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Asimov Estate Authorizes New I, Robot Books 426

Posted by timothy
from the automatic-writing dept.
daria42 writes "In a move guaranteed to annoy long-term science fiction fans, the estate of legendary science fiction author Isaac Asimov, who passed away in 1992, has authorized a trilogy of sequels to his beloved I, Robot short story series, to be written by relatively unknown fantasy author Mickey Zucker Reichert. The move is already garnering opposition online. 'Isaac Asimov died forty years after they were first written. If he had wanted to follow them up, he would have. The author's intentions need to be respected here,' writes sci-fi/fantasy book site Keeping the Door."
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Asimov Estate Authorizes New I, Robot Books

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  • Probably too late for that. Sigh :(

    • If these are the same idiots who "authorized" that god-awful movie, then these books will be yet another waste of perfectly good trees.
      • by PapayaSF (721268) on Sunday November 01, 2009 @09:59PM (#29946348) Journal

        If these are the same idiots who "authorized" that god-awful movie

        It's not really their fault. Here's how Hollywood works: when the film rights to a story are bought, the filmmakers almost always have the right to do whatever they want with it. This means they can totally rewrite the story, or even slap the title alone on a different, barely-related story. This is why Graham Greene (IIRC) once said that the best deal authors could get from Hollywood was when the film rights were bought but no movie was ever made. (This frequently happens: the rights to Stranger in a Strange Land, the Foundation Trilogy, and many other works have been bouncing around in Hollywood for many years.)

        • God, I think I would cry if they ever made Stranger in a Strange Land into a terrible Hollywood movie.

        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by hardburn (141468)

          It is at least partially the estate's fault. They can always ask for at least a measure of creative control as part of the deal. No Ender's Game movie has been made, because Card won't give the rights to just anyone. Of course, in the case of an author's death, the inheritors usually aren't as good at this stuff as the original creator (Brian Herbert, this means you), so even if they didn't only care about cashing out, they will probably end up making a turd, anyway.

          The other major problem with Hollywood is

          • by postbigbang (761081) on Sunday November 01, 2009 @11:01PM (#29946794)

            The sad thing is that when you look on a bookstore's shelf, there's hardly anything left of 'hard' science fiction.

            Apparently, to sell a book in the 'sci fi genre', it needs to have a touch of orc death, or perhaps an alternate universe where there's a some sort of hierarchical plot involving robes, old truths, and perhaps incantations.

            I long for Azimov, Heinlein, Dickson, Ellison, Sheckley, etc. Even Pournelle and Niven have seemingly hung up their stirrups.

            Movies from these guys' works? Unlikely to work. The CGI of the mind is not the CGI of the screen.

            • You should read Alistair Reynolds then - it's probably the best (and sadly, probably nearly the only) new hard science fiction there. It's really very good.

              If you're not sure, try reading Galactic North - it's a collection of short stories, most of which are set in the Revelation Space 'universe'. It's interesting in that there is no travel faster than c, and people are the usual - grubby and self-serving - no Captain Picards.

              • by postbigbang (761081) on Sunday November 01, 2009 @11:31PM (#29946978)

                I just put down Anathem from Neal Stephenson. I got through 250+ pages of this nearly 1000 page tome, and it's just plainly awful. It's Stephenson boorishly showing off his obvious intelligence in yet another fantasy parallel universe world. His seemingly brilliant descriptions may fit the needs of a very small audience, but for a fan of 'hard' sci fi, it's waterboarding.

                And it's not the first, but perhaps the 100th time this has happened. The D&D world has altered sci fi forever. I wish it would fork..... and solidly. I don't mind the fantasy world for other consumers. But it's not my diet at all.

                • by EEDAm (808004) on Monday November 02, 2009 @08:11AM (#29949086)
                  So you missed 3/4's of the book and that'd be the whole bit about the alien entities circling the planet, the weapons deployed by them, the mission against them in orbit which is extremely cool, the relevance of parallel universes and theoretical math and all that then huh? I can see that Stephenson isn't for everyone but *objectively* awful? There's an awful lot of people that don't agree with you. Descriptive writing is 'waterboarding' for fans of "real" sci-fi? Does that go for characterisation too? I'm not trying to flame you at all - your taste is your own - but it does seem like your post says a lot about the reader and little about the author.
                  • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

                    by postbigbang (761081)

                    I tried to connote my tastes.

