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I, Robot: The Illustrated Screenplay Paperback – April 30, 2000

4.4 out of 5 stars 29 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Library Journal

Ellison's script for I, Robot, dubbed "the greatest science fiction movie never made," was actually written in the late 1970s but floundered because of supposed high production costs and other assorted difficulties, which are explained in the introduction. The Citizen Kane-esque plot follows journalist Robert Bratenahl's quest to unearth the exact nature of the relationship between legendary robopsychologist Dr. Susan Calvin and Alfred Lanning, director of U.S. Robotics and Mechanical Men. What he ultimately discovers, however, is so much more. Ellison adroitly borrows subplots from several of Asimov's original I, Robot stories-although the script is more the fruit of Ellison's mind than Asimov's-and along with Calvin are the familiar faces of Mike Donovan, Greg Powell, Robbie, Lennie, and other robots. Ellison and Asimov make a helluva combination, and although Ellison's script may never make it to the screen, having this beautifully illustrated edition of it is almost as satisfying. Perhaps if this volume sells well enough, I, Robot may yet be filmed. Let's hope. Highly recommended.
Michael Rogers, "Library Journal"
Copyright 1995 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Review

"Ellison and Asimov make a helluva combination, and although Ellison's script may never make it to the screen, having this beautifully illustrated edition of it is almost as satisfying." --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 288 pages
  • Publisher: iBooks, Inc. (April 30, 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1596870419
  • ISBN-13: 978-1596870413
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.8 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.8 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (29 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,163,816 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
Many, many years ago I happened to hear an audio tape of Harlan Ellison reading the first part of his "I, Robot" script for a Science-Fiction convention, so I was very happy to see that what may well be the most infamous unproduced script in Hollywood history is available in print. The artwork in this illustrated screenplay is by Mark Zug, and consists of both color paintings and black & white character sketches that help to flesh out your mental images.
Ellison takes several of Isaac Asimov's classic Robot short stories and weaves them into the life story of Susan Calvin, told in flashbacks to a reporter at the funeral for Stephen Byerley, First President of the Galactic Federation. Consequently, Ellison avoids the traditional pitfall of omnibus movies, such as "Tales from the Crypt," "The Twilight Zone" or "Creepshow," where whatever is used to link the segments together is of no importance to the overall film.
Ellison's introductory essay is certainly not as vitriolic as his story about what happened to his "Star Trek" script "The City on the Edge of Forever," but it does recount the bizzaro world of movie making. Both the essay and the script are testaments to Ellison's affection for Asimov. A special treat is Ellison's revelation as to the casting he had in mind when he wrote the script: Joanne Woodward as Susan Calvin, George C. Scott as Reverend Soldah, Martin Sheen as Robert Bratenahl, and Keenan Wynn and Ernest Borgnine as Donovan and Powell.
You may come to this book as a fan of Ellison or of Asimov or of both. Regardless of your point of origin I think it is important that you have read the original Asimov Robot stories before you read the script.
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With the release of the new I, Robot movie, there are probably a lot of people confused by the different versions of I, Robot that exist. If you are a fan of Isaac Asimov's works, then you should probably steer clear of the new movie starring Will Smith. Published accounts I have read have indicated that the studio acquired the rights to the I, Robot stories and then took an already existing script (having nothing to do with Asimov's stories) changed some character's names, and added the three laws of robotics. Hardly, does justice to some of the most famous science fiction stories ever written.

However, years ago, Harlan Ellison did write a screenplay for an I, Robot movie, that does keep to the spirit of the Asimov stories. In fact, in this reviewer's opinion, this screenplay ties the stories together and adds a level of emotion that make it more powerful and memorable than Asimov's original book version. The character of Susan Calvin is, little by little, given real depth - and her saga will bring a tear to your eye on more than one occasion.

Despite the fact that it is written as a screenplay, making it somewhat more awkward to read than straight prose, once you begin to read, it is impossible to put down. I read it in one sitting, in the time it took to...well...watch a movie.

Upon completion, part of me was sad that this was not the version that was filmed, for it would have been a classic movie. But, I am grateful that this illustrated screenplay version exists. Do yourself a favor and buy it. As you read, it will become your own personal blockbuster, whose images will remain in your heart and mind long after the lights come up in your local theater. And we have Harlan Ellison to thank for it.
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Format: Paperback
Harlan Ellison's adaptation of Isaac Asimov's classic
"I, Robot" stories for the screen answers many questions
posed by science fiction readers for years; most notably,
why nobody has ever made Asimov's trademark Robot stories
into a film. The answer, as well as how Ellison came to
write the screenplay, is recanted in the book's
Introduction and is a fascinating story unto itself, filled
with all of the elements of one of Ellison's dangerous
visions--hope, fear, rage, and retribution.

But "I, Robot" is not about Ellison's angst, it's about
Asimov's shining vision of the future, in which human
want is alleviated by sophisticated robots powered by
intricate positronic brains (it was Asimov and not "Star
Trek" who gave us that term). In Asimov's tomorrow,
robots are capable of performing every kind of menial task
and quite a few complex intellectual tasks as well--which
often manifest themselves unexpectedly and with surprising
consequences for their human masters.

Asimov was not the first science fiction writer to conceive
such a future, but he was the first to give it viability in
the shape of the famous Three Laws of Robotics, which
imposed a humanitarian discipline upon all of his creations.
More importantly, the limits of the Three Laws (as they are
affectionately known) imposed an unbreakable literary
discipline upon the author himself, which served to hone
his imagination and talents.

Ellison's screenplay opens with an on-screen incantation of
the Three Laws, which were recited like a mantra at the
opening of every Asimov Robot tale.
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