Sunday, May 13, 2012

CBR IV # 23 The Positronic Man by Isaac Asimov and Robert Silverberg

This story seemed a bit familiar and upon further research, I figured out that I have actually read the short story/novella this book was based on.  I love my sci-fi with a vengeance and Asimov has been the one to really turn me on to the genre.  I love Asimov, I do.

This book, as I've mentioned is based on the short story, The Bi-Centennial Man by the same author (and then it was made into the movie of the same name starring Robin Williams.  huh.).  This book I guess expands and gives more detail to the journey of Andrew Smith, the robot who wanted to be a real boy. 

Andrew was conceived to be an ordinary household robot given to a prominent family on Earth. However, he was made in the early years of robot manufacturing and so his positronic brain allowed for some surprises.  It started with an unusual ability for woodcarving, which almost seemed to be art, a very human endeavor.  Over the years and with the support of his human masters, Andrew freed himself and slowly transformed himself, or maybe developed himself more and more towards humanity. But will he become truly human?  And who shall decide who is truly human?

As is normal in Asimov books, there is no shooting of space lasers flying ships or scary aliens.  There is very little action, just a narration of Andrew's long life.  Aside from being good story, it, as is usual delves into some philosophical matters like as is obvious, what makes us truly human?  Can one transcend what one is originally created for (and is) and still be authentic to what he strives to be or now is?  

I also found it fun to read a robot book that still takes place on earth and very soon after it became mainstream.  It's like reading a little bit of history. Of course, even the earliest robots were subject to the three laws.  It was fun to see how robotics developed and how humanity spread first to the moon and to the other planets.

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