Back in the 1970s, Hollywood expressed interest in turning Isaac Asimov’s classic SF novel, I, Robot into a movie. Things didn’t quite work out, although I, Robot later appeared as 2004 science-fiction action film directed by Alex Proyas with little (other than the title) in common with Asimov’s novel. I, Robot: The Illustrated Screenplay features Harlan Ellison’s screenplay which does embody some of the novel’s look and feel. The screenplay remains unfilmed. Ellison and Asimov agreed to have the screenplay serialized in Isaac Asimov’s Science Fiction Magazine. This hardcover edition was published in 1987. If you’re an admirer of Asimov’s I, Robot and respect Harlan Ellison’s talents at writing scripts, this book should hold your attention.

21 thoughts on “FORGOTTEN BOOKS #205: I, ROBOT: THE ILLUSTRATED SCREENPLAY By Harlan Ellison & Isaac Asimov

  1. Todd Mason

    The saddest fact of Ellison’s screenwriting career is that the only cinematic script of his that has been filmed so far, as opposed to (as is common in Hollywood) written and delivered and occasionally (less common) published in book form, has been the adulterated (by the producers) and never very good (by Ellison’s own rueful statement) adaptation of THE OSCAR, the Richard Sale novel turned into an utterly laughable means of demonstrating that the remarkably talented (as singer and, perhaps oddly enough, painter–art school guy) Tony Bennett is an anti-actor…one not helped by a script full of goofiness and the role as “Hymie Kelly”. (I mean, c’mon…a guy named Kelly? Obviously misspelled.) Ellison’s tv scripts, often great to occasionally rather sad, filmed/taped/staged brilliantly to abominably (and the latter frequently bylined by Ellison as by “Cordwainer Bird” as a warning and in self-protection) at least have been widely produced.

    1. george Post author

      Harlan Ellison and Hollywood have never gotten along, Todd. Plenty of lawsuits! Ellison’s stories about his work being altered by lesser Hollywood minions are both funny and sad at the same time.

  2. Randy Johnson

    This is one I snapped up as soon as it came out. So much better than Will Smith’s whatever. Ellison is a long time favorite that first caught my attention with THE CITY ON THE EDGE OF FOREVER. When I learned that one had been heavily rewritten, by Roddenberry I believe, I sought out and very much enjoyed his original vision.

  3. Carl V.

    I’ll have to try this sometime. I do love Asimov’s robot stories and I do respect Ellison’s writing talent even if I don’t respect him. Cap’n Bob got the “asshole” part right, but I think it is directed at the wrong person. 🙂

    Seriously, I don’t understand the animosity towards Will Smith (and it is all over the place lately with his upcoming SF movie being advertised). I don’t really understand not liking his films either. They are consistently fun movies. I actually enjoyed the I, Robot film, a movie that despite all the complaints took Asimov’s short story “Robot Dreams” and built an entertaining action film around it. Is it as good as it could have been? No, but I’m not ashamed to say that I enjoyed it.

  4. Carl V.

    He’s getting a lot of grief over that too. People frustrated that he is able to use his clout to “get his son roles”. I could care less one way or the other. I’m hoping for an entertaining SF film.

  5. Carl V.

    Oh no doubt, the trailer artists are masters! And I realize that I’m in the minority of people who have been okay with the more recent Will Smith SF vehicles. First off I don’t blame him for the adaptations since he isn’t the writer and while the I, Robot stories are among my favorites it isn’t like there were a novel that was being gutted but a series of short stories and some ideas used very loosely to make a SF movie that I thought was fun. Again, I realize I’m in the minority there. I also didn’t mind I Am Legend until the very end even though it has nothing to do with Matheson’s excellent story.

  6. Carl V.

    And I can understand that, I just wasn’t so in love with Matheson’s story that I cared. Don’t get me wrong, I think it is an amazing story, but it isn’t one that I had strong emotional ties to.

  7. Carl V.

    I haven’t read any of his work besides I Am Legend. I bought the story way back when I finally got around to watching the Vincent Price movie The Last Man on Earth, which, btw, I think is excellent.


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