Tag Archives: Asimov

The first “I, Robot”

ComicBook“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.”
Isaac Asimov

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.

AudioBookIt 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.

Amazing_Stories_January_1939Eando 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.

AdamLink-bookIt 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.

OuterLimitsOtto 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.”
Isaac Asimov

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I, Robot – free audio book

Have you ever read Isaac Asimov’s famous collection of robot stories, cleverly linked together into one book? The stories which eventually made up I, Robot were written between 1940 and 1950, but they are just as fascinating and thought provoking today.

Audible 30-Day Free Trial

At the time of writing this short Blog entry, there is an advert for Audible on the right hand side of this page. If you sign up for a free 30-day trial of the Audible service, you can listen to I, Robot completely free – all eight hours and 25 minutes of it.

One audio book reviewer wrote:

Listening to this audiobook was a true pleasure. The classic sci fi tale of robots and the future of humanity has aged very well and many of the issues it rasies still feel contemporary. The book’s structure is pure genius, taking several previously published short stories (some which feature on going characters and some which don’t) and stiching them together with original work by means of a journalist conducting reseach. The stories are increasingly epic and complex, each one drawing the listener further into the world of the robots. This is also fascinating for any sci fan as it effectively documents the developement of the genre in the last century, from the simplistic and haunting stories of the pulp fiction anthologies (which make up most of the first half of the book) to the politically complex novels that writers like Clark, Dick and of course Asimov went on to write.  On the production side the reader does an excellent job representing the different charatcers, both human and robotic! 

I, Robot – 1st edition sold for £4,450

I, Robot, first editionA signed first edition of I, Robot by Isaac Asimov sold in 2014 for £4,450 on Abe Books. According to Wikipedia, the first print run was just 5,000 copies. “Several of the stories feature the character of Dr. Calvin, chief robopsychologist at U.S. Robots and Mechanical Men, Inc., the major manufacturer of robots. Upon their publication in this collection, Asimov wrote a framing sequence presenting the stories as Calvin’s reminiscences during an interview with her about her life’s work, chiefly concerned with aberrant behaviour of robots, and the use of ‘robopsychology’ to sort them out. The book also contains the short story in which Asimov’s Three Laws of Robotics first appear.”