on May 19, 2003
This was written much later than the original two robot novels, the three Empire novels, and the Foundation trilogy. It and the following book, ROBOTS AND EMPIRE, link the first two robot books with the Empire series and leads up to Foundation.
There are a couple of points easy to miss here. First, psychohistory is first suggested by Dr. Fastolfe, and then advanced by the two robots. Secondly, while there is a mystery involved here, the emphasis is on the future of space exploration and who is going to be in it. The original pioneers into space have become spoiled by their reliance on their robots and no longer have the spirit of adventure necessary to continue further exploration, and yet they are fearful of the idea of generally despised Earth people colonizing planets.
So much indeed is at stake here. For full enjoyment, I suggest reading first the Susan Calvin stories and also "The Bicentennial Man" which are in Asimov's THE COMPLETE ROBOT, and then THE CAVES OF STEEL and THE NAKED SUN, the first two Elijah Bailey & R. Daneel Olivaw novels. And be prepared for this book to be more centered on mankind's future venturing into space than in the mystery element.
on October 21, 2002
This book is a worthy addition to the alternate history introduced in "The Caves of Steel" and "The Naked Sun." Asimov postulates that mankind has established successful interstellar colonies (the "Outer Worlds"), but that these colonies have turned hostile to the home world of Earth. Aurora, the most powerful of the Outer Worlds, has experienced a murder, of a sort, and seeks the services of Elijah Baley, a detective of Earth. The notion is plausible: Earth is overcrowded and used to dealing with police work, while crime is virtually unknown on the Outer Worlds. Baley's reputation is already known to Aurora by his accomplishments in the earlier novels.
We quickly learn that the real issues deal with matters infinitely more profound than a single murder. The Outer Worlds are debating the future colonization of the galaxy, and the role, if any, of Earth. The novel does a good job of showing the importance of this issue, and tying the matter of the "murder" and Baley's success or failure, to it. The end is startling.
The writing is a little more wordy than Asimov's earlier novels, and Asimov's age shows a little--as illustrated by two and three page descriptions of Outer World lavatories which are present in several portions of the novel, for what reason I cannot imagine. Nevertheless, setting these quirks aside (they are quirks) the novel is a good read for anyone interested in Asimov's Robot novels, and further, it ties the Robot novels to the Foundation series "future history." Hard not to like a book that can do all that!
on October 9, 2002
Although, in this year 2002, I have just recently finished reading The Robots of Dawn directly after its prequel, The Naked Sun, and thus did not have to endure the 25-year wait between the novels as many who read that book when it came out did, I can assume that they, as I, considered it worth the wait. This is a very good novel, indeed. When Asimov first began writing his robot stories in the 40's, the concept itself was relatively new and bold - and, to many, unthinkable. Of course, when this book finally came out, in 1983, robots were no longer a novelty - and the dictations of their behavior had, by then, moved beyond Asimov's original fundamental Three Laws of Robotics. Still, the conflicts in this book, as in virtually all of Asimov's other robot stories, hinge crucially on those Three Laws, and the complications inherent therein. It is amazing that, as much as Asimov had already written on the subject up to that point, he could still come up with new and novel twists relating to them - but he does, indeed, and does so very well here. Although the actual unraveling of the mystery itself, as in The Naked Sun, never quite reaches the peak of intensity and excitement as did the plot of The Caves of Steel (the first novel in this series), this is, nevertheless, a far more ambitious work than the previous two books - not only in length, but also in scope. With this book, Asimov also begins to tie in the Robot series with the Empire and Foundation serieses (as he does in the sequel, Robots and Empire) to create one grand, monumental fictional universe. This is a testament to the skill and unique visionary perspective of one of the greatest fiction - not just science fiction writers - of the 20th century. Anyone who loved The Caves of Steel and The Naked Sun will undoubtedly love this further amazing edition to the series.
... With a backdrop of human cultures on several worlds with enormous social and political differences, the context of the story creates subtle plot lines that can be followed many ways. There is the crowded planet Earth, where the population has retreated under domes and no longer experiences weather and has extreme phobias towards robots. The Spacer worlds are sparsely populated, and the population avoids human contact, except when necessary for breeding. Nearly all of the work on the Spacer worlds is done by robots, which outnumber the humans by hundreds to one. The Spacer worlds consider humans to be dirty creatures, harboring many infectious agents and it is socially unacceptable for humans to travel to Spacer worlds.
