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Robot #1-3

The Robot Novels: The Caves of Steel / The Naked Sun / The Robots of Dawn

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Lije Baley and R. Daneel Olivaw, a robot, investigate the murders of a famous robotocist, an isolated inhabitant of Solaria, and Jander Panell, an advanced robot

684 pages, Paperback

First published January 1, 1952

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About the author

Isaac Asimov

3,949 books23.5k followers
Isaac Asimov was a Russian-born, American author, a professor of biochemistry, and a highly successful writer, best known for his works of science fiction and for his popular science books.

Professor Asimov is generally considered one of the most prolific writers of all time, having written or edited more than 500 books and an estimated 90,000 letters and postcards. He has works published in nine of the ten major categories of the Dewey Decimal System (lacking only an entry in the 100s category of Philosophy).

Asimov is widely considered a master of the science-fiction genre and, along with Robert A. Heinlein and Arthur C. Clarke, was considered one of the "Big Three" science-fiction writers during his lifetime. Asimov's most famous work is the Foundation Series; his other major series are the Galactic Empire series and the Robot series, both of which he later tied into the same fictional universe as the Foundation Series to create a unified "future history" for his stories much like those pioneered by Robert A. Heinlein and previously produced by Cordwainer Smith and Poul Anderson. He penned numerous short stories, among them "Nightfall", which in 1964 was voted by the Science Fiction Writers of America the best short science fiction story of all time, a title many still honor. He also wrote mysteries and fantasy, as well as a great amount of nonfiction. Asimov wrote the Lucky Starr series of juvenile science-fiction novels using the pen name Paul French.

Most of Asimov's popularized science books explain scientific concepts in a historical way, going as far back as possible to a time when the science in question was at its simplest stage. He often provides nationalities, birth dates, and death dates for the scientists he mentions, as well as etymologies and pronunciation guides for technical terms. Examples include his Guide to Science, the three volume set Understanding Physics, and Asimov's Chronology of Science and Discovery.

Asimov was a long-time member and Vice President of Mensa International, albeit reluctantly; he described some members of that organization as "brain-proud and aggressive about their IQs" He took more joy in being president of the American Humanist Association. The asteroid 5020 Asimov, the magazine Asimov's Science Fiction, a Brooklyn, NY elementary school, and two different Isaac Asimov Awards are named in his honor.

Isaac Asimov. (2007, November 29). In Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Retrieved 21:50, November 29, 2007, from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Isaac_As...

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 72 reviews
Profile Image for Jan-Maat.
1,546 reviews1,819 followers
November 7, 2019
This series combines Asimov's fondness for the locked room mystery and science fiction in an explicit way. The principal hero is Elijah Bailey, an everyday detective working in the city, yet who will also become the prophet of human exploration and settlement of the universe.

The basic set up of the series is that the population of Earth lives in huge covered cities, almost completely sealed off from the outside world. One character in The Caves of Steel has a window in his office which is considered something wondrously strange .

Space is inhabited, logically enough, by the Spacers. They are descendants of human settlers, who have colonised a number of planets. They are an aristocratic bunch, tall and long lived, dependant on robots which do, depending on the planet, all or most of the menial work. The robots then form a slave class and the Spacers are a cross between the slave owning elites of colonial societies and the ancient Greeks. An explicit link with US race attitudes is established by having the Spacers refer to Robots as 'Boy' when addressing them directly.

The Spacers are apparently dominant in a variety of ways in comparison with the Earth and in The Caves of Steel are busy forcing the people of Earth to adopt Robot labour for plot reasons.

The Spacers and the Earthlings suggest two competing visions of the USA. One of tight urban life, the other the expansive life of the suburbs and countryside. One is claustrophobic with its dining canteens, rationing and state allocated housing. The other expansive, a leisure society, but also sterile. Shades of Herodotus here, soft lands make for soft people and perhaps a 1950s anxiety that too much material affluence is not a good thing. The new settlers that the Earth will eventually send out will be new homesteaders on new space Americas (this time however without pesky indigenous inhabitants). This science fiction is the present idolising the past, but in space.

