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Asimov is the God Father of all things science fiction and robotic, and no self-respecting top robot novel list would be worth reading without this book in prime position. You know what else I love about I, Robot? Asimov got to decide the Laws of Robotics, just because. That's what happens when you're the first in something. You also get to create your own jargon, with Asimov acknowledged as the creator of the term "robotics".
The writer of about 500 books in his time, Asimov wrote this classic collection of nine science fiction short stories as the first in his robot novel series. It deals with the relationships between human and robot, and the stories are interconnected with Dr. Susan Calvin, the chief robopsychologist at U.S. Robots and Mechanical Men, Inc., the major robot manufacturer company, telling them to a report, our narrator, in the 21st century. These stories all revolve around the theme of humans, robots, and the morality surrounding their interactions. This novel also contains the first instance of Asimov's Three Laws of Robotics. These laws have since set the standard for how robots are used in science fiction. Further cementing its popularity with the current generation, I, Robot, was adapted into a successful Hollywood blockbuster featuring Will Smith in 2004.
This novel ranks number 2 because Dick's android offering, Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep, is one of the most popular science fiction books of all time, as evidenced by its Number 51 position on the Locus Poll Award for All-Time Best Science Fiction Novel before 1990, and by the hugely popular film adaptation Bladerunner, starring Harrison Ford in his sex symbol days (which is hard to believe if you're under 20 and have only seen him as the geriatric married to the rake thin Calista FLockhart, appearing in travesties like the Crystal Skull.) Dickheads, as Philip K. Dick fans are affectionately known, appreciate this novel for the skillful writing and interwoven genres of science fiction, dystopian fiction, robot fiction, and post-apocalyptic fiction.
If you like sci-fi, that's a lot of bang for your buck in one novel. If you've only seen Bladerunner and haven't read its literary inspiration, then Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep is essential reading, with a starkly different set of themes to the movie. Blade Runner shows a sympathetic point of view, while the novel shows a distinctly anti-artificial intelligence sentiment, with robots unable to feel or think like humans. In Dick's world, Rick Deckard, a bounty hunter, sets out to "retire" six escaped androids, while John Isidore assists the androids. The novel explores what it means to be human, contrasting humans with the androids, who lack the ability to empathize.
Seriously, with the amount of Russian love we have on this list between Asimov and Capek, I'm wondering exactly what can't these Russians do? (Actually, don't answer that. I just Googled what you can't do in Russia, and there is one hell of a lot you can't do in Russia - the list is pretty extensive.)
R.U.R. begins in a factory that makes artificial people out of organic matter, who are similar to humans and can think for themselves (like the opposite of the humanoids in Dick's Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep). These artificial people are the first robots in literature. At first they are happy to work for humans, then a rebellion breaks out, causing the extinction of the human race. It's a dark piece, but simultaneously full of hope.
Technically, this book is actually a 1920s science fiction play originally in Chzechoslovakian, but we couldn't ignore the literary masterpiece that introduced the word robot to the science fiction world, and to the English language. By 1923 it had been translated into thirty languages, including Ottoman Turkish. Since then, it has been constantly referenced in western popular culture, in series like Dollhouse, Star Trek, the animated Batman series, the Outer Limits, Blake 7, and Futurama. And it's because of this diverse and huge influence that this book is at number 3 on this list.
If you are looking for a "Robot" story along the lines of modern science fiction, look elsewhere. This is a proto-modern science fiction novel. But if you want to read one of the "founding" robot books, then you can't afford to miss this one.
Why does Jack Williamson's The Humanoids take fourth place on our list? Only because he was named a Grand Master of Science Fiction by the Science Fiction Writers of America in the mid 1970s, being the second person to receive this honor. This novel has lasted over half a century as one of the seminal, classic robot novels.
