Archive for the ‘Mechanical Men’ Category

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“Punishment without Crime” by Ray Bradbury

February 5, 2011
The Book: “Punishment without Crime” by Ray Bradbury. Originally published by Other Worlds Science Stories in March 1950, the story was read in Long after Midnight published by Bantam in 1978.The Setting: Earth, a near future.
 

The Story: A man murders a shockingly realistic marionette of his estranged wife and is in turn put to death for it.

The Science: One of the things which shocked the main character in this story was how realistic the blood was of the murdered marionette. We have, since the 1950s, made astounding strides in visual effects. I mean, I just saw 127 Hours and the blood and tissue effects were pretty freaking impressive, so to have a robot with realistic flesh and blood is totally conceivable.

The Reaction: I wasn’t feeling this story either. The ending was all too… 1984 thought police-y. The premise of intentionally misplaced murder is nice, but I didn’t feel that the follow through lived up.

The Cover: Same as before.

Next Up: “Forever and the Earth” by Ray Bradbury

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I, Robot by Isaac Asimov

February 1, 2011

The Book: I, Robot by Isaac Asimov.  Originally published in 1950, the edition read was published by Fawcett Crest (M1966) in 1970.

The Setting: Throughout the Solar System, around 2057

The Story: An interviewer convinces the world’s foremost robopsychologist to tell him tales about the development of robotics. She obliges.

The Science: Robotics is a science which is all around us and yet still the stuff of legend. New robots and smarter computers are being developed every year, and yet we cannot hope to match the expectations set by this book in our life times. I think we are still a long way from robots which are self aware, or which serve as nannies, but the spark is there, and it will probably come. Someday.

The Reaction: At its core, this is a book of short stories held together by the life of a character. And I loved it. I loved the stories within the book; I loved that the central character is a strong, smart woman (finally!); I love the imagination of the situations of the various stories. If this book was three times as long as it is now, I would love it as much. Asimov really has his shit together.

The Cover: Not actually that thrilled by the cover. There are some random robot looking things, but they’re not doing anything and they don’t even look that cool. An enthusiastic Meh is the best you’re going to get from me on this one.

Etc: I was trying very hard to remember the move I, Robot starring Will Smith, but I was unable to identify more than a passing resemblance to the book. Which is a darn shame. There are some good films to be made from these stories.

Next Up: Cosmic Engineers by Clifford D. Simak.