Time Was: Isaac Asimov's I-Bots

Steve Perry, Author, Gary A. Braunbeck, Joint Author
Steve Perry, Author, Gary A. Braunbeck, Joint Author Eos $23 (448p) ISBN 978-0-06-105295-8
Reviewed on: 06/01/1998
Release date: 06/01/1998
Ebook - 448 pages - 978-0-06-186176-5
Ebook - 448 pages - 978-0-06-117918-1
Open Ebook - 448 pages - 978-0-06-087702-6
Peanut Press/Palm Reader - 448 pages - 978-0-06-087699-9
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In the manner of the ongoing series extending Asimov's Foundation novels (Gregory Benford's Foundation's Fear, etc.) comes this pastiche based on the late, great SF master's Three Laws of Robotics. Set in the early 21st century, the novel features five I-Bots, robots as psychologically complex as humans and therefore less bound than their brethren by the Three Laws. The robots find it unendurable to be used as professional assassins, however--and exceedingly difficult to escape the corporate power trippers who wish to use them that way. The robots here are well drawn, and the action scenes are as intense, vivid and bloody as readers have come to expect from Perry (The Digital Effect, etc.), here writing with Braunbeck (Things Left Behind). But the mayhem is not well integrated into a coherent story, and it creates a tone very unlike that laid down by Asimov's relentless rationality. The story also depends heavily for its emotional impact on the tension between the I-Bots' independence of mind and the Three Laws. Those laws were a seminal SF concept in their time, 50 years ago, but they have long since been overtaken in both SF and in real-world cybernetics, and are possibly not well known by many younger SF readers. This is a good example of a pastiche that exhibits much competence but that doesn't quite succeed as either homage to the original author or as an independent development of his themes. (July)
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