The novel starts off with the introduction of the character Dr. Susan Calvin who is in an interview with a reporter, which is considered as the narrator. In this interview she offers stories from her 50 years as a robo-psychologist that involve robots and are later used as chapters in the book. These stories use the Three Laws of Robotics that Asiimov created along with his stories. The first law states that a robot cannot bring harm to a human being in any way. The second law states that a robot must obey all orders given to it by human beings except when it conflicts with the first law.
The third law states that a robot must protect itself as long as it doesn’t conflict with the first or second laws.”Robbie” This chapter or story talks about a girl named Gloria and a caretaker robot she received as a present from her mom after robots break out as a new trend. After more and more people begin to hate robots, Gloria’s mom, Mrs. Weston, returns Robbie because she feared that Gloria would become anti-social and only interact with robots like Robbie instead of other children.
To her dismay, she soon realized that the loss of Robbie made her daughter depressed as Robbie grew to become Gloria’s best friend. To reverse her state of mind, Gloria’s parents bring her to New York City in an attempt to take her mind off the topic. After taking her to all of the attractions New York has to offer, her depression is still yet to be cured. Mr. Weston then comes up with the idea to bring Gloria to a robot factory so she would see that they have no actual feelings and are just machines. At the factory Mr. Weston had a plan to reunite Gloria and Robbie, of course without Mrs.
Weston’s approval. After Gloria is saved by Robbie in a fatal accident, Mrs. Weston finally agrees to let Gloria keep Robbie.
“Runaround” In this short story two astronauts, Powell and Donovan, and a robot named Speedy go to Mercury to restart a mining facility which had been previously abandoned. Once they get to the station they realize that the photocell banks which provide energy to the facility will run out of selenium soon. After further deliberation, they determine that they can send Speedy to a selenium pool over fifteen miles away because of his heat resistance. After not returning for five hours, the two astronauts grow worried and use a different robot to find out what happened to Speedy. At the selenium pool they find Speedy running in circles as if he was malfunctioning.
Powell then realizes that the selenium had a negative effect on him and is causing him to malfunction.