Robot Novels and Stories
List of Works in the Robot Series, in Chronological Order by Narrative
- I, Robot (1950) and/or collections of robot stories: The Complete Robot (1982), Robot Dreams (1986), and Robot Visions (1990)
- "The Bicentennial Man" (1976) or The Positronic Man (1992) - short story later developed into a complete novel
- "Mother Earth" (1948) - short story, in which no individual robots appear, but positronic robots are part of the background
- The Caves of Steel (1954) - first Robot Series/R. Daneel Olivaw novel
- The Naked Sun (1957) - second Robot Series/R. Daneel Olivaw novel
- "Mirror Image" (1972) - short story about R. Daneel Olivaw and detective Elijah Baley
- The Robots of Dawn (1983) - third Robot Series/R. Daneel Olivaw novel
- Robots and Empire (1985) - fourth Robot Series/R. Daneel Olivaw novel
Overview of Short Stories
Most of Asimov's robot short stories, which he began to write in 1939, are set in the first age of positronic robotics and space exploration. The unique feature of Asimov's robots are the Three Laws of Robotics, hardwired in a robot's positronic brain, with which all robots in his fiction must comply, and which ensure that the robot does not turn against its creators.
The stories were not initially conceived as a set, but rather all feature his positronic robots—indeed, there are some inconsistencies among them, especially between the short stories and the novels. They all share a theme of the interaction of humans, robots, and morality. Some of the short stories found in The Complete Robot and other anthologies appear not to be set in the same universe as the Foundation Universe. "Victory Unintentional" has positronic robots obeying the Three Laws, but also a non-human civilization on Jupiter. "Let's Get Together" features humanoid robots, but from a different future (where the Cold War is still in progress), and with no mention of the Three Laws. The multiple series offers a sense of completeness, because all of its works are interconnected in some way.
The Complete Robot contains most of Asimov's robot short stories. Missing ones were either written after its publication, or formed the text connecting the stories in I, Robot.
The six Asimov robot short stories not included in this book are:
Overview of the Robot Novels
The first book is I, Robot (1950), a collection of nine previously published short stories woven together as a 21st-century interview with robopsychologist Dr. Susan Calvin. The next four robot novels The Caves of Steel (1953), The Naked Sun (1955), The Robots of Dawn (1983), and Robots and Empire (1985) make up the Elijah Baley (sometimes "Lije Baley") series, and are mysteries starring the Terran Elijah Baley and his humaniform robot partner, R. Daneel Olivaw. They are set thousands of years after the short stories and focus on the conflicts between Spacers — descendants of human settlers from other planets — and the people from an overcrowded Earth. "Mirror Image", one of the short stories from The Complete Robot anthology, is also set in this time period (between The Naked Sun and The Robots of Dawn) and features both Baley and Olivaw. Another short story (found in The Early Asimov anthology), "Mother Earth", is set about a thousand years before the robot novels, when the Spacer worlds chose to become separated from Earth.
The Caves of Steel and The Naked Sun are both considered classics of the genre, but the later novels were also well received, with The Robots of Dawn nominated for both the Hugo and Locus Awards in 1984, and Robots and Empire shortlisted for the Locus Award for Best Science Fiction Novel in 1986.