Robotics. They must figure out how to use the laws to get the robot back on track. This is Asimov’s first story that specifically explains the Three Laws and shows that they are not as clear as they seem.
“Reason” — (Astounding Science Fiction, 1941) Powell and Donovan are working on a space station with a robot named QT1 (“Cutie”). When Cutie decides that humans do not exist and that he’s a prophet of The Master, the engineers, thinking that the Three Laws are in jeopardy, try to reason with him.
“Catch That Rabbit” — (Astounding Science Fiction, 1944) Powell and Donovan are overseeing a mining operation on an asteroid and are accompanied by Dave, a new kind of robot that is still under development. Dave is in an overseer position over six subservient (“finger”) robots. Powell and Donovan notice that when humans are not around, Dave and his “fingers” sometimes quit working and begin marching aimlessly. When the engineers try to figure out what’s wrong, they end up in a dangerous position and need to figure out how to get Dave and his team working correctly so the robots can save them.
“Liar!” — (Astounding Science Fiction, 1941) A robot named Herbie misapplies the First Law of Robotics (never hurt a human being) by telling people what he thinks they want to hear. However, Herbie’s lies end up embarrassing and hurting humans, including Dr. Susan Calvin. According to Wikipedia, which cites the Oxford English Dictionary, “Liar” contains the first published use of the word “robotics.”
“Little Lost Robot” — (Astounding Science Fiction, 1947) When a human tells the robot named Nestor to “get lost,” he does, by hiding himself in a room full of identical robots. This is a problem for Dr. Susan Calvin and the other scientists because Nestor is an experimental robot that (for a good reason) was produced with a slightly different version of the First Law. While it can’t harm humans, it is not compelled to step in to stop them from being hurt. Dr. Calvin realizes that this programming could logically lead to a situation in which a robot could actually harm someone. They must find Nestor.
“Escape!” — (originally “Paradoxical Escape” in Astounding Science Fiction, 1945) In this weird story, an artificial intelligence called “The Brain” becomes a practical joker, using humor to deal with its cognitive dissonance. Gregory Powell and Mike Donovan are the unfortunate victims and robopsychologist Susan Calvin must discover what’s gone wrong.
“Evidence” — (Astounding Science Fiction, 1946) Stephen Byerley is running for mayor but his opponent claims Byerley is a robot because nobody sees him eat or sleep. Byerley, running on a civil rights platform, refuses to let his opponents examine him. When Dr. Susan Calvin tries to use the Three Laws to determine whether he’s human, she can’t tell if he’s a robot, or just a “very good man.” This makes her wonder if a robot might actually be a better leader than a man.
“The Evitable Conflict” — (Astounding Science Fiction, 1950) The world is now efficiently run by artificial intelligence. Supply and demand are perfectly balanced and humans thrive. When some of the machines start to make mistakes, Stephen Byerley and Susan Calvin want to know why. What they discover is an entirely new extension of the First Law and it might mean doom (or liberation) for the human race.
I, Robot is an excellent collection of some of Isaac Asimov’s best stories. Here we meet friendly robots, religious robots, prankster robots, robots with superiority complexes, robots that are confused by moral or logical dilemmas, and robots with cognitive dissonance. Asimov explores the implications and the limits of his Three Laws and leaves us with a lot to think about.
The order of the stories in I, Robot makes the collection especially effective; with “Robbie” we start with a simple and obvious application of the Three Laws and with “The Evitable Conflict” we end with a head-spinning potential interpretation of these very same laws. Though Isaac Asimov was optimistic about our future with artificial intelligence, he shows us that even though humans are programming robots, it may be difficult for us to understand and predict some of their behaviors because of the way they use logic to interpret the laws we give them.
I listened to Scott Brick narrate Random House Audio’s version of I, Robot. Scott Brick is always a great narrator and I highly recommend the audiobook.
The Godfather of modern Science Fiction writes the Grandfather of all robot stories. Everything before was lacking in depth and everything after "borrowed" from this series. Asimov sets up rules of behavior for robots and a universe with a nearly unbreakable internal logic (only Asimov himself "bends" them with anything like impunity"). Other writers who have ignored the need for the Three Laws of Robotics have given us the Berserkers and the Borg and the like. Also good fiction; thus highlighting Asimov's genius in the first place! Enjoy!
Get this book if you're wanting a great story that explores the concepts of integrating robots into human society. If you're getting this book thinking that you'll get what you see on the silver screen, then pass it by because it has absolutely nothing to do with the movie...well, unless of course you count the robots. Otherwise, this book is written by Isaac Asimov and the movie is written by someone else.
