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Description

Product Description

This classic science fiction masterwork by Isaac Asimov weaves stories about robots, humanity, and the deep questions of existence into a novel of shocking intelligence and heart.
 
“A must-read for science-fiction buffs and literature enjoyers alike.”—The Guardian

I, Robot, the first and most widely read book in Asimov’s Robot series, forever changed the world’s perception of artificial intelligence. Here are stories of robots gone mad, of mind-reading robots, and robots with a sense of humor. Of robot politicians, and robots who secretly run the world—all told with the dramatic blend of science fact and science fiction that has become Asimov’s trademark. 

The Three Laws of Robotics:
1) A robot may not injure a human being or, through inaction, allow a human being to come to harm.
2) A robot must obey orders given to it by human beings except where such orders would conflict with the First Law.
3) A robot must protect its own existence as long as such protection does not conflict with the First or Second Law.

With these three, simple directives, Isaac Asimov formulated the laws governing robots’ behavior. In I, Robot, Asimov chronicles the development of the robot from its primitive origins in the present to its ultimate perfection in the not-so-distant future—a  future in which humanity itself may be rendered obsolete.

“Tremendously exciting and entertaining . . . Asimov dramatizes an interesting question: How can we live with machines that, generation by generation, grow more intelligent than their creators and not eventually clash with our own invention?”—The Chicago Tribune

About the Author

Isaac Asimov began his Foundation Series at the age of twenty-one, not realizing that it would one day be considered a cornerstone of science fiction. During his legendary career, Asimov penned over 470 books on subjects ranging from science to Shakespeare to history, though he was most loved for his award-winning science fiction sagas, which include the Robot, Empire, and Foundation series. Named a Grand Master of Science Fiction by the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America, Asimov entertained and educated readers of all ages for close to five decades. He died, at the age of seventy-two, in April 1992.

Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.

ROBBIE



"Ninety-eight--ninety-nine--one hundred." Gloria withdrew her chubby little forearm from before her eyes and stood for a moment, wrinkling her nose and blinking in the sunlight. Then, trying to watch in all directions at once, she withdrew a few cautious steps from the tree against which she had been leaning.

She craned her neck to investigate the possibilities of a clump of bushes to the right and then withdrew farther to obtain a better angle for viewing its dark recesses. The quiet was profound except for the incessant buzzing of insects and the occasional chirrup of some hardy bird, braving the midday sun.

Gloria pouted, "I bet he went inside the house, and I''ve told him a million times that that''s not fair."

With tiny lips pressed together tightly and a severe frown crinkling her forehead, she moved determinedly toward the two-story building up past the driveway.

Too late she heard the rustling sound behind her, followed by the distinctive and rhythmic clump-clump of Robbie''s metal feet. She whirled about to see her triumphing companion emerge from hiding and make for the home-tree at full speed.

Gloria shrieked in dismay. "Wait, Robbie! That wasn''t fair, Robbie! You promised you wouldn''t run until I found you." Her little feet could make no headway at all against Robbie''s giant strides. Then, within ten feet of the goal, Robbie''s pace slowed suddenly to the merest of crawls, and Gloria, with one final burst of wild speed, dashed pantingly past him to touch the welcome bark of home-tree first.

Gleefully, she turned on the faithful Robbie, and with the basest of ingratitude, rewarded him for his sacrifice by taunting him cruelly for a lack of running ability.

"Robbie can''t run," she shouted at the top of her eight-year-old voice. "I can beat him any day. I can beat him any day." She chanted the words in a shrill rhythm.

Robbie didn''t answer, of course--not in words. He pantomimed running instead, inching away until Gloria found herself running after him as he dodged her narrowly, forcing her to veer in helpless circles, little arms outstretched and fanning at the air.

"Robbie," she squealed, "stand still!"--And the laughter was forced out of her in breathless jerks.

--Until he turned suddenly and caught her up, whirling her round, so that for her the world fell away for a moment with a blue emptiness beneath, and green trees stretching hungrily downward toward the void. Then she was down in the grass again, leaning against Robbie''s leg and still holding a hard, metal finger.

After a while, her breath returned. She pushed uselessly at her disheveled hair in vague imitation of one of her mother''s gestures and twisted to see if her dress were torn.

She slapped her hand against Robbie''s torso, "Bad boy! I''ll spank you!"

And Robbie cowered, holding his hands over his face so that she had to add, "No, I won''t, Robbie. I won''t spank you. But anyway, it''s my turn to hide now because you''ve got longer legs and you promised not to run till I found you."

