Tag: Robot

Isaac Asimov and Robert Silverberg – The Positronic Man | Review

Title: The Positronic Man

Author: Isaac Asimov and Robert Silverberg

Type: Fiction

Page Count: 226

Rating: 4.25/5

When I ordered this book online, I didn’t realise that it was co-written and thought that it was just an Asimov novel. Then, when I picked it up, I was wondering whether I’d be able to tell which author wrote which parts based upon their voices. That didn’t really happen, and it just read like Asimov’s novels.

I believe it’s also based on Bicentennial Man, which I think I’ve read at some point, but it was long enough ago that I couldn’t remember anything. That meant that other than knowing that it was a robot novel, I went in pretty blind.

That’s actually not a bad shout, and I can give you the information you’ll need to decide whether to read it without too many spoilers. It basically follows a robot who starts to take on ever more human qualities and who eventually tries to prove to the world that he’s a person, even while admitting he’s not a human.

The most interesting parts here are the bits which deal with morality and questions of what exactly it is that makes someone human. That’s where Asimov is at his best, and he really shines here even if it’s actually Silverberg. It doesn’t matter.

Learn more about The Positronic Man.

 


Isaac Asimov – The Robots of Dawn | Review

Title: The Robots of Dawn

Author: Isaac Asimov

Type: Fiction

Page Count: 480

Rating: 3.5/5

This book is one of the installments in Asimov’s Robot series, and so that makes it essentially a science fiction detective novel with a whole bunch of ethics thrown in. Asimov is probably most famous for creating the three laws of Robotics, which are the following:

  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 the orders given 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 Laws.

What’s fun about this book, like the other books that tie in with these laws, is that Asimov basically created them only so that he could bend and break them. We get some great examples of that here, including some suggestions of scenarios which could cause two of the laws to come into conflict with themselves and to cause a robot to overload.

Then we have the morality side of things. In fact, the whole case here revolves around the murder of a robot, and so there’s a lot of discussion around whether such a thing is even possible. After all, robots aren’t alive, right? There’s even some stuff on how while you can use roboticide and homicide, the word murder” doesn’t seem to quite apply.

Obviously I don’t want to go too much into the details of the plot, because the last thing that I want to do is to spoil it for people. What I will say is that it holds its own both as a science fiction novel and as a mystery novel, and indeed I think that Asimov is one of the underrated masters of the genre. I’ve read a mystery of his called A Whiff of Death which was set in our world on an American college campus, and that was fantastic.

Another piece of good news is that despite the fact that this is the third book in a series, you can still read it as a standalone if you want to. Sure, you’ll get a little more out of it if you follow the series through from start to finish, but it’s not a hard and fast rule and all that you miss out on is a little character development.

So all of this brings us on to the final big question of whether this is worth reading or not, and my answer to that would be 100% yes. Asimov is a fantastic writer no matter what he’s doing, and while there are other books of his that are a lot of fun, this is great too. Jeez, he always is.

Learn more about The Robots of Dawn.

 


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