iROBOT

iROBOT

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Introduction I was suckled on the Asimov Robots books, taken down off my father s bookshelf and enjoyed again and again. I read dozens of Asimov novels, and my writing career began in earnest when I started to sell stories to Asimov s Science Fiction Magazine, which I had read for so long as I d had the pocket money to buy it on the stands. When Wired Magazine asked me to interview the director of the film I, Robot, I went back and re-read that old canon. I was struck immediately by one of the thin places in Asimov s world-building how could you have a society where only one company was allowed to make only one kind of robot Exploring this theme turned out to be a hoot. I worked in some of Orwell s most recognizable furniture from 1984, and set the action in my childhood home in suburban Toronto, 55 Picola Court. The main character s daughter is named for my god-daughter, Ada Trouble Norton. I had a blast working in the vernacular of the old-time futurism of Asimov and Heinlein, calling toothpaste dentifrice and sneaking in references to the search engine. My I, Robot is an allegory about digital rights management technology, of course. This is the stuff that nominally stops us from infringing copyright yeah, right, how s that working out for you, Mr Entertainment Exec and turns our computers into something that controls us, rather than enabling us. This story was written at a writer s workshop on Toronto Island, at the Gibraltar Point center, and was immeasurably improved by my friend Pat York, herself a talented writer who died later that year in a car wreck. Not a day goes by that I don t miss Pat. This story definitely owes its strength to Pat, and it s a tribute to her that it won the 2005 Locus Award and was a finalist for the Hugo and British Science Fiction Award in the same year.
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I, Robot 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 Ten minutes, your rottenness, he said, and then his breath caught momentarily in his breast as he saw, fleetingly, his ex-wife s morning expression, not seen these past twelve years, come to life in his daughter s