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Robot Dreams (Remembering Tomorrow) Mass Market Paperback – June 1, 1990
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About the Author
Isaac Asimov authored over 400 books in a career that lasted nearly 50 years. As a leading scientific writer, historian, and futurist, he covered a variety of subjects ranging from mathematics to humor, and won numerous awards for his work.
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I loved it. It's imaginative. But best of all, I have a new fave short story. Not the 1 recommended. And not widely known! It's called The Billiard Ball. And I read the last few pages grinning ear-to-ear.
As in all collections of stories, I found some better than others. But I never found 1 that I didn't like outright. (how often can that be said?) And ALL the stories are thought provoking (how often...?)
It's robot stories (only a few) made me think "How could they've made 'I Robot' better?"
The disclaimer/introduction is interesting too. Written in the 80s as an old man, it's not so much of his mea culpa of things he got wrong, but the timeline of his writing that impresses. 1st story he wrote was in 1939 when he was 19! Think of the (lack of) technology back then and these stories jump off the page!
Many other stories in this collection center on "Multivac," an immense computer. The name is an obvious derivative of UNIVAC, a large, vacuum-tube based computer of the early 1950s. UNIVAC became famous for predicting that Eisenhower would win the 1952 election based on early returns (against pundit predictions that Stevenson would win). That led directly to one story, "Franchise," which takes the ability to sample a small number of votes to predict a total election outcome and drives the idea to an absurd (but nevertheless interesting) extreme.
There are a variety of other stories, from ones dealing with beings without bodies to one talking about an alien medical investigator who has come to Earth to find out more about a disease. All are worth the read, and some are truly fascinating and end in very unexpected ways.
Ralph McQuarrie provides the cover illustration and several others for individual stories; they are of the style familiar to anyone who has seen original art from "Star Wars" (which he worked on). Asimov's introduction is amusing; he explains what he got right in predicting the future--and what he got spectacularly wrong. He discusses this with respect to both stories in the book (Multivac, for instance) and to other books and stories he had written decades earlier.
All in all, this book was a fun read.