The second book in the series, The Naked Sun, posits an extreme settler society, in which everyone is so effete and tended to by technology that they prefer robots to people. They dislike socialisation and avoid physical contact. The details of this society are quite interesting read now in the light of the internet and the degree to which technology enables remote relationships. Anyhow there has been a murder on the planet and in order to have a plot Earthling detective Elijah Bailey is brought in to solve it (this seemed much more sensible when I read this as a child), discovering a fiendish plan to conquer the universe using robots in the process (a plot idea that appears as if recycled in Life the Universe and Everything, but as Marx predicted for it to re-emerge as comedy it naturally, first time round must be tragic).

Elijah Bailey is convinced by the end of The Naked Sun that Earth must colonise the universe thinking that the Spacers, who lack vitality, will be too lazy to do so without robots. For hand wavy reasons he doesn't think that the previous pattern of settlement will repeat itself, or that the new planets will simply repeat what ever patterns of life led to humanity on Earth being constricted inside megacities, perhaps because he believes the frontier can be infinite never reaching the event horizon of the USA's 1890 census.

In the post war period Asimov wrote short stories, longer short stories, groups of linked short stories and then short novels like The Caves of Steel and The Naked Sun. However when he returned to this series in the 1983 The Robots of Dawn it was with a fashionably lengthy tome that felt as though designed to fill in gaps but didn't offer much substantial itself. I assume this was due to changes in publishing, writing for magazines in the 1950s had by the 1980s not just given way to massive shoulder pads but also huge advances and unnecessarily fat books, publishing was awash with cash apparently.

Despite their origin in locked door mysteries, there is inevitably in these novels a split between the moral and the political resolution of these cases. The Detective and his robot partner inevitably solve the crime, but on moral grounds invariably let the perpetrator off, then fixing things to achieve a politically desirable result. There is a basic sense of the law and justice as insufficient yet necessary institutions, inferior to the moral qualities of the heroes. The hero here is not the hero because he can out fight everybody else - in a world of robots this is a vain accomplishment, the hero here is distinguished from the ordinary man by his virtues.

The role of technology in these stories in particular follows along the guidelines set out by Goldilocks and the Three Bears. Too little is bad and so is too much, however, Asimov suggests, there is a golden mean that would enable space homesteaders and the noble rough-hewn virtues of an idealised American frontier society to spread across the universe. Fiction, even with spaceships and robots, isn't the best place to find originality, so I wonder how far Asimov was recycling the ideas and ideals of the stories he had read as a child in the stories he was to write as an adult.
Profile Image for Joshua.
7 reviews
September 1, 2009
One word, and one word only, need be used to succinctly describe Asimov's robot novels: Jehoshaphat! While I realize that the first two novels of this omnibus were written during a period of publishing history particularly rife with taboos, long since abandoned in more modern literature, the fact remains that Asimov could barely write more than two pages without using Elijah Baley's non-expletive. While I usually find Asimov's writing to be both quixotic and enjoyable, these three novels felt stilted and unnatural.

What's more, Baley is not an admirable character: he's crass, uncouth, boring, tediously agoraphobic, bigoted, and needlessly racist. The last two points apply to most of the characters in the books, which was probably Asimov's intention; however, I could not help but wince whenever Baley would call a robot "boy". To the collection's credit, The Robots of Dawn does do much to present Baley as a more three-dimensional figure. In fact, I would label the latter book to be the real gem of the collection, going as far as it does to establish connections to Empire and Foundation.
Profile Image for Kyle.
2 reviews
May 22, 2021
The are the best murder mysteries. Crime-solving that surrounds the logic of the three laws of robotics. One of my favorite books of all time.
Profile Image for Elizabeth.
440 reviews
June 7, 2021
Reading Asimov will always be a comfort for me; his stories, characters, and ideas are just as engaging and real now as they were when I first read them.
Profile Image for Ethan I. Solomon.
104 reviews1 follower
December 2, 2014
When most people think of Asimov they think of Foundation and the books in that series. I think of The Caves of Steel and the books in The Robot Novels series. The protagonists are Elijah Bailey and R. Daneel Olivaw, who -SPOILER ALERT- also shows up in the final book of the Foundation series, if my memory serves me correctly.

