Because I cannot review a book that’s been made into a movie without at least mentioning the film version, here’s a fair warning:
Although I, Robot starring Will Smith was a fairly passable excuse for a movie and mostly entertaining if you enjoy explody things, do not pick up Asimov’s novel expecting to read anything even remotely similar to what happened in the movie.
That being said, the book version of I, Robot is very, very good, and you should probably read it regardless of whether or not you liked the movie. Especially if you hated the movie.
The story doesn’t really have a continuous plot – it’s basically about a journalist interviewing Dr. Susan Calvin, who’s a robopsychologist in the year 2057. The main body of the book is a series of robot-related anecdotes that Dr. Calvin tells, starting in the year 1996 when robots couldn’t even speak, to the end of her career when robots were running the world. All the stories are really interesting, even though there was a lot of scientific and engineering jabber I ended up just skimming through.
A few of the stories feature two scientists, Mike Donovan and Gregory Powell, who get into lots of robot-related danger and gripe at each other like two old women. They were my favorite characters, and the stories about them were usually the funniest. Asimov has a gift for dry wit and sarcasm, demonstrated by lines like this: “What broke loose is popularly and succinctly described as hell.”
Verdict: four out of five stars