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I started reading "The complete robot". Most of the stories especially Susan's stories occurs in the order of their happenings in the story line. Then why the last two stories are in reverse order?

Is their any historical reason or just a human error?

7

I, Robot features a frame story that is missing from The Complete Robot. In it, several dates are given explicitly or implicitly. We learn the following:

  • Susan Calvin was born in 1982
  • She is 75 now, so the frame story is set in 2057
  • She is about to retire from U.S. Robots
  • "The Evitable Conflict" took place in 2052:

It was five years ago that I found out all the truth. It was 2052; Byerley was completing his second term as World Co-ordinator—”

"The Evitable Conflict" confirms that Calvin is still with U.S. Robots at that time:

—And in the frosty pupils of his guest, Dr. Susan Calvin of U.S. Robots and Mechanical Men Corporation.

But in "Feminine Intuition", Susan Calvin no longer works for U.S. Robots:

Clinton Madarian had joined the firm ten years before. For five of those years, he had worked uncomplainingly under the grumpy supervision of Susan Calvin. [...] When Susan Calvin finally retired [...] Madarian took her place.

Since Calvin has retired five years ago, "Feminine Intuition" must take place in 2062. This is corroborated by a statement in the story that Calvin is "nearly eighty." So "Feminine Intuition" takes place ten years after "The Evitable Conflict", and this means the order in The Complete Robot is correct.


However, there is an inconsistency after all, and perhaps this is why you thought the order was wrong. According to "The Evitable Conflict", Peter Borgert has died:

The Directors before him, Alfred Lanning and Peter Bogert, are dead, and they had no such problems.

But in "Feminine Intuition", Bogert is still Research Director at U.S. Robots. I think this is simply a mistake by Asimov. "Feminine Intuition" was written 20 years after "The Evitable Conflict", and he probably forgot that Bogert should have been dead.

  • Note that the frame story you mention was only added in relatively recent printings; it wasn't in the original as far as I can recall. (That said, I have no quarrel with your timeline.) – Harry Johnston Jul 26 '15 at 1:31
  • @HarryJohnston: The frame story was already present in the first edition, published in 1950. – Ubik Jul 26 '15 at 2:21
  • I'm fairly sure it wasn't in the copy I first read. Perhaps it was left out of the UK edition? (Or I may simply be misremembering.) – Harry Johnston Jul 26 '15 at 4:06

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