Few books touched my imagination like The Caves of Steel and the other Elijah Bailey novels. The images burned their way into my mind. When I look to the sky I often wonder what it would be like to live in that world of steel skies. Isaac Asimov possessed a wonderful gift, the ability to write clearly and logically. He was the greatest practitioner of that art, as far as I have encountered. His vision of the future in The Robot Novels is haunting not necessarily because of how accurate it was portrayed but because of how accurately he was able to predict how technologies like robots will affect men and women on a very personal level.
Profile Image for Clint Hall.
162 reviews4 followers
December 13, 2020
It's between The Caves of Steel and The End of Eternity for the best Asimov book ever written--for me, anyway. That being said, I haven't read all his works, and I almost certainly never will. How many did he write? Over 400?

The Caves of Steel is a fantastic early novel by one of Sci-Fi's greats. If you don't already know this, Asimov created the 3 rules of robotic behaviour, which is his bullet-proof way of taming AIs. But Asimov spent a good amount of time trying to figure out clever ways around his own 3 Laws. Caves of Steel is the first such examination on a future Earth that is choked with over-population.

The Naked Sun is a little slower, more methodical, and has a completely inverted setting on an underpopulated world.

All the Robots and Murder novels are interesting and fun to read in their own ways. Highly recommended.
Profile Image for EA Solinas.
654 reviews33 followers
May 4, 2017
If there's one thing the mighty Isaac Asimov excelled at, it was robots. Lots of robots.

So it isn't surprising that when Asimov wrote a trilogy of mysteries, they revolved around robots. And murder. Robots and murder together, whether as the victims or the suspected killers -- and this combination proved to be all the more compelling as Asimov sculpted an entire futuristic world where robots dwell among humans, domed cities dot the Earth, and the simple art of murder has been further complicated through robotics.

All three mysteries take place in a now-zeerusty future where the inhabitants of Earth live in enclosed city-domes, crammed in like so many sardines, with robot servants doing anything that needs to be done outside. There are many Spacer worlds such as Aurora (a free-love society) or Solaria (a place where physical proximity is considered unclean), which use their superior tech to make sure that Earth never expands outside its boundaries (even if they could manage to get outside their domes).

New York Cop Elijah Bailey is paired up with humaniform robot R. Daneel Olivaw, who possesses superior intelligence and looks almost exactly like a human. Despite Lije's dislike of robots, he and Daneel work well together, which is necessary to solve the bizarre, robot-centric murder mysteries that keep coming their way -- two Spacer scientists, and another humaniform robot. What's more, these crimes are more than simply one person killing another -- they are tied to complex political issues that could destroy Earth if Lije doesn't find the answers.

Though Isaac Asimov is best known for spinning tales of advanced intelligent robots, "The Robot Novels" relies just as heavily on political thrillers and whodunnits as it does on science fiction. In fact, he weaves together these three literary genres until they can't be separated -- each murder mystery is tied directly to the political strife and schemings on the various planets, and each murder also is tied deeply to the robots in some way. The catch is, robots are inherently programmed not to harm humans.

And through this, Asimov explores very alien ways of life -- the languid and stagnant Solaria, the cramped dark cities of Earth -- while also exploring the mistrust, fear, lack of logic, and ignorance that keep people apart. There's a lot of philosophical meditation in here, including musings on the nature of life and intelligence, and whether a robot like Daneel is truly "alive."

But Asimov is too skilled a writer to let these deeper themes bog down what is, essentially, a hard-boiled mystery/political thriller. The first two stories move along at a brisk, smooth pace, tying together the basic crime-solving methods with sci-fi issues (though robots are often implicated, they literally CAN'T commit murder). "Robots of Dawn" is a bit slower-moving, with many chapters that are a bit too meditative (Gladia gives us a blow-by-blow description of her life since she left Solaria).

Asimov also crafts the ultimate odd-couple cop duo -- Elijah Bailey is an old-fashioned cop with a quick but not infallible mind, living a formerly ordinary life until he becomes a sort of celebrity detective. What's more, he has his own biases and prejudices, but is open-minded enough to work past and despite them. Daneel makes up for Lije's shortcomings by being logical and unbiased, but he doesn't have Lije's imagination -- and he's a wonderfully endearing android sidekick.

