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Notes from Underground
Ben Marcus, Andrew R. MacAndrew, Fyodor Dostoyevsky
Robots and Empire
Isaac Asimov

Robots and Empire

Robots and Empire - Isaac Asimov gladias speech 200 -236

The Robots of Dawn

The Robots of Dawn - Isaac Asimov This is the third full length Elijah Bailey SF mystery, set on the world of Aurora. Asimov has truly outdone himself in terms of world building (consistently top notch throughout his lengthy career) and characterisation, the latter of which was fairly week during his early years.He has captured extraordinarily well the Sir Arthur Conan Doyle-esque method of writing logical and rational deductive reasoning, explored fully throughout several lengthy interrogation segments. While sometimes teetering on the edge of tedious, these well fleshed-out chapters allow one to follow all of the incredibly interesting subtleties of Auroran life and culture, as well as the deductive power of the main character. I have yet to read any of Asimov's non-fiction, but if it is at all like any of the chapters mentioned above, it would have been written masterfully. Asimov would have been an extraordinarily talented communicator of science.The story line is interesting, but does take a back seat to the world in which Asimov has created. Aurora, the first settled and most powerful of the spacer worlds, has been gripped by a case of robotocide, where a highly advanced and irreplaceable humaniform robot has been disabled (effectively blue-screened). What follows is an intriguing look at the characters, customs and taboos that have run rampant on the utopian spacer superpower. As with the Naked Sun, Elijah's first off-world adventure, the planet of Aurora first presents itself as shockingly inviting. Large estates littered with greenery and animals are interspersed with robots, who fill the role usually inhabited by the working poor and underclass. Like the Naked Sun as well, the longer one explores this planet, the more broken and inhumane it seems, as many of the founding principles Aurorans have built up have been taken to their logical, but depressing, extreme.One criticism I do have however, is the almost ham-fisted insertion of psychohistory into the plot. If one has read the Foundation series, one would be aware that this theory is one of the largest themes throughout those books, and it is my opinion that it is completely unnecessary in the Robot universe, and has only been included to leave one more thread to join between the series. However, it is only a minor sub-plot, and is thankfully not explored fully.Regardless, a wonderful book. Not perfect, but the joy I had in reading this quality piece of SF makes up for it. 5 stars.

The Naked Sun

The Naked Sun - Isaac Asimov Another excellent sci-fi who-dunnit by Asimov. I like the character of Elijah Baley, but again it seems that Asimov's writing hasn't progressed to the point where he can write really deep characters that have relatable emotional moments. There were many times where I couldn't comprehend why a character was yelling (probably more a failure of comprehension on my behalf) or when a character felt miserable or helpless. Having read some of his more recent novels (Foundation #6 and Foundation #7) the difference in characterization is pretty apparent. The story was great, and Asimov, everything else considered, is a fantastic world builder. The world of Solaria, with its weird customs and hyper libertarian view of life is consistently intriguing and ominous. To be revisited in the 6th Foundation novel only adds to the awesomeness - Asimov has made a brilliant effort to weave the Robot novels into the framework of the Foundation novels - to great effect.One criticism I do have - not so much with the book, but more with all sci-fi whodunnits in general - is the lack of a feeling of putting the pieces together by yourself. Although you may have feelings of who the murderer on Solaria is, it is only through the writings of the author, and not of scraps of evidence littered throughout the text. Because Asimov is creating a world thoroughly unlike our own, it is difficult to assess the relative importance of each bit of evidence as noticed by the main character. Because of the wealth of information only implied, or never even mentioned about the world of Solaria and the future in general, it is very difficult to come to a conclusion about the scenario. This is a minor complaint however, and I do very much like the intricate world that has been created so far by Asimov.Lovely book, 4 stars.

The Caves of Steel

The Caves of Steel - Isaac Asimov Described as a mystery, but not one in the classic Sherlock Holmes sense. Regardless, was very good, I was pretty amazed that it links in back (forward?) to Foundation and Earth, even though they were written nearly 40 years apart.The character of Elijah Bailey was pretty neat, and the sci-fi development was top notch. Perhaps because this was written at the beginning of his career (I think 1954) some of the character development and dialogue is a bit wooden, but no one reads Asimov for the dialogue.In all, a pretty great book, and a good quick read. Only 200 or so pages, and easily knocked out in a couple of hours. Well worth it.

Complete Robot

The Complete Robot - Isaac Asimov Some of the stories may have been a bit short and lacking in decent characterisation and depth, but overall one of the greatest pieces of (science) fiction I've read.Reading 700 pages of robot novels, culminating in the "...That Thou Art Mindful of Him" and "The Bicentennial Man" was extremely moving. A wonderful book.