“It certainly caught my attention. Two months after I read it, I began ‘Robbie’, about a sympathetic robot, and that was the start of my positronic robot series. Eleven years later, when nine of my robot stories were collected into a book, the publisher named the collection I, Robot over my objections. My book is now the more famous, but Otto’s story was there first.”
I must confess that I had never heard of Eando Binder before. When I heard the phrase “I, Robot”, my first thought was of the famous story by Isaac Asimov and his three laws of robotics. One person I asked thought that perhaps I was talking about a new robot to be made by Apple following on from iMac, iPod, iPad and so on. Another mentioned the film starring Will Smith which was based on Asimov’s robot detective stories.
It was not until I noticed a short audio book, available from Audible, entitled I, Robot, that I realised there was a story with that title published much earlier than Asimov’s.
Eando Binder was not one person, but two brothers by the names of Earl and Otto, “E and O” Binder, who initially wrote science fiction stories together. Their first story about the robot Adam Link, was published in the January 1939 edition of Amazing Stories.
Extract from I, Robot by Otto Binder (1939):
I will begin at the beginning. I was born, or created, five years ago. I am a true robot. Some of you humans still have doubts, it seems. I am made of wires and wheels, not flesh and blood. I am run by electrical power. My brain is made of iridium-sponge.
My first recollection of consciousness was a feeling of being chained. And I was. For three days, I had been seeing and hearing but all in a jumble. Now, I had the urge to rise and peer more closely at the strange moving form that I had seen so many times before me, making sounds.
The moving form was Dr. Charles Link, my creator. Of all the objects within my sight he was the only thing that moved. He and one other object, his dog, Terry. Even though I had not yet learned to associate movement with life, my attention was pinpointed on these two.
It is a very good story, and, unusually for the time, the robot is sympathetically treated and not regarded as some kind of monster. However, Adam, the robot, is wrongly accused of murdering his creator. The collected Adam Link short stories are available from Amazon as a Kindle book.
Otto Binder’s story was used as the basis for two episodes of The Outer Limits, both titled “I, Robot”. The first from 1964 and the second from 1995. Leonard Nimoy appeared in both versions, but as two different characters.
“To anyone fond of the robot story in science fiction, Adam Link is of extraordinary interest. The robot-with-emotion has rarely been handled so well.”