Fear the Robot Invasion!

50 Facts About Robots cover50 Facts About Robots

A 6 year old regular patron of mine once stated “you can’t have too many robot books”. True enough. However, I think we can safely let this one slide into the great beyond.  Aside from the dirty cover and tape repairs, this book is just dated.  I did like the content though.  Any kid back in the 80s would have devoured this book.  Today, though, it might just seem hokey and old fashioned.  I figure that the kids would get the references to Star Wars, but how many kids would get the Bionic Man, Dr Who and Issac Asimov?


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  1. If your kids don’t get the Bionic Man, Dr Who and Issac Asimov, you’re doing something wrong. Summer Nerd School for them.

  2. Hard to say about the Bionic Man and Asimov, but Doctor Who is still on today. I’m sure some kids might get that one.

  3. Looks like that robot car just won’t stay in its lane. What was that about laws? Three or something?

  4. Really? Dalek’s and Cybermen have both been prominent in the new Dr. Who series. (And I know kids watching those series right now) And I loved Asimov’s stuff as a kid and that wasn’t that long ago.

    Not doubting that the 50 facts book is pretty outdated, just a bit amusing to me that all the examples chosen actually are topical (New Dr. Who series, been watching Eureka and there was a joke about the three laws in the episode last night, and it seems like the Google cars are in the news every few weeks).

  5. Seeing as how Dr. Who was revived a few years ago and is still on the air, I would think that as many kids would get it now as did in the 80s. Of course, since the picture shows Daleks and Cybermen, who are respectively mutants inside of battle armor and cyborgs, I don’t realy se what they have to do with robots in the first place.

  6. I think kids today would understand the Doctor Who and Isaac Asimov references. The Daleks and Cybermen are still prominent baddies on the long running Doctor Who show. However, as Yoyogod said, neither are robots.

  7. @Yoyogod: Common misconceptions I think.

    Of course, in the future, robot cars will have 4 number, painted on Westminster license plates and by guided by “bleepers” on the side of the road!

  8. Forget the pop culture references, I doubt they’ll recognize any of the computers or components in the pictures. I mean, the one in the example doesn’t even feature a pointing device!

  9. Yoyogod beat me to it. Daleks and Cybermen aren’t robots, they’re cybernetic creatures. Rookie mistake.

  10. My kids would definitely get the Dr Who references are they are huge fans of the series and have actually gone through the trouble to watch the original series. They would probably not get the Bionic Man references. The book is outdated, but the Who references are not.

  11. I think I adore this book for making a Doctor Who reference in 1983.

    The guy with the beard in the car looks sort of unhappy, doesn’t he?

  12. I agree with FrankN.Stein. If you don’t teach your kids about Dr. Who and Asimov, someone will teach them about Jersey Shore *shudder* 😉

  13. Weren’t the Cybermen and Daleks back in the Who of the 60s pure robots? I thought the part about them being partly bionic was something new. I remember a few fans whining about that online.

  14. You’d be surprised at how may 7-10 year olds are up on Doctor Who (since it returned in 2005 and has a huge US following again) and even some of the old SciFi like Lost in Space and Outer Limits which are getting a big resurgence on some of the cable and HD channels. I agree the computer info is very dated tho.

  15. @Jami: Nope, the Daleks at least have always been organic creatures inside metal shells. Their full origin story was during the Tom Baker era, mid-to-late ’70s. The Doctor had the chance to destroy the first ones before they were fully grown, but couldn’t bring himself to commit genocide.

  16. @Jami The Daleks were always presented as mutant survivors of a nuclear war, little green tentacled creatures piloting the larger machine. The original Cybermen came from the planet Mondas, which was similar to Earth until some sort of disaster forced the inhabitants to become cyborgs. The Cybermen in the new series were created on an alternate Earth, but began as human.

  17. Sorry, Jami, but the Daleks have always been cyborgs since their inception in 1963. Same for the Cybermen. Any books on cyborgs in the weeds? The Six Million Dollar Man was based on a book called Cyborg. Maybe there is a ratty edition waiting to be weeded out there.

  18. No, even in the original series the Daleks were cybernetic. The Cybermen, if I remember correctly, were originally humans who slowly became increasingly cybernetic and eventually were entirely machine.

