I, Robot

I’d finally hopped onto the Kindle train. It took me years. I just love books so much, I didn’t want the experience to be diminished by losing the physical media. Plus I still had so much on my bookshelf. Would i never want to touch any of them again? But after the convenience of the first couple, especially how easily it fit into my purse, I was sold. I’d found a great deal on Stephen King’s full bibliography, and was mostly working thru those. My one consistent reading time was over my lunch break at work. I’d sit either in a cushy chair out in the courtyard or at the top of our seating structure in the break room and read for half an hour while eating. In what I didn’t know then would be my last few days in the office for the foreseeable future, I was starting on a Michael Crichton detour, halfway thru A Case of Need which I was really into.

And then the world turned upside down. I don’t typically read at home, especially when I’ve got movies and other entertainment at my disposal. But there was one thing I needed: bathroom reading material. For years the latest issue of Entertainment Weekly would suffice, but I’ve written it off since they went to a far inferior monthly format. Besides, I was gonna be using my home bathroom a lot more than I had in a while. This would require more robust reading material.

I didn’t wanna use the Kindle because I don’t think that bathroom and shower moisture is a good idea to have around it. So I raided my bookshelf. I knew I had to have a couple of things I hadn’t read (or was keen to re-read). I found a tiny pile of only a handful of unread books, most impusively purchased for cheap from a used book store a couple years back, and they had sat there since. I grabbed I, Robot from the pile (how had I gone this long as a science nerd without reading it?!) and moved it to the bathroom. Two months into quarentine, I finished it (bathroom reading is very slow, usually no more than a couple of pages at a time).

I loved it. Less a thru story than several related incidents strung together, it was a great read. Funny and insightful and engaging and posing lots of ethical and moral questions. So of course, logic would dictate that after I finished reading it, I’d have to revisit the movie. And yes, I know that the primary criticism of this tepidly received film was that it had almost nothing to do with the book. It’s true. It didn’t.

Basically all the two have in common are the three laws of robotics:
First Law – A robot may not injure a human being or, through inaction, allow a human being to come to harm.
Second Law – A robot must obey the orders given it by human beings except where such orders would conflict with the First Law.
Third Law – A robot must protect its own existence as long as such protection does not conflict with the First or Second Law.

From there, completely different story with a completely different tone and purpose. I could almost forgive it. As I said, the book had a series of incidents that while related didn’t necessarily follow thru as a plot. I could stretch and twist to believe that maybe the film is just one more story in the string. But the deviations are too much to buy that. It kinda tries to stir up some thoughts about robots and humanity, but more as a plot device than an attempt to provoke meaningful debate. And the type of questions its posing aren’t quite in the same spirit as the book. So you really just need to think of them as two separate entitities.

And that’s fine. It makes for a serviceable action film. Not among Will Smith’s most memorable, but a great opportunity for Alan Tudyk to do some voice work. I’m also ashamed to admit that back in ’04, I did buy the black leather Chucks. I don’t have them anymore. The leather started to separate from the sole at the bottom seam. Chucks really aren’t made to last long, but I still keep buying them. I bought quite a stash in the couple months before the world shut down, and now I mostly just wear the same old pair on my walks. Anyways we’re talking about robots. Actually no, I think we’re done talking about robots. The movie really doesn’t have much more worth commenting on.

My new bathroom reading is gonna be to try to work thru Harry Potter for the third time.