I, Robot by Isaac Asimov

I, Robot (Robot #0.1)I, Robot by Isaac Asimov
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

I was surprised at the lack of creativity of this book, given the hype. While Asimov predicts a lot of technological changes, he predicts no social changes, at all. Both the language and perspective come off as very dated. Many of the stories read like a series of logic story puzzles, and given the simplicity of the logic introduced, the characters should have solved the problems way faster than they did.

The stories only serve as a delivery method for a variety of thought experiments: What is consciousness? What is memory? How do we know what objective reality is? What happens when we anthropomorphize non-living things? What does it mean to be “living?” etc. It was interesting, but very general and simplistic. The handling of the questions stops short of actual philosophy. They’re handled more like adolescent trying to find himself, which is a relief. If it were actual philosophy, I would have never finished the book.

The characters themselves are so undeveloped, they’re like stock characters. The first half of the book is mostly about a Laural and Hardy type pair. One plays the “dumb” one so the “smart” one can abuse him and explain things (aka, poorly sneak in exposition). The only character who even has the tiniest amount of depth is Susan Calvin, who apparently, in the year 2058, is the only woman working in robotics. The only reason she has anymore depth than the other characters is because she doesn’t appear in a scene without some reference to her attractiveness or her relationship to men being mentioned.

Given all of that, I found it an interesting read not because of what it says about a possible future, but what it says about the limited perspective of the past. Or maybe it just says something about Asimov’s lack of imagination.

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