There are those who say that in 1984, George Orwell predicted much of the society we live in today; – and then there are those of sound and rational mind. Orwell’s work, it seems to me, is a mixture of a description of his own time with an idea of what it might be to live in a totalitarian state (particularly somewhere like, say, Stalinist Russia). Nothing amuses me more than claims of Orwell’s foresight: unless it were claims of his mastery of English style.
On the back of my copy of Isaac Asimov’s I, Robot (this is the edition published by … er … The Times of London), it says breathlessly, “One Man Saw It All Coming … Isaac Asimov ushered in the Robot Age with these superbly entertaining … etc … ”
Hmm, so that will be the Age of Robots that we’re living in currently, I guess, where … um … robots have become a perceived threat to human civilisation by their intelligence and started thinking for themselves, so we’ve banished them to off-Earth activities such as mining on Mercury (they’re always mining on Mercury in these sci-fi novels, though I can think of a few reasons this will be unlikely; – I’ll let Professor Brian Cox explain, “this tortured piece of rock suffers the biggest temperature swings of all the planets, from 427 degrees Celsius in the days to -173 degrees Celsius at night” – thanks for that, Professor Cox).
Or perhaps it was merely the Will Smith film he predicted.
Of course, Asimov’s vision is much the same as that of Karel Čapek’s earlier one: that robots will take over the drudge-work from mankind, but at some point will begin thinking for themselves and plot at world conquest – but without the underlying implications of proletarian revolution which exist in Čapek’s work.
All of which is not to the point: I gave up reading it, as usual, because it was in the main dull and uninteresting.