Sometimes I run out of stuff to read at home, and sometimes when that happens I pick up a book of my husband’s (which, chances are, he hasn’t read). Right now I’m reading Isaac Asimov’s classic I, Robot, a collection of short stories that reads like a coherent novel.
I’m sort of surprised that I like it. More than one person has been surprised to see me reading it.
Asimov is Serious Sci-Fi, which has never been exactly my deal. Even when I was more into the sci-fi/fantasy genre, my brother read Asimov and I read the fluffier, more humanistic Bradbury novels. But I’m in it now and loving it. The Three Laws of Robotics, which show up in a surprisingly broad range of places (Robocop’s Prime Directive developed from Asimov’s laws, for example), originated in these stories. (I actually knew about them already, which is saying something.)
It’s interesting to me that these stories were written more than 50 years ago (!) with this futuristic view. The future Asimov was creating is a little dated now – we are so far beyond the concept of “robot” as presented here that it almost doesn’t make sense – but the things we ask and expect of machines, the continued quest for AI, and the tension between people and machines are still completely relevant. I think that’s what makes I, Robot a good read: although the stories center on the robots, the human element is timeless and very, very true.
I don’t think that at this stage of my life I’m going to become a rabid sci-fi person. Having read a little Asimov, though, and a little Orson Scott Card, I think I’m better off than I was before. At least the door is open. At least I have a sense of who (besides me!) these books are good for.