                    What I found was Stephenson's demonstration of his own obvious intelligence in recreating a parallel world whose development too closely paralleled this one. Even if I suspended belief, his invention of a parallel vocabulary to meet the timeline of his story was flawed.

                    His 'close your eyes and imagine....' descriptions were like slogging through a seemingly endless journey predicated in two feet deep mud. My mental legs tired of it, and was unrewarded by its relentlessness. If y

              • Neal Asher and Richard Morgan, two relatively new British SF authors of hard SciFi, both just as bloody and violent as Alastair Reynolds yet with much better characterisation, and less waste ; they get to the point very fast and keep the pace through much of the book. Seriously, give them both a try, starting with Asher's Grid-Linked and Morgan's Altered Carbon.

            • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

              Really? From where I'm sitting there's plenty of hard sci-fi coming out. Alastair Reynolds was mentioned earlier, but there's also eg. Charlie Stross; even his 'fantasy' stories tend to have more than a little science kicking around them, and he writes perfectly good diamond-hard. I'm hardly in tune with the community, either, so there are likely a lot more authors than those two if you're willing to do some digging. Now, I understand if near-future and not-space opera-type stuff is not your cup of tea, but
            • by Draek (916851) on Monday November 02, 2009 @12:38AM (#29947324)

              On top of the ones already mentioned by the sibling posts, I'll add my recommendation for Robert Charles Wilson [wikipedia.org], specifically his novel "Spin" which is one of the finest sci-fi novels I've ever read, and decidedly on the 'hard' side of the genre.

              Perhaps the best thing about it is that it wouldn't be so hard to turn it into a movie, as most of the plot happens on "10 seconds into the future" Earth. Unlike, for instance, Asimov's Foundation series or Larry Niven's Ringworld which have *huge* potential of turning into campy, CGI-ridden monstrocities simply by virtue of their settings.

      • by MeatBag PussRocket (1475317) on Sunday November 01, 2009 @10:20PM (#29946498)

        FWIW i choose to use my intelligence when considering an adaptive work of any sort, be it a movie based on a book or a book based on a book.

        its like this: if i'm from Brooklyn and go to Pizza Hut i'd be a FOOL for expecting the pizza to taste the way it does at home, if i'm from Texas and go into Taco Bell expecting tex-mex i should be shot for stupidity, so why then would any reasonable person go see a movie adapted from a book and expect it to be faithful to their own imagination or even the original authors storyline? Taco Bell isnt bad food, as long as you take it for what it is neither is Pizza Hut. Personally i enjoyed both the Asimov stories as well as the iRobot movie, but i just know what to expect from each.

        also, i dont see anyone roasting Timothy Zahn for his star wars novels. personally i think many of those are better than Return of the Jedi, and definitly better than Lucases last three 'epics' if thats anything to go on, i'm glad Asimov never wrote another robot book, it could haev been worse than Danielle Steele

        • by Nitewing98 (308560) on Monday November 02, 2009 @12:47AM (#29947386) Homepage
          Don't you mean "R. Danielle Steele?"
        • by FrankSchwab (675585) on Monday November 02, 2009 @01:12AM (#29947538) Journal

          As a counterpoint, I submit LOTR.

          There are a couple of scenes that I found absolutely awful; totalling maybe 60 seconds out of the, what, 7 hours of movies?

          As someone who had read the series a dozen times over, well, a few years, I have to say that the movie is a shining example of what can be done in translating from paper to film, but so seldom is.

          /frank

          • by TheRaven64 (641858) on Monday November 02, 2009 @07:28AM (#29948916) Journal

            Really? I quite enjoyed the first one, although I missed Tom Bombadil, who was my favourite part of the book and found the characterisation of Gollum awful. I actually fell asleep in the middle of the second one in the cinema (something I have never done before, nor since), and woke up just in time to see the appalling changes that they'd made to Farimir's character. I didn't see the third one, so maybe it was less bad.

            When I reread the books, I realised that much of the reason that I couldn't stand the film was that it was, in some aspects, a very close adaptation of the book. Where the book had chapters of descriptions without much plot advancement, the film had ten minute segments of CGI without much plot advancement. I can easily read chapters of Tolkien's descriptive passages, but watching half an hour of 'let's show off the Massive Engine again' is just dull.

          • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

            by js_sebastian (946118)

            As a counterpoint, I submit LOTR.