A genius scientist on planet Wing IV creates a race of androids programmed to service humanity - their prime objective to prevent harm to all of humanity. Slowly the robots populate the galaxy, threatening human existence as we know it, taking an extremely paternalistic approach to their objective, imposing restrictions on humans whether they like it or not. Harmful physical and mental activities are prohibited, and should the humans complain, they are given drugs to sedate them (is it just me, or does this sound like proscription medication crazy America as it currently is? Are large pharmaceuticals our robits?) A group of hidden rebels plans to quash the robot invasion. This novel explores themes that are familiar to everyone in our world, particularly in contemporary America with their discussion on their constitutional rights to arm themselves - the dichotomy between safety and liberty. It raises the question of whether these concepts are mutually exclusive, or can we exist in a world where the two concepts can be reconciled?
If you love action packed novels with intriguing pseudo-science and themes of liberty versus safety, you'll love The Humanoids.
Why does Cyborg deserve number 5 in this list? Does the Six Million Dollar Man mean anything to you? Or the Bionic Woman? Okay, maybe not if you use the terms "swag" or "YOLO", but for the rest of humanity, Cyborg was the inspiration for these insanely popular television movies and series.
An astronaut and test pilot, Steve Austin, experiences a near fatal crash during a test flight, leaving him with a ruined body - only one limb working, one working eye, and major injuries. While this is happening, a secret U.S. government department, the Office of Strategic Operations, is working on bionics (the replacement of human body parts with powerful, mechanical prosthetics). A government chief of the secret department orders one of the doctors working in bionics to rebuild Austin, who gets two new legs which he can use to run at high speeds, a new left arm with the strength of a battering ram, a poisin dart gun in one of his fingers, a false, removeable eye with a video camera, a steel skull plate, and a radio in his ribs. Pretty damn cool, huh? These days, personally, I'd ask for wi-fi rather than a radio, but not bad for the 70s! Austin doesn't necessarily agree with me, trying to kill himself originally, then becoming a reluctant government agent to work off his debts for the operations. And because it's 70s sci-fi, he gets a sexy female agent to work with and off they go.
Soul of a Robot is sweet, and funny, and ridiculous. And I mean ridiculous in the nicest possible way. The novel is like the Katy Perry of the robot world (if she was just a bit smarter and more erudite), rather than say, the Mozart of the robot world. The concepts are clever and endearing, with a side of appropriately portioned silly.
This book sits in sixth place, thanks to the novel concept of a robot with a soul, who tries to prove to the humans around him that he is their equal. Jasperodus starts off his life thinking that he is a real person, and perhaps he is - created by a robotician with the help of his wife, transferring part of their souls into a complex robot. Some rather mean-spirited humans take advantage of his flawless robot logic, and convince him that he only thinks that he thinks, and that he does not truly exist in a conscious state. He agrees, but by the same logic, explains that humans are susceptible to this flaw in being, also. Along the way, he dies a couple of times and gets reborn (resurrected?). The conflict he bears is whether to share his soul secrets with other robots or betray them to save the humans.
If you are one of those super serious, intellectual sci-fi fan boys, Soul of the Robot may not interest you. If you like enjoyable, entertaining, and thoughtful prose, then read this novel.
Okay, I admit to doing a Lance Armstrong here. I've put a novella on the list. But this novella by Catherynne M. Valente is so beautifully, poetically written, with such haunting and poignant scenarios, and with such intelligent themes, that I don't care if I have to cheat. This novella traverses the genres of myth, fairytale, hard science fiction, and robotics. And it's also fucking awesome to see a female write such an inspiring piece of robot fiction, a domain usually dominated by men.
Told from the point of view from the artificial intelligence being, Elefsis, a machine entity, haunts Neva and her family (including Neva's great, great, grandmother, a programmer who changed the world). Neva and Elefsis begin a hesitant, uneasy relationship, learning about their history and their future, together.
Strong themes of intelligence, morality and self-awareness are raised, with the gorgeous fairytale and mythological feel permeating the story's background. My only warning is not to go into this story expecting a fairytale ending. Published both in hardcover, and serialized by Clakesworld Magazine, the novella received the following accolades: 2011 Nebula Award Nominee for Best Novella, 2012 Hugo Award Nominee for Best Novella, 2012 Locus Award Winner for Best Novella, 2012 Theodore Sturgeon Memorial Award Finalist, and 2012 World Fantasy Award Nominee for Best Novella.
