The Caves of Steel by Isaac Asimov
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
This is my second Asimov read (I, Robot was the first) and it again surprises me how accessible his stories actually are. My initial impression was that he was hard sci-fi that would involve A LOT of science, given his background as a professor of Biochemistry, that would be difficult to understand, or boring. Far from it! What I have read so far is full of personality and addresses questions that we would have about the interaction between humans and robots.
Caves of Steel is a murder mystery, where Elijah Baley, policeman, must work with a robotic partner in order to solve it. He has serious misgivings about working with a robot, like many people in this future time were privacy is at a premium and robots are viewed with skepticism, fear and dislike. Lije must confront his own feelings to work with R. Daneel Olivaw, and soon finds himself reassuring others that Daneel is okay, he's safe, don't be afraid.
During discussion with a robotics expert that Lije is trying to gain info from for the investigation, he asks one of the questions I've had before, why make robots in human form? Why not make them more functional to their purpose, surely it doesn't require them to look like humans, this being one of the features that causes us to feel uncomfortable around them. I won't answer that question here, but let you find it by reading the book, which I recommend!
Asimov is good at presenting these questions of ideology regarding robots and artificial intelligence succinctly, cutting to the heart of the issue presented. His robot characters are full of personality, within their laws, and there is plenty of action and food for thought. There is no doubt in my mind why he is considered to have been one of the giants in Sci-Fi, a pioneer and pillar of robot fiction.
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