            There are a couple of scenes that I found absolutely awful; totalling maybe 60 seconds out of the, what, 7 hours of movies?

            For me the worst scene in the movies one is when aragorn gets dragged down the ravine by the were-thingy and everyone thinks he's dead, and no-one in the audience who is more than 2 years old believes it for a moment. Phoney. Legolas skateboarding on a shield comes a close second. And Gimly being the village idiot throughout the 3 movies is funny at times but it gets really annoying in the end.

            Overall, I really liked the first 2 movies, and was extremely bored by the third one except for the Frodo-sam-and

    • by Blakey Rat (99501) on Sunday November 01, 2009 @10:10PM (#29946432)

      You could not buy it. Then they'd spend money producing a book that nobody wants. And then they wouldn't make any more. It's called a "free market," you should look it up.

      • If it were a movie about the books it would be, "Nobody is buying our movie of $NOVEL so it must be pirates." Its odd that books don't normally get that but I guess it has to do with feasibility of the average person to get a book versus a movie online and watch/read it.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by bwcbwc (601780)

        As I remember The Robots of Dawn and Robots and Empire came out about 25-30 years after the original short stories, so it's pretty clear Asimov would have written more stories or novels about the robots if he had a story to tell. Asimov was a commercial writer in the age of pulp magazines. That, by definition, is a sell-out.

        That he managed to produce such a body of acclaimed work is a function of his work ethic and talent, not his "artistic sensibility" or the "purity" of his body of work.

  • by syousef (465911) on Sunday November 01, 2009 @09:24PM (#29946122) Journal

    The 0th law is thou shalt sell out and cash in big.

    It overrides the other 3 laws ;-)

  • Cry, Robot... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by kclittle (625128) on Sunday November 01, 2009 @09:24PM (#29946126)
    ... this is just _wrong_!
    • Re:Cry, Robot... (Score:5, Informative)

      by Brian Gordon (987471) on Sunday November 01, 2009 @09:31PM (#29946182)

      Why, because someone is making books with the same name? If it offends you, don't read them. If you always wanted more I, Robot then read them.

      Nobody's going to be calling them canon.

      • Nobody's going to be calling them canon.

        Somebody will. Most likely not a majority of people who care at all, but somebody who has no idea what they are talking about will.

        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by tverbeek (457094)

          Sequels authorized by the copyright holder of the original are often considered "canonical", regardless of whether the person who authorized it was the original creator or their heir. The reader, of course, is free to accept or reject Scarlett or And Another Thing... or Return to the Hundred Acre Wood or Peter Pan in Scarlet or The Royal Book of Oz (etc) as they see fit, but the imprimatur of the copyright holder does carry some weight in making the determination.,

      • by kclittle (625128)
        I see it as a moral/aesthetic issue.This is desecration-for-hire, a cold-hearted scheme to make money off of Grandpa's legacy. But, to be honest, I've no idea what Dr. Asimov would have thought. Hell, maybe he'd approve. But, I don't...
        • He always seemed keen on any idea which would result in more Asimov books in circulation.

        • Bullshit (Score:5, Insightful)

          by aussie_a (778472) on Sunday November 01, 2009 @10:10PM (#29946428) Journal

          The travesty here isn't that someone is writing sequels to the original series. The travesty is that his heirs still have a monopoly on the series, 57 years later.

          People writing sequels to books is the right for society to continue to enrichen our culture. Regardless of the quality of the works that will be produced, society grows by garnering inspiration and aid from past works. I'm sure Shakespeare has inspired and helped many a person in learning the trade of creating stories. The tragedy here is that companies like Disney reap all of the benefits of the public domain, while ensuring very little will ever be added back to it.

          Before I get attacked by those who believe you have a right for all time to your ideas, this is a modern construct. Society managed to survive millenia without the damn thing. And as someone who seeks to earn their living in the software industry, I would quite happily place my work in the public domain voluntarily after a period of 25 years.

          • by Jared555 (874152)

            I am guessing if you are an independent developer you could just put something similar to this in the license 'as of 25 years after the original release of this version of this software I release this software into the public domain'

          • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

            by pentalive (449155)

            I would quite happily place my work in the public domain voluntarily after a period of 25 years.

            But what if I place YOUR work in the public domain in 5 years?

          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by houghi (78078)

            The travesty here isn't that someone is writing sequels to the original series. The travesty is that his heirs still have a monopoly on the series, 57 years later.

