|I, Robot: To Protect is a doubly curious work
being neither written by Isaac Asimov nor a collection of short stories, however, rest
assured the work has been authorised by the Estate of Isaac Asimov so has that essential
patina of respectability. I, Robot: To Protect is a novel by Mickey Zucker
Reichert an author whom I have only read, and quite fittingly given who she is following,
at the shorter length of the writing spectrum.
I, Robot: To Protect is an
attempt to fill in the back story of Doctor Susan Calvin and her involvement in the
beginnings of android robotics.
For those unfamiliar with the "I, Robot" sequence Isaac Asimov coined the
concepts of the positronic brain and the three laws of robotics (both concepts adopted
without restraint by Gene Roddenberry for his android character Data in the TV series
"Star Trek: the next generation"). Isaac Asimov developed these two concepts in
a series of short stories (starting with the title piece "I, Robot") and
reinforced the concepts in almost all his subsequent works that dealt with robots.
With that background in mind I approached this novel with much interest. Would the book
be a homage to Asimovs style, i.e. a novel so highly episodic such that the joins
between stories could be seen? Or would the book be this authors own take on the
storyline? Answer: the latter.
In I, Robot: To Protect Ms Reichert has delivered a fitting piece to
start the story of Susan Calvin and the beginnings of self-aware robots. The tale told in
the book concerns the central characters early life as a psychiatry resident at a
teaching hospital in New York City, her experiences in the residency ward and her exposure
to nano-mechanical experiments in treating persistent psychiatric conditions. For Susan
this first month of residency has the full gamut of personal highs and lows, insights and
Against expectation, as I am not a fan of back story for its own sake, I enjoyed this
book and found it a satisfying read. However, the story provided little insight into how
Susan Calvin became so central to the development self-aware, android robots and their
acceptance in society. To which observation I am lead to conclude there will very probably
be more "I, Robot" novels authorised by the Estate of Isaac Asimov and penned by
Mickey Zucker Reichert. Watch that space way the way over there.