{REVIEW} I, ROBOT by Isaac Asimov

I, ROBOT by Isaac Asimov

(Click the book cover to see on Goodreads)
Genre: Adult, Science Fiction
Title: I, Robot
Author: Isaac Asimov
Length: 192 pages
Publication: 1970 by Fawcett

synopsis 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 orders givein to 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.

With these three, simple directives, Isaac Asimov changed our perception of robots forever when he formulated the laws governing their behavior. In I, Robot, Asimov chronicles the development of the robot through a series of interlinked stories: from its primitive origins in the present to its ultimate perfection in the not-so-distant future – a future in which humanity itself may be rendered obsolete.

point of view ‘I, ROBOT, is written in third person past with omniscient point of view, wherein the story follows a multitude of characters. Even so, the characters don’t remain consistent. Despite the constant jump between characters, the third person voice remains the same.

thoughts Pacing: The pacing was rather slow because there are multiple stories within the book. What’s more, is some of the stories seem to lack any real connection, which forces to reader to pause and think about what’s going on and its relevance.

World: Only the vaguest of detail is offered for the world, giving more a framework than an actual picture. The real reason is the book focuses more on the events than their scenery.

Writing: The writing is an old style with little descriptive detail. The book lacks flourish, intrigue, and focuses far too much on telling the story. Such a tactic results in a very dry writing style. It causes the story to feel less fictional and more like something out of a textbook, which is only enhanced by the high-level of scientific terminology.

Character: The characters all seem to have the same personality. There is little variety in the voice or motives and there is no background given for any of the characters, which causes all of them to seem that much more similar to the others.

Non-Spoilered Plot: In a world where robots are common and everyone is accustomed to them, it’s only a matter of advancing the robots with new technology for newer purposes. This story depicts a menagerie of stories involving new robots and the scientists who interact with them.

***{SPOILER ALERT}***

Plot: To be entirely honest, I can’t decide what the plot of this novel is. There is no hero. There is no antagonist. There is not even an MC really. Rather, this is more just a collection of stories that almost feel like a warning against robots, which I can understand. Robots, even with their added benefits, have many consequences, as well. But that’s another topic.

While the main book didn’t have a distinct plot, the multitude of stories within the book each had their own plots. More often than not it was ‘overcoming the monster’, which may sound silly at first. However, if you think about it, each of the obstacles within the robots make-up that caused the scientists so much trouble was indeed the ‘monster’ they needed to ‘overcome’ or really just decipher and solve.

Frankly, I’m not sure how I feel about this book because it was interesting, but maddeningly confusing. Each of the experiences with robots was unique and offered a new look on robotic technology and how they would be important and how they would evolve in future society. At the same time, there was so much technological terminology that I just felt like I was fumbling around in the dark most of the time.

When it comes right down to it, I guess I’m leaving my rating of this book, ‘I, ROBOT’, at 2-stars because I was hoping for more world-building in such an advanced scientific society. I was also utterly bored with the lack of variation in the character voices(they all sound exactly the same). Finally, the lack of plot throughout the book left me befuddled.two


Have you read I, ROBOT? Leave your thoughts in the comments below!
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22 thoughts on “{REVIEW} I, ROBOT by Isaac Asimov

  1. I robot is one of the first books that got me into science fiction. It’s great because it’s a series if short stories so you can easily dip in and out of it. As with many of asimovs shorts the point is not the world but more often the dilemma faced by a character, a moment they find themselves in or is simply an interesting situation to put a robot I to to see how they might react. Like Philip k Dick I think asimov was years ahead of his time. If you disliked this book however don’t let it put you off reading more of his works.

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    1. I think a lot of my dislike for the book was the way it was written. I’m not used to the older, drier style of writing. It makes it difficult for me to connect with the characters and the story. We are quite spoiled with modern fiction. Though, I do love scifi and the way fiction from decades ago brings about very important scientific questions that we could be facing in the near future. It’s a reminder that we might not want to do something just because we can. For that reason, I continue to read this type of scifi.

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      1. Asimov is known in general for a dry style, so it’s not just age, but it’s also him. He is, to be fair, part of what used to be a fairly big trend in science fiction — concentrating on technical puzzles and larger social issues to the detriment of the personal stories of the characters.
        Some of his contemporaries are not. Harlan Ellison comes to mind, or Roger Zelazny, or Heinlein, or… you get the point.
        Good to hear you’re not put off entirely by old-style science fiction. Just like “classic literature” there’s plenty to be learned even if the style or content are old.

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        1. As a scientist, I have a responsibility to be well-versed in old science fiction that warns us of future tech. A discussion with my bioethics class a couple weeks ago made it very clear just how unaware many of the younger generation (my generation -.-) are when it comes to the consequences of scientific advancement. They still hang in the world of ‘can’ and never think of whether or not they ‘should.’

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    1. PREACH! I can’t count the number of books where I’m like ‘this is such a good idea!’ and then the book is just… garbage. sigh Either that or it was written at a time where that style of writing was popular (like Shakespeare or Ray Bradbury) and now, in modern day, we are completely befuddled by it. :p

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      1. Well I think that the ideas behind it are so profound that the story doesn’t matter. This is why Arthur C Clarke was so amazing, he could create or use the ideas and make a story around it.

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  2. I Robot isn’t a novel at all – it’s a collection of short stories. the book is exactly as you stated – it’s about unique experiences with robots and how the programmers and the robots learn to live with each other and integrate each other into their societies. If you’re looking for a protagonist, it’s probably Susan Calvin.

    The short stories were originally written between 1940 and 1950, and published in short story magazines. when they were originally conceived, Asimov probably didn’t have any plan to have them ever appear as one volume, as an entire story.

    and for what it’s worth, Asimov’s short stories were always crap at worldbuilding. If you’re interested in one of his robot stories that has a definite plot and stronger characterization, I recommend The Caves of Steel.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Haha! Great minds think alike, I guess. :p Thanks for stopping by and commenting! (P.s. In November, another blogger, Lilyn, and I will be hosting a discussion about this book. You should join. [and don’t worry. I’ll be posting a reminder closer to the discussion. Hee hee!])

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