            I agree. It isn't sad that a person writes a follow up. It is sad that only one person is allowed to do so.
            We are not allowed to stand on the shoulders of giants anymore.

      • mod parent up.

        No one has to read them, if they don't want to. It's a choice. If you have a problem with this, just ignore the books. One might as well complain about all the modern interpretations of Grimm fairy tales.
      • I highly doubt these books will be anything like Asimov's work, and anyone who enjoyed the original short stories is not likely not enjoy these. I do not have faith in this author to do the series justice.

        It has nothing to do with "canon." These books were about the implications of pure, simple logic on cognition. They weren't about people, or character development, or any such nonsense. Hell, I don't even give a crap what Asimov would have thought about it. It's about the content of the books; there were l

        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by biryokumaru (822262) *

          Um, ya. I just want to add that my problem is people who start with crappy sequels, and miss out on the originals. So often when things like this happen, the original stories are much more meaningful than any derivatives.

          Like the movie I, Robot. People who saw that and never read the short stories genuinely believed that film to be a meaningful derivation of the original. But it didn't even begin to do Asimov justice. Now those people won't read the book, because they saw the terrible movie. And they think

          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by tomhudson (43916)

            But it didn't even begin to do Asimov justice.

            He wasn't all that good a writer. When I was younger, I thought he was awesome. But, as I got older, I saw Asimov's plots to be more and more predictable, and his characters one-dimensional. There are plenty of writers today who would bury Asimov if he weren't already dead.

            I think it's a Good Thing(TM) that the movie didn't slavishly imitate the stories. Go back and read them - unlike, say, Stranger in a Strange Land, they aged badly, and the last few sto

        • by Blakey Rat (99501)

          Asimov's general philosophy seems to have been, "set up a logical rules and a mystery with no apparent resolution", then "alter the rules in some fashion to solve the mystery." If I had a nickel every time a robot in one of his stories had the 2nd law "strengthened" because it was too valuable, I'd have like more than 20 cents.

          • by russotto (537200)

            If I had a nickel every time a robot in one of his stories had the 2nd law "strengthened" because it was too valuable, I'd have like more than 20 cents.

            Third law. Only one story, as far as I know -- Runaround. First story in which the laws appeared. It made perfect sense; the laws couldn't be as binary and strictly-ordered as their usual English statement, or the robot would stupidly destroy itself even when a very slight and inconsequential deviation from orders would avoid its destruction. So they ad

  • by wherrera (235520) on Sunday November 01, 2009 @09:26PM (#29946132) Journal

    Especially, hope that they are not as spotty in quality as the post Frank Herbert Dune sequels.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by kclittle (625128)
      ummmm... Frank's own sequels to "Dune" were spotty. So, at least the other authors were following the pattern.
      -k
      • Re:hope for the best (Score:4, Interesting)

        by Frans Faase (648933) on Sunday November 01, 2009 @10:00PM (#29946354) Homepage
        The prequels, sequels, and now also immediate sequels written by Kevin J. Anderson and Brain Herbert are a hunderd time more spotty in quality and the prequels that Frank Herbert wrote. It is sure that Frank Herbert "Dune Messiah" was different than many people who had read "Dune" expected, but there are many who believe that the novels in the series actually got better and better. At least Frank Herbert was not repeating the old trick over and over again, as Kevin and Brain have been doing. I write "Kevin and Brain", because I am getting the impression that Kevin is actually doing most of the creative work.
  • Wikipedia mentions some other work in the Asimoviverse [wikipedia.org]; of course, Bear, Benford and Brin are all decently well-known scifi authors.
    • While Reichert isn't well known in Sci-fi, she's written a number of fantasy series, which are (in my opinion) of uniformly high quality. So, it's not exactly like this is someone with no writing experience.

  • Elitism (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Djupblue (780563) on Sunday November 01, 2009 @09:29PM (#29946166)
    What kind of elitist crap is that? I love Asimov's books, I have read most of them and they probably helped shape me in a way. I say that if someone wants to have a go at some sequels the go right a head. I don't think that they will be even comparable but I might enjoy them anyway. The worst thing that can happen is that they are not worth reading.
    • Re:Elitism (Score:4, Insightful)

      by R2.0 (532027) on Sunday November 01, 2009 @09:45PM (#29946266)

      The delicious irony is the wailing about "author's intent" and bemoaning someone other than the original author covering the same ground coming from a group that would gladly see copyright curtailed so that EVERYONE would be free to butcher an author's vision after a period of time.

