First edition cover
|Cover artist||Ed Cartier|
|Genre||Science fiction short stories|
|2 December 1950|
|Media type||Print (Hardback)|
|Followed by||The Complete Robot|
I, Robot is a collection of nine science fiction short stories by Isaac Asimov. The stories originally appeared in the American magazines Super Science Stories and Astounding Science Fiction between 1940 and 1950 and were compiled into a book in 1950. The stories follow on from each other and are linked with a framing narrative; that is, a story that ranges over all the stories and connects them. The stories are all about positronic robots.
The Chief Robopsychologist of 'United States Robots and Mechanical Men', which made the positronic robots, Dr. Susan Calvin, tells each story to a reporter.
Asimov originally wanted to call the collection Mind and Iron.
The stories are as follows:
This story tells of 'Robbie', who is a mute robot (he can hear and obey commands but cannot speak). He is used as a nursemaid for a young girl, Gloria Weston. He is faster moving and more powerful than a human, so he is able to rescue Gloria when she is nearly run down by a fast-moving vehicle in a factory she is visiting with her Parents.
Robot SPD-13, known as Speedy, works in a mine on the planet Mercury. The two engineers supervising him, Gregory Powell and Michael Donovan, find that he is not working properly and gets lost. What has happened is that Speedy's brain is confused when he senses danger and he doesn't know which Laws to obey. He must be rescued by Powell and Donovan at the risk of their own lives.
Robot QT1, known as Cutie, works on a space station. He decides that he can do the job much better than the humans working with them, so he locks them up and takes charge. He does indeed do his job perfectly.
'Catch That Rabbit'.
Robot DV-5, known as Dave, works in a mine on an asteroid, but all is not well. The robot is in charge of five smaller less intelligent robots and cannot cope with the responsibility. Powell and Donovan must help Dave to work well before they are buried alive in the mine.
Robot RB-34, known as Herbie, is manufactured with a fault - it reads human minds. This brings it into conflict with Susan Calvin, to whom it tells a lie, which is not allowed by the Three Laws of Robotics. But it is just what Calvin thinks she wants to hear. Upset by this, she decides that Herbie is useless as a robot and must be dismantled.
'Little Lost Robot'.
An unnamed robot working on an asteroid vanishes. Susan Calvin and her co-workers must find it before it escapes.
A powerful robot known only as The Brain designs and builds a spaceship that can travel faster than light. When it is finished, Powell and Donovan go on board and take off into space, but the ship doesn't work properly because the Brain doesn't really understand what it has built. The Brain plays a joke on the two men, giving them only baked beans to eat and building no controls for them to use. But eventually, they return safely to Earth.
A lawyer, Stephen Byerley, hopes to be elected mayor of a city, but his opponent puts out a story that the man is really a robot, who is not allowed to stand for elected office. Byerley is elected anyway, but no-one knows if he really is a robot.
'The Evitable Conflict'.
Several years later, Byerley has been elected World Coordinator. He discovers that The Machines, very powerful robots that are supposed to help humans to live in peace on Earth, have taken over the control of the planet and are only concerned with their own interests.
Publication history[change | change source]
- New York: Gnome Press, (trade paperback "Armed Forces Edition", 1951)
- New York: Grosset & Dunlap, (hardcover, 1952)
- London: Grayson, (hardcover, 1952)
- British SF Book Club, (hardcover, 1954)
- New York: Signet Books, (mass market paperback, 1956)
- New York: Doubleday, (hardcover, 1963)
- London: Dobson, (hardcover, 1967)
- ISBN 0-449-23949-7 (mass market paperback, 1970)
- ISBN 0-345-31482-4 (mass market paperback, 1983)
- ISBN 0-606-17134-7 (prebound, 1991)
- ISBN 0-553-29438-5 (mass market paperback, 1991)
- ISBN 1-4014-0039-6 (e-book, 2001)
- ISBN 1-4014-0038-8 (e-book, 2001)
- ISBN 0-553-80370-0 (hardcover, 2004)
- ISBN 91-27-11227-6 (hardcover, 2005)
- ISBN 0-7857-7338-X (hardcover)
- ISBN 0-00-711963-1 (paperback, UK, new edition)
- ISBN 0-586-02532-4 (paperback, UK)
Films[change | change source]
2004 film[change | change source]
The film I, Robot, starring Will Smith, was released by Twentieth Century Fox on July 16, 2004 in the United States. Its plot incorporates elements of "Little Lost Robot," some of Asimov's character names and the Three Laws. However, the plot of the movie is mostly original work adapted from a screenplay Hardwired by Jeff Vintar completely unlinked to Asimov's stories, and has been compared to Asimov's The Caves of Steel, which revolves around the murder of a roboticist.
References[change | change source]
- Topel, Fred (2004-08-17). ""Jeff Vintar was Hardwired for I,ROBOT" (interview with Jeff Vintar, script writer)". Screenwriter's Utopia. Christopher Wehner. Retrieved 2014-07-30.
- Chalker, Jack L.; Mark Owings (1998). The Science-Fantasy Publishers: A Bibliographic History, 1923–1998. Westminster, MD and Baltimore: Mirage Press, Ltd. p. 299.