However, there is no better investigator than Lije Baley, and when a prized robot on a Spacer world has it's mind destroyed, he is called from Earth to solve the mystery. Like Asimov's other robot stories, the plot hinges many times on conflicts arising from the three laws of robotics. So simple to state, the number of nuances that Asimov can generate from them is amazing. ... there are so many possible angles to the story that the ending was truly a surprise.
At this time, no one really knows what the structure of the brain of the first truly intelligent robots will be like. However, it is certain that social and legal pressures will dictate that the three laws of robotics must be embedded into their behavior. Asimov has given us a glimpse into the future in his stories about robots and their potential behaviors. The scientific predictions may fail, but there is no doubt that he is accurate concerning the behavior of robots. ...
on March 22, 2002
Police Investigator Lije Baley has solved several mysteries with his robot partner and friend R. Daneel Olivaw, but now he is presented with an impossible situation--and a situation that Earth's and humanity's survival depends upon. A human-formed robot has been 'killed,' yet the only man with the capacity to destroy the robot in this way is the man whose efforts may save Earth. Worse, Baley's investigations take place on Aurora, the planet of dawn. And on Aurora, as in all the spacer world, Earth-humans are regarded as sewers of disease, short life, and ignorance.
Author Isaac Asimov develops his most emotionally compelling stories in his robot series and THE ROBOTS OF DAWN certainly shows this lineage. Not only is Baley re-united with his partner, but he also finds himself involved with the spacer woman who holds a special place in his heart. Using a combination of logic, bull-headed determination, and intuitive leaps, Baley proves that good investigative techniques are a universal, whether on Earth or in the spacer worlds.
Asimov, one of the masters of the golden age of Science Fiction, further develops his wonderful partnership between human and robot. While perhaps not as powerfully compelling as the two earlier works in this series (THE CAVES OF STEEL and THE NAKED SUN), fans of these books will find THE ROBOTS OF DAWN completely enjoyable. Likewise, fans of Asimov's FOUNDATION series will find that Asimov used ROBOTS as a transitional novel between these two series, explaining how the society described in the Robot books is able to transform into that of FOUNDATION.
Written in the early 1980s, ROBOTS shows a mixture of sophisticated futurism and curious misses. I was amused by the way Asimov's robots skillfully input data into the computer system--surely any robot sophisticated enough to be self-aware would be able to input data directly (e.g., through a wireless, wired, or infra-red link) rather than requiring digital manipulation. Readers who consider the pre-PC era in which this novel was written, however, will appreciate Asimov's reach in his futurism rather than his misses.
on August 20, 2001
The Robots of Dawn is the third novel in the Robot series and substantially longer and more involved than the first two. This time the setting is the Spacer world of Aurora and Baley has been summoned to help Dr. Fastolfe (Daneel's designer) get out of a political scandal in which he has been accused of "murdering" a robot. Asimov weaves a coherent plot with plenty of twists, slowly feeding us new information and leads in classic mystery novel form.
The ending comes in two parts: the first part gets Fastolfe out of his mess and the far more surprising second part solves the murder. I thought the first part was a great resolution of all the facts and clues provided throughout the novel. The second part seemed very artificial to me and quite unbelievable. I can't comment further without giving away the ending, but apparently Asimov ended the novel this way to serve as a link to later novels. I can't say since I haven't read the Empire or Foundation novels yet.
It's over 400 pages but it's quite a page turner, especially the last 150 pages or so. Typically I read my science fiction two or three times a week for perhaps an hour at a time, so it takes me awhile to get through a book. But last night I just had to finish it so I stayed up an extra couple hours to get to the end. Enjoyable!
