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The Bicentennial Man by Isaac Asimov

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"The Bicentennial Man" is a 1976 science fiction novelette by Isaac Asimov. It is about a robot who fights for his rights, and gradually becomes more human, over the long course of his life.

Rose Colored Asimov Glasses

I’ll admit it: I am a huge fan of Isaac Asimov! I have loved nearly every Asimov story and book I’ve read. So it comes as no surprise that I really enjoyed "The Bicentennial Man" too. This is classic Asimov. If you like his other stuff then it’s a safe bet to say you’ll like this too. And if not, well… you know what to do.

Non-spoiler Summary in a Nutshell

PhotonQ-Bicentennial Man by PhOtOnQuAnTiQuE, CC 2.0 License

Andrew Martin is a very unique robot – much to the dismay of the company that created him. He started life simple enough, as a servant for the Martin family, but when it is discovered that he has an artistic talent he begins to make a lot of money – both for himself and the Martins. As the years go by and the people Andrew knows and loves get older and eventually die, he starts to use some of his wealth to buy freedom and fight for robot rights. This makes him extremely unpopular and even gets him into some trouble. Eventually he discovers that there are a few high risk things he can do that will make huge differences in his struggles, but will he have the courage to do them?

Interesting Tidbits:

  • Word Count: 14,088 (31 pages)
  • "The Bicentennial Man" won the 1977 Hugo Award, Nebula Award and Locus Poll for Best Novelette. Impressive! But what else would you expect from one of the grand masters of science fiction?
  • Isaac Asimov, the author of this story, well… let’s just say he wrote a few books during his lifetime.
  • "The Bicentennial Man" was the inspiration for the 1999 movie of the same name starring Robin Williams. The movie was ok, but I liked the story much better.
  • Not only did this story inspire a movie, but it also inspired a novel co-written by Asimov and Robert Silverberg: The Positronic Man.

Where You Can Find The Bicentennial Man:

  • This story first appeared in February 1976, in the anthology Stellar #2: Science Fiction Stories.
  • "The Bicentennial Man" is a super famous story, and fortunately has been reprinted many times – most recently in Asimov’s collection Robot Visions.
  • Do you have a public library near you? Chances are they have a copy of "The Bicentennial Man". Here is a list of books that contain this wonderful story. Any library worth its salt should have at least one of those!

Craving More Science Fiction Short Stories?

If you liked "The Bicentennial Man" then you might also enjoy “Helen O’Loy” by Lester del Rey – about two men who buy a beautiful robot house keeper and the all too life-like problems they encounter with her.