Dr. Susan Calvin

Eleniel

Book anaconda
Joined
May 2, 2007
Messages
25
Dr. Susan Calvin is a central character in many of Asimov's Robot stories. US Robots and Mechanical Men's robopsychologist, she can seem rather robot-like herself at times. Some stories, though, show her in a more human light, mainly, I think, Liar! and Lenny.
Personally, I quite like her. I think other characters often view her as unfeeling, when she is simply undemostrative. What do you think about her? Do you like her? Hate her? Why?
 
Last edited:

j d worthington

Well-Known Member
Joined
May 9, 2006
Messages
13,889
I think I've had a love affair with Susan Calvin since I first read I, Robot at age 6..... I continue to enjoy rereading the stories 43 years later, and I like seeing her in different lights... Isaac himself admitted now and again to having something of the same feeling for her, which is rather neat, I think. And yes, I think "Liar!" and "Lenny" (as well as "Satisfaction Guaranteed") show her in a very interesting light indeed.....
 

manephelien

Transmural Feline
Joined
Oct 15, 2006
Messages
744
Location
Alpha Quadrant
I think "Liar!" proved conclusively that she has feelings, even if she is undemonstrative. I do like the character because she's interesting, and certainly has more personality than some other Asimov characters, but I detest the implied assumption that women must become undemonstrative and sacrifice the chance of having a family if they want to succeed in a male-dominated field.

Apart from Calvin, my two favorite Asimov characters are R. Daneel Olivaw and Dors Venabili. I wonder what that says about me, or Asimov's writing for that matter. :p
 

Eleniel

Book anaconda
Joined
May 2, 2007
Messages
25
j. d. worthington: I'd forgotten about "Satisfaction Guaranteed". I like the different sides of her we get to see too.

I think "Liar!" proved conclusively that she has feelings, even if she is undemonstrative. I do like the character because she's interesting, and certainly has more personality than some other Asimov characters, but I detest the implied assumption that women must become undemonstrative and sacrifice the chance of having a family if they want to succeed in a male-dominated field.

Judging for the introduction to "I, Robot", she was always undemostrative, rather than becoming so as a result of her career. "She was a frosty girl, plain and colourless, who protected herself against a world she disliked by a mask-like expression and hypertrophy of intellect." (Introduccion, I, Robot). Her sacrifice of the chance of having a family, however, may be - and probably was- due to her wish to succeed in robotics.

On a different subject, I love R. Daneel too. What book/s is Dors Venabili from? The name rings a bell.
 

Sibeling

Born to rune
Joined
Jan 31, 2005
Messages
267
I admire her - sterotypical women in sci-fi are pretty and stupid and she is the oposite of these ladies.

She is not so cold and indifferent as it may seem, but for her the mind is more important than feelings.

She is like a female version of Sherlock Holmes because the problems she deals with can be solved only with mental activities.
 

j d worthington

Well-Known Member
Joined
May 9, 2006
Messages
13,889
On a different subject, I love R. Daneel too. What book/s is Dors Venabili from? The name rings a bell.

Dors appears in Prelude to Foundation and Forward the Foundation; she's the companion (later wife) of Hari Seldon.
 

Eleniel

Book anaconda
Joined
May 2, 2007
Messages
25
I admire her - sterotypical women in sci-fi are pretty and stupid and she is the oposite of these ladies.

She is not so cold and indifferent as it may seem, but for her the mind is more important than feelings.

She is like a female version of Sherlock Holmes because the problems she deals with can be solved only with mental activities.

I agree completely. That's a good comparison with Sherlock Holmes, I'd never thought of it. Holmes can be rather cold too at times. Also, they both sometimes get impatient (Holmes much more often) when other people don't understand them and the way they work.

j.d: Ah, thanks. I must remember the name from a mention in one of the later foundation books.
 

Sibeling

Born to rune
Joined
Jan 31, 2005
Messages
267
I agree completely. That's a good comparison with Sherlock Holmes, I'd never thought of it. Holmes can be rather cold too at times. Also, they both sometimes get impatient (Holmes much more often) when other people don't understand them and the way they work.

And they both are not completely devoid of human emotions, even though they want other people to see them as cold and unfeeling rational individuals.
 

Briareus Delta

Misunderstood
Joined
Sep 28, 2006
Messages
337
I love Susan Calvin too. However she started out, I'd suggest that her experience in 'Liar' would make her more wary of showing her emotions than ever before. How does anyone react when they not only have their heart broken but are deceived and humiliated in the process?

