I, Robot: To Protect, by Mickey Zucker Reichert
In the year 2035, Susan Calvin is a new psychiatric resident at a prestigious New York hospital. After a couple of discoveries, Susan is able to help two of her patients to the point of release from the long-term psych ward. She immediately impresses her superiors and is asked to participate in a clinical research trial involving nanobots on psych patients. But when some of her patients begin terrorist-like activity, Susan begins to question the nanobot programming.
Inspired by the collection of Isaac Asimov’s classic science fiction stories, I, Robot, Reichert’s new trilogy incorporates the same rules of robotics.
1. A robot may not injure a human being or, through inaction, allow a human being to come to harm.
2. A robot must obey the orders given to it by human beings, except where such orders would conflict with the First Law.
3. A robot must protect its own existence as long as such protection does not conflict with the First or Second Laws.
Susan is a brilliant doctor who speaks her mind and respects honesty from others. The patients in her long-term psych ward are children with a variety of mental problems. Reichert’s characters are incredibly fascinating. The children’s stories are heart-wrenching and thought-provoking. I found myself caught up in the story immediately.
This first installment in the trilogy feels more like a medical drama, lighter on the science fiction. I hope the robot/cyborg aspect is explored more in future releases, but the story certainly wasn’t lacking. While there is an ending to this first novel, there are still plenty of questions left unanswered to be addressed in the next. Reichert is a gifted storyteller, bringing me into Susan’s life and putting me through all of her obstacles, successes and failures. And every bit of it was engaging and captivating.
I, Robot: To Protect releases from Roc Books on November 1, 2011.