Robbie nodded his head--a small parallelepiped with rounded edges and corners attached to a similar but much larger parallelepiped that served as torso by means of a short, flexible stalk--and obediently faced the tree. A thin, metal film descended over his glowing eyes and from within his body came a steady, resonant ticking.

"Don''t peek now--and don''t skip any numbers," warned Gloria, and scurried for cover.

With unvarying regularity, seconds were ticked off, and at the hundredth, up went the eyelids, and the glowing red of Robbie''s eyes swept the prospect. They rested for a moment on a bit of colorful gingham that protruded from behind a boulder. He advanced a few steps and convinced himself that it was Gloria who squatted behind it.

Slowly, remaining always between Gloria and home-tree, he advanced on the hiding place, and when Gloria was plainly in sight and could no longer even theorize to herself that she was not seen, he extended one arm toward her, slapping the other against his leg so that it rang again. Gloria emerged sulkily.

"You peeked!" she exclaimed, with gross unfairness. "Besides I''m tired of playing hide-and-seek. I want a ride."

But Robbie was hurt at the unjust accusation, so he seated himself carefully and shook his head ponderously from side to side.

Gloria changed her tone to one of gentle coaxing immediately, "Come on, Robbie. I didn''t mean it about the peeking. Give me a ride."

Robbie was not to be won over so easily, though. He gazed stubbornly at the sky, and shook his head even more emphatically.

"Please, Robbie, please give me a ride." She encircled his neck with rosy arms and hugged tightly. Then, changing moods in a moment, she moved away. "If you don''t, I''m going to cry," and her face twisted appallingly in preparation.

Hard-hearted Robbie paid scant attention to this dreadful possibility, and shook his head a third time. Gloria found it necessary to play her trump card.

"If you don''t," she exclaimed warmly, "I won''t tell you any more stories, that''s all. Not one--"

Robbie gave in immediately and unconditionally before this ultimatum, nodding his head vigorously until the metal of his neck hummed. Carefully, he raised the little girl and placed her on his broad, flat shoulders.

Gloria''s threatened tears vanished immediately and she crowed with delight. Robbie''s metal skin, kept at a constant temperature of seventy by the high resistance coils within, felt nice and comfortable, while the beautifully loud sound her heels made as they bumped rhythmically against his chest was enchanting.

"You''re an air-coaster, Robbie, you''re a big, silver air-coaster. Hold out your arms straight. --You got to, Robbie, if you''re going to be an air-coaster."

The logic was irrefutable. Robbie''s arms were wings catching the air currents and he was a silver ''coaster.

Gloria twisted the robot''s head and leaned to the right. He banked sharply. Gloria equipped the ''coaster with a motor that went "Br-r-r" and then with weapons that went "Powie" and "Sh-sh-shshsh." Pirates were giving chase and the ship''s blasters were coming into play. The pirates dropped in a steady rain.

"Got another one. --Two more," she cried.

Then "Faster, men," Gloria said pompously, "we''re running out of ammunition." She aimed over her shoulder with undaunted courage and Robbie was a blunt-nosed spaceship zooming through the void at maximum acceleration.

Clear across the field he sped, to the patch of tall grass on the other side, where he stopped with a suddenness that evoked a shriek from his flushed rider, and then tumbled her onto the soft, green carpet.

Gloria gasped and panted, and gave voice to intermittent whispered exclamations of "That was nice!"

Robbie waited until she had caught her breath and then pulled gently at a lock of hair.

"You want something?" said Gloria, eyes wide in an apparently artless complexity that fooled her huge "nursemaid" not at all. He pulled the curl harder.

"Oh, I know. You want a story."

Robbie nodded rapidly.

"Which one?"

Robbie made a semi-circle in the air with one finger.

The little girl protested, "Again? I''ve told you Cinderella a million times. Aren''t you tired of it? --It''s for babies."

Another semi-circle.

"Oh, well," Gloria composed herself, ran over the details of the tale in her mind (together with her own elaborations, of which she had several) and began:

"Are you ready? Well--once upon a time there was a beautiful little girl whose name was Ella. And she had a terribly cruel step-mother and two very ugly and very cruel step-sisters and--"



Gloria was reaching the very climax of the tale--midnight was striking and everything was changing back to the shabby originals lickety-split, while Robbie listened tensely with burning eyes--when the interruption came.

"Gloria!"

It was the high-pitched sound of a woman who has been calling not once, but several times; and had the nervous tone of one in whom anxiety was beginning to overcome impatience.

