Hello Internet. And now for Review #30! Yes, yes, welcome back too and all that jazz. Hey, you can’t expect me to keep pattern for this long can you? And for my next trick, a universe-expansion book by a different author!
Oh, what do we have here? Some author with significant qualifications takes on a project to renew an old author’s work by publishing a novel set in the same universe? Don’t mind if I do. Love this stuff. Although, there are always flaws in this type of writing. Some authors who do these reboots pick up the book series and attempt to publish something identical to the original author. This, however understandable, never turns out well. It’s almost like the new authors are writing published fanfiction, and as much as this is endearing to watch they will never live up to the original, because as much as some fanfictions are very, very good, they will always never equal their source material thanks to the fact that they are never the author and will never be able to match their style exactly.
Then again, there are authors who will do something very, very different with the series they have inherited. People like Reichert, who will take existing characters and plot their stories in a way completely different to the original. Which, for an attempt to further a series, is pretty ballsy. I, Robot: To Protect (which is way too much effort to type as a whole so I’m gonna call it “To Protect” from now on) is a prequel to Asimov’s famous I, Robot, explaining Dr Calvin’s early years as a proper clinical psychologist and how she goes about helping fix patients with absurd medical problems. Then, of course, a robot walks in who looks exactly like a human, [and nano-bots start infecting people] and it all goes to hell in a handbasket.
And this is exactly what something like I, Robot (this comma bugs me) needs. To Protect is something which pushes at the real ends of an Asimov story, and though there are definitely some things which push canon to make sure To Protect looks at least a little up-to-date in today’s world it still feels like it’s set in the world of Asimov. Take note I didn’t say feels like something Asimov would write. It doesn’t, and isn’t meant to. But, doubting the validity of canonical events aside, this story works. It’s something which plausibly could happen in Asimov’s well-established universe, the problems with the (in)famous Three Laws are all meticulously thought out and the style is addictively readable, which totally agrees with my sense of taste in books.
One last note. For someone like me, who relishes technobabble and takes great pains to ensure they understand every piece of scientific, medical, magical and technical hogwash which gets thrown around like some kind of hyper-misused hot potato, it not only surprises but impresses me that Reichert has well and truly done her research for this novel. With a doctorate in medical psychology and a long history of science-fiction writing, every medical term is justified and used in exactly the right context (I had to look up the correct procedure for “lumbar puncture”. It checks out), which makes me ridiculously happy. Nice one.
I, Robot: To Protect was published in 2011 by Roc. It can be found on Amazon here.
Yours: J.M. Pear