      • That is interesting. Slashdot hasn't exactly been a champion for artists' rights over the past couple of years, yet, when push comes to shove, there's some recognition of their existence.

        Mind you, I'm not 100% convinced that there's a solid inconsistency their approach. It is possible to be consistently anti-plagiarism but pro-piracy at the same time. However, it would be a shame if you were down-modded into oblivion for your insights.

      • Re:Elitism (Score:5, Interesting)

        by zach_the_lizard (1317619) on Sunday November 01, 2009 @10:42PM (#29946666)

        The delicious irony is the wailing about "author's intent" and bemoaning someone other than the original author covering the same ground coming from a group that would gladly see copyright curtailed so that EVERYONE would be free to butcher an author's vision after a period of time.

        The thing about not having copyright on the book is that there could be no 'official' sequels. Everything would be, more or less, fan fiction. Sure, some of that fan fiction could be marketed and sold, but it is not 'official' fan fiction.

      • But using the same names and situations pretending that the author would have so wished is unethical and immoral.

        This would be the case regardless of how long copyright was, what makes it worst is that current copyright terms mean that is money not talent, what decides which new vision gets done.

        Wanting to have saner, much shorter copyright terms is not opposed (and I for one frankly fail to see where you are finding the irony) to call a cynic money grab for what it really is.

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by cronot (530669)

      Yea, I think it's a bit elitist too. I mean, if they don't want a sequel, don't read it!

      Case in point, a classic: The Time Machine, from H.G. Wells. A century later, a sequel was authorized and written by Stephen Baxter: The Time Ships. And I like it so much more than the first book, because it expands so much on the idea, concepts and caracter. Granted, there was a lot to expand from given the late 19th century science, and Stephen Baxter is also an excellent SF writer... So the question really is if Mr. R

    • by hardburn (141468)

      Why couldn't slamming things down as "elitism" have died with the McCain campaign?

  • Oh, whatever (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Angst Badger (8636) on Sunday November 01, 2009 @09:29PM (#29946170)

    The author's intentions need to be respected here.

    The author no longer exists, and therefore cannot possibly have intentions.

    That said, this kind of posthumous sequel is almost always a disaster, but that's only a problem for the people who read them. If the idea bugs you at all, rest assured that you are bothered infinitely more than the original author is.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by dlgeek (1065796)
      The grandparent's point is that the author had intentions while he was still alive and those should be respected. Asimov was an amazingly prolific writer, and he didn't so much as jot down some notes about a sequel (like he did for the Caliban series) in 40 years between the release of I, Robot and his death. For an author as prolific as Asimov, this clearly indicates a purposeful intent not to have a sequel to the book, and that should be respected even after his death.

      I think "The Complete Robot" which
      • maybe he was just out of ideas for robots, ever think of that one? i mean hell even Da Vinci didnt think of _everything_ sure Asimov had intentions, but had he intended that nobody use his works for anything he would have stated that in his will, respected or otherwise his posthumous were never clearly stated. for anyone to surmise those intentions based on hop-scotch logic seems to me like bending your own thoughts to fit the facts. reminds me of Colbert Logic (tm)

        • by dlgeek (1065796)
          Except he had plenty of ideas for robots, and he chose to express them as stand-alone stories, novels and serieses separate from the I, Robot set. Take the Caliban series for example - it could easily have been tied into I, Robot, but he very clearly chose not to do so.
  • by dpbsmith (263124) on Sunday November 01, 2009 @09:40PM (#29946242) Homepage

    At this point, I'll bet that there have been more Sherlock Holmes stories written by "Holmesians" than were ever written by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle himself. And hardly anyone outside of a tiny circle of fandom knows any of them, and none of them have tarnished the reputation of the originals.

    I suspect there are many people reading this who haven't even heard of The Seven-Per-Cent Solution, a 1974 ersatz "Sherlock Holmes" novel. It was a bestseller at the time, was adapted into a movie--and, I'm pretty sure, is well on the way to being forgotten.

  • It seems that somebody's children feel their private personalized yachts aren't big enough.

  • Mickey Zucker Reichert may seem a relative unknown but his Renshai novels were excellent and get my full read recommendation. This seems to be a good fit. Can it be worse than the big screen adaption (read bastardization) of I, robot ? That was so bad I actually cannot recall more than a few bits from the Will "Fresh Putz" Smith movie. My subconcious seems to have stepped in and protected my concious mind from suffering any further damage by hiding the trauma.