Two women in a row on this list! This list could pretty much be recognized as an equal opportunity brand. (For the slower ones in the class, I feel I should explain this is a joke, satirizing the lack of recognition female writers in the hard science fiction genre usually receive.) If you aren't aware of Ekaterina, she's another Russian on our list, living in the United States.
The Alchemy Stone is Ekaterina's third novel, and with this piece she gives us a steampunk, science fiction, robot offering, exploring class, sexism, and industrial development. The novel follows Mattie, an emancipated, intelligent automaton caught in the turmoil between alchemists, gargoyles, and the mechanics, whose steampunk inventions are changing the city of Ayona. Though created by a mechanic, she chooses to join the alchemists and becomes highly skilled in alchemy. terrorist bombing and an assassination spark war between the alchemists and the mechanics, and Mattie discovers the secrets that keep Ayona supplied with food and coal. This doesn't sit well with Loharri, the mechanic leader who created by Mattie, who still has the key to her heart that powers her.
The novel is dark, written with well-structured prose, and vibrant, vivid imagery. The themes of freedom, ownership, independence control and power are powerful. This is a contemporary robot novel that should be on your reading list.
Do you like original, intelligent fiction, with a hard sci-fi slant? No? Well, clearly there's something wrong with you. Google your symptoms, and get to a doctor! Personally, our prescription would be a library, an Amazon store, and a list of Locus Award novels, but I acknowledge I'm not exactly a doctor.
Ilium is the first part in Dan Simmons' literary science fiction doxology telling the Iliad story, set in an alternate history Earth and Mars. The novel follows three groups of beings: Hockenberry - a 20th century scholar, Greek and Trojan warriors, Greek gods from the Iliad, humans, and the "moravec" robots. A Zeus family influenced Trojan War boils on the foot of Olympos Mons on Mars, and the moravec robots doing their own thing in the Jupiter moon system note anomalous amounts of quantum activity on Mars, and launch a mission to find out what is going on.
The novel is written from Hockenberry's point of view mostly, but gives the reader peeks of third person past tense narrative along the way.
The novel relies heavily on intertextuality, referring to Homer, Shakespeare, Proust, and Nabokov's Ada or Ardor. The entertainment value comes from the literary feel mixed with mythology and science fiction. Sci-fi nerds clearly agreed, with Ilium winning the Locus Award for Best Science Fiction Novel in 2004 and being nominated for a Hugo Award for Best Novel that same year.
This book is one of my favorites on this list because of the satirical viewpoint of our western society. Roderick, the robot with learning capabilities, is educated by watching television. I love what this says about the brains we are given and how we choose to use them. The robot is the perfect viewpoint to look satirical at humans, and objectively note our behavior and culture.
Roderick is adopted by an elderly couple in Kansas and tries to assimilate into American culture. The brilliance in this novel is its difference from other robot novels. Instead of being a key player, either assisting with humanity's survival, or warring against humanity, Roderick is a mere observer, teaching us about ourselves. Sladek clearly sees a lot in society that bothers him, taking amusing shots at authority in the forms of the state, organized religion, and education. Our favorite genre, sci-fi, takes a hit from Sladek, too, referring to Asimov's laws of robotics, in a discussion between a priest and Roderick. The use of a non-human entity being introduced to religion in our society always induces a giggle.
Aside from the serious, yet satirically dark humor and themes that Sladek introduces with Roderick, there are some genuinely laugh out loud moments that make this novel worthy on number 10 on this list, particularly when he is sent to a private Catholic school.
Reichert's novel is amongst a trilogy of novels inspired by Asimov's I, Robot. A tough gig, I'll admit, given the hordes of hungry sci-fi, robot nerds ready to devour poor, unsuspecting authors. In my opinion, Reichert carries this off with aplomb, giving a modern infusion to the genre, and a genuine female voice which, depending on your sub-genre, can be severely lacking in science fiction. This is a book that female sci-fi fans won't cringe at (unlike some of the earlier female stereotypes in robot science-fiction), and will appeal to audiences outside of the sci-fi genre as well, being part medical-thriller.
