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Introduction

  • I was suckled on the Asimov Robots books, taken down off my father’s bookshelf
  • and enjoyed again and again. I read dozens of Asimov novels, and my writing
  • career began in earnest when I started to sell stories to Asimov’s Science
  • Fiction Magazine, which I had read for so long as I’d had the pocket money to
  • buy it on the stands.
  • When Wired Magazine asked me to interview the director of the film I, Robot, I
  • went back and re-read that old canon. I was struck immediately by one of the
  • thin places in Asimov’s world-building: how could you have a society where
  • only one company was allowed to make only one kind of robot?
  • Exploring this theme turned out to be a hoot. I worked in some of Orwell’s
  • most recognizable furniture from 1984, and set the action in my childhood home
  • in suburban Toronto, 55 Picola Court. The main character’s daughter is named
  • for my god-daughter, Ada Trouble Norton. I had a blast working in the
  • vernacular of the old-time futurism of Asimov and Heinlein, calling toothpaste
  • “dentifrice” and sneaking in references to “the search engine.”
  • My “I, Robot” is an allegory about digital rights management technology, of
  • course. This is the stuff that nominally stops us from infringing copyright
  • (yeah, right, how’s that working out for you, Mr Entertainment Exec?) and
  • turns our computers into something that controls us, rather than enabling us.
  • This story was written at a writer’s workshop on Toronto Island, at the
  • Gibraltar Point center, and was immeasurably improved by my friend Pat York,
  • herself a talented writer who died later that year in a car wreck. Not a day
  • goes by that I don’t miss Pat. This story definitely owes its strength to Pat,
  • and it’s a tribute to her that it won the 2005 Locus Award and was a finalist
  • for the Hugo and British Science Fiction Award in the same year.