on April 24, 2001
On the world of Aurora, politics dominates the day. The prominent roboticist who created the humaniform robots is accused by his political nemesis of a very serious crime. Once again, he calls upon Elijah Baley, the now galactically-reknowned police detective from Earth. And once again, Baley must travel to another Spacer world, where by his very Earth-nativity, he is treated with hostility. Again, Asimov sheds light on the dichotomy of the Earth and Spacer cultures, where reliance on robots on the Spacer worlds has made them weak in a sense, while the human aversion to anything robotic has also failed in its prejudice. At stake is the very future of the Earth natives ability to expend outward as they once did to found the Spacer worlds, a future very much opposed by the majority of the Spacer populace. If Baley fails to exonerate the accused, then the reactionary elements of Aurora's political entity will prevent any Earth colonizations. Again, Baley teams with R. Daneel Olivaw to solve the mystery. It was this novel in which first we began to see Asimov tying together his three marked series: Robot, Empire, and Foundation. Again, as with the previous two Robot novels, Asimov shed more light on the nature of humanity after expansion into space, while setting the groundwork for the far-flung future of his following series.
on February 22, 2001
This is the third in the Robot Trilogy (actually, it merges with the Foundation Series in Robots and Empire, neat idea.)
Elijah (Lije) Bailey has now experienced space travel once, on a mission to Solaria to solve a murder. He returns a changed man; having learned to extend beyond his limits as a steel-cave-dwelling troglodyte of Earth. And he has also met Gladia. The experience on Solaria leads to a trip to Aurora in this third volume, to solve a most unusual murder; that of a robot!
Aurora is the most advanced of the Spacer worlds; kind of a Utopia. So a wanton act of destruction is unheard of and must be solved. Bailey is requested for this case by Dr. Fastolfe, who was the spacer who requested him in the Caves of Steel murder case. But in addition to the murder being of a most uncommon kind, the case is never quite what it appears to be on the surface.
While this book has the weakest character development yet, it does have one exciting new addition; Giskard, the robot partner of Daneel, who shows up again for this novel to partner with Elijah. And Gladia, shunned on her home planet of Solaria because of scandal, has relocated to Aurora with the help of Dr. Fastolfe.
Robots of Dawn is not quite as good as the first two robot novels, but well worth reading. I certainly was overjoyed to see it because I read the first two robot books as a teenager and had to wait years later for the third book to be written.
on April 20, 1999
The best science fiction places more emphasis on the art of fiction than on the excitement inherent in the promise of future science. It is Asimov's brilliance to place timeless themes of human conflict in a unique setting, permitting an examination of those themse from previously unknown perspectives.
And so in "Robots Of Dawn" Elijah Baley, the quintessential Everyman, is thrust into conflict by forces beyond his control and is forced to confront a succession of seemingly intractable problems charged with terrible geo-political and personal ramifications Baley is armed only with his relentlessly honest character, and two very useful, but also very limited aids, in the robots Daneel and Giskard. The dialogue that Baley has with his robot assistants is near-perfect in pitch, as the three work relentlessly, with a combination of pure logic on the part of the robots and logic tempered by knowledge of human nature on the part of Baley, through each hurdle presented by a hopelessly insoluable murder mystery.
That the mystery will be solved is left in doubt to the very end of the story, and each suceeding chapter brings the reader both closer to and farther from the solution. In the course of unveiling clues to the murder, clues to nature of human conflict, to Asimov's "Psychohistory," are also revealed, and carefully explored.
In the end, while the solution to the murder is wholly satisfying, it is the depth of the characters, their extraordinarily real personalities, that stays with the reader. This book is not just for science fiction readers, but for anyone who enjoys beautiful, clear, and highly intelligent writing.
on January 26, 1999
Just when you thought the first two books "Caves of Steel" and "The Naked Sun" were as good as Asimov gets, here comes "The Robots of Dawn" and knocks them both down in one blow.
In this novel, a middle aged Detective Elijah Baley sets out on his most defying investigation ever. His journey takes him to the capital of the Spacer Worlds; the planet Aurora, where he is reunited with his old partner R. Daneel Olivaw.
The story has everything that I missed in the first two books, including some romance with the sexy Gladia Delmarre (which Lije was always too cautious about in "The Naked Sun").
Asimov hooks you on the "whodunnit" trail right from the start, and gives you a knock on the head right at the end. Truly spectacular, a work of a genuis.
In this book, Asimov makes Aurora feel like your own world, describing every bit of detail with superb depictions and without a single sense of tediousness. For the first time, the relationship of robots with humans when it comes to sexual intercourse is explored, and how the three laws of robotics handle it.
An absolute MUST read for all those who adored the first two books of the robot series. Isaac Asimov, I personaly salute you.