"Mamma''s calling me," said Gloria, not quite happily. "You''d better carry me back to the house, Robbie."

Robbie obeyed with alacrity for somehow there was that in him which judged it best to obey Mrs. Weston, without as much as a scrap of hesitation. Gloria''s father was rarely home in the daytime except on Sunday--today, for instance--and when he was, he proved a genial and understanding person. Gloria''s mother, however, was a source of uneasiness to Robbie and there was always the impulse to sneak away from her sight.

Mrs. Weston caught sight of them the minute they rose above the masking tufts of long grass and retired inside the house to wait.

"I''ve shouted myself hoarse, Gloria," she said, severely. "Where were you?"

"I was with Robbie," quavered Gloria. "I was telling him Cinderella, and I forgot it was dinner-time."

"Well, it''s a pity Robbie forgot, too." Then, as if that reminded her of the robot''s presence, she whirled upon him. "You may go, Robbie. She doesn''t need you now." Then, brutally, "And don''t come back till I call you."

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4.5 out of 54.5 out of 5
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Top reviews from the United States

Nina A. Schwartz
5.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
A Must-Read
Reviewed in the United States on November 3, 2016
Isaac Asimov was NOT a great writer--you won''t see anyone praising his brilliant style, his character arcs, or his thrilling action scenes. (90 percent of the action in his books is limited to a conversation between two people in a room.) What he had was great IDEAS,... See more
Isaac Asimov was NOT a great writer--you won''t see anyone praising his brilliant style, his character arcs, or his thrilling action scenes. (90 percent of the action in his books is limited to a conversation between two people in a room.)
What he had was great IDEAS, and this book represents a whole slew of them. Beginning with Robbie, the prototype of a Jetsons-style house robot hired to babysit, he traces the use and development of robots, to end with them guiding the world''s future.
In these pages, Asimov postulated the Three Laws of Robotics, now required reading for anyone working with robots or AI. Unlike most SF writers of his generation, he didn''t see robots as mindless machines, but beings who can think and reason (and even feel emotion). The stories are told by Susan Calvin, a robopsychologist-- someone who specializes in robot minds-- a profession undreamt-of before this book.
Asimov was a product of his time, and 1950s office slang, technology and prejudices often crop up (such as making a red-haired Irishman quick-tempered). He also failed to predict digitalization, resulting in several laughable references to vacuum tubes and the like. But after awhile, you discount these flaws and remember only his brilliant ideas about what''s to come.
BTW, the last chapter, with its ideas about mathematically guiding human socioeconomics, is a wonderful lead-in to Asimov''s magnum opus, his Foundation series.
80 people found this helpful
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AJDestin
5.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
Great Classic Asimov
Reviewed in the United States on November 10, 2018
A while ago, I got sick of binge watching mindless shows and decided to binge read some of the classics of science fiction. I had not read any Asimov before, and figured that I, Robot was a good starting point. This book is actually a collection of short stories that take... See more
A while ago, I got sick of binge watching mindless shows and decided to binge read some of the classics of science fiction. I had not read any Asimov before, and figured that I, Robot was a good starting point. This book is actually a collection of short stories that take place in a future which doesn’t seem all that remote these days. Robots, and more importantly, the “positronic brain”, have become the leading technologies. In the early stories in the book, robots and their brains are in their earlier stages of development and they evolve considerably throughout the book. What I like about these stories is the fact that the underlying stories and their nuances are solid and well developed, while the robots and futuristic technology are more of a setting. Central to these underlying stories are the Three Laws, which lead to many unique and interesting problems. While this probably isn’t Asimov’s greatest book, it is an excellent introduction to his overall style. This book is a great starting point, and it got me hooked. As a result, I wound up reading the Robots series, the Galactic Empire series, and the Foundation series. Give it a try. You may get hooked too. On another note, the movie of the same name really doesn’t have much to do with the book. The movie took bits and pieces and then built around them.
27 people found this helpful
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N. Dandridge
4.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
Fun stories even if you aren''t a sci-fi nut
Reviewed in the United States on July 23, 2017
I''ve slowly been reading all the classic sci-fi books and this is my most recent. It was fun to read Asimov''s description of machine learning from the 40s/50s. To be clear - I am not a sci-fi nut, an engineer, or a robot fanatic; but the stories are just plain fun and easy... See more
I''ve slowly been reading all the classic sci-fi books and this is my most recent. It was fun to read Asimov''s description of machine learning from the 40s/50s. To be clear - I am not a sci-fi nut, an engineer, or a robot fanatic; but the stories are just plain fun and easy to read even for an uneducated person like me. The stories progress through the development of robots as told to a journalist by an elderly roboticist/executive. I give huge kudos to Asimov for making the roboticist a female. Granted, she''s a psychologist rather than an engineer (math''s hard for girls) but at least he made her a female and she ends up saving the day in a few of the stories. I''m giving it a 4 star rather than a 5 star because I got a little weary of all the scientists ("roboticists") being sarcastic and nasty to each other. I was left with the feeling that none of them really liked each other. Also - the writing is just OK. It is certainly no Dickens but fun to read no matter your age or gender. And as we head into a world of more and more AI, this book definitely gives food for thought.
32 people found this helpful
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Michael G Kurilla
4.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
The origin tales for Asimov''s robots
Reviewed in the United States on October 26, 2018
I, Robot by Isaac Asimov is a series of short stories that introduces his conception of the evolution of robots organized around the three law of robotics that are embedded into the positronic brain that powers them. Beginning with non-speaking and evolving to robots... See more
I, Robot by Isaac Asimov is a series of short stories that introduces his conception of the evolution of robots organized around the three law of robotics that are embedded into the positronic brain that powers them. Beginning with non-speaking and evolving to robots gradually taking responsibility for much of humanity''s tasks, the stories are related by the robopsychologist being interviewed at the end of her career. With each tale, the robots become a bit more complex, are given more responsibility and things don''t always work out as planned.

