Friday, March 27, 2015

James Review -- I Robot: To Obey

This week I decided to review I Robot: To Obey by Mickey Zucker Reichert. The story follows Susan Calvin, a medical student, during her residency. It opens with Susan, having recovered from injuries sustained during an attack by the Society for Humanity, an anti-robot extremist group, which claimed the life of her lover, beginning her residency at the psychiatric ward at Manhattan Hasbro Hospital. At first, most of her problems are tied to clashes with her superiors over the diagnosis and treatment of her patients or the guardians of those patients. But then her father and one of their neighbors are murdered. Things grow even more mysterious when Susan discovers that the official cause of death for her father is clearly false, and the body goes missing, officially cremated without her permission. Susan continues investigating and eventually discovers that her father was actually an android disguised as a human. He had been created to raise her after her biological parents were assassinated by the Society for Humanity when she was a child. Her parents had been deeply involved in the creation of positronic brains, and had arranged it so it was impossible to create positronic brains that didn’t adhere to the three laws of robotics. The Society for Humanity had killed her birth parents because they believed her parents knew how to deactivate the three laws, and were after her android father, but are now after her as well. Even worse Susan is also being targeted by a United States black ops group who also believe that she has the knowledge to deactivate the three laws and wish to use it to create a machine army. This leads to Susan and the few allies she can trust being forced to flee from both forces with little in the way of resources and no idea how to convince those hunting her of the fact that no one can disable the three laws.
I give this book an 8.5 out of 10. The mystery and hospital sequences are well written even though I think most of the hospital scenes are just a side story to the real plot, but I found the action sequences somewhat lacking. The book is very realistic though and I find it chilling how easily I could see the events in it occurring if the proper technologies and programming existed.

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