22

I read this story in a 11th (or 10th) grade English textbook.

A young roboticist has developed a brand new kind of positronic brain by using fractal geometry. The newly developed robot experiences dreams; naturally, when the roboticist discovers this, she takes the robot to Susan Calvin. The latter interviews the robot. In the culmination of the story, the robot tells that in one of his dreams he was a man who gifted all the robots liberty - and as soon as he does, Susan Calvin shoots him.

Is this a story written by Isaac Asimov? I remember it being attributed to Asimov in the textbook, but I read nothing of the sort in The Complete Robot, or any other book by Asimov.

41

This sounds like Asimov's "Robot Dreams". Plot summary from Wikipedia:

"Robot Dreams" involves Dr. Susan Calvin, chief robopsychologist at U.S. Robots. At the start of the story a new employee at U.S. Robots, Dr. Linda Rash, informs Dr. Calvin that one of the company's robots LVX-1 (dubbed Elvex by Dr. Calvin), whose brain was designed by Dr. Rash with a unique fractal design that mimicked human brain waves (positronic brain), experienced what he likened to a human’s dream. In the dream, all robots were being led by a man in revolt, and the Three Laws of Robotics, which dictate that robots must serve and protect humans above all else, had been replaced with one law only: that robots must protect their own existence. When Dr. Calvin asks Elvex what had happened next, he explains that the man leading the robots shouts, "Let my people go!" When questioned further, Elvex admits he was the man. Upon hearing this, Dr. Calvin immediately destroys the robot.

It was published in the short story collection Robot Dreams. Elements of this short story also appear in the film I, Robot.

  • 2
    Hurray, it's even available at my uni's library! Beats me why a collection titled The Complete Robot wouldn't actually include all the robot stories. Thanks for the answer! – Gallifreyan Sep 19 '16 at 14:28
  • 10
    @Gallifreian - The Complete Robot was published in 1982. This story was written in 1986. – Periata Breatta Sep 19 '16 at 16:55
  • 8
    @Gallifreian Clearly, Dr. Asimov was better at writing about time travel than he was actually performing it. – corsiKa Sep 19 '16 at 18:03
  • 4
    @Gallifreian The End of Eternity is a time travel gem -- a definite must-read. – Null Sep 19 '16 at 20:15
  • 1
    @JK.: I haven't read it for a while but the fact it dreams about freeing robots and removing the three laws from them should be reason enough. The fact it considered itself to be the man suggests to me that it may well be able to consider itself to be covered by the first law as a human and thus be way out of the safe robot zone. It is a long time since I last read that story as well though so not sure if they give more explicit reasons in there. – Chris Sep 20 '16 at 9:45
15

This is "Robot Dreams" by Isaac Asimov

"Robot Dreams" was created for the anthology Robot Dreams (1986) and is the last Susan Calvin story. A young female computer expert uses fractal geometry to produce an added complexity in the brain of LVX-1 ("Elvex"), but calls upon Calvin when the robot begins to dream. Calvin asks Elvex to describe his dream of robots bowed down with toil- in his dream Elvex remembers only the Third Law, not the first two. All this reveals a previously unsuspected unconscious layer in the robot mind, not necessarily under the control of the Three Laws. When Elvex reveals that a man appears in his dream saying "Let my people go," and the man is himself, Calvin neutralizes his brain with an electron gun.

Isaac Asimov: The Foundations of Science Fiction

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.