The rest of the robots

Asimov; robots;book;

Original title: The rest of the robots.

Title of this edition: The rest of the robots.

Author: Isaac Asimov.

Gender: Science fiction.

Saga: Asimov Robots.

Editorial: panther 

Edition year: 1, 1969.

Prizes: …

Synopsis [Warning: Spoiler]: As the own Asimov states, the book is made with stories that didn’t fit anywhere. They are robot stories, sometimes involving Susan Calvin, all happening before the Foundation, but not following the same plot.

Robot AL-76 Goes Astray: A robot designed to work on the moon gets lost on earth and as a result of its program, builds a machine to harvest resources. His design is much more efficient and the humans around him are scared because robots are prohibited on earth. In the end his machine is destroyed and there is no way of reproducing it.

Victory Unintentional: There is an alien civilization living on Jupiter. Due to the high pressures on the planet, they never get out of the surface and no human has ever been there. An expedition of robots is sent for the first contact. Jupiter’s population, initially hostile, comes to peaceful terms with earth because they mistook the robots, and their capabilities, with average human beings.

First Law: Very short story of a robot escaping and letting one man to die. It seems the robot had a child and was protecting it.

Let’s Get Together: Americans versus Russians. The Russians let know the Americans they have a group of humanoid robots that will meet inside united states and when that happens… explode.

Satisfaction Guaranteed: The new robot version has to be tested with humans… the chosen one is the wife of one of the engineers… At the beginning she was not sure about it, but after a while she falls in love with the robot. In fact, she is so much in love with him that the robot has to abandon her in order to protect her.

Risk: A spaceship that uses teleportation has to be tested…. with a robot. Unfortunately it doesn’t work, and a human has to be sent in order to study why. The reason… the commands given to the robot induce him to overturn the controls and destroy them.

Lenny: Dr Susan Calvin finds a robot with some oddities in the neural networks that allows him to learn as a human. She trains him to speak. He is also able to develop feelings.

Galley Slave: A robot is developed to perform article reviews. While it represents an advantage for the community, one evil professor tries to accuse him of deliberately changing his manuscript. However, it’s own lack of knowledge about robots betrays him and he is finally accused in court.

Personal Review: This is a very nice collection of stories with the pure Asimov essence. Because they are very brief, sometimes is difficult to judge if they are good or bad (in general good). The one I liked the most is “Victory Unintentional”, because it goes beyond the usual stories of robots including aliens. More interesting, it gowns around the question about humans/robots. Asimov imagined Jupiter as the scenario for his novel, but imagine something much more further away. In the other side of the galaxy for instance. Imagine that we send a spacecraft in a 1000 years voyage with robots in it. They will be our expeditioners, our ambassadors… and most likely, by the time they arrive, they will be like ourselves. Interesting.

The second story that i liked most is Satisfaction Warranted, because it describes perfectly how our society will be like with robots. Personal assistants, friends, people who care about us and help us having a better life. They are not a menace or a big technical leap but new friends and companions.

The other stories are good to build a background around the robots universe, but for me they are not as good as the ones I like. For instance, Risk is a good story, but they use a human to inspect the spaceship because a robot is too valuable to loose it. Why not a radio controlled robot? Some kind of drone, not as complex as a real robot but good enough to go into the spaceship? The problem here is that this is a story about all or nothing.

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