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
This series suffered from a severe overabundance of enemies (and plotlines). It meant there were too many small climaxes in the third book. I also felThis series suffered from a severe overabundance of enemies (and plotlines). It meant there were too many small climaxes in the third book. I also felt like the readers were being treated as if they couldn't remember a thing. I understand that it's probably important to review important plot points in subsequent books so that readers don't have to go back and reread before each new book comes out, but this was too, too much. Really the best example of the annoying side of this is that everyone had to keep repeating Kyp's full name. Near the end, in fear, Han yells, "Kyp! Kyp Durron!" That is completely ludicris. Regardless of this review, I did enjoy the basic plot of this series and much of the writing therein....more
A fun Star Wars zombie crawl. Good development of some new characters. I would have preferred to have kept the focus on them and not have Han and ChewA fun Star Wars zombie crawl. Good development of some new characters. I would have preferred to have kept the focus on them and not have Han and Chewie involved. I guess no one believes that you can sell a book without some character from one of the movies. I think that's not only rediculous but also helps spread the known characters way too thin. This type of experience would scar a character in ways never apparent in Han and Chewie's future lives. I think it's just asking too much of the reader to have them in the story. I actually wish there had been a little more tension and creepy bits instead of gore. And some of the subplots either felt contrived, left behind, or too quickly wrapped up. I don't usually wish books were longer, but I'll make an exception for this one. However, overall I enjoyed the story. It flew right along and provided enough creep-out bits to make me leave on the light while I slept last night....more
Too much main character self-hate. Could have used at least 50 pages of editing. A gimmee ending but at least it felt satisfactory. A little heavy-hanToo much main character self-hate. Could have used at least 50 pages of editing. A gimmee ending but at least it felt satisfactory. A little heavy-handed. However, great descriptions of a much different culture than seen in the first book. And, often beautiful prose that allowed you to visualize characters and environment....more