Jul 012005

I-Robot Book Cover

    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.

First things first, the Hollywood movie I, Robot (also reviewed) with Will Smith has only has a few things in common with this book of short stories. Keep in mind that the NAME was licensed to the movie studio after the script was already written. Scenes were adjusted to include the Three Laws, Susan Calvin, and Alfred Lanning. That is about where the similarities between the book and the movie end. There might be a few concepts stripped from some of the stories, but by no means is the film “based” on the book. To give the movie makers credit, they only say “inispired” by in the opening.

I, Robot is a collection of short stories by Isaac Asimov. Keep in mind these stories were mainly written in the 1940s then published together in 1950. These stories describe the basics of the Three Laws of Robotics and what can go wrong with them. Asimov uses the Three Laws as a literary device to create puzzling situations. Several of these stories involve Susan Calvin, the top robo-psychologist for the only robot manufacturing company, US Robots and Mechanical Men, Inc. If anyone is interested in reading the Robot Novel series, this book kind of acts as a nice introduction to the basic concepts. As a matter of fact, anyone with any interest in Sci-Fi should read this book. I consider it required reading.

Posted by Stettin
Oct 012005

Robots in Time Predator book cover

This book is great for teens, not for adult readers or die-hard fans. I acquired this book along with about 16 Isaac Asimov classics (Foundation series, Caves of Steel, etc), otherwise I probably never would have purchased it. If you are a die-hard fan like me, you will find this book/series unbearable. The book is written for a young reader according to the author, so my reaction is to be expected. The main characters act out every single 3 law conflict over and over throughout the novel. Every situation is explained in detail with reason why Robot X can or can’t do this or that because of Law X.

For a new reader that isn’t familiar with Asimov this book would probably be very informative. If you are interested in Time travel, buy “The End of Eternity” by Isaac Asimov. If you want to read up on the Three Laws, buy “I, Robot”. If you want a combination of both for a younger reader, buy this book. I would suggest this book for readers around the age of 12-16 after they have read “I, Robot”.

Posted by Stettin
Nov 012005

Caves of Steel Book Cover

This is the first in a series of the Robot Novels by Isaac Asimov. The main characters in this book are Elijah “Lije” Baley, a plainclothes cop, and R. Daneel Olivaw, a humaniform robot. The story takes place on futuristic Earth, approximately 3021 AD. Earth is heavily populated and most cities are mostly underground and interconnected. The major Cities such as New York are referred to with the capital C because of their massive size. New York City’s population is somewhere around 20million and Earth’s population tops 8 billion. Some people criticize Asimov by because Earth’s population will top 8 billion by 2020 according to many calculations. We have to remember that this is just a fiction book written in the 1950’s after all. These massive Cities are essentially enclosed underground and agoraphobia is common among most of the population. Continue reading »

Posted by Stettin
Nov 152005

The Naked Sun Book Cover

This is the second book in the Robot Novel series by Asimov. A year has passed since The Caves of Steel. Lije Baley is summoned once again to solve a murder. The Department of Justice received a request from the Spacers asking specifically for Baley’s help with the case. This time the murder is not on Earth, but on the 50th Spacer world, Solaria. Continue reading »

Posted by Stettin
Dec 152005

The Robots of Dawn book cover

At this point if you have not read both The Caves of Steel and The Naked Sun, this review will contain plot spoilers for those novels. I highly suggest reading both of those before even reading this review.

The Robots of Dawn takes place 2 years after the events in The Naked Sun. At the conclusion of The Naked Sun Elijah Baley is resolved to push Earth toward space expansion. He must face the open spaces of Earth and encourage others so they can prepare for colonization. His goal is to approach Aurora, the most powerful Spacer planet to petition for approval for expansion. The Outer Worlds have cut off Earth from immigrating to them, so the only solution is to expand to new worlds. This essentially was the goal Dr. Han Falstofe spoke of in The Caves of Steel. The long-lived Spacers haven’t colonized a planet in over two centuries, and according to Falstofe the future of colonization must lie with Earthers. Continue reading »

Posted by Stettin
Jan 152006

Robots and Empire book cover

At this point if you have not read The Caves of Steel, The Naked Sun, and The Robots of Dawn, this review will contain plot spoilers for those novels. I highly suggest reading both of them before even reading this review.

