Susan Calvin

From Academic Kids

Dr Susan Calvin (born 1982) is a fictional character from Isaac Asimov's Robot Series. She was the chief robopsychologist at US Robots and Mechanical Men, Inc., the major manufacturer of robots in the 21st century. She was the main character in many short stories from the books I, Robot and The Complete Robot.

Typically, Asimov portrays Dr. Calvin as a highly driven woman, focused on her work and divorced from normal emotions, almost more "robotic" than his mechanical characters. She likes robots considerably better than human beings; in "Evidence", when asked "Are robots so different from men?", she replies, "Worlds different. Robots are essentially decent." Asimov's own stories leave her misanthropy largely unexplained, but Harlan Ellison's screenplay adaptation of I, Robot investigates its origins, in the end concluding that her attitudes are rather well-founded. One of the continuing themes in Asimov's work is the essential irony that, although the Three Laws of Robotics make robots value human beings over themselves, Susan Calvin's estimation of robotic decency may not be entirely wrong.

She was played by Wendy Gifford and Beatrix Lehmann in "Liar!" and "The Prophet", two episodes of British television series Out of the Unknown based on Asimov's short stories, and by Margaret Robertson in the BBC Radio 4 adaption of "Satisfaction Guaranteed". Bridget Moynahan played Susan Calvin in the movie adaptation of I, Robot (not based on the aforemention script by Harlan Ellison), but many Asimov fans have criticized its treatment as unfaithful and its portrayal of Dr. Calvin as lacking the depth found in and Asimov's and Ellison's work.

Susan Calvin is also mentioned in Arthur C. Clarke's novel 3001: The Final Odyssey; described alongside Ada Lovelace and Grace Hopper as a female "role-model" in "the battle of wits between man and machine" (Chapter 36: Chamber of Horrors). It is unclear whether Clarke is referring to Calvin in the sense of the fictional character form Asimov's works or as a character who existed in his fictional universe.

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