Asimov introduces his three laws of robotics that were created to ensure safety which appear foolproof. He also predicts fear and animosity from the general population. There''s also a gradual exploration and exploitation of the solar system. This is a classic and must read in order to fully appreciate all his later robot themed novels.
6 people found this helpful
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Peter M. Kilkenny
4.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
I''m such a slacker.
Reviewed in the United States on April 10, 2021
First, I didn''t buy and read this until long after watching the I, Robot movie with Will Smith. Secondly, I didn''t write this review until about 7 years after reading the book. I kind of think it''s neat how the part of the book that evolved into the movie is really just a... See more
First, I didn''t buy and read this until long after watching the I, Robot movie with Will Smith. Secondly, I didn''t write this review until about 7 years after reading the book. I kind of think it''s neat how the part of the book that evolved into the movie is really just a short story. Then again, they got Maximum Overdrive out of what (as memory serves) was a 2 page short short story in a Stephen King book. Anyway, back on topic - As a sci-fi fan I was really disappointed in myself for not reading this sooner. It was quite enjoyable. It''s interesting to see where other authors have built on stuff like this. If it''s so awesome why not 5 stars? Because I haven''t felt any particular desire to go back and re-read it in the past 7 years.
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Jenni DaVinCat
4.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
Very Entertaining, Classic Science Fiction
Reviewed in the United States on January 13, 2016
I really enjoyed reading this. From the start, I was impressed because the book was written in 1950 but the main character, Susan Calvin was born in 1982. She graduated from Columbia in 2003. Essentially, what I''m getting at is that the majority of the novel takes place... See more
I really enjoyed reading this. From the start, I was impressed because the book was written in 1950 but the main character, Susan Calvin was born in 1982. She graduated from Columbia in 2003. Essentially, what I''m getting at is that the majority of the novel takes place in years that are a reality to many of us alive now. He may not have accurately predicted the future completely, but living in and seeing the differences is something that I love.

The book really sets in place the laws of robotics and drills them into the reader''s mind. It will make you think, however, because laws cannot be broken. Circumstances sometimes force the laws to be broken and that''s when problems arise. The end of the novel (no spoilers, don''t worry!) will really make you think about a lot of things, particularly the dynamic between human and machine and the dependence upon them.

