Saturday, October 31, 2009

Book 117: The Robots of Dawn

The Robots of Dawn by Isaac Asimov

Asimov wrote the third of his robot mysteries after a long gap. It is obvious that as this point he had decided to incorporate his two series into one since he even throws the word psychohistory out there. While I kind of like how Stephen King links many of his books to The Dark Tower series, I find it rather obnoxious in Asimov. I dislike how in linking the two series, Asimov went from having two rather interesting visions of the future to suddenly having a god-like, all-knowing figure working in the background to preserve humanity (I guess maybe it's not so much the linking that bugs me as the force behind all the actions and greater events and movements of human history).

The other problem is that I think it made this novel rather boring. Baley goes to Aurora to investigate the "death" of a robot, one of only two that look completely human, such as his partner R. Daneel Olivaw. While it wouldn't be tried as a murder or anything, this purposeful destruction of this robot would definitely ruin the suspect's political career. Since he is in favor of Earth beginning a colonization program again, of course, Baley doesn't want this to happen. Baley has to somehow prove that the man suspected didn't destroy the robot and that either someone else did it, or it was just a random computer glitch that caused it to shut down. Of course the suspect is the best roboticist in the galaxy and says that there is no one else that could possibly have the intelligence or understanding to cause something like this.

The outcome of this case will determine the future. Many Aurorans feel that if anyone should colonize it should be they with their greater life expectancies and quality of life. However, they want to use humaniform robots to colonize so all they would have to do is show up on the planet after all the hard work has been done. The only problem I had with all this is that I didn't feel like Asimov gave a very good reason for why the Aurorans or any of the Spacer planets would feel the need to colonize other planets - it's not like everyone didn't already have everything they could possibly want, and furthermore, while they were limited to a certain amount of children, they didn't seem to care - they don't even raise them themselves - in fact since colonization would require a greater population it almost seems like it would be more of an annoyance than anything.

Also, due to reading the Foundation novels, I knew how this debate about colonization would turn out so there wasn't really much of anything riding on the outcome.

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