Thursday, February 2, 2012

The Insanely Complete Robot/Foundation Fiction List

As I've noted before, my major claim to fame on the internet is a list of all the stories in Isaac Asimov's positronic robot/Foundation timeline (both by Asimov himself and by other writers) that I first posted on Usenet back in 1998, and which was picked up by Ed Seiler for his Isaac Asimov Home Page. Oddly, though, I've never posted the list here on my own blog. Until now.

The impetus for this monumental undertaking is twofold: first, an email from an Asimov fan named Jim Syler asking about the date of "Satisfaction Guaranteed", and second, the recent publication of the first of Mickey Zucker Reichert's trio of novels featuring a young Susan Calvin, I Robot: To Protect.

Including Reichert's novel in the list, though, presents me with a bit of a problem, and I'd like to talk about it. Back when Asimov collected his robot stories in I, Robot in 1950, he set the stories very specifically in the years 1998 through 2052. He also established Susan Calvin's birth in the year 1982. Those would have seemed like safely distant future dates back in 1950, but the passing years have caught up with I, Robot, as they eventually do to all science fiction stories set in the future. The earliest of the stories, "Robbie", is now set in a 1998 that never was, and the 26-year-old Susan Calvin that Reichert is writing about would be living four years ago. When Reichert was faced with this problem, she decided (wisely I think) to push Calvin's birth forward twenty-seven years to 2009, and set the story in the year 2035.

So, how do I fit in Reichert's born-in-2009-Calvin novels into my list with the original born-in-1982-Calvin stories by Asimov himself? I've decided to place I, Robot: To Protect in 2008, which is where it would have gone if Reichert had kept to Asimov's original timeline, and note parenthetically that the novel sets itself in 2035. It's an imperfect solution, but the best I can come up with. And since the story "Satisfaction Guaranteed" has a similar dating problem, I'll do the same with it.

So, with all that out of the way, here is my current version of the Insanely Complete Robot/Foundation Fiction List, consisting of the date, the story title, and (where necessary), which Asimov collection it can be found in. Following Ed Seiler's lead, works in black are by Asimov himself; works in blue are by other writers with the approval of the Asimov Estate, and works in red are by other writers but are not necessarily canonical:

1995 - "A Boy's Best Friend" (The Complete Robot)
1998 - "Robbie" (I, Robot; The Complete Robot; Robot Visions)
2004 - "Robot AL-76 Goes Astray" (The Rest of the Robots; The Complete Robot)
2008 (2035) - I, Robot: To Protect by Mickey Zucker Reichert
2009 (2036) - I, Robot: To Obey by Mickey Zucker Reichert 
2010 - “Insert Knob A in Hole B” (Nightfall and Other Stories)
2015 - “Runaround” (I, Robot; The Complete Robot; Robot Visions)
2015 - “Reason” (I, Robot; The Complete Robot; Robot Visions)
2016 - “Catch That Rabbit” (I, Robot; The Complete Robot)
2021 - “Liar!” (I, Robot; The Complete Robot; Robot Visions)
2023 (1995) - “Satisfaction Guaranteed” (The Rest of the Robots; The Complete Robot; Earth Is Room Enough)
2024 - “Balance” by Mike Resnick (Foundation’s Friends)
2026 - “Blot” by Hal Clement (Foundation’s Friends)
2029 - “Little Lost Robot” (I, Robot)
2031 - “Cal” (Gold)
2032 - “Evidence” (I, Robot; The Complete Robot; Robot Visions)
2032 - “PAPPI” by Sheila Finch (Foundation’s Friends)
2032 - “Lenny” (The Rest of the Robots; The Complete Robot; Robot Visions)
2033 - “Risk” (The Rest of the Robots; The Complete Robot)
2033 - “Escape!” (I, Robot)
2034 - “Galley Slave” (The Rest of the Robots; The Complete Robot; Robot Visions)
2035 - “First Law” (The Rest of the Robots; The Complete Robot)
2036 - “Plato’s Cave” by Poul Anderson (Foundation’s Friends)
2052 - “The Evitable Conflict” (I, Robot; The Complete Robot; Robot Visions)
2055 - “Robot Dreams” (Robot Dreams)
2058 - I, Robot
2063 - “Feminine Intuition” (The Complete Robot; Robot Visions; The Bicentennial Man and Other Stories)
2065 - “The Fourth Law of Robotics” by Harry Harrison (Foundation’s Friends)
2090 - “Christmas Without Rodney” (Robot Visions)
2120 - “Kid Brother” (Gold)
2140 Robots in Time by William F. Wu (six volumes)
1. Predator
2. Marauder
3. Warrior
4. Dictator
5. Emperor
6. Invader

