In this series of novels, Asimov looks to a distant future where descendants of human colonies in space, along with the robots that are a fundamentalIn this series of novels, Asimov looks to a distant future where descendants of human colonies in space, along with the robots that are a fundamental part of their culture, have returned to Earth in order to save an overgrown population of Earthers from themselves. The Earthers are dependent upon millions of people living in close quarters in giant cities and have an intense hatred for the Spacers and the robots they believe are trying to destroy their way of life. Each novel is centered around the policeman, Elijah Baley, and his partner, the human-looking robot Daneel Olivaw, and a crime they are investigating. In this book, the partners are first thrown together, against Baley's wishes, to investigate the murder of a Spacer. This murder has great implications for the relationship between Earthers and Spacers and the future of humankind. In fact, the understanding of humanity and the question of what constitutes life are ultimately at the heart of this mystery story.
This was a quick read that kept me interested, regardless of the starts and stops in the action. As a mystery, it was fairly mediocre. Baley makes too many false attempts at accusations to seem a realistic detective. Some of the mystery/crime drama elements are also cliched. As a philosophical piece, the novel is much better, although terribly unsubtle. The two sides (mystery and philosophy) acting together, however, is what makes this book enjoyable.
The only other problem with the novel is that many portions are quite dated. For a reader 60 years later, much of the technology feels old, rather than conceivably new 3000 years in the future. Also, the book asks us to imagine the horror of trying to cope with 8 billion people on the Earth. To a 1953 audience looking at reaching 3 billion, this must have been inconceivable. To a modern audience living with 7 billion other people on the planet, another billion doesn't seem so terrifying. However, if you can put the specifics aside and think about the implications of sequestering an overgrown population in enormous covered cities away from the natural world (the titular caves of steel), you can begin to feel the grimness of the future in which this story is set.
Overall, Asmiov tells a compelling tale, highlighting many of the strengths and weaknesses in our nature. The philosophical elements of the story are relevant to any society and any time period. Although not a true analogy, the anti-robot movements among Earthers could be compared to anti-immigrant movements throughout modern Earth. This is science fiction in its purest sense - using a different reality to comment on our own. This novel should not be dismissed because of the sci-fi or mystery elements, but taken for what it actually is, a tool to better understand your fellow man....more
The mystery itself was just too contrived and obvious, unfortunately. However, Barr's descriptions of firefighting work in national parks and of the bThe mystery itself was just too contrived and obvious, unfortunately. However, Barr's descriptions of firefighting work in national parks and of the bureaucracy of various organizations on public land was excellent. As always, the scenery was its own beautifully detailed character....more
If I thought the previous novels in this series reminded me of Tony Hillerman's writing, I found the feeling doubled when Anna was placed into the souIf I thought the previous novels in this series reminded me of Tony Hillerman's writing, I found the feeling doubled when Anna was placed into the southwest/four corners area setting of Mesa Verde. However, there's no "copying" involved. Barr just writes with the same feeling for the history and the world around her characters. I did feel that this one was a little too easy to figure out, but still enjoyable to read. This is because the mystery plot is always equally important to the characters and the setting. An enjoyable and quick read. ...more
The basic plot of this novel was fun and you really do feel that you have seen the truth of what happened to every character in this story, and that iThe basic plot of this novel was fun and you really do feel that you have seen the truth of what happened to every character in this story, and that is satisfying. Unfortunately, I had it almost all figured out within the first two discs (of fourteen) as I listened to it in the car. I had to slog through the long, tedious soliliquies of the characters (written as journal entries and letters) to see if there, indeed, was some amazing twist at the end. The answer is no. Often, I just wanted to yell, "Get on with it!" as each entry went painfully on and on. The only thing that got me through the entire novel was that I was listening to it in the car and couldn't escape....more
The only redeeming qualities of this book are the philosophical/religious portions yoinked from "Holy Blood, Holy Grail." The characters are two-dimenThe only redeeming qualities of this book are the philosophical/religious portions yoinked from "Holy Blood, Holy Grail." The characters are two-dimensional, the story is silly, and the mystery is barely that. It was far too easy. I was able to figure out clues, puzzles that were supposed to be near impossible to crack, and whodunit. To top it off, the writing was awful.
So, you are now wondering why I did not give this book one star. I would have but I read the illustrated edition and it beautifully tied the novel's basis (the Catholic conspiracy, etc.) with the art, architecture, and cities to which Dan Brown refers. That just barely made reading this not a waste of a piece of my life....more