"The Robot Novels" brings together a brilliant trilogy of futuristic murder mysteries -- lots of robots, mysterious deaths and planetary conspiracies. And of course, a cop duo at the center of it all.
Profile Image for Greg Skodacek.
104 reviews17 followers
March 25, 2022
Good murder mysteries set at the dawn of Asimov's great Foundation Universe.

“We're forever teetering on the brink of the unknowable, and trying to understand what can't be understood.”

“The troubles of modern life come from being divorced from nature.”

“You are a practical man, Elijah. You do not moon romantically over Earth's past, despite your healthy interest in it. Nor do you stubbornly embrace the City culture of Earth's present day. We felt that people such as yourself were the ones that could lead Earthmen to the stars once more.”

“Civilizations have always been pyramidal in structure. As one climbs toward the apex of the social edifice, there is increased leisure and increasing opportunity to pursue happiness. As one climbs, one finds also fewer and fewer people to enjoy this more and more. Invariably, there is a preponderance of the dispossessed. And remember this, no matter how well off the bottom layers of the pyramid might be on an absolute scale, they are always dispossessed in comparison with the apex.”

“The Solarians have given up something mankind has had for a million years; something worth more than atomic power, cities, agriculture, tools, fire, everything; because it's something that made everything possible (...) The tribe, sir. Cooperation between individuals.”

“People who don't expect justice don't have to suffer disappointment.”

“The robot had no feelings, only positronic surges that mimicked those feelings. (And perhaps human beings had no feelings, only neuronic surges that were interpreted as feelings.)”

“Meaning well is a poor defense,”

“Are there Laws of Humanics as there are Laws of Robotics? How many Laws of Humanics might there be and how can they be expressed mathematically? I don’t know. “Perhaps, though, there may come a day when someone will work out the Laws of Humanics and then be able to predict the broad strokes of the future, and know what might be in store for humanity, instead of merely guessing as I do, and know what to do to make things better, instead of merely speculating. I dream sometimes of founding a mathematical science which I think of as ‘psychohistory,’ but I know I can’t and I fear no one ever will.”
68 reviews4 followers
May 24, 2020
In trying to fill in the few remaining tidbits from my high school feast upon Asimov's science fiction, I re-read these three dectective-of-the-future novels. They all have incredibly similar structure and feel, even though the last was written decades later.

All three novels explore, in the course of unraveling the crime, how humans social and psychological makeup adapts to extreme conditions and come to lose other qualities, such as the womb-like enclosed Cities of Earth, which produce agoraphobia and the extreme social isolation and antipathy to physical touch that are central to Solaria. The novels also explore the relationship between man and robot, with definite, and at time uncomfortable, parallels to slavery, and a fear of a rising up of a free labor class that would disrupt the future. Yet by making the protagonists's partner a robot, Asimov forces us, and his characters, to face those uncomfortable latent emotions and ideas again and again. And finally, like so many of Asimov's stories, the future of mankind and the continued exploration and expansion into space to preserve humanity through growth as the only alternative to stagnation plays into the stories, increasingly so with each novel.