  19. I remember this book!! I loved it when I was seven or eight… early, early nineties. But I got the references to Dr. Who even then– I loved PBS and would watch the old reruns. Issac Asimov?… It was a few years before I got into him. But yay! I’d forgotten about this!

  20. Doctor Who has been making a big comeback. Some friends just held a Doctor Who party for their small-town Indiana library — to a packed house!

  21. In my opinion, the artwork is very impressive, even though the themes & computer technology featured in this book may be outdated now.

  22. Okay, I only ever got to see a few episodes on PBS as a kid – they were all different episodes times and they’d even show them out of order. So in a weird way, both #3 and #4 were my first because I saw them both on the same day.

  23. More like awesome library book, amiright? For a book about technology from 1986, it has aged better than could have been hoped. Don’t know if I’d keep it on the shelf or not but I’d definitely snatch it up in the book sale.

  24. I think all this nitpicking about Daleks and Cybermen has officially made this the most Aspie thread on this blog so far.

  25. I’m all for Dr. Who references, and anyone who follows science fiction at all knows about the laws of robotics. I do think, though, the outdated technology, plus the condition of the book, make it a book sale candidate.
    Robots are used in so many more ways now than in the eighties. I’ve seen news articles about robotic chefs, and robot labratory workers that can actually complete an entire experiment, saving humans from possible exposure to the bacteria that’s the subject. Robotic surgery allows surgery to be done when the area in question is so minute even the steadiest human surgeon with the thinnest scalpel would do more damage than good. There are fully automated factories. They can now turn insects into robots by planting a chip in their backs and controlling them by remote. And more. The list keeps growing.
    I think any book with any scientific info needs to be kept up to date or removed. Unless it is an absolute classic like something by Einstein, which would be appreciated regardless.

  26. Well, I think the Dr. Who bit has been covered…thoroughly. I will say, though, that I’m 21 and have no idea about the Bionic Man thing.

    However, it doesn’t matter one bit if they get the reference to Isaac Asimov or not. The laws of robotics are a legitimate thing. You’ll see them in any computer science book. You CAN’T talk about robots without mentioning Asimov.

  27. @Carol:
    >The guy with the beard in the car looks sort of unhappy, doesn’t he?
    I think he was a little boy who really longed to be a grownup so he could drive his own car – and then the future happened, and nobody drives manually anymore 🙁

    But, dr. Who the original series? Is this really available?? Has anybody found the lost reels?
    In ye olde dayes (1950s), tv recording tapes was very expensive and had to be reused. And so, BBC had to record new shows over old tapes, again and again, to save money. Last I heard, there was no original dr. Who to be found anywhere.

  28. Actually, many of the original episodes of Doctor Who are still around. We’ve been watching them over the last few years. And where they don’t have the video, they made an audio-only version you can listen to on CD. What isn’t available on Netflix can be found on VHS via inter-library loan. And there’s even more available only in Australia. Although the master tapes were erased, the BBC has been digging up and restoring other copies, such as those shipped off for broadcast in overseas markets and even home-recorded versions.

  29. @AnneC & Kristen,

    I know you’ll probably never get this note, but there is much more saved than lost of Old Who, and they’re putting more and more of it out on DVD – they put out a number of serials every year, remastered with very good extras, some of them new. Check Amazon for a list; I believe there’s also a running list on Wikipedia (Doctor Who Serials). Most of the others are available on VHS, if you really want them right now. The offerings on Netflix are but a drop in the bucket for what’s available of Old Who, though they have all the New Who except for, perhaps, the current season.

    They threw away some of the First Doctor, and much of the Second, but I believe by the Third they’d caught on and we have all of him. (We’re on 11.) And more is being recovered/rediscovered every few years. Check out the Wikipedia article Doctor Who Missing Episodes if you want to know more.

  30. @Melissa: Thanks a lot for updating me 🙂 I hadn’t rechecked for a while, I thought that “lost is lost and is gone forever”.
    This made my day a tine bit better.

    And by the way, this site could need a “someone has answered your message / a new posting has arrived after your comment”-thingy.
    I would like so see it if/when someone says something to me, or comments my comments.

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