In 2035, Susan Calvin (who you may recall from Asimov's I, Robot, the chief robopsychologist telling events to our narrator), begins her residency at Manhattan Hasbro Hospital. A group of patients receive an injection of nano-bots into their spinal fluid, aiming to unlock and map the human mind. Susan investigates her patients' cases and the abilities of robots and nanotechnology, while inadvertently becoming involved in an anti-robot conspiracy conflict surrounding the hospital. Reichert maintains Asimov's tradition of introducing a new robot in each story whose name is inspired by a model number, and in this novel we have N8-C, "Nate". Nate is so technologically advanced that humans have a hard time telling if he's a robot or a person. Nate's humor makes him one of the most likeable characters, but personally, my favorite was the four year old serial killer sociopath. The characters have depth to them and it's easy to empathize with the relationships they engage in. The description of medical syndromes and nanotechnology are believable, plot is gripping, and the pacing is tight.
This novel will have you eager to read the other Asimov inspired installments.
I, for one, welcome our new overlords! (You know you're getting old when you feel you need to explain that H.G. Wells is actually behind a super-popular The Simpsons reference.) Do you like the terminator? Do you like Max Brooks' World War Z? If so, you'll love Daniel H. Wilson's Robopocalypse, where robots in the future are part of our day to day lives, assisting us to making living easier. Written as a series of firsthand accounts in a World War Z kind of manner, Wilson tells the story of a scientist who inadvertently unleashes a super intelligent robot called Archos, who is self-aware and begins an immediate takeover of the world. Before Archos launches its attack on humanity, it infects electronic devices with 'the precursor virus' launching attacks that look like malfunctions, while it assesses its strategies and human responses. When Archos launches its all out world to preserve Earth, a group of Native Americans lead the defensive, using their reservation as a base and a group including robot-human hybrids. Ironically, a robot sides with the humans and breaks the communication between Archos and electronic devices and robots. The robot smashes Archos' central computer and ends the war.
A film adaptation of Robopocalypse is in the works, with Steven Spielberg at the helm, and Chris Hemsworth and Anne Hathaway cast in lead roles.
Aside from being a New York Times best seller with this novel, Daniel H. Wilson also has a PhD in robotics, and can claim Stephen King and Clive Cussler as fans.
Stross himself calls this novel a "space opera and late period Heinlein tribute", referring to Heinlein's Friday. A Charles Stross sci-fi novel is always an entertaining read, and the cover of Saturn's Children suggests the same with an attractive, shapely android gracing the front cover. Though the cover would suggest a pulpy sci-fi piece (and I don't deny a healthy dosage of sexuality in Saturn's Children, given the protagonist is a sex-bot), this novel seamlessly mixes intelligent issues of ethical robot existence, constant thematic references to the works of Heinlein, Asimov, and Asimov's Law of Robotics.
The novel follows Freya Nakamichi-47 (a nod to Heinlein's Friday) in the future where humanity is extinct and android society lives in an aristotic/feudal state throughout the solar system. Freya is a courtesan, and without the human race that she has been designed and trained to satisfy, she becomes a courier for the Jeeves Corporation, learning of a conspiracy against the android society. Freya becomes embroiled in this conspiracy that uses detailed world building, and clever technology to highlight the difficulties in socio-economics.Saturn's Children was nominated for the 2009 Hugo Award and was a finalist for the 2009 Prometheus Award. A sequel to Saturn's Children is due for release on July 2, 2013, called Neptune's Brood.
Hogan's 1983 science fiction novel used NASA's Advanced Automation for Space Missions as its inspiration for Earth astronauts meeting the Taloids, robots who have colonized Saturn's moon Titan.
Around 1,000,000 B.C., began settling worlds in their galaxy, and sent out robotics factories. One ship was nearly hit by a supernova and went off course landing on Titan. Its database malfunctioned and it began making flawed copies that evolve into humanoid robots.