2150 - “Light Verse” (Buy Jupiter and Other Stories; The Complete Robot; Robot Dreams)
2170 - “Too Bad!” (Robot Visions)
2180 - “That Thou Art Mindful of Him” (The Bicentennial Man and Other Stories; The Complete Robot)
2200 - “Carhunters of the Concrete Prairie” by Robert Sheckley (Foundation’s Friends) 
2160-2360 - The Positronic Man by Isaac Asimov and Robert Silverberg
2425 -“Mother Earth” (The Early Asimov)
3421 - The Caves of Steel
3422 - The Naked Sun
3423 - “Mirror Image” (The Best of Isaac Asimov; The Complete Robot; Robot Visions)
3424 - “Strip-Runner” by Pamela Sargent (Foundation’s Friends)
3424 - The Robots of Dawn 
3604 - Robot City (six volumes)
1. Odyssey by Michael P. Kube-McDowell
2. Suspicion by Mike McQuay
3. Cyborg by William F. Wu
4. Prodigy by Arthur Byron Cover
5. Refuge by Rob Chilson
6. Perihelion by William F. Wu
3605 - Robots and Aliens (six volumes)
1. Changeling by Stephen Leigh
2. Renegade by Cordell Scotten
3. Intruder by Robert Thurston
4. Alliance by Jerry Oltion
5. Maverick by Bruce Bethke
6. Humanity by Jerry Oltion
 
3616 - Mirage by Mark W. Tiedemann
3617 - Chimera by Mark W. Tiedemann

3618 - Aurora by Mark W. Tiedemann
3623 - Have Robot, Will Travel by Alexander C. Irvine
3624 - Robots and Empire
3730 - Caliban by Roger MacBride Allen
3731 - Inferno by Roger MacBride Allen
3736 - Utopia by Roger MacBride Allen

 4850 - The Stars, Like Dust
11129 - The Currents of Space
827 GE (12411 ) - Pebble in the Sky
977-978 GE - “Blind Alley” (The Early Asimov)
12020 GE - Prelude to Foundation
12028 GE - “Eto Demerzel” (Forward the Foundation)
12028 GE - Foundation’s Fear by Gregory Benford
12038 GE - “Cleon I” (Forward the Foundation)
12048 GE - “Dors Venabili” (Forward the Foundation)
12058 GE - “Wanda Seldon” (Forward the Foundation)
12067 GE - Foundation and Chaos by Greg Bear
12067 GE - “The Psychohistorians” (Foundation)
12068 GE - Foundation’s Triumph by David Brin
12069 GE - Epilogue (Forward the Foundation)
12067-12070 GE - “The Originist” by Orson Scott Card (Foundation’s Friends)
 49-50 FE (12117-12118 GE) - “The Encyclopedists” (Foundation)
79-80 FE (12147-12148 GE) - “The Mayors” (Foundation)
134 FE (12202 GE) - “The Traders” (Foundation)
154-160 FE (12222-12228 GE) - “The Merchant Princes” (Foundation)
195-196 FE (12263-12264 GE) - “The General” (Foundation and Empire)
270 FE (12338 GE) - “Trantor Falls” by Harry Turtledove (Foundation’s Friends)
310-311 FE (12378-12379 GE) - “The Mule” (Foundation and Empire)
316 FE (12384 GE) - “Search by the Mule” (Second Foundation)
376-377 FE (12444-12445 GE) - “Search by the Foundation” (Second Foundation)
498 FE (12566 GE) - Foundation’s Edge
498 FE (12566 GE) - Foundation and Earth
1056 FE (13124 GE) - “Foundation’s Conscience” by George Zebrowski (Foundation’s Friends)
1302 FE (13370 GE) - “No Connections” by Randall Garrett (The Best of Randall Garrett; Takeoff [both are Randall Garrett collections])



Now, not all of the dates listed above are what you might call canonical. Some of them are, but some are just wild-ass guesses on my part. Here's where they all came from:

“A Boy’s Best Friend”: Given the speed with which space is being explored and settled, a date of 1980 for the establishment of Lunar City seems reasonable. Assuming Anderson Senior was one of the original settlers, that places the story in 1995.

“Robbie”: Stated in I, Robot.

“Robot AL-76 Goes Astray”: After robots are banned from Earth in 2003-2007, before Susan Calvin joins US Robots in 2008.

