The first volume in this series gave me incredibly high hopes. It presented a dark futuristic world through stunning panels and very little text. TheThe first volume in this series gave me incredibly high hopes. It presented a dark futuristic world through stunning panels and very little text. The second volume introduced many of the players in this world, including the warring corporations now in charge (at least in Japan). I was willing to give a little there, since I was interested to know some of the background. However, the third volume moves from character to character and through plot developments with such reckless abandon that I often found myself confused. The characters introduced in the first volume continue to be a part of the plot, but in such fractured ways that the reader becomes disengaged and disinterested. I already own the fourth volume, so I will give it a read but I suspect I will be giving this series up and donating it to the library. That is hugely disappointing when remembering how mesmerized I was with volume 1....more
This work deserves at least six stars. It is one of the most beautiful, capturing, and moving stories I have ever read. The panels are gorgeous. LayouThis work deserves at least six stars. It is one of the most beautiful, capturing, and moving stories I have ever read. The panels are gorgeous. Layouts are used to great effect. The intricate weave of traditional tales and stories from the Qur'an creates a dramatic subtext for the primary storyline, as well as a commentary on modern times and humanity. The main characters remain noble and sympathetic, despite what they do to survive in a depraved world. If you can't handle nudity, frank use and talk of sex, or any mention of the Qur'an, this book may not be for you (though it might do you some good). For everyone else, it is a must-read....more
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