I'm not a huge fan of detective novels in general, and I found myself a little weary of them by the end, reading all three books in quick succession, but I think Asimov does a good job. His future, while some parts seem anachronistic now, is a believable one, and he certainly succeeded in making a credible sci-fi detective trilogy, even if these books do not match some of his other short stories and novels.
Profile Image for Mitesh Agrawal.
3 reviews3 followers
September 6, 2019
These books broke doors of imaginations for me and took me to another realm and time. The realm, though exciting to dig in, but scary at the same time. I wonder now, how would it be to live in a galaxy concurred, the galatic empire?
Every-time I have heard of the name, Asimov, it was always associated to Foundation series. But Robot series lays the perfect "foundation" for the series. Asimov is truly flawless in describing minute intricacies with infinite simplicity, leaving no knots tied at the end. Writing the books ahead of their time, creativity and vision beyond rational minds, clarity and simplicity of words beyond bare conception truly make Asimov a sci-fi maestro.
I really savored these crime thrillers blended with fantasy and science fiction. It perfectly planted the seeds with initial novels like "I, robot" and I can actually see roots of those vision growing with passing novels. While Robot series excite me for the foundation series, I still want to elongate the wait with Empire series to fully absorb them all. These books don't let me stop and keeps me going with the cliff hangers but dread me to not reach the end too soon because after completing each of the books, I am only left with rue of powerlessness to reread them with total oblivion.
Profile Image for John Shaw.
966 reviews6 followers
April 25, 2023
I read this astounding book when I was terribly young. One of the formative books of my life.
Written by the brilliant Isaac Asimov way back in the dawn of Science Fiction novels. What is often called the Golden Age.
Not just a clever mystery it shows the possible future of humanity. Living in arcologies ( city sized buildings ) Earthers are cut off from the spacer colonies. Humanity is separating into two distinct tribes. Spacers who embrace robots to the point of making "human form" robots ( androids before the term existed ) and Earthers who detest robots.
These are not anything like robots we have in the 21st Century, they are more akin to the "droids" of Star Wars. Mostly autonomous but governed by the THREE LAWS OF ROBOTICS (wiki it ). A rather genius idea from Asimov.
Your basic buddy cop movie where the cops are from two different worlds ( literally in this case ) and end up moving from grudging respect to friendship.
Perhaps it hasn't aged that well but at the time it was amazing. And helped create a lifelong love of SF books.
2 reviews1 follower
June 20, 2017
Jehoshaphat! I loved wasting my life to read this. The first two books...ok. They were ok. The third book though had all of the emotional pay off because the two main characters SHOULD HAVE ENDED UP TOGETHER!!!! My hard copy is littered with with all of the post-it notes marking all of the obviously homo-romantic interactions between these two. And like all of Asimov's characters' choices/motivations/mannerisms it came out of fucking nowhere. I was on an emotional roller coaster for that last book. I wanted them to get together so so so bad. 1 out of 10 this shit was terrible. Would recommend.
Profile Image for Mr. Sterner.
33 reviews5 followers
July 11, 2022
Asimov is not big on description and despite a reputation as a master of "hard sf" these are very dialogue and "soft" sf novels. That's fine. They're murder mysteries. But the quality drops off as the story progresses. It's nice to see recurring characters, but Daneel does little in Robots of Dawn. And speaking of Robots of Dawn, it's oddly obsessed with sex. It just felt rather abrupt in broaching the subject and (perhaps it's a product of its time) but also a little creepy.

Should you read this? Maybe. If you're a fan of Asimov and want to go beyond I, Robot to dig into robot stories, sure enjoy. If you're more of a fan of hard sf or just general sf, I'd give it a miss.
60 reviews2 followers
August 17, 2017
This series was the first Asimov books I ever read, a long, long, long time ago, as a teenager. The first one I read (out of order) was The Robots of Dawn, and I loved it. Never before had I read such a wonderful blend of classic SF with classic mystery. The end just blew me away, and I thought it was the coolest thing I had ever read. So... this year, as an adult, I revisited these books to see if they would leave the same impression. I still absolutely loved them.
Profile Image for James Beffa.
Author 2 books5 followers
August 17, 2022
Another set of books I read ages ago and have recently reread. These stories have withstood the test of time and I really enjoyed them. The friendship between the characters of Elijah Baley and R. Daneel Olivaw develops well over the course of the three book series. I especially like the arc of Elijah as he adapts from city dweller to settler.
Profile Image for Jimmy.
18 reviews3 followers
June 1, 2022
It was wonderful getting to know and through the trilogy! I loved seeing their relationship grow and go through so many different settings and trials. These were some classic detective novels but in space with Isaac Asimov's style! Next up is "Robots and Empire"!
Profile Image for Daniel Cullinan.
12 reviews
March 28, 2023
Absolute banger trilogy of novels. Noire crime with robots. The third one gets a little weird and was written at a much later date than the first two, but still compulsory reading for all fans of the scifi genre
2 reviews
January 15, 2020
I have read this series 5 times it never gets old....in fact everything old is new again with AI intelligence!
Profile Image for Sharon Barrow Wilfong.
1,117 reviews3,942 followers
September 7, 2016
Robots and Murder is a trilogy comprised of three books: The Caves of Steel, The Naked Sun and The Robots of Dawn. I had read these books in college back when, thanks to a geeky friend, I had a fling with Science Fiction that lasted during my twenties.

