Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Turning Over: Asimov

I’m starting a new feature: Turning Over in Their Graves.  TOTG covers authors whose work have been turned into the opposite of what they intended.  I’ve only got three so far, but I’m sure more will come up.
Here's a hint.
Today, I’m covering Isaac Asimov and I, Robot in specific.  If you aren’t familiar with Asimov, he was a scientist and an incredibly prolific author, having published 500 books.  What he is most famous for was his science fiction about robots.  Asimov invented the Three Laws of Robotics.  If you aren’t familiar with the Three Laws…  Well, you really need to get out more.  They are, in order of precedence:
  1. A robot must protect people from harm.
  2. A robot must obey orders.
  3. A robot must protect itself.
Asimov created the laws in order to change the way science fiction wrote about technology.  In much of science fiction, a scientist creates an invention, that invention becomes harmful, and everyone has to work together to destroy it. 
"Me think this plot sound familiar."
Asimov, a scientist, hated this anti-intellectual kind of writing.  As he said:
Knowledge has its dangers, yes, but is the response to be a retreat from knowledge? Never, never, was one of my robots to turn stupidly on his creator for no purpose but to demonstrate, for one more weary time, the crime and punishment of Faust.
The book I, Robot was the natural evolution of that idea.  It chronicles the life of a robot who disguises himself as a human and becomes president.  Because this robot must follow an ethical code (The Three Laws), unlike a human politician who can fall short of any ethical code, he helps usher humanity into a golden age.  Then he dies to ensure nobody will ever know his secret.  It’s a beautiful, haunting novel.
Welcome to Miami!
A few years ago, Alex Proyas (who should have known better) made I, Robot into a movie starring Will Smith.  In the movie, robots, who follow the three laws, decide they have to save humanity from overpopulation by... Wait for it...  Killing them!
Yeah, more like this than Asimov's version.
I declare this movie to be a horrid perversion of the author’s original intent.  As punishment Alex Proyas must have his movie Dark City changed to include a voiceover at the beginning that ruins the plot and Will Smith must be given a stupid nickname like “Fresh Prince.”

Oh, wait…

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