Great, great stories. Asimov's best work, IMHO.
 

JeanetteMax

Classic sf Reader
Joined
Jun 7, 2007
Messages
8
Likewise. But I think the stereotypes of the early 1900s show through when she is protrayed as particularly unfeeling.
 

davekyn

Member
Joined
Jul 3, 2007
Messages
8
The number 1 thing I love about Asimov, was that he's an OLD FASHIONED kind of guy! I'm glad he never changed with time, and nor will I. Susan...She is what she is; & many of us love her just for that.
 
Last edited:

davekyn

Member
Joined
Jul 3, 2007
Messages
8
I'd say it's some readers that need to look a little deeper & slow down.
 

j d worthington

Well-Known Member
Joined
May 9, 2006
Messages
13,889
I'd say it's some readers that need to look a little deeper & slow down.

I'd tend to agree with that. There are a lot of layers to Susan... something I didn't quite pick up on consciously until I went back to Asimov's work again a few years ago. I think that's the problem with Asimov, some ways: he's often more subtle than he's given credit for, and (once he matured his style a bit) a much better writer than is evident at first blush. It's a bit like the old statement of those who do things so well that they make them look easy... until you try it yourself.....
 

CatBar

Active Member
Joined
Sep 13, 2007
Messages
41
Location
Also started getting quite fond of Elijah too. Wou
I was so pleased to read in manephelian's and eleniel's messages that they too liked/loved Daneel Olivaw.

I think I am in love with him myself. He sounds the ideal 'person' for me: handsome, elegant, superbly strong (see how he dealt with that bullying crewman Niss in 'Robots and Empire), dignified, controlled, loyal, patient....

And, at times, I too can well relate to Susan Calvin's preference for robots over people ("They're a cleaner better breed that we [humans]are"). I'm probably a bit of a Susan Calvin myself - without her tremendous brains, of course!

The cover of an American version 'Robots and Murder' has what I think is the most gorgeous image of Daneel on it (all smouldering bronze high-cheekbones etc!) - I'd love to be able to get hold of it but I'm from England so seems I would have to order it over Amazon from America.
Does anyone know of any other images/pics I might find of him? (Sad, I know!)

Oh, and does Daneel appear in any detail in Asimov's 'Foundation' series? I do actualy like Asimov's style of writing too - unlike a lot of modern SF writers he's so plain and clear and ungushy and one can just simply get to the story.

Lastly, as I'm new here, I don't want to make any gaffs: is there a difference between 'Post Reply' and 'Quick Messages'?
 

j d worthington

Well-Known Member
Joined
May 9, 2006
Messages
13,889
Oh, and does Daneel appear in any detail in Asimov's 'Foundation' series? I do actualy like Asimov's style of writing too - unlike a lot of modern SF writers he's so plain and clear and ungushy and one can just simply get to the story.

Daneel also appears in Prelude to Foundation and Foundation and Earth, as well as the short story "Mirror Image" (with Lije Baley). I understand he also appears in the Second Foundation Trilogy books, but as those are not by Asimov, I've not read them, so can't say in what capacity. On the two mentinoed above... you would probably want to read the series in its entirety, as there are a lot of references between the novels. In which case, the order of the sequence (by Asimov) would be:

Prelude to Foundation
Forward the Foundation
Foundation
Foundation and Empire
Second Foundation
Foundation's Edge
Foundation and Earth
 

ghost8772

Well-Known Member
Joined
Aug 10, 2007
Messages
361
Daneel was a cool character, the penultimate holmes. was interesting to see his growth through the robot novels to the finished product at the end of Foundation and Earth.

as far as Dr. Calvin goes, she seemed "married" to her work. with a few times where emotions were dangled before her eyes. "Liar" is an excellent example of showing she has something like emtions. there was another story I can't recall the name, where the robot was heard to call her "momma" can't remember the name of the story though. but it underlines her ultimate point in life. she's married to robots, and has a robot child handed to her.
 

j d worthington

Well-Known Member
Joined
May 9, 2006
Messages
13,889
That one was "Lenny", about a robot who, due to the idle tampering of someone doing the guided tour of the factory (when someone else forgot to turn off the power to the console) ended up with a child's mentality... all the potential of the brightest of the robots, but frozen perpetually as an infant. A rather touching and disturbing story, and one of my personal favorites....
 

Similar threads


Top