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I, Robot: The Illustrated Screenplay

Harlan Ellison and Isaac Asimov

Average Review Rating Average Rating 9/10 (1 Review)
Book Details

Publisher : ibooks

Published : 2004

Copyright : Harlan Ellison and Isaac Asimov 2004

ISBN-10 : PB 0-7434-8659-5
ISBN-13 : PB 978-0-7434-8659-0

Publisher's Write-Up

Until the recent announcement of the Will Smith/Alex Proyas collaboration scheduled for release in 2004, numerous attempts had been made to adapt Isaac Asimov's classic story-cycle, I, ROBOT, to the motion picture medium. All efforts failed.

In 1977, producers approached multiple award winning Harlan Ellison to take a crack at this 'impossible' project. He accepted, and produced an astonishing screenplay that Asimov felt would be 'The first really adult, complex, worthwhile science fiction movie ever made.' That screenplay is presented here in book format, brought to scintillating life by the illustrations of artist Mark Zug.

After you read it, then decide: Is this not the greatest science fiction movie never made?

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Reader Reviews

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Review by Paul Lappen (280206) Rating (9/10)

Review by Paul Lappen
Rating 9/10
This is Ellison's script, written in the late 1970s, for a full-length movie incorporating several of Asimov's classic I, Robot stories.

The essay, which begins this book, is not as vitriolic as some others of Ellison's, but it pulls no punches in chronicling the script's journey through Hollywood. The process was characterized by delay after delay. The script was supposedly "impossible" to film. At one point, Ellison realizes that a certain studio executive, with the power to say Yes or No to the project, hadn't even read the script, despite being given several months to do so. At another point, Ellison was asked to make the robots cute, like C-3PO (this is the era of Star Wars), something he refused to do. Eventually, all of the options are used up, and the script is not put into production. It is decided to get some "use" out of the script and it is published in "Isaac Asimov's Science Fiction Magazine."

The story concerns robot psychologist Susan Calvin. Her life story is the history of robotics. A reporter named Bratenahl is told to find the answer to the question, "Who is Susan Calvin?" Now an old woman, she has become very secretive. Bratenahl talks to people who knew Calvin and worked with her in the past. One person remembers when the Calvin family had a robot as a part-time playmate for six-year-old Susan. Her father worked for US Robotics, but her mother was not convinced that a robot in the house was such a good idea. The robot was seven feet tall, and could break Calvin like a toothpick if it so desired. One day, the robot is sent away, permanently.

Another remembrance is about a robot who could read minds, and who interpreted the Three Laws of Robotics (programmed into every robot) in an unexpected way. A third remembrance is about the time Calvin was part of a manned mission to Mercury. A certain element, available on the surface, is vital if the ship is going to leave Mercury, and return to Earth. It is far enough away so that a human will not back to the ship without burning up in the strong sunlight, so a robot is dispatched. Having received unclear instructions, the Second and Third Laws of Robotics cause the robot to go temporarily cuckoo. Calvin goes out on the surface, and almost dies, but "fixes" the robot, and they are able to leave Mercury.

If filmed as written, this would have made a great film. It has nothing to do with the recent film starring Will Smith. It's interesting and complex, the characters are real people, and, best of all, it doesn't rely on sex, violence or car chases. Highly recommended.
Paul Lappen (28th February 2006)

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