It''s a relatively short book and will keep you entertained the entire time. It''s got the feeling of classic science fiction and his writing style reminded me a little bit of Richard Matheson, which made me that much more interested. I would recommend this to anybody who saw the terrible Will Smith movie by the same name and wants it to be redeemed.
13 people found this helpful
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Roadrunner
4.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
Interesting short stories. Raw style of writing. Asimov becomes a much better writer in his later works.
Reviewed in the United States on February 26, 2015
This is one of his very early works. The style of writing is a bit childish and raw and sometimes annoying (compared to Nemesis which is well written) but the stories are good. A must read book if you want to do the entire series. This is where I started the series.... See more
This is one of his very early works. The style of writing is a bit childish and raw and sometimes annoying (compared to Nemesis which is well written) but the stories are good. A must read book if you want to do the entire series. This is where I started the series. Nemesis is my second. I have done a lot of research to come up with the most logical sequence of reading Asimov''s books.
My chosen order is: I Robot, Nemesis, Caves of steel, Naked sun, Robots of Dawn, Robots and Empire, The stars like dust, The currents of space, Pebble in the sky, Foundation, Foundation and empire, Second foundation, Foundation''s edge, Foundation and earth, Prelude to foundation, and Forward the foundation.
The last two prequels so they can be read ahead of the Foundations series to put things in order, but they take some of the mystery and suspense out of the series. If you don ''t like guessing and imagining things as you read the stories, then read the prequels first. I''ll read them last. After all, Asimov wrote them afterwards.
16 people found this helpful
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Gemma W
5.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
Fantastic Collection of Short, Robot Stories
Reviewed in the United States on May 26, 2017
The book is composed so that each chapter is a new short story. All connected by the theme that this is a future earth (with robots) and these stories are being told by Dr. Calvin who is being interviewed. This format doesn''t distract from the actual stories so it''s easy to... See more
The book is composed so that each chapter is a new short story. All connected by the theme that this is a future earth (with robots) and these stories are being told by Dr. Calvin who is being interviewed. This format doesn''t distract from the actual stories so it''s easy to read.
Each short story was a demonstration of how robots were becoming integrated into the human community as well as all the paradoxes faced by the "Three Laws of Robotics."

As for the book itself, it arrived one days after ordered. It came well packaged and undamaged.
6 people found this helpful
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Top reviews from other countries

Get2Grips
5.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
The ORIGINAL robot fiction writer
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on February 20, 2020
Data, C3PO, Bishop et Al, say thank you to the creator. Okay, some of the lifestyle predictions have dated (this was written in the 50s) but the humanist core of the stories are as fresh as ever. HIGHLY recommended, if you like Sci-Fi, this is essential reading.See more
Data, C3PO, Bishop et Al, say thank you to the creator. Okay, some of the lifestyle predictions have dated (this was written in the 50s) but the humanist core of the stories are as fresh as ever. HIGHLY recommended, if you like Sci-Fi, this is essential reading.
3 people found this helpful
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What if I don't want them to
3.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
Esential back ground reading for SciFi
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on April 5, 2020
If you''ve an interest in SciFi or AI you should have heard of the 3 laws of robotics. This is the source of those rules the explanation of what they are and the consequences of messing with them. Not the book I remember from school, but that could have been an anthology of...See more
If you''ve an interest in SciFi or AI you should have heard of the 3 laws of robotics. This is the source of those rules the explanation of what they are and the consequences of messing with them. Not the book I remember from school, but that could have been an anthology of all Asimov''s robot books as several others are listed in the series that ring bells as just chapters of the book I recall. It makes the point that because of the 3 laws you can''t tell a robot from a good human, my interpretation is you don''t need 10 commandments just the 3 laws
2 people found this helpful
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Melanie D
5.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
Well worth a reread
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on November 22, 2020
I first read this book around the age of 11 or 12. At the time, while acknowledging the future it promised was unlikely to elapse in the timeframes of the book, it fascinated me that the possibilities were there. It''s hard to argue that an AGI would not consider itself...See more
I first read this book around the age of 11 or 12. At the time, while acknowledging the future it promised was unlikely to elapse in the timeframes of the book, it fascinated me that the possibilities were there. It''s hard to argue that an AGI would not consider itself superior to humans, and the creation of the three laws of robotics and the implications, the warnings, implicit in this book for mankind make it something anyone embarking on a career in ML/AI should read as a required text.
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A. Shann
4.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
Classic Sci-fi
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on May 7, 2020
A must read for sci-fi fans. Naive take on robotics and AI but nevertheless provides the source ideas for many well known sci-fi films over the years. Organised as a series of connected individual stories where each one introduces a theme and explores it. Worth the effort...See more
A must read for sci-fi fans. Naive take on robotics and AI but nevertheless provides the source ideas for many well known sci-fi films over the years. Organised as a series of connected individual stories where each one introduces a theme and explores it. Worth the effort IMHO.
One person found this helpful
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Rae
4.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
A marvelous read.
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on March 11, 2020
Brilliant, unnerving in places and with fantastic plotlines. Unfortunately, Asimov''s vision of the modern world, and his characters are naturally rather outdated. Nonetheless, an excellent and challenging read
One person found this helpful
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