Caves of Steel takes place on Earth. We see a world that has become so overburdened with people that at one point in time, a number of people left to explore and settle other worlds. The rest stayed home and retreated into domes. In order to insure maximum survival for everyone, jobs are acquired and kept or lost then "declassified" which renders one incapable of ever getting a job. Asimov doesn't explain, but I presume these people become welfare recipients. Why this rule was invented I don't know since it would place a heavier burden on the rest of the population.

People travel on conveyer belts all over (or under as the case may be) the domed world, to work, to home...people live in tiny apartments and eat in community kitchens and wash in community bathrooms. Food is synthetic and food tickets are highly coveted.

The protagonist, Elijah Bailey is a detective and his job in all three novels is to solve a murder mystery. All three mysteries surround robots. On Earth, people are prejudiced against robots and want them out of their lives. This makes it difficult for Bailey who finds that he has a partner who is a humanoid robot, R. Daneel Olivaw.

The murder is merely what propels the plot forward. Asimov's real thrust is to show a dystopian Earth and how humans and highly intelligent robots would relate to each other. The same is true for the next novel, the Naked Sun.

In this story, Bailey has been sent to solve another murder on the planet Solaris. Here we have a sparsely populated planet with several thousand robots per person. The people here have a unique problem. They can't bear to be around each other.

For the rest of the review cut and paste the following link to my blog post:

Profile Image for Kylie.
Author 11 books26 followers
September 10, 2014
I was so blessed when I was a little girl, my Dad had collected science fiction and western novels and he introduced me very early on to the delight therein the wonder that lay in the brown box in the back shed. BOOKS!! So many BOOKS!
Being dyslexic my spelling was horrible, but I could read well beyond my years, and one of my first adventures into the future was Issac Asimov's Robot Novels. I picked up The Caves of Steel first and fell madly in love with the character of R. Daneel Olivaw, the robot who looked too Human.
These books had a touch of Nior to them, and I adored how they kept simple, and yet painted a picture of a bleak, over-crowded world, full of technology I could almost taste. I wanted to BE there, I wanted to SEE this world. I LOVED robots. This was were I gained my first love of detective/sci-fi -- the mix was so delicately well done by Asimov, I have never been able to go back and recapture the feelings I first had as a girl, curled up in bed, adventuring to the plant of Solaria in The Naked Sun.
Maybe most of what I remember was my imagination replacing Asimov's lack of description, filling in all the blanks, dreaming up what R. Daneel Olivaw, and Detective Elijah Baley looked like in my dreams. Yet to me, these characters were as real as any well fleshed out characters like those in long series.
Truly though, what came in The Robots of Dawn in the form of R. Giskard Reventlov (R starting for robot) was what might have hooked me for life. The emotions I had for those robots left me crying...and I still go back and reread, wishing that someday someone would put them on screen for me.
I love robots...
I do love this series, but maybe I am just an overly emotional non-robot XD
Profile Image for Al.
1,436 reviews42 followers
December 5, 2008
Confession: I didn't really read this edition; the one I read only contained Caves of Steel and The Naked Sun, but I couldn't find that one in the listings. But I have read The Robots of Dawn some time ago, so I'm not really cheating, right?
So, what's it all about? Isaac Asimov basically invented the robot genre (among others) and nobody does it better. These were the early entries, introducing the intrepid detectives Lije Bailey (human) and R. Daneel Olivaw (robot). Asimov's writing may have become more fluid later in his career, but he was never better in his ability to evoke a dystopian human future. His somewhat gloomy speculations about our "development" are looking better and better, and we're only fifty years down the road from when he made them. These bookss are brilliantly imagined, well-reasoned, and recommended for both science fiction and mystery buffs. And, if you like them, it's only the beginning of his amazing quantity and quality output. If memory serves, he turned out in the neighborhood of 300 books of various types, including a number of other robot novels and stories. It's nothing to do with this review, but I remember reading my first Asimov novel, Pebble in the Sky, when I was in eighth grade. OK, OK, so I'm old, but at least the memory is still there.

Profile Image for Alex Lee.
894 reviews108 followers
July 9, 2016
This is actually 3 novels in one.