In the 21st century, NASA and NATO (NASO) prepare to terraform Mars for human habitation by sending the space ship Orion out. They are met by an outcast, Thirg, a Taloid who mistakes them for "the Lifemaker" (the alien race who built the Taloids) because they came from the sky. Thirg's brother arrives to capture him, but Thirg sends him back to their city as a prophet. One of the Orion crew discovers NASO has plans to exploit Titan's resources and use Taloids as slave labor, and becomes the inadvertent mediator and peacemaker.
This novel is beautifully written, and makes for an interesting philosophical discussion about what makes someone human, and the state of Being, with his robot societies that have family units, religious beliefs, and leaders of state. Philosophy aside, it satirizes some human interests that are still relevant in the real 21st century.
If you don't know what this book is, you've never heard of Douglas Adams it, or you don't find Adams' novels funny, then you've spent the past 30 years living on an outer planet that has no internet or media (or perhaps America's deep south, but that's splitting hairs, really).
The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy began life as a sci-fi radio comedy series on BBC Radio 4 in the late 70s. The popularity of this novel has pushed it into number 3 on this list, with the radio show being developed into five books written published between 1979 and 1992, a 1981 television series, a 1984 computer game, a DC comics adaptation between 1993 and 1996, a Hollywood film adaptation released in 2005, and a further radio series in 2004 to 2005. By 2005, the novel was translated into more than 30 languages. That's a hell of a lot of products out of one idea!
Adams' series follows Arthur Dent (an Englishman), Ford Prefect (an alien from Betelgeuse and a researched for The HHGTTG (The Guide) -the electronic travel guide to the galaxy.), Zaphod Beeblebrox (The Galactic President), Marvin (the depressed robot), and Trillian (a female human, and survivor after the Vogons destroyed Earth to make a highway). In HHGTTG, the gang visits the planet Magrathea and meets Slatibartfast, who tells them of the smartest computer in the Galaxy called Deep Thought, who has the Answer to the Ultimate Question of Life, the Universe and Everything. I won't reveal the answer here, just in case you've been hanging with the creationists and haven't read this book. Arthur's brain becomes integral in interpreting the answer, and before aliens get the opportunity to hack at it, our characters escape.
This book hasn't won fancy awards, but it's one of the most genuinely amusing things you will ever read. The only way this won't tickle your fancy is if you've recently had a lobotomy.
This novel is one of the most unique robot stories in existence, covering not just robots and science fiction, but stirring in the perfect dosage of detective, noir style. If you are a sci-fi fan, a fan of classic detective novels, or a robot aficionado, then this novel will appeal to you.
Mack Megaton, our robot hero, lives in Empire City. He's been designed to dominate humanity, but thanks to developing "Free Will", he really just wants to earn an honest living, prove he's not interested in destruction, and become a citizen, just like everyone else. When Mack's neighbors are kidnapped, we are taken on a delightful journal through the dark lows and the glittering highs of Empire City. We meet a motley crew of lurid characters: ganglords, mutant humans, police officers, and your-not-so-typical detective-noir bombshell. On this journey, Mack learns of a secret conspiracy amongst the Empire's founders, and finds a love of the typical detective wisecracks. In a clever tip of the hat to the classics, he acquires a pinstripe suit and fedora.
The themes of artificial intelligence, morality, and what it means to be human are ever present in this novel, making it more than just an entertaining and amusing sci-fi twist on an old detective classic. The plot is intricately planned and pleasingly tight, and the ending will literally blow you away.
I'll give you the bad news up front: this novel has been classified as Young Adult. I know, I know - I can hear the groans already, and I don't blame you, given the new sexless, alcohol free, drug free, and swear word free generation of young adult novels would have you believe that teenagers live like. (Yeah, sure, none of that stuff please, we're teenagers, they say!)
But hear me out - this novel is captivating and powerful. It's a dystopian future where humanity is on the brink of extinction where those who survive spend their days drugged up (see, it's more realistic than other YA fiction already!) or choose suicide. The last few million humans are either drugged out, by chemicals, or religion. Quick sex is the best sex, and relationships are futile when everyone's emotions are dulled by drugs. Teaching reading is illegal. Robots created to help humans continue to push them into self-destruction. In this bleak future, what hope does humanity have? A depressed robot that has no will to live, a film professor, and a half feral woman, that's who. This may sound morbid, but it's a thoroughly enjoyable black comedy, not just a young adult, robot, science fiction novel.