This book takes you through the the concepts of how we could trust robots and how, through their obedience of the three laws, we could rely on them too much. It offers quite a few twists and turns.
I'm glad I finally got to read this book after so many years of just hearing about it.
Hello, I am an avid, when I have time, reader and have been with Audible since 2002. I have a vision problem which makes it hard to read books, so the audible format is a God Send!
The story starts out in the simplest of terms with the basic laws for robots, but quickly turns into complex thought provoking mind teaser. I loved the stories told by the lives of the characters and was sad for the book to end. The story starts simply but spirals up. Must read!
I had never read any of Asimov's books, despite having heard him as my college commencement speaker in the 70's. This book is really a collection of great short stories that is no less current now than when it was written. THis really is a pleasure to listent to. I wholeheartly agree with the other glowing reviews here.
"Great book, well read and at a bargain price."
Listening to this audiobook was a true pleasure. The classic sci fi tale of robots and the future of humanity has aged very well and many of the issues it rasies still feel contemporary. The book's structure is pure genius, taking several previously published short stories (some which feature on going characters & some which don't) and stiching them together with original work by means of a journalist conducting reseach. The stories are increasingly epic and complex, each one drawing the listener further into the world of the robots. This is also fascinating for any sci fan as it effectively documents the developement of the genre in the last century, from the simplistic and haunting stories of the pulp fiction anthologies (which make up most of the first half of the book) to the politicay complex novels that writers like Clark, Dick and of course Asimov went on to write.
On the production side the reader does an excellent job representing the different charatcers, both human and robotic!
This is a great production of a great book and at Audible's prices it's a total bargain, especially for subscribers. Get it now!
"Excellent stories, shame about the reader"
Isaac Asimov's robot stories are among the classics of science-fiction, and are a must-read (or must-listen) for anyone with any interest in SF. "I, Robot" is a compilation of some of the best, from among the earliest to among the latest, strung together with a linking narrative that fits them into their "historic" order -- from the first pet-like robots to the handing over of human government to the all-but-omniscient Machines.
The stories themselves easily rate five stars. Unfortunately, I've had to deduct a star because of this audiobook's reader, who manages to be flat and melodramatic simultaneously. He has little sense of dramatic tension, consistently emphasises the wrong words, and is unable to differentiate characters by giving them different voices. I suggest that prospective buyers listen carefully to the audio sample before making a decision.
Overall, though, I'm happy I bought this one.
Fantastic book for anyone who is starting adventure with science fiction books. It is a classic book written in beautiful language.
Three simple rules that govern behaviours... and explore the consequences... listen, learn, discuss. Very enjoyable - a set of classic and linked short stories.
"Excellent story - but unexpected....."
Scott Brick is brilliant at reading and putting a futuristic ambience into a story and this one is no exception. If you are expecting a story of the film (starring Will Smith - which has been interpreted admirably in my opinion), be warned - as with classic stories, the book is not the same. Events are in a different order, the characters have different roles, it is not the same. But the story is a good 'un and should be read for its historic science-fiction interpretation, much the same as you would still want to watch Star Trek and yet love Next Generation. It has a great story and a lot of moralising issues, which is typical of Isaac Asminov. Excellent book - I would highly recommend if you like sci-fi (or even if you don't).
"A collection of exercises in logic"
I thoroughly enjoyed this book. I see it more as a collection of short mystery stories than one whole book. Each chapter poses a problem, which requires working out what the problem is before a solution can be formed. Each time the solution is revealed it always makes sense. The movie version of this book, picks elements from in and around the book and merges them to form a single story that does not feature in the book.
"Really smart story and superbly narrated"
Really great read/listen. I'm sure many people will be happy that the film only takes inspiration from this book, the stroy told here is very different. It's basically a handful of short(ish) stories about the evolution of AI, each focussing on a specific time and problem encountered, linked together with an overriding story. Each of the four or five "flashbacks", for want of a better word, is really smart and introduces some excellent concepts.
Scott Brick's narration is excellent, demonstrating why he's won awards for narration. His "attempt" at a Scottish accent was a particular highlight.
"A great SF series of stories"
Lots of different robot stories all in some way connected in sequence, with mysteries to solve, usually explained (without giving the plots away) by the laws of robotics. Great to dip into. Enjoyable entertainment. A good introduction to some aspects of science fiction.
Great stories, immaculately read. A rare combination!
This is a really great story, and narrated about as well as I could imagine!
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