Here we see a progression of Asimov's robot stories as they reach dizzying heights of what robots and human ethics progress. Asimov sees the consequences of robots (too many robots) sheltering humans, and how human formality tends towards a 'purer' expression of desire so that in the end people lose touch with reality entirely. In the end, it comes to robots not only to manage our base desires but also to manage the continuity of human kind at all.

The mind reading seems like a strange phenomenon -- but it's a consequence of seeing human activity formally. In the end, computers can do what we cannot all too well -- to resolve computation and permutation without interference with ontology. If there is a reason for us to behave there is a way that this can be manipulated without our awareness. We can be read and our desires anticipated before we even know it. It is the space between awareness and non-awareness that allows us our freedom. Asimov would seek to render that space as the managed unmanageable that psychohistory would render corporeal. This is the consequence of modeling artificial intelligence on our own -- that in the end we end up with attempting to foresee the consequences of our own collective action to the point where a robot is best suited to the task, beyond us.
December 11, 2016

The Robot Novels, by Isaac Asimov (one of the top three scifi writers of all time) is set in the future where there are robots which are able to do humans tasks, and humans have settled across the galaxy. Prejudices exist against robots and people who are from other parts of the galaxy. This means that whenever there is a crime that involves them, it can be very complicated diplomatically. The series is based around Elijah Baley who is a detective of earth and is sent on various cases across the galaxy with his partner R. Daneel Olivaw, an advanced human like robot. The book I, Robot starts this series although it is not often considered officially part of it.

I loved reading this series and highly recommend it to all fans of science fiction. This series provides a foundation for Asimov’s other series and should be read first. In order to set the scene, the first book starts a bit slow; however, the books quickly pick up the pace once the scene is set. It is important to know that this series contains lots of short stories which are recommended to be read although they may not be part of the official series. If you like mystery novels or science fiction novels, then you should check out this series.

Profile Image for Molly G.
238 reviews86 followers
September 15, 2016
Reread June - July 2010

Reread May 2009

Always forget what an engrossing read they are.

Currently also listening to a radioplay of a Douglas Adams "Dirk Gently" novel, so the "holistic detective" thing is likewise running through my mind and Lije Baley certainly has some of that going on. Everything is relevant to the crime, every ounce of understanding of "white knowledge"*, because everything is interconnected and sometimes it takes unfamiliarity to be able to see relevance. (See my favorite quote: "We don't know who discovered water but we know it wasn't the fish."**) And it may take exploring a robot's positronic brain to also get some pithy observations about human psychology. And Asimov succeeds where so many scifi writers toying with robots fail—Daneel truly is never more than a [i:]machine[/i:] as much as he looks like a man and we anthropomorphize, but that doesn't stop our investment and only continues to fuel fascination.

*Thanks, Neil Gaiman
**Thanks, Marshall McLuhan
Profile Image for Tlingit.
202 reviews9 followers
October 7, 2014
I starting reading this in the hospital back in 2009. Then I hit a spot where I couldn't read, put it down and then for some reason every time I looked at it I didn't want to pick it up.
Recently a tragedy happened in my life. I read one novel and ripped right through it. I needed SOMETHING to occupy my mind. I picked this one up again and fell right into it.
It's an easy read but it has some interesting basic science concepts that are something you should expose young people to. It shows stigma and discrimination as well as exposes people to the possibility that our future could very well be like this (or that this is just wishful thinking as far as science is treated now.) These 3 novels go well together as they have a common main character and repeat characters in them. It's a classic and is one that people really should read as teenagers.
Profile Image for Trace.
4 reviews1 follower
January 17, 2017
Isaac Asimov, one of the great science fiction writers, has a great book that is beautifully written as a science fiction mystery. This book may be old, but it is still a good read even to this day.
The main character is Elijah Bailey and he’s a homicide detective, and he is tasked with the murder of a roboticist named Dr. Sarton. Elijah lives on earth, where cities are underground and they are very against robots. There are people on other inhabited planets, and the earth people call them spacers. There is a city that is full of spacers that Dr. Sarton lived in and they think that someone from his city killed Dr. Sarton.
I think people that like mysteries will like this book. I liked how all of his solutions to the murder were really well thought out and descriptive. Elijah bailey is definitely an interesting character to say the least. I highly recommend this book.
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