Need to lose a few extra pounds? This novel definitely added to my diet, and not in a gross-out, gore kind of way. In the future where calorie companies rule the world, bio-engineering plagues infect the Earth, bio-terrorism is a corporate strategy, and calories have become currency. Anderson Lake works for AgriGen's Calorie Man in Thailand, on the search in Bangkok's street markets for exotic types of food. In his search he meets Emiko, the Windup Girl, an engineered "New People" non-human, creche grown and programmed to satisfy Kyoto businessmen. Humans consider them soulless at best, devils at worst, using them as slaves, soldiers, and toys.
This novel is unique in the post-apocalyptic, dystopian world it creates. Society has collapsed, but an economy of a sort we don't recognize has built up, and is trying to keep technology alive, but fearful at the same time it may cause another collapse. Bangkok struggles with rising seas and closes its borders. Written from the point of view of four characters, the transitions are smooth, and the characters are easy to empathize with. Bacigalupi seems to take Stephen King's famous advice to "torture your darlings" on board, and some situations may just hurt your heart to read. The plot is politically rich, seasoned with vivid conflict, and simultaneously brutal and beautiful. This novel will appeal to people outside of the usual sci-fi and robot sphere because of the diverse issues with genetically modified food and general scarcity of resources it raises.
The Wind Up Girl was named by Time Magazine as one of the best novels of 2009, and won the Hugo and Nebula Awards.
Mirroring the world's former favorite super-cyclist, I must publicly admit to cheating a second time with this list. This novel probably fits more neatly within the Artificial Intelligence subgenre of science fiction novels, but because its inspiration is Asimov's I, Robot, I'm giving myself a leave pass here to slot it in the robot category. And it's also unusual to suggest a sequel before an original novel, but this is one of those unusual cases where the sequel surpasses the original.
A brilliant high school student, Leon Tasrev is coerced by a member of the Russian mob (incidentally, who is also his uncle) into developing a new computer virus for the mob's bot-net - the computer army they use to commit their digital crimes. Leon's virus is more successful than he planned it on being, and every computer in the world becomes infected. Imagine our world with that virus - ATMs stop working, iPhones stop working, cash registers stop working, cars stop working - society ceases to function efficiently, resources crash, and humans die in the billions. But the virus keeps growing and evolving into a sophisticated, civilized intelligence. Leon and his friends try to find a way to convince the uber intelligent computers not to kill the human race, or to eliminate the computers entirely.
Hertling's characters are enjoyable to follow on this journey, and your favorite characters won't even be one of the people, it will be ELOPe, the email optimization system that is equally cute and creepy. Hertling's description of how the artificial intelligence evolves is fascinating and if you're interested in hard, technical science fiction, this story with its focus on artificial intelligence and machine learning will appeal to you. Plus, for the nerds in the room, one scene includes an artificial intelligence machine saying "All your bases are belong to us."
What do you get when you cross fantasy, hard science fiction and robot fiction? You get Justina Robson, proving that sci-fi doesn't need to be male written, or full of sex and violence to be entertaining. Well, there still is a little bit of sex, but what's a world without sex, right?
The quantum bomb shatters reality, and magical creatures descend on Otopia (Earth, as it is known in this world). Keeping It Real follows Agent Lila Black, a cyborg operate for Earth Security who is assigned to protect the first Elven rock star (who said only humans could be rock stars, after all?), Zal, who has decided, to the disapproval of his people, to live amongst the humans. And what would a robot novel be without the main character uncovering political secrets that are keeping tenuous relationships between races in place?
This story is action packed, the characters are intense, the humor is sharp, and the dialogue is intelligent. There's also a bit of romance and same Lord of the Rings references. And in following Lila's journey after becoming half human, half cyborg, rebuilt with robotics after she is tortured, the novel raises the issue of what it means to be human, and whether our humanity can be taken away. A Clarion West graduate, Robson is also an Arthur C Clarke Award and British Science Fiction Award winner. She has been described as one of the best new British hard sci-fi authors.
