Tuesday, September 10, 2013

I, Robot

You want to read this book.

This is a poster for the movie Ghost in the Shell. Like the movie I, Robot it has absolutely nothing to do with the book I, Robot other than it has robots in it. It also has a naked lady. I have noticed that naked ladies attract people to blogs. I know it works on me.

Recently I went on a reading binge focusing on classic books that have had movies made out of them.

Like many of the books I read, the book I, Robot is (1) incredibly good and (2) has nothing to do with the movie.

I, Robot is by Isaac Asimov. Like most Asimov, it is perfect when you are looking for a really good, thoughtful but short and not too strenuous read, what I think of as a "bus book." It's wonderful if you just want to be caught up for a Sunday afternoon or for reading when you're busy, stressed and likely to be interrupted.

Rather than focusing on a single story, it's really a series of short vignettes that together describe the amazing impact of the career of the fictional scientist Susan Calvin. Many of the stories have the same feel as an old Twilight Zone episode and are based around paradoxes, riddles and reflections on the human condition.

I'll leave you with one of my favorite quotes:

"Consider relatively modern times. There were the series of dynastic wars in the sixteenth to eighteenth centuries, when the most important question in Europe was weather the houses of Hapsburg or Valois-Bourbon were to rule to continent. It was one of those 'inevitable conflicts,' since Europe could obviously not exist half one and half the other.

"Except that it did, and no war ever wiped out the one and established the other, until the rise of a new social atmosphere in France in 1789 tumbled first the Bourbons and, eventually, the Hapsburgs down the dusty chute to history's incinerator.

"And in those same centuries there were the more barbarous religious wars, which revolved about the important question of whether Europe was to be Catholic or Protestant. Half and half she could not be. It was 'inevitable' that the sword must decide - Except that it didn't. In England, a new industrialism was growing, and on the continent, a new nationalism. Half and half Europe remains to this day and no one cares much..."

"And so we have a pattern-"

"Yes. Stephen, you make it plain," said Susan Calvin, "Those are not very profound observations."

"No. - But then, it is the obvious which is so difficult to see most of the time. People say 'It is as obvious as the nose on your face.' But how much of the nose on your face can you see, unless someone holds a mirror up to you?..."

ABC Wednesday


  1. My late husband was an Isamov fanatic...he was really into all things science fiction.

    abcw team

  2. I often prefer the book, I guess I make the movie myself while reading.
    Great choice for I.

  3. I love TZ, so you've sold me. Maybe this winter.

    ROG, ABC Wednesday team