Monday, June 16, 2008

Review - I, robot (42 Challenge)

Review - I, robot by Dr. Howard S. Smith

Haruto Suzuki is a police inspector assigned to investigate the murder of a businessman in a Tokyo hotel. In the course of his investigation, he finds himself stowed away on a cruise ship, unwittingly witnessing a meeting between Japanese government and millitary officials and an Israeli army officer, discussing a shocking deal - trading nuclear bombs for intelligent robots.

Smith has updated the classic Asimov idea - the rise of intelligent robots - using cutting-edge science. He spends much of the beginning stages of the novel giving readers a mini lesson in artificial intelligence, using diagrams to illustrate much of the science. Smith is able to integrate the facts into the flow of the narrative well, so the story does not get bogged down in detail. Smith also includes an extensive bibliography at the end of the book to allow readers to delve further into many areas of interest examined by the novel.

In Haruto Suzuki, Smith has created an interesting, complex hero. Suzuki's fellow police officers call him "jinzouningen", which means an artifical human, and Smith draws many parallels between Suzuki and the robots he discovers. Suzuki's dependence on the rules he sets out for himself echoes the programmed rules the robots follow, as does his inability to allow intimacy. His obsessive-compulsive tendencies increase the sense that he does not fit in with the people around him. Smith's secondary characters are not as vividly drawn, leaving the reader to wonder at times about the motivations behind some of their actions.

Smith has written an exciting, fast-paced novel with elements that feel at times startlingly familiar. I would expect science fiction fans to enjoy this novel as much as I did.

Finished: 6/15/08
Rating: 7/10
Source: ARC from author

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