Review: The Runaway Robot

I read a lot. I used to read a lot. Like oops-it's-daylight-again-guess-I'll-finish-this-chapter-and-go-to-school a lot. The hard thing about reading very fast is keeping your brain fed--there weren't many books in my parents' house that I hadn't read when I left for college, even the Louis L'amour westerns. The good thing was that I could generally re-read books; to me, it's not that different from watching a much-enjoyed movie again, though I'm told some people don't do that, either.

Given the sheer number of books that I've read (or had read to me) over the 29 years of my life, a lot of them slip through my memory. I will recognize a title, sometimes, but not be able to tell you much about the book until I read a few pages and refresh my memory. Perhaps it is this fading that lets me re-read so many books.

But I kind of doubt it, really, because I've been known to re-read books that I know VERY well. I read Tom Clancy's Red Storm Rising three times in a row when I was in the 6th grade--it didn't hold up quite so well when I read it last year, but I still remembered plot, characters, and even some dialogue.

What's the point? Shut up. I'm still pontificating.

My stepbrother John's first wife Tracy got me started on adult science fiction when she lent me Starship Troopers one evening, on the theory that a reading child was a non-annoying child. I was instantly hooked. I went on to read most all of Heinlein's novels and a good many of his short stories and essays. In high school, I discovered Asimov through the Foundation trilogy and then side-stepped into his Robots. Wow. I've read every one of his robot stories that I could find, including the lame tie-ins with the Foundation storyline.

So what was the best robot story ever? None of the above. It's Lester Del Rey's The Runaway Robot (1965), published by Scholastic Book Services for 50 cents. It was in a box of Mom's childhood books when I was a kid, and it is the Best Robot Story Evar.

Sorry for the size, but this was the only picture online that I could find; maybe I'll scan my precious, precious copy later for your edification. But probably not.

This isn't actually a review. I'm not going to tell you about the story at all, since other people have already done a fine job of it. But trust me--this book is far superior to any other robot book in the universe, and your kids will have an inferior childhood if you don't find them a copy. Make sure it has this cool cover, and not the lame one that the linked review has.

Many thanks to Mom and Pop for finding me one on eBay for my birthday.

The Runaway Robot: 11 awesome runaway robots out of 10