“Insert Knob A in Hole B”: Before the use of robots on space stations, hence before “Reason”.

I Robot: To Protect: As stated in the novel, 2035. Based on Susan Calvin's age, given her birth in 1982, the story should take place in 2008.

I Robot: To Obey: As stated in the novel, 2036. Based on Susan Calvin's age, given her birth in 1982, the story should take place in 2009.

“Runaround”: Stated in I, Robot.

“Reason”: Six months after “Runaround”.

“Catch That Rabbit”: Six months after “Reason”.

“Liar!”: Stated in I, Robot.

“Satisfaction Guaranteed”: As stated in the story, takes place fifty years after World War II, i.e. in 1995. However, the characters have the same titles as in “Liar!”, and Susan Calvin is more knowledgable about emotions, so the story takes place after "Liar!". Also, Tony has more advanced vision than Dave in "Catch That Rabbit!"

“Balance”: Susan Calvin’s robotic servants flatter her in a manner similar to Herbie from “Liar!”, but she seems much more at ease with the idea, which places the story after “Liar!”

“Blot”: Story of the first exploratory mission to Miranda. Given a mission to Mars in 1998, a first expedition to Mercury in 2005, and bases on Titan in 2025, a mission to Uranus in 2026 seems reasonable.

“Little Lost Robot”: Stated in I, Robot.

“Cal”: Cal seems to be the prototype for the EZ robots of “Galley Slave”, so allowing a few years for the design and production of the latter places the story in 2031.

“Lenny”: Peter Bogart is now Senior Mathematician, so the story comes between “Little Lost Robot” and "Risk".

“Evidence”: Stated in I, Robot.

“PAPPI”: Immediately after “Evidence”.

“Risk”: Takes place ‘some years’ after “Little Lost Robot”.

“Escape”: Within a few months of “Risk”. (In I, Robot, "Escape" comes immediately after "Little Lost Robot", but logically, ought to come after "Risk".)

“Galley Slave”: Stated in the story.

“First Law”: Stated in the story.

“Plato’s Cave”: Shortly before Stephen Byerly becomes Regional Coordinator.

“The Evitable Conflict”: Stated in I, Robot.

“Robot Dreams”: Late in Susan Calvin’s career with US Robots.

I, Robot: The links between the stories are set fifty years after Susan Calvin joins US Robots in 2008.

“Feminine Intuition”: Five years after Susan Calvin retires from US Robots in 2058.

“The Fourth Law of Robotics”: Susan Calvin’s great-niece has her job.

“Christmas Without Rodney”: Slighting reference to the 20th century suggests the story takes place in the 21st. Common use of robot servants suggests the latter part of the century, when the Frankenstein Complex has faded away.

“Kid Brother”: Acceptance of household robots on Earth dates the story to the same general era as “Christmas Without Rodney” and “Light Verse”.

Robots in Time: Stated in volume 1, Predator.

“Light Verse”: Features a robot that is capable of original artistic expression (as was Andrew Martin), at a time when robot servants are accepted (as was Andrew Martin). These both suggest that the story takes place near the beginning of The Positronic Man.

“Too Bad!”: Sometime in the 22nd century, before the creation of the simplified robots in “That Thou Art Mindful of Him”.

“That Thou Art Mindful of Him”: Takes place about two hundred years after US Robots is founded (i.e. circa 2182). Mentions that the Machines phased themselves out of existence a hundred years earlier (circa 2082).

“Carhunters of the Concrete Prairie”: The combination of interstellar exploration and robots places this story at the time of the settlement of the Spacer worlds.

The Positronic Man: Andrew Martin is about a hundred years old “nearly two centuries” after Susan Calvin’s death in 2064.

“Mother Earth”: Takes place at the end of “the first few centuries of interstellar travel” when the Outer Worlds “were controlled, politically and economically, by Earth.” (quotations from The Caves of Steel, Chapter 5).

The Caves of Steel: Takes place a thousand years after emigration to the Outer Worlds ends. It also takes place 19 years after Elijah Baley first meets Jessie Navodny “back in ’02.”

The Naked Sun: Takes place one year after The Caves of Steel.

“Mirror Image”: Takes place one year before The Robots of Dawn i.e. one year after The Naked Sun.

“Strip-Runner”: Takes place after Elijah Baley starts his Outside group, but shortly before The Robots of Dawn (since the events in that novel aren’t mentioned in the story).

