A friend loaned this to me when I asked for a science fiction recommendation last year, and the 1972 Fawcett paperback edition languished on my nightstand for a while, but in the last couple of months I picked it up and read it beginning to end. This is actually the first of Asimov's original robot series of books, published in 1954. I don't recommend going to the goodreads link above, as it is wrong not only about the book's place in the sequence but also about the main character Lije (Elijah) Baley's name. Asimov essentially invented the modern sci fi robot trope in this series of novels, with the positronic brain and the Robot Laws. The plotline is that of a classic detective story with a liberal mix of cold war paranoia, nuclear wonder, high technology, and end days imaginings of an earth left behind by space colonization, new races of peoples and machines, on a planet where everyone lives in domed cities on a diet of yeast-based food products.
The most interesting character in the book is Lije's robot partner R. Daneel Olivaw, who is the embodiment of the stoic sidekick we would see again and again in sci fi, from Spock to Hal 8000 to Schwartzenegger's Terminator.
This book made me think enough to write a column for East Cobb patch about how we don't need to worry about robots, that we are becoming the robots. You can read that at http://eastcobb.patch.com/articles/we...
if you are interested.
Now I'm trying to track down the second book in this series, The Naked Sun, as I want to read them in sequence. Asimov was an amazingly prolific writer of all types of literature. These early books seem to catch him in some great flights of fancy that, like the best science fiction, gives us an insight into what sort of world we will become.