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Sunday, January 16, 2011

Eight Stories from the Rest of the Robots - Isaac Asimov

Couldn't find a picture of this edition's cover on the net. And for some reason that I haven't been able to fix, this is the best I can do with my scanner right now. Grrr.

This collection of robot stories from Asimov was really enjoyable and scored me a trip to Uranus on the Mind Voyages challenge when I finished it early last month. The stories are:

Robot AL-76 Goes Astray
First Law
Victory Unintentional
Let's Get Together
Satisfaction Guaranteed
Galley Slave

This was the first I'd heard of Dr. Susan Calvin the roboticist, who I'm still not sure I liked or not. I did like how Asimov's style questions the boundaries of human and robot; you get a good look at his robots' "human" sides.

I think my favorite short of this collection was Victory Unintentional. A group of robots are sent to Jupiter to observe the Jovians, who are hostile to humankind but so far not technologically advanced enough to threaten them. And the robots have distinctive personalities and qualities that help tell the story. It's simple, but effective story telling: the Jovians observe the robots performing any number of feats that an actual human would be incapable of and are duly impressed, thinking that they are observing examples of human capabilities. It's not until the end of the story that the robots understand they have probably quelled interstellar war, simply by being themselves.

Very entertaining and insightful writing. Asimov fan? Add this to your list of must reads.

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