I read I, Robot shortly after seeing the Will Smith movie. I liked the movie, but I had no specific plans to read the book until I was assigned it in my Science Fiction class.
The first thing that struck me is that the book is absolutely nothing like the movie (or perhaps that should be the other way around…). Other than the title and the presence of robots, the two could not be any more different.
The book is divided into a series of short stories, each taking place at a point in time along robots’ “evolution” into sentience. Recurring characters tie these little vignettes together, so the reader gets a sense of growth and change.
I’ve also read Foundation and I found the similarities between it and I, Robot to be quite strong. In both cases, the narrative has a distant feel, like the reader is only allowed glimpses of the characters as they go about their lives. None of the stories in I, Robot are complete; they begin in the middle of people’s lives and they end the same way, without the tidy encasing covers that we find in most books. This gives a sense of emotional detachment – the reader is allowed to watch but never to enter or to participate.
It’s a strange style that I’ve only seen in Asimov stories. I’ve found it quite enjoyable, though perhaps only because of its rarity. It does add a sense of realism to the stories, making characters feel like entire people with rich lives that the reader isn’t privy to outside of the constraints of the story.
I very much enjoyed I, Robot. I found it to be thought-provoking, interesting, entertaining, and well-written. The ethical issues raised are important as our technology becomes ever more powerful, so I would urge anyone and everyone to read this book.
Buy I, Robot from Amazon so I can afford more books!