This review is also available on my blog, Stumptown Books
I honestly knew very little about I, Robot
before picking it up. I thought the Will Smith movie was true to the source material. I thought it was about robots overthrowing their fleshy overlords and becoming "more human than a human." Allow me to bashfully state that I was completely wrong, but the cold finger of dread still tickled its way down my spine at the thought of robots running the place.
A collection of short stories with some brief interludes in the present (present, in this case, being 2057), I, Robot
traces the history of robots over a 60 year period, or thereabouts. They go from simplistic machines, unable to talk, (pretty much the opposite of where we're at huh?) to powerhouses in politics and shaping the whole of history. By the time I reached the third story, Reason, my hackles were up and goosebumps were running down my arm. Two scientists are stuck on Mercury with a robot who refuses to follow their orders - I was positive
they wouldn't live through it. But the story ends, the book continues, and robots keep evolving into more and more sophisticated beings. Every story after that I went into with the assertion that here was probably where the robot uprising began. Of course I was completely wrong, but the end of the book was actually even more terrifying than that. There's something about the cold implacability and logic of robots that frightens me. You can't out reason a robot; they will always win.
I felt like I knew the three laws of robots from somewhere, but it may just be because they're a part of popular culture now. Now I'm really
familiar with them, and I like that - Asimov really defined the genre here, and the three laws have taken science fiction to new heights. He presents each story as a mystery to be solved, and carries us along while we try to figure out what could be going wrong with the robots and the three laws.
What are we going to do if this ever becomes science fact? This book is like Philosophy 101 for Trekkies, but highly accessible for anyone, even if you don't like science fiction.