The events in Robots and Empire take place about 200 years after The Robots of Dawn. Elijah Baley’s victory in exonerating Dr. Han Falstofe in the death of R. Jander Parnell secured his powerful position in Auroran government. Kelden Amadiro which was implicated in the death of Jander hasn’t forgotten his bitter defeat. With his support Earth was allowed to develop its colonization plans. The number of Settler worlds is increasing, and no new settlement from Spacer worlds has taken place. Actually, Solaria has severed all contact with everyone and is rumored to be empty. Continue reading »

Posted by Stettin
Feb 012006

I thought it would be appropriate to write a little mini review of the entire Robot City series before starting on the individual books since I have read this series once before. I won’t go into any spoilers, just give a general feel for the series. Each novel begins with an introduction by Isaac Asimov which is a nice addition to each of the novels. As stated in the introduction for the first book, this series is the first time Asimov has allowed any other authors to write in the world he created. Essentially he had final say on anything that went into the books and was consulted to make sure the authors didn’t overstep their authority. The introductions themselves sometimes reveal minor plotline spoilers for the current book, but nothing major except for book six. I recommend reading the book six intro after you finish, but that’s up to you.

This series is really meant to be read as whole. It takes place approximately 20 years before Robots and Empire by Isaac Asimov. I chose to read Robots and Empire before this series. The first book really gives you a glimpse at what might happen in the following books. Book one is full of questions, very few answers, and can be best described as an “introduction” like the first 20 minutes of a movie. I was hooked on the series after the first book. Each book is only about 200 pages with short chapters so it is easy to just pick it up and read a little bit without having to stop in the middle of a chapter. There is a general consistency in the writing of the various authors in all 6 of the novels comprising series. It really doesn’t feel like you are adjusting to a new author for each book. Overall, the series is a worthwhile addition to the universe that Asimov created.

Posted by Stettin
Feb 152006

Robot City 1: Odyssey book cover

A man wakes up in an escape pod with no memory, and only his space suit with Derec written on it to tell him what his name is. He has no memory whatsoever of anything before he woke up. The main plot of the series revolves around Derec’s search for his identity and a way to recover his memory. We are introduced to robots that don’t necessarily behave how we would have thought. They do obey the Three Laws but there are new twists involved. We also get to see aliens, something that Asimov had not really explored in his own writing. Overall, there is quite a bit of action in this first book and it should keep you interested enough to finish the rest of the series.

Posted by Stettin
Feb 282006

Robot City 2: Suspicion book cover

This review will most likely contain spoilers for any previous books in the series, read at your own risk.

After escaping from the alien Aranimas, and subsequently the space station that rescued them, Derec and Katherine find themselves miraculously transported to Robot City. They used the Key to Perihelion, a device that somehow allowed them to travel instantly across the galaxy. I like this idea because it is twist on space travel that allows the authors to work out unique plot elements throughout the rest of the series. Derec and Katherine arrive to find themselves the only 2 suspects in the murder of a human in a city full of robots.

It seems they’ve just traded one prison for another. Since they are the only humans on the planet, according to logic the robots think that one of them must have commited the murder, because no robot could have. This book revolves around Derec and Katherine’s investigation into the murder they are accused of at the end of Odyssey. Suspicion reminds me a bit of Elijah Baley’s murder investigations in Asimov’s original Robot Novels. The style is notably different, but the murder-mystery element kept me thinking back to the originals.

Posted by Stettin
Mar 152006

Robot City 3: Cyborg book cover

This review will most likely contain spoilers for any previous books in the series, read at your own risk.

This book has a nice intro from Asimov talking about cyborgs that is quite interesting. I always like reading these. Derec and Katherine have proven they didn’t commit murder, and stopped the rapid expansion of the city. They still stuck in Robot City though and are still searching for a way out. They are sidetracked by a rogue cyborg that escaped from a medical facility. I like the repercussions that are explored by transplanting a human brain into a robot body. The book goes by really quickly with lots of action and a few tidbits of information to keep the main plotlines going also.

Posted by Stettin

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