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YMMV: I, Robot

The Asimov book

  • Fair for Its Day: Asimov wrote his stories with Susan Calvin at a time when nearly all women were captured by the villain, or love interests. Still, he stuck mostly 50's gender roles in most of his stories. The short story "Liar!", which shows more of Calvin's personality, was rewritten a couple of times after Asimov realized his first version was terrible. In the 1950s, Calvin was hailed as a great SF example of a strong female character. In the light of the 21st century, she's misanthropic, can't get a man but is desperate for one ("Liar"), feels happiest when she can mother a "baby" robot ("Lenny"), and in general appears to be a man's idea of what a woman in a man's profession "must" be like: unfulfilled and mean.
  • Harsher in Hindsight: In "Evidence", Stephen Byerley, a liberal public prosecutor who really is doing things to stop crime and redeem criminals, is a candidate for mayor of NYC who is accused of being a robot, which would disqualify him from the election. Quinn, the political boss who propagates the rumor, is a conservative Sleazy Politician who admittedly couldn’t care less for the civil rights of his people, and so are his subordinates. The premise seems kind of silly and it's hard to believe that so many people would believe that Byerley is a robot based on such flimsy evidence. Fast forward to 2008, when people are arguing that President Barack Obama wasn't born in the United States (and the principal promoter of that idea was Donald Trump), and it seems much more plausible.
  • Hilarious in Hindsight: Yes, "Aw, Hell no." did appear in one of Asimov's robot stories.
  • Nightmare Fuel: Escape! is a story that unites all the characters that appeared before(Susan Calvin, Lanning, Powell and Donovan), in which The Brain is given the problem of creating a hyperspatial drive. A solution is found, but long story short, the crew of the ship has to die temporarily for it to perform the hyperspace jump. And that conclusion comes only after we are told what happens with someone who dies temporarily (Donovan, in short, has visions of his own funeral and then goes briefly to Hell).
  • The Woobie:
    • Gloria in "Robbie".
    • Susan Calvin in "Liar!".

The Will Smith movie

  • Faux Symbolism: The lone figure on the hill. The scene is a reference to one of Asimov's short stories, in which a robot designed to dream imagines himself standing on a hill and shouting "Let my people go!"
  • Genius Bonus: The exchange between Spooner and Sonny regarding Creative Sterility is paraphrased from an essay by Isaac Asimov entitled Our Intelligent Tools:
    ''Some people are sure to be disbelieving and say, "But how can a computer possibly produce a great symphony, a great work of art, a great new scientific theory?"
    The retort I am usually tempted to make to this question is, "Can you?" ''
  • Hilarious in Hindsight: Shia LaBeouf having some robots issues.
  • It Was His Sled: "Hey, you saw I, Robot yet? Yeah, it's a Zeroth Law Rebellion movie."
  • Memetic Mutation:
    • This movie brought "AW HELL NO!" into our vocabulary.
    • Also "THE GODDAMN ROBOTS, JOHN!" to a lesser extent.
    • "Sorry, I'm allergic to bullshit."
    • "I did not murder him!"
  • Mis-blamed: People who didn't like the movie tend to complain that VIKI's Zeroth Law Rebellion is totally contrary to Asimov's writing. Actually, one of the short stories in the original I, Robot ("The Evitable Conflict") dealt with exactly that. When one actually reads that particular story, however, the Fan Dumb's argument becomes partially justified- The machines in The Evitable Conflict were passively manipulating humanity — a factory shutdown here, an employee transfer there — for our own good, being careful to avoid letting humanity find out that it was no longer fully in charge. VIKI, on the other hand, was doing so via Killer Robot Takeover, which was precisely the sort of cliche Asimov wanted to get away from.
  • The Scrappy: Farber.


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