Fictional Character Biography
According to Asimov's fictional history of robotics, Susan Calvin was born in 1982, the same year that US Robots and Mechanical Men was incorporated. At 16 she wrote the first of many papers on robotics, a Physics-1 paper entitled 'Practical Aspects of Robotics'. Four years later in 2002, she attended a Psycho-Math seminar at which Dr Alfred Lanning of US Robots demonstrated the first mobile robot to be equipped with a voice. Susan said nothing at that seminar; took no part in the hectic discussion period that followed. She was a frosty girl, plain and colorless, who protected herself against a world she disliked by a mask-like expression and a hypertrophy of intellect. But as she watched and listened, she felt the stirrings of a cold enthusiasm.
Graduating with a bachelor's degree from Columbia University in 2003, she began post-graduate work in cybernetics, learning to construct positronic brains such that responses to given stimuli could be accurately predicted. Obtaining her Ph.D. in 2008, she joined US Robots the same year as their first Robopsychologist. By 2029, when she left Earth for the first time to visit Hyper Base, her formal title was Head Psychologist.
In the non-canon book I, Robot: To Protect, while working as a Psychiatrist in 2035, she was handed four cases: a traumatized girl that has not talked for 6 years, an obese boy that can't stop eating, a teenaged girl with "dementia, status post A-V fistula repair", and a 4 year old girl accused of attempted murder.
Susan Calvin retired from US Robots in 2057 but continued to act as an occasional consultant for the company. She died in 2064, aged 82.
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 concludes that her attitudes are rather well-founded.
An excerpt from Harlan Ellison's screenplay adaptation of I, Robot has this to say about Dr. Calvin: "She is a small woman, but there is a towering strength in her face. Tensile strength, that speaks to endurance, to maintaining in the imperfect world. Her mouth is thin, and her face pale. Grace lives in her features, and intelligence; but she is not an attractive woman. She is not one of those women who in later years it can be said of them, 'She must have been a beauty when she was younger.' Susan Calvin was always plain. And clearly, always a powerful personality."
It was not until a mention of her in The Robots of Dawn, Asimov's third Elijah Baley Robot novel, that the events of her era (the 21st century) were concretely tied into those of Baley's era, at least two-and-a-half millennia further into the future, and thus into the greater Foundation universe as a whole.
Read more about this topic: Susan Calvin
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