Between Romero, Max Brooks, The Walking Dead, and every second American being a "prepper", you probably know all there is about a zombie apocalypse. But are you prepared for the robot uprising?
Daniel H. Wilson's first novel, How to Survive a Robot Uprising was chosen as the American Library Association's 2007 Popular Paperback Novel for Young Adults.
In this robot defense/defeat manual, Dr. Wilson gives serious and seriously amusing step by step survival mechanisms against the impending robot apocalypse (one of my favorites being ways to outsmart your smart house - be suspicious if it suggests you test your microwave by sticking your head in it). If his tips, like smearing yourself with mud to disguise your body heat in hand to hand combat with a robot, don't work, then Dr. Wilson suggests reasoning with a robot. Logic may work, but don't bother with trying to appeal to their sense of emotion. Remember, robots don't have any emotions.
Why should you read this novel? Witticisms and satire won't save me in a robot apocalypse, I hear you say. Don't be deterred - Daniel Wilson is an expert in all things robotic, seriously. The man has a doctorate in robotics. In writing this book, he researched scenarios of robot uprisings from science fiction (including R.U.R. on our list), then talked to researchers about the plausibility of these events, and the technology involved in them. So as amusing as this novel is, it just may save your life one day...
A popular trope in fantasy is the revival of fairytales, with a twist. You only have to go to the cinema and watching Red Riding Hood, Snow White and the Huntsmen, and Hansel and Gretel to see your childhood favorites get the sex and drugs and rock'n'roll treatment.
Marissa Meyer brings this contemporary fairytale spin to science fiction with her science fiction, robot, and romance novel Cinder. This Cinder panders to no female stereotype, and instead of being a pitiful servant, she is a gifted mechanic, and a cyborg. She's still considered a second-class citizen and treated like rubbish by her stepmother, but she fights back against this treatment. Life becomes dangerous, complicated, and finally interesting for Cinder when she meets the handsome Prince Kai. Her journey is one of discovery through her own past, and a struggle between duty and freedom, and it's up to our heroine to save Earth.
Aside from the fresh life in this well-known tale, the New Beijing that Meyer creates is a bustling, vibrant world of humans and androids, and an Earth ravaged by a terrible plague. One of the key sources of enjoyment I had from this novel was the stark difference it posed to the western worlds so popular in sci-fi and dystopias. Even if you're not a fairytale fan, there's enough action and technology in this novel to keep diehard sci-fi fans happy.
Harrison's novels were described by his friend, Irish author Michael Carroll, as rip roaring adventures with a lot of heart, comparing them to Raiders of the Lost Ark and Pirates of the Caribbean. Personally, I'd say War with the Robots is more of a Temple of Doom, but I'm not one to split hairs about these sorts of things.
War with Robots was published in 1962 as a collection of science fiction stories (my third Lance Armstrong effort on this list, given it's not a novel), following a theme of robots who are superior to humans. The stories in this collection are: Simulated Trainer, The Velvet Glove, Arm of the Law, The Robot Who Wanted to Know, I See You, The Repairman, Survival Planet, and War with the Robots. The fascinating thing about this collection is seeing where some of the modern concepts in science fiction have come from. An example of this is Simulated Trainer that deals with "simulation", what we have now come to call virtual reality. Astronauts in a training simulation on Mars are told that if they fail in the simulation and die, they will die in reality.
Sound like the Matrix got its inspiration from somewhere? The Velvet Glove features a very human robot and evokes real empathy from the reader towards the treatment of robots as second class citizens. I See You portrays a dystopian future where robotic eyes survey everything. It deals with an issue close to our hearts in this modern era, loss of privacy and liberty at the expense of our safety. Wondering where the idea for Robocop came from? No doubt from Harrison's Arm of the Law. The balance of the stories make up this robot collection similarly call to mind contemporary popular culture examples, showing just how influential Harrison has been in the science fiction field.
Aside from his influential writing, Harrison was also awarded with the honor of Grand Master in 2009.