The Robots of Dawn: Takes place two years after The Naked Sun.

Robot City: Takes place about twenty years before Robots and Empire (Han Fastolfe is still alive, and the number of Settler worlds is smaller than in RaE).

Robots and Aliens: Takes place one year after Robot City.

Mirage: Features older versions of characters from the Robot City series, but takes place before the disappearance of the Solarians in Robots and Empire.

Chimera: Takes place one year after Mirage.

Aurora: Takes place one year after Chimera.

Have Robot, Will Travel: Takes place five years after Aurora.

Robots and Empire: Takes place two hundred years after The Robots of Dawn.

Caliban: Takes place a century after the Solarians vanish.

Inferno: Takes place one year after Caliban.

Utopia: Takes place five years after Inferno.

The Stars, Like Dust: Takes place a thousand years after Earth suffers nuclear bombardment (perhaps in an attack by the more conservative Spacer worlds).

The Currents of Space: Takes place five centuries before the founding of the Galactic Empire. (Note: Foundation’s Edge takes place about 22,000 years after interstellar travel begins, i.e. 24,000 CE. This is 12,566 years after the founding of the Galactic Empire, which sets the Empire’s foundation around the year 11,500. For no good reason, I’ve chosen 11,585 CE for the year 1 GE.)

Pebble in the Sky: Stated in the novel.

“Blind Alley”: Stated in the story.

Prelude to Foundation: Stated in the novel.

“Eto Demerzel”: Eight years after Prelude to Foundaton.

Foundation’s Fear: Shortly after “Eto Demerzel”.

“Cleon I”: Ten years after “Eto Demerzel”.

“Dors Venabili”: Ten years after “Cleon I”.

“Wanda Seldon”: Ten years after “Dors Venabili”.

Foundation and Chaos: Same time as “The Psychohistorians”.

“The Psychohistorians”: Takes place two years before Hari Seldon’s death in 12,069 GE.

Foundation’s Triumph: Takes place after “The Psychohistorians”.

“Epilogue”: Hari Seldon’s death.

“The Originist”: Begins shortly after Hari Seldon’s trial, ends several months after Seldon’s death.

“The Encyclopedists”:Takes place 50 years after the Foundation is established in 12,068 GE.

“The Mayors”: Takes place 30 years after “The Encyclopedists”.

“The Traders”: Takes place “two decades” before “The Merchant Princes”.

“The Merchant Princes”: Begins “almost 75 years” after “The Mayors”, ends six years later.

“The General”: Begins “over 40 years” after Hober Mallow’s meeting with Onum Barr in “The Merchant Princes”.

“Trantor Falls”:Takes place forty years before “The Mule”.

“The Mule”: Takes place 17 years after Han Pritcher joins the Army in 293 FE.

“Search by the Mule”: Takes place five years after the end of “The Mule”.

“Search by the Foundation”: Stated in the story.

Foundation’s Edge: Stated in the novel.

Foundation and Earth: Takes place immediately following Foundation’s Edge.

“Foundation’s Conscience”: Stated in the story.

“No Connections”: Takes place sometime after the establishment of the Second Empire.


(And now . . . the same list re-arranged in publication order.)

19 comments:

Calion said...

Sweet! Thanks for this awesome resource. A few thoughts (by the way, I'm the Jim Syler mentioned in the original post):

a) No green?
b) I think you've made the right decision about dating, especially with the Reichert novel. I think my inclination about "Satisfaction Guaranteed" is to stick with the authorial dating and place the story in, say, 2000 (allowing for some wiggle room in what "fifty years" might mean) and not try to fix the inconsistencies that Asimov created. However, your intention here is to present a chronological reading (or should I say rereading, as I would not recommend someone read these for the first time in this order) order that makes sense, so I understand why you've done it this way.
c) I think some stories unavailable elsewhere in current print editions (such as "Insert Knob A in Hole B") are available in Isaac Asimov: The Complete Stories. I don't have a copy, however, so I can't verify this.
d) As I noted above, I would not recommend that the uninitiated read these stories in this order the first time, as some major spoilers would be given away. Might it be possible to put publication dates in this list, and/or create a similar list ordered by publication date? If you don't, I may get around to it at some point :)

Big Bad Bald Bastard said...

Where in the canon would you fit Sexy Robot?

Johnny Pez said...

No, Jim, I've decided that fanfic doesn't belong in this list -- not even my own.

B^4, I think Sexy Robot says "Cylon" rather than "positronic robot".

Calion said...

