Wednesday, October 16, 2019

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

I, Robot: To Obey
Author: Mickey Zucker Reichert
Series: I, Robot (Book 2)
Publication: Ace (September 3, 2013)

Description: Susan Calvin is about to enter her second year as a psych resident at the Manhattan Hasbro teaching hospital when a violent crime strikes very close to home.

When she was young, Susan lost her mother in a terrible car wreck that also badly injured her father. She now believes the accident was orchestrated by government officials who wanted her parents dead. Susan has always known there was a faction of the U.S. government that wanted to hijack her father’s work for military use. Now it seems that faction is back.

As she struggles to overcome her pain and confusion, as well as deal with her studies, Susan finds herself hunted by violent antitech vigilantes who would revert mankind to the Dark Ages—and at the same time she’s being watched very closely by extremists who want high-tech genocide. Somehow she must find a way to stop them both.

My Thoughts: Susan Calvin is entering her second year in Psych residency when this story begins. She has survived the loss of her true love at the hands of terrorists from the SFH - Society for Humanity - and gotten to know N8-C - a positronic robot who could be mistaken for a regular human. She has learned that her father had a large part in the development of the positronic brain and the three laws that govern it.

She has chosen the same beginning site for her second year which lets her be with her friend Dr. Kendall Stevens. Their site has them working with dementia patients which is a difficult thing for Susan who wants to believe that she can fix medical problems. It causes her to wonder about the rationale for prolonging life when the mind is gone. She is also working for a lazy, self-serving boss. When Susan's genius level diagnostic skills suggest that some of her patients have been misdiagnosed and can actually be helped, she is first obstructed by her boss. When she goes around him to prove her diagnoses, he is quick to claim the credit and claim that Susan is the one who was obstructing. Susan, naturally, finds this very frustrating but it becomes quite a minor problem when the death of her father happens.

Susan comes home to find that her father has been murdered. When she tries to see his body to understand what happens, she is obstructed by the police who have decided that his death was because of "natural causes." Susan begins to conduct her own investigation along with one police officer who doesn't want to follow the party line. They soon find themselves at odds with the SFH and a shady government department that wants the secret they are certain she and her father had about the way to separate the positronic brain from the three laws.

Along the way in their investigation, Susan learns a big secret about her past and finds a way to get both the government department and the SFH off her back.

This was an engaging science fiction story. However, I started to get bogged down in all the medical terminology that Susan uses in her diagnoses. Once I decided to treat it all as bafflegab things went better. I don't know if the medical terms are fact or fiction and for the purposes of the bigger story it really didn't matter.

Fans of hard science fiction and fans of Isaac Asimov will enjoy this second book in a trilogy. I would recommend reading the series in order though.

Favorite Quote:
"The humanity, the intellect, the essence of everything we are is entirely in that one convoluted, double-fist-sized structure hidden in our craniums. Damage that one organ and we are--"

"Different?" Nate tried.

"Nothing." Susan insisted. 
I bought this one. You can buy your copy here.

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