Monday, November 28, 2011
Review - The Naked Sun by Isaac Asimov
Short review: Elijah Bailey and R. Daneel Olivaw are back to solve another murder, but this time they are on Solaria instead of Earth.
An extreme agoraphobe
As is his hero
Full review: The Naked Sun is the sequel to The Caves of Steel, once again featuring Elijah Baley and R. Daneel Olivaw as they attempt to solve a seemingly impossible murder. Unlike The Caves of Steel, which was set on Earth, this time the pair head to Solaria, the most extremely "spacer" of all the spacer planets.
As before, the mystery in the novel is well-crafted, and the process of solving it is well-written. Much of the book serves to contrast the conditions on overcrowded impoverished Earth where the bulk of the population is hostile to robots, agoraphobic, and live in an almost communal manner, to those on wealthy Solaria, with strict controls limiting the human population of the entire planet to twenty thousand people, where robots outnumber humans tens of thousands to one, and where face-to-face human contact is regarded as obscene.
As usual for Asimov's robot novels, the plot revolves around the meaning and application of the Three Laws of Robotics, and some frightening implications those laws have that had not been previously considered which are fully explored much later in Foundation and Earth. The mystery also allows Asimov to explore the problems of Earth culture (exposed by Baley's contact with the Solarians), and the troubles faced by the dysfunctional Solarian culture specifically, and the spacer culture in general.
While this book isn't quite as good as The Caves of Steel, it remains one of Asimov's best.
Previous book in the series: The Caves of Steel
Subsequent book in the series: The Robots of Dawn
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