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    THE ROBOTS OF DAWN by Isaac Asimov.


    Del Rey, 1983

    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.

    Four Stars

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