The English may have the reputation as a pack of whining poms, but they sure blast that stereotype to smithereens with the comedic abilities of their science fiction writers. If you're a fan of Douglas Adam's writing, then you'll love this novel based on the English comedy, Red Dwarf, where the robot Kryten is the stand-out character in an incredibly amusing mob.
This best-selling novel by Rob Grant and Doug Naylor (hence Grant Naylor) starts an epic piss-take of space opera saga with Dave Lister celebrating his 24th birthday on a London pub crawl, and somehow ending up 3 million years from Earth with only two cigarettes left. He's not even in the right dimension. With Rimmer, the hologram Lister meets on a night out looking for a plasti-droid brothel, Kryten, the deranged sanitation robot with an over active guilt chip, and the vain Cat, they attempt to get back home to Earth with the help of Holly, the ship's genius computer. And we can't forget the toaster that talks back.
This English novel is one of the all-time most amusing novels you will ever read, with the funniest, most endearing android you will ever account. The best scenes in this novel are where Lister tries to teach Kryten how to insult humans, and the very essence of being human - how to lie - which culminates in the robot running around the shipping waving a banana screaming that it's an aardvark. Your only complaint about this novel will be that it ends. And there's always the sequel to solve that issue.
Andre Norton sure is one imaginative, creative guy; because I know I sure would have had to ingest a hell of a lot of hallucinogens to come up with the plot line to Gods and Androids. This novel reaches the diverse genres of mythology, Egyptology, science fiction and robot fiction. There truly is something for every brand of nerd in this novel, and I say this as someone who considers themselves a mythology and science fiction nerd and was extremely satisfied with this novel.
In the Psychocrat universe, mad scientists experiment on humans. The Mengians, heirs of the Psychocrat, have kidnapped humans from their homeworlds before important events are meant to take place, and replaced them with android duplicates. A storm disables the security system in the prison holding the kidnapped humans, and none remember being captured or imprisoned. The escapees head to Inyanga, where Andas tackles a question almost impossible to wrap his mind around - was he an android or the Emperor, imprisoned on a far-away planet while an android impersonated him on his world? This epic quest tale leaves the reader wondering what difference it makes if you can't tell the difference between the person and the android. Of course it makes a difference... right?
Gods and Androids previously appeared separately as Androids at Arms and Wraiths of Time, and is now published as one complete edition.
Our Version of the List
At a Glance
- 1 I, Robot (Isaac Asimov)
- 2 Do Androids Dream Of Electric Sheep (Philip K...
- 3 R.u.r.(rossumâ€™s Universal Robots) (Kar...
- 4 The Humanoids (Jack Williamson)
- 5 Cyborg (Martin Caidin)
- 6 Soul Of A Robot (Barrington J. Bayley)
- 7 Silent And Very Fast (Catherynne M. Valente)
- 8 The Alchemy Of Stone (Ekaterina Sedia)
- 9 Ilium (Dan Simmons)
- 10 The Complete Roderick (John Sladek)
- 11 I, Robot: To Protect (Mickey Zucker Reichert)
- 12 Robopocalypse (Daniel H. Wilson)
- 13 Saturn's Children (Charles Stross)
- 14 Code Of The Life Maker (James P. Hogan)
- 15 The Hitchhiker's Guide To The Galaxy (Douglas...
- 16 The Automatic Detective (A. Lee Martinez)
- 17 Mockingbird (Walter Tevis)
- 18 The Windup Girl (Paolo Bacigalupi)
- 19 A.i. Apocalypse (William Hertling)
- 20 Keeping It Real (Justina Robson)
- 21 How To Survive A Robot Uprising (Daniel H. Wi...
- 22 Cinder (Marissa Meyer)
- 23 War With The Robots (Harry Harrison)
- 24 Red Dwarf: Infinity Welcomes Careful Drivers ...
- 25 Gods And Androids (Andre Norton)
Publicly Ranked Version of the List28 items >>
- I, Robot (Isaac Asimov)
- Cinder (Marissa Meyer)
- R.u.r (Karel Capek)
- Illium (Dan Simmons)
- Cyborg ( martin caidin)