James's Reviews > The Caves of Steel

The Caves of Steel by Isaac Asimov
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's review
Jun 01, 2010

really liked it
Read from May 31 to June 01, 2010

This was great, breezy summer reading. As others have said, the novel is structured as a fairly typical murder mystery, with one hitch being that one of the primary detectives on the case is a robot.

That said, Asimov manages to pack a fair amount of satire and philosophical pondering in to his novel. I especially enjoyed the sections in which the author considers the inherent value (and peril) of innovation, versus that of adherence to tradition.

He also, of course, uses robotic characters as "others" that help us analyze and appreciate the indelible qualities of humanity.

Many of Asimov's tropes are, at this point, a bit shopworn, but it is helpful to remind one's self that they are only so because they originated in books such as this one. Finally, just as Ursula K. LeGuin was a firm believer that sci-fi is descriptive, rather than predictive, Asimov's novel also serves as a fascinating cultural artifact of the late '50s, especially with regard to family/gender politics and cultural preoccupation with technological advancement and industrial obsolescence.

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