by Isaac Asimov
Reviewed by Dr. Russ Yocum
The Complete Robot is the most complete anthology of Isaac Asimov’s short-stories set in his “robot universe.” Though most of the stories originally appeared in various science fiction magazines or other collected volumes between 1941 and 1977, it is convenient to have them all in one edition. With ever-increasing advances in robotics, artificial intelligence, and computing power, these stories are just as relevant (if not more so) today than when they first saw print.
In these collected stories, readers will get to know some recurring characters (Powell, Donovan, and Dr. Susan Calvin – - all employees of US Robots and Mechanical Men Corporation) as well as a variety of robots. Some of the robots are little more than computers or factory-like machines intended for one specific purpose; other robots can learn and adapt. Asimov coined the term “robotics” and with his “Three Laws of Robotics” that appear in many of his robot universe stories has had a lasting influence on modern computing and 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 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 Law.” (Asimov, various stories). Through malfunction, improper design, or robots’ abilities to adapt, we often find that these three laws are not quite engraved in stone, and adventure is bound to ensue. Some robots are
creepy, some lovable, others mere tools, this collection of stories will spark readers’ imagination and leave them wondering just how much more of Asimov’s words will prove prophetic.
Suggestions for Possible Concepts: potential usefulness and dangers that accompany technological advances, thinking about what constitutes intelligent life and the presence of a soul, and the
dangers of over-reliance upon technology.