Tuesday, July 30, 2019

Book Review: I, Robot: To Protect by Mickey Zucker Reichert

I, Robot: To Protect
Author: Mickey Zucker Reichert
Series: I, Robot (Book 1)
Publication: Roc Hardcover; 1st edition (November 1, 2011)

Description: First in an all-new trilogy inspired by Isaac Asimov's legendary science fiction collection I, Robot. 2035: Susan Calvin is beginning her residency at a Manhattan teaching hospital, where a select group of patients is receiving the latest in diagnostic advancements: tiny nanobots, injected into the spinal fluid, that can unlock and map the human mind.Soon, Susan begins to notice an ominous chain of events surrounding the patients. When she tries to alert her superiors, she is ignored by those who want to keep the project far from any scrutiny for the sake of their own agenda. But what no one knows is that the very technology to which they have given life is now under the control of those who seek to spread only death...

My Thoughts: Based on Isaac Asimov's I, Robot, this story tells about the early days of robotics. Dr. Susan Calvin is the main character. She is a resident in Psychiatry at Manhattan Hasbro Hospital. Here first assignment is with inpatient children. One of the first people she meets is Dr. Remington Hawthorn who is a resident in neurosurgery. Their first encounter isn't a foretelling of their future though. Remy is arrogant and Susan cuts him down to size. Susan also encounters protesters when she is entering the hospital. It seems that any medical advance has its detractors who are eager to protest and who might be eager to kill to reach their goals.

Most curious of all, Susan meets Nate, also known as N8-C, a robot so human looking and acting that he could pass for a human. Susan finds him intriguing for many reasons. One of the reasons is that he was produced by the company her father John works for - in a job he doesn't talk about and calls boring. She learns about the three laws of robotics which are designed to keep society safe from robots running amok.

We learn a lot about Susan's work as she treats her first four patients. We also quickly learn that Susan is a genius as she finds fixes for three of her first patients. Two of the fixes were primarily medical but with psychiatric implications. It is the fourth case that is the most difficult. Sharicka Anson is four years old and has juvenile conduct disorder. She has killed her family pet and attempted to kill her sister and other children. She is also cute, charming, witty, extremely intelligent and a champion manipulator of those around her.

Susan, partially because of her father and partially because of her early successes, is invited to take part in a study which will insert nanobots into the brains of people with severe psychiatric issues in the hopes of finding areas for treatment. The project is very secret because of the protesters who are certain that doctors are creating cyborgs that will take over the world or something at least as damaging as that.

When one of the subjects hijacks a bus (which Susan and Remy are on) and detonates a bomb which kills him and damages nearby property, Susan begins to wonder if the experiment has something to do with it. It seems that the subjects are using the three laws of robotics to minimize the damage. The scientists don't want to let the police know because the fear it will set robotics back a hundred years which leaves Susan and Remy trying to find the rest of the subjects. Unfortunately, Sharicka had been chosen as one of the subjects which leaves a sociopath with a bomb on the loose.

This was an intriguing science fiction story the builds on events in the News and suggests a possible future. It is the first of a trilogy and does leave a number of unanswered questions for the next books to answer. I found it compellingly readable and fascinating.

Favorite Quote:
The human mind remained the next great frontier. Despite a multitude of new medications and procedures, mental illness lagged behind the other scourges of humanity.
I bought this one November 1, 2011. You can buy your copy here.

1 comment:

  1. I love the idea that the classic Asimov has been updated with this trilogy. Well worth a closer look :-)


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