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I, Robot

This story appears in my collection Overclocked: Stories of the Future Present, 2007

Infinite Matrix

Romanian translation (SCI-FI Magazin, September 2007)

Yo, robot, Spanish fantrans by Fernando Orbis, December 2009

Hugo Award nominee, 2005 (Novelette)

Locus Award for Best Novelette, 2005

Finalist, 2005 British Science Fiction Awards

Podcast: Part I, Part II, Part III, Part IV, Part V

Hebrew translation by Haggay Averbuch in Bli Panika magazine, October 2006

In spring 2004, in the wake of Ray Bradbury pitching a tantrum over Michael Moore appropriating the title of Fahrenheit 451 to make Fahrenheit 9/11, I conceived of a plan to write a series of stories with the same titles as famous sf shorts, which would pick apart the totalitarian assumptions underpinning some of sf's classic narratives.

Infinite Matrix magazine published one of these, a story called "I, Robot," which describes the police state that would have to obtain if you were going to have a world where there was only one kind of robot allowed and only one company was allowed to make it.

Arturo Icaza de Arana-Goldberg, Police Detective Third Grade, United North American Trading Sphere, Third District, Fourth Prefecture, Second Division (Parkdale) had had many adventures in his distinguished career, running crooks to ground with an unbeatable combination of instinct and unstinting devotion to duty.

He'd been decorated on three separate occasions by his commander and by the Regional Manager for Social Harmony, and his mother kept a small shrine dedicated to his press clippings and commendations that occupied most of the cramped sitting-room of her flat off Steeles Avenue.

No amount of policeman's devotion and skill availed him when it came to making his twelve-year-old get ready for school, though.

"Haul ass, young lady — out of bed, on your feet, shit-shower-shave, or I swear to God, I will beat you purple and shove you out the door jaybird naked. Capeesh?"

The mound beneath the covers groaned and hissed. "You are a terrible father," it said. "And I never loved you." The voice was indistinct and muffled by the pillow.

"Boo hoo," Arturo said, examining his nails. "You'll regret that when I'm dead of cancer."

The mound — whose name was Ada Trouble Icaza de Arana-Goldberg — threw her covers off and sat bolt upright. "You're dying of cancer? is it testicle cancer?" Ada clapped her hands and squealed. "Can I have your stuff?"


11 Responses to “I, Robot”

  1. Just a coment on Bradbury; with respect. The guy has written some of the most wonderful and poetic stories of the XX century. Touched millions of people. Is an example of how to live life to the fullest by pursuing and working on the things that make us happy. Even designed a ride gor Walt Disney for jebus sake! And he made a mistake last year for attacking M. Moore. Fine, he was wrong. You know it and I know it. But the guy's human, and 85 to boot. I think he has earned the right to slip up once in a while.

    So couldn't you ease up on him a bit? I think your remix idea is wonderful (and will buy the eventual book collection if if you publish it) But every time you stick it to Bradbury in Boing Boing or here it makes me cringe (I love the dear man, what can I say). I respectfully think that your work will be better if you frame it in a constructive context, not just as a destructive, punk kid's way of showing the man.

  2. Just a coment on Bradbury; with respect. The guy has written some of the most wonderful and poetic stories of the XX century. Touched millions of people. Is an example of how to live life to the fullest by pursuing and working on the things that make us happy. Even designed a ride gor Walt Disney for jebus sake! And he made a mistake last year for attacking M. Moore. Fine, he was wrong. You know it and I know it. But the guy's human, and 85 to boot. I think he has earned the right to slip up once in a while.

    So couldn't you ease up on him a bit? I think your remix idea is wonderful (and will buy the eventual book collection if if you publish it) But every time you stick it to Bradbury in Boing Boing or here it makes me cringe (I love the dear man, what can I say). I respectfully think that your work will be better if you frame it in a constructive context, not just as a destructive, punk kid's way of showing the man.

  3. I don't think I follow you, Patricio. The impetus for the series of stories is the impetus for the stories -- should I tell people otherwise?

  4. Pavol Hvizdos says:

    With this my remark I am probably hopelessly late, but better than never. In 1939 E. Binder wrote a short story named "I, robot". Asimov's book is from 1950. Both Campbell and Asimov knew the Binder's story, yet did not hesitate to use a good title again. No problems followed.

  5. Triple score on the Locus recommended reading list!

    I've made Locus's recommended reading list for 2005 in three different categories. I've score a recommendation for best novel for Someone Comes to Town, Someone Leaves Town, for best novella for Human Readable, and for best novelette for I, Robot....

  6. Boing Boing says:

    Locus Awards Ballot is online

    The Locus Awards ballot is online, where science fiction fans can vote on their favorite works of 2005. I'm proud to report that I'm eligible in three categories: Best Fantasy Novel (Someone Comes to Town, Someone Leaves Town), Best Novella (Human Read...

  7. Seems I can't do it -- wait for each podcast reading of the stories. I managed to wait for part 3 today, and then was too deep in the story I ended up going to this site and reading the rest on my own.

    Great work Cory!

    BTW: I hear you might be in Canada later this year talking to the AGM of the self-named "Creators Rights Alliance". It will be interesting to see how some of these more traditional thinkers take to some of the modern ideas you will bring. I have had some of my own discussions over the years with some CRA members.

    I expect there will be more than a few "Social Harmony" agent types there promoting their organizational support for the 1996 WIPO treaties, broadcast treaties, and "broadcast flag" type regulations ;-)

  8. j_aubrey says:

    your story down and out in the magic kingdom also endorses a totaleterian system albeit in a roundabout way.

    If a persons actions are judged and rewarded solely on the basis of a common consensus, of what is cool/acceptable/respectable rather than on their own merits. Then inevitably people become slaves to mediocrity.

  9. Cory Stanish says:

    I know I am responding to very old comments here, but...

    First of all, the title of I, Robot is a direct response to the kind of thinking displayed in Asimov's original work; wherein it was postulated that the only way to have a society with active robots in it was to have very strict limits on what robots were allowed to do. I think what Cory is trying to say with this title and the story in general is that that kind of thinking needs to be re-examined in light of how just how much technology is changing our everyday lives and exactly how much the governments and corporations would like to tell us how we can or cannot utilize our own property.

    And in response to j_aubrey's comment regarding "Down and Out..." I have to disagree. I don't think the "regard economics" in that book woudl encourage mediocrity any more than our current economic system does, and probably quite a bit less. Nowadays, most have to bow to a certain level of mediocrity in our lives just to earn the basics of survival - food, shelter, etc. With all of that taken care of, we can be more daring. Besides which, the system in that book clearly rewards innovation, hard work, and generosity. In such a system, many people would settle for mediocrity, and why not? But I don't think it would be inevitable for everyone.

  10. jake says:

    Hey, part 5 of the podcast doesn't seem to be functioning.

  11. Matt Moran says:

    Wow. Just finished reading "I, Robot" & I reckon that'd make a way better film than that travesty Will Smith was in. Seriously cool story.

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