Why The Positronic Man instead of "The Bicentennial Man"?

And perhaps you should consider some Amazon links for the books listed here. I'm probably going to buy some of these books to round out my collection and I'd be happy to give you an Amazon commission along the way...

Calion said...

And since I'm here, let me retract what I said above about "Satisfaction Guaranteed." I hadn't realized that Calvin was still an undergraduate in 2000, making that an impossible date. Your way is best.

Monkey Boy said...

Hey Johnny, I have been reading this entire "series" on and off for a few years. With much cross referencing, I believed I had the entire collection as a whole. Your list has now added seven more stories to that very collection. A big shout out to you! There are a few other items of interest that you may want to look into as a continued part of Asimov's world pertaining to this growing series. 1) "Grow Old Along With Me" which is the original version of "Pebble In The Sky" found in the book The Alternate Asomovs, 2) Historical Crisis by Donald Kingsbury as a novella 1995, 3) Psychohistorical Crisis by Donald Kingsbury as a full length novel 2001. Hope to hear from you soon and a big thank you again to your most honorable list. :D

Anonymous said...

Awesome work dude, this is really useful for filling in gaps

Van GoghX said...

@Calion: There is a much older version of Johnny's amazing list (from 11/01!) at: http://mysite.verizon.net/beyond_asimov/fictionlist/index.html
It's the version that includes the fan-fiction works. Frankly, it just clutters up an already lengthy list. But it is fun to look at! You can also find copies of the fan-fiction in the list at the base of my site. Some of the pages are broken, but still readable. I have no intention of fixing, adding to, or updating the site. Just thought I'd post the link for anyone interested in an old site.

Anonymous said...

Excellent! After reading this I found your "After Earth" site and read the story. It was pretty damn good and I hope you continue it.

I've also learned about the new Susan Calvin novel from this site...I had no idea. I'm gonna check that out and some other "fan fiction" I've found due to this list and other searches!

Thanks

jom

Jim Mineweaser said...

I have read the robot and foundation novels a few times now and have always wanted to read them in a "historical" order. It will take me some time to track down some of these stories, but anything worth while is worth taking the time to do right. Thank you for the time and effort in producing this list. I look forward to the future.

Charline said...

This is awesome!

Calion said...

I don't see "Segregationist" in this list. It's in The Complete Robot.

In that context, it's a little ironic that robots are specifically prohibited from posting comments to this blog post.

Calion said...

Hm. Nor is "The Tercentenary Incident." I presume that this and "Segregationist" are not thought of as in the Foundation timeline. Perhaps (probably) you've looked at it more closely than I, but I don't see anything in those stories that contradicts canon timeline.

I mention this because I'm trying to put together a "reading order" for those new to the Foundation Universe. It seems to me that neither chronological nor publication order will do. Chronological order gives away spoilers, and strict publication order is unnecessarily disjointed.

Calion said...

Note that the framing story of I, Robot, though set in 2058, was actually "published" in 2064 or 2065 (per the last sentence of the book).

Calion said...

I just noticed that a Multivac appears in "…That Thou Art Mindful of Him." Does that imply that the Multivac stories are part of this timeline too?

Johnny Pez said...

Hi Jim, thanks for the comments.

It's important to remember that not all of Asimov's positronic robot stories fit into the Susan Calvin/R. Daneel timeline. "Let's Get Together" and "Victory Unintentional" are two examples.

I don't include "Segregationist" because the reference to robots gaining citizenship seems at odds with the series. Andrew Martin achieved it, but he was uniquely exceptional (which is what made his story worth telling).

The political situation in "The Tercentenary Incident" is different enough from that in the Susan Calvin stories that I don't think it fits in.

As for the Multivac stories, they don't really fit into a coherent timeline. Asimov would just use whatever background fit the needs of each particular story, without worrying about whether the stories as a whole were internally consistent.

And yes, I did notice that the "publication" of the I, Robot framing story is set four or five years after the narrator's interviews with Calvin.

I hope all of this makes sense.

Calion said...

Something's gone wrong with the formatting. You seem to be missing carriage returns after several entries, including "Blot," "Lenny," “The Fourth Law of Robotics," “Carhunters of the Concrete Prairie," and The Positronic Man.

Johnny Pez said...

Thanks for the head's up, Jim. I think I've got it fixed.

Rinze Schuurman said...

Great work, making this list available, thank you for doing so.
One question: shouldn't be "The End of Eternity' at the top of the list?
If I remember correctly the story of the eternals was reverenced to by RDaneel.