  • If it worked for Jordan's family, why not Asimov's?

    The only difference is the books being released under Jordan's names were done using his notes, and by his wishes. These were books he would have wrote himself.

  • 'Isaac Asimoc died forty years after they were first written. If he had wanted to follow them up, he would have. The author's intentions need to be respected here,'

    The original book should have entered the public domain 14 years after it was published as our original copyright laws demanded. Anyone should be allowed to create any derivative work they want. The only problem with the current situation is that someone is getting an exclusive grant to create derivative works.

    • by tverbeek (457094)

      The original US copyright law allowed for a 14-year renewal, so it didn't "demand" that they enter the public domain after 14 years. Personally, I think that's too short a time, but that's certainly debatable. The current situation, where copyrights outlive their creators by decades, serving only to provide income to their descendants or to corporations, clearly does not "promote the progress of science and useful arts" as copyright is supposed to do.

  • This wouldn't be a problem if copyrights expired in a relatively 'short' time. 7 or 14 years might be too short, but life plus 50 years is far too long.

    Yeah, some sequels might be utter crap, but we wouldn't be shocked that someone *else* might want to write or create a story in someone else's universe.
  • What Asimov thought (Score:3, Interesting)

    by pooh666 (624584) on Sunday November 01, 2009 @09:59PM (#29946350)
    was that if he could do anything to help new writers along, he looked at it as fair payback for his own good fortune. He believed in the ideas. This doesn't mean he wouldn't protect his own turf copyright wise, but don't forget the Robot City books which had this exact purpose. He was a good and generous person and so quickly judging this as a money grab isn't fair to his memory.
  • One big thing that people should understand is that there is no single canon. Any of us can build our own notion of canon for whatever series we like (e.g. My DrWho canon ends with the last TV series of the 7th doctor and excludes all the novels).

    The existing of fanfiction shouldn't bother us at all, nor should we care about the publisher or the family's wishes, because in the end we control the gates - stories in culture are like that. Can I take the first 12 books in the Wizard of Oz series, say that the

    • by GrpA (691294)

      Actually, there is a canon and the estate would control that, but otherwise I agree entirely - It's a fanfic in nature and there's nothing wrong with that.

      Readers can decide what they like and what they don't.

      GrpA

    • by iris-n (1276146)

      You're missing the point. As long as the estate still controls copyright, there's still a single canon. You can end it wherever you like, but you can't branch it.

      I think Sherlock Holmes is a good example of a public domain character. There aren't any branches that I know of, but there are a lot of books that use it in a way or another. My favourite one is a Brasilian book that does not resemble a holmesian story at all (nor tries to), but uses the character to make a delightful satire of detective stories.

  • ...is that only the one person is allowed to write sequels. The first story set in that world was written in 1940; under the copyright terms in effect at the time, it should've been in the public domain in 1996. There should be lots and lots of derivative works out there competing in the marketplace, instead of only one "authorized" one making the Asimov estate a pile of money that none of them actually earned.

  • I, Robot
    You, Robot
    Him, Robot
    They, Robot.

    In other languages there's even more conjugations possible!

  • I loved Asimov for the reason I love Lucas. He can tell a great story. It's not particularly great writing, not very deep stuff (although there are quite a few good reflections on human nature), but it's an entire universe in a book (or five).

    If you're enough of an Asimov aficionado to get excited about this, I sure hope you're still angry at him for adding to the Foundation "Trilogy", what with the prequel and sequels written long after the Trilogy wrapped up. Hopefully you're angry with him for writing

  • ... namely the "Renshai" stuff which is pretty low-level, unsophisticated fantasy for nerdy teenagers. His time is at least as well spent on this as on anything else. I'm surprised the estate would authorize such a person, aren't there any better choices around? But that said, I think this bashing of sequels is disproportional - they really can't take any value away from the originals unless you let them and though often fairly crappy they are usually less so than very many other worthless works out there.
  • by chrysrobyn (106763) on Sunday November 01, 2009 @10:49PM (#29946708)

    'Isaac Asimov died forty years after they were first written. If he had wanted to follow them up, he would have.

    A few select pieces of timeline:

    _I, Robot_, 1950.

    _Foundation_, 1951.

    _Foundation's Edge_, 1982.

