June 26, 2004

The Robot Novels


Will Smith Meets Isaac Asimov

We're already getting bombarded with hype for the newest Will Smith vehicle, "I, Robot", coming out later this summer. I guess it will be loosely based on Asimov's Robot novels, one of which has the same name, but if I understand the plot at all, it doesn't look familiar to me. The part of the series that I read includes the original short story collection, "I, Robot" along with "The Caves of Steel" and "The Naked Sun".

"I, Robot" is a really good short-story collection in the classic science fiction tradition. Very little time is spent on character development. Instead, the books are more like expositions on engineering problem solving. What happens when robots encounter "bugs" (such as paradoxical commands or rules to follow), and how does it affect them? How is it resolved? The stories are typically simple, elegant and very clever, and from what I understand (I've only read the Foundation series, these three novels and one other book by Asimov), some of Asimov's best work.

The other two books I mentioned revolve around a detective named Elijah Bailey and his robot partner Daneel Olivaw. They develop a camaraderie similar to Kirk and Spock, and a couple of decent mystery stories are mixed in. There are a lot more robot novels, most of them short story collections. I personally thought that the first book of the Foundation series was his best. In that series, a man uses complex statistical theory to chart the future, guide humanity, etc. Turns out his ideas and predictions are right every time, but he also knows just what is needed to change the future if he doesn't like what he sees. Really interesting premise, and the whole series was quite good.

Posted by Observer at June 26, 2004 08:14 AM
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For the sake of completeness, I found a very funny review of "I, Robot" today, which includes a timeless photoshopped image of Will Smith pissing on Isaac Asimov's grave. Truly a must read. I still haven't seen the movie. I might get it from Netflix someday just for the sake of curiosity.

Posted by: Observer on November 30, 2004 01:55 PM

I ROBOT was a sweet movie. It had a good amount of action in it's plot.

Posted by: Zander on December 16, 2005 07:19 AM