Introduced by Daniel H. Wilson
Illustrated by Alex Wells
Hugely influential in both the science-fiction genre and the world of robotics, Asimov’s short stories are introduced here by the author of Robopocalypse.
Isaac Asimov began his career in magazines such as Amazing Stories, writing numerous acclaimed works of science fiction and eventually going on to win the Hugo Award four times and the Nebula Award once. But Asimov was more than one of the greatest science-fiction writers of his age. His concepts and ideas – particularly his 'Three Laws of Robotics', the rules designed to govern robot behaviour – would go on to inspire and influence the real-world development of artificial intelligence in countless ways.
‘An exciting science thriller’
In his introduction to this edition, robotics engineer and novelist Daniel H. Wilson describes the influence of Asimov’s fictional vision of the future. Whether coining the term ‘robotics’ (which he does in one of the I, Robot short stories) or inspiring Joseph Engelberger and George Devel to construct the first robotic arm, Asimov’s gift, Wilson writes, was to ‘lift our eyes to the horizon; to show us worlds worth living in’.
Via the reminiscences of Chief Robopsychologist Dr Susan Calvin, I, Robot offers the reader snapshots of a future fraught with remarkable technologies and unthought-of moral conundrums. In ‘Robbie’, a little girl grows so attached to her robot nanny that she is inconsolable when her parents try to replace him; field engineers Powell and Donovan must deal with the religious mania of a robot that refuses to believe that human beings – creatures so ‘soft and flabby’ and ‘makeshift’ – could be responsible for its creation; and in ‘Liar!’ a telepathic robot lies to its human colleagues to save their feelings, with terrible consequences. In each story, Asimov reveals a new facet of this complex future and the unexpected consequences of the Three Laws, ultimately sowing the seeds for his acclaimed Foundation series.
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 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.
‘With his fertile imagination, his wit, and his prolific output, Isaac Asimov truly laid the foundation for all future generations of science-fiction writers’
Isaac Asimov is one of the great names of science fiction. He published over five hundred works, including the Hugo and Nebula award-winning ‘Foundation Trilogy’ (1951–3; Folio edition 2012), The Gods Themselves (1972), and The Bicentennial Man (1976). He was born in Petrovichi, Russia, in 1920 and grew up in New York City. He studied at Columbia University, where he gained his MA and PhD in biochemistry. In between completing his studies he served with the US Naval Air Experimental Station during World War II. He later became a Professor in Biochemistry and published academic works, including Inside the Atom (1956), The Human Brain (1964), and Views of the Universe (1981). In 1987 he was awarded the SFWA Grand Master Award and in 1997 he was inducted into the Science Fiction Hall of Fame. He died in 1992 in New York City.
Alex Wells is an illustrator from Brighton. He uses a combination of traditional and digital media. His clients include Rolling Stone, the New York Times, Wired, the BBC, and the Guardian. He has previously illustrated The Folio Society’s 2012 edition of ‘Foundation Trilogy’ by Isaac Asimov.
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