    _Robots and Empire_, 1985.

    _Foundation and Earth_, 1986.

    Author's death, 1992.

    It seems obvious he felt it entirely possible to follow up with a book 30 years after beginning, and it is certainly true that he didn't feel Robots were finished off as a body of story 35-36 years after beginning (Foundation and Earth is arguably a Robots novel). If he had lived another 40 years beyond 1986 and not touched the universe, then I think we could have argued about original intentions. Passing a mere 6 years after the last entries, however, tells us nothing about his true intent, or how it would change after decades of pondering his creations.

    Of course, being revisionist in assessing his intent is a bit clever, isn't it? Seeing as how many times he revised his own plans, thoughts and plot/ story/ time lines.

  • It is a little late (Score:5, Interesting)

    by rssrss (686344) on Sunday November 01, 2009 @11:05PM (#29946814)

    To complain about this. Asimov himself had begun the work of integrating the Robot stories with his Foundation/Galactic Empire stories. All kinds of prequels and sequels were written by the master himself and by other authors and this is just more of the same. Details here [wikipedia.org].

    Now, here is my question. In the original I Robot stories, the robot's positronic brains were made out of something referred to as Platinum-Iridium sponge. As this is written, Platinum is $1325/troy oz. and Iridium [matthey.com]
    is $425. Aren't you grateful that real computers are made out of silicon. Was any adjustment of technology made in the subsequent Robot stories?

  • by Don Sample (57699) on Monday November 02, 2009 @12:38AM (#29947326) Homepage

    While all of the stories in I Robot were first written 40 years before his death, Issac's positronic robots, and the three laws were something that he kept coming back to, time and again, throughout his career writing SF. His last works of fiction tied his earlier robot and Foundation stories together into one shared continuity. He clearly did not believe that he had written the last definitive word on the subject.

    I am willing to give the new stories the benefit of the doubt. I won't declare them awful, until I've actually had the opportunity to read them.

  • Idle thoughts: (Score:3, Interesting)

    by seebs (15766) on Monday November 02, 2009 @01:33AM (#29947674) Homepage

    I read a trilogy of robot novels, authorized by the Asimov estate presumably, by Roger MacBride Allen. I got the first one figuring any port in a storm, I was bored, etcetera. I got the other two because I really enjoyed the first one, and I thought they were a thoughtful and well-considered exploration of part of that universe.

    I've read a few of Mickey Zucker Reichert's books. The Nightfall book (and its sequel) were a little heavy on the Mary Sue for my tastes, but nonetheless had some interesting and/or well-done parts. She did a pair of "Renshai" trilogies set in a Norse setting which I really enjoyed reading, and which had some very interesting characters and plots.

    She's no Asimov, but:

    * The last time I read a new story set in Asimov's setting, it was rewarding and I enjoyed it.
    * I have liked Reichert's work in the past.

    In short, I'll probably buy them, and I'll probably enjoy them. I'm a lot happier with that than I would be with not having the option. I'd prefer if they opened things up further, but since I can't have this, I'll settle.

    And seriously, quit yer whining. Mickey Zucker Reichert is a decent author with a track record. In particular, the key to that Norse series is that she managed to write stories which were convincingly and unmistakably set in an existing setting, and yet, which told new stories and developed characters in interesting ways. This is not some horrible tragedy. If they'd picked Stephanie Meyer, yeah, there'd be torches and pitchforks. But MZR will do fine if there's not too much executive meddling.

  • I disagree (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Lord Bitman (95493) on Monday November 02, 2009 @05:44AM (#29948590) Homepage

    He died forty years after they were written. If copyright law were at all sane, there would be no need for "authorization", and there would already be 500 sequels, some of which might be good. A dead guy's intentions regarding old books should not be the concern of anyone other than someone studying literature.

  • Why not? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by jandersen (462034) on Monday November 02, 2009 @08:22AM (#29949124)

    Asimov created an interesting concept, and he didn't fully explore it - so why shouldn't others write stories in the same universe? I see lots of stories around about orcs and elves, clearly based on Tolkien's universe; most are crap, but some aren't, and I think it is a good thing if people are inspired by an author.

    What I find distasteful is that somebody is supposed to sort of write in the same style as the original author; it just doesn't work, and apart from that, I don't really think Asimov was a greatwriter from a literary point of view. His style seems stiff and awkward to me, where to me, good literature should be a joy read even after decades or centuries.

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