The Plot

(Critical Survey of Science Fiction and Fantasy)

The bulk of Isaac Asimov’s short fiction about robots was written between 1940 and 1957. Nine stories are collected in I, Robot. Another eight, together with two robot novels—The Caves of Steel (1954) and The Naked Sun (1957)—appear in the collection The Rest of the Robots (1964). The eight stories, without the novels, also appear in Eight Stories from the Rest of the Robots (1966). Four more robot stories—“Feminine Intuition,” “That Thou Art Mindful of Him,” “The Life and Times of Multivac,” and “The Tercentenary Incident”—were published in The Bicentennial Man and Other Stories.

Although a few of the robot stories feature Donovan and Powell, two troubleshooters employed by U.S. Robots Corporation, the majority of the stories loosely follow the life and career of Dr. Susan Calvin. Calvin is a robopsychologist who is frequently called upon to deal with problems stemming from the increasing sophistication of the positronic brains of succeeding generations of robots. She appears only as an observer in Asimov’s first robot story, “Robbie,” which features a relatively primitive household robot.

Most of the stories in I, Robot revolve around the development of the Three Laws of Robotics, a built-in inviolable ethical hierarchy that compels the robots not to harm and to protect human beings, to follow reasonable orders, and to protect themselves from harm....

(The entire section is 491 words.)


(Critical Survey of Science Fiction and Fantasy)

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