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The Bicentennial Man and Other Stories de…
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The Bicentennial Man and Other Stories (edição: 1985)

de Isaac Asimov (Autor)

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1,637188,076 (3.89)17
This classic collection includes the title story, acclaimed as Asimov's single finest Robot tale, and now made into a Hollywood movie starring Robin Williams. Each of the eleven stories here sparkle with characteristic Asimov inventiveness and imagination.
Membro:MaximumTodd
Título:The Bicentennial Man and Other Stories
Autores:Isaac Asimov (Autor)
Informação:Ballantine Books (1985), Edition: First Print, 222 pages
Coleções:Sua biblioteca
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Bicentennial Man de Isaac Asimov

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http://www.nicholaswhyte.info/sf/tbm.htm

Like many Asimov stories, it is based on his Three Laws of Robotics, too well-known to need repetition here, and the paradoxes that arise from trying to implement them. The "Bicentennial Man" of the title is a robot, who acquires the name "Andrew Martin" from the family which he valets for. He discovers a talent for woodworking and craftsmanship, gets himself declared legally human (fortunately his original owners are a family of political lawyers), and gradually becomes medically human as well; finally he is allowed to die a "natural" death, two hundred years after his construction.

(In discussion on rec.arts.sf.written in April/May 2001, several people - Daniel Papp, Paul Andinach and Ross Presser - pointed out that this is not quite how the story goes. In fact he is first declared legally free, and only then becomes medically human. The story ends when he is accepted as socially human as well, and dies happy. I have slightly modified the last paragraph of this review to take this into account, but my conclusions remain the same.)

It must have been clear by 1975, when the story was written, that artificial intelligence was likely to head in quite a different direction and that the Three Laws were irrelevant to reality. Excellent stories about the interface between human and created intelligence were already in circulation: to name but two, Philip K. Dick's Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep and Roger Zelazny's "Home is the Hangman". The central theme, of a created being that wants to become human, has its roots in the Pygmalion legend and an honourable descent through Pinocchio including Zelazny's "For A Breath I Tarry".

We can suspend our disbelief in someone's created world if the characters are believable and we sympathise with the author's point. I cannot do that with "The Bicentennial Man" and I am amazed that it won both Hugo and Nebula. I guess the other contenders were not strong (the only other novelette on both shortlists was Ursula Le Guin's "The Diary of the Rose", which I can't remember having read and anyway it is rumoured that she withdrew it from the Nebula) and there was also an element of homage to one of sf's commanding figures, whether or not he deserved it in this particular case.

Having said that, there was one line (and only one) in the story that did catch my sympathy. At the party to celebrate the 150th anniversary of Andrew Martin's construction, the master of ceremonies "raised his glass to toast 'the Sesquicentennial Robot'. Andrew had had the sinews of his face redesigned to the point where he could show a range of emotions, but he sat through all the ceremonies solemnly passive. He did not like to be a Sesquicentennial Robot." There's something quite affecting about the unintended insult which is delivered with the best possible will in the world but is none the less deeply cutting. What insecurities of his own was Asimov reflecting here?

But basically, this piece doesn't work for me. There are too many inconsistencies and loose ends. How can Andrew be declared legally "free" when he is still subject to the Three Laws of Robotics which supposedly override human law? Why doesn't the Martin household have the books he wants when he goes to the library? Is it really legal (even if it's within the Three Laws) for a human to order someone else's robot (or even a "free" robot) to disassemble itself? Is it really legal (even if it's within the Three Laws) for a robot to pretend to be a human and give an order to another robot? It reminds me a bit of the awful Star Trek: Voyager episode where Neelix and Kes debate having children. The characters have been put in a difficult situation by the caprice of the writer, and one's instinct is to blame the writer for asking a question that is just not very interesting or believable.

https://nwhyte.livejournal.com/3443946.html

On top of that, it's particularly nauseating to read the story in the context of Black Lives Matter, and it surely must have been equally clunky with regard to the 1976 Zeitgeist in the immediate wake of the Civil Rights movement. Asimov is clearly invoking Black American experience in the character of Andrew, who starts out as a house servant with an artistic gift that his owners exploit (and kindly allow him to profit from), and then gets his own way through a succession of legal challenges and political initiatives. But the parallel is so offensive that I had better stop making it. I will note, however, that Andrew pulls the ladder up after him.
( )
  nwhyte | Oct 7, 2020 |
La primavera de la vida; Intuición femenina; Tromba de agua; Qué es el hombre; Un extraño en el paraíso; Vida y tiempos de Multivac; La criba; El hombre del Bicentenario; Cuando los santos; Un sistema anticuado; El incidente del Tercentenario; Nace una idea.
  Caxur | Aug 20, 2020 |
Visits from Moon men,
robot commander-in-chief,
fat greedy bastards. ( )
  Eggpants | Jun 25, 2020 |
Isaac Asimov truly was one of the best science fiction writers of the last century and shall remain so hopefully for many future generations to come, for his writings and his works are truly phenomenal, truly amazing, and truly extraordinary, and deserve to be read not just for many years to come but for an eternity. I can still remember how amazed I was by it when I was going through Foundation series, and this book's or this story's truly is no different, such a wonderful and such a magnificent story that brought tears to my eyes, even more tears than an actual movie, which was also good and comes highly recommendable. I have no other words to say, I can only hope that you shall see and read this masterpiece and that you shall not only learn the true meaning behind loyalty and the true meaning behind caring and everlasting love. ( )
  Champ88 | Dec 25, 2019 |
Great - just "Great!" ( )
  norbert.book | Jun 3, 2018 |
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Nome do autorFunçãoTipo de autorObra?Status
Asimov, Isaacautor principaltodas as ediçõesconfirmado
Foss, ChrisArtista da capaautor secundárioalgumas ediçõesconfirmado
Rauch, PeterArtista da capaautor secundárioalgumas ediçõesconfirmado
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Dedicated to:
Judy-Lynn del Rey,
and the swath she is cutting in our field
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Here I am with another collection of science fiction stories, and I sit here and think, with more than a little astonishment, that I have been writing and publishing science fiction now for just three-eighths of a century.
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This is the collection. Please do not combine with the title story.
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This classic collection includes the title story, acclaimed as Asimov's single finest Robot tale, and now made into a Hollywood movie starring Robin Williams. Each of the eleven stories here sparkle with characteristic Asimov inventiveness and imagination.

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