Because everything written after this book gets the Robot series involved with Asimov’s weird, canon crossover with the Foundation series (which I love and also do not wish to destroy), this is the last of the Robots books I will be reading and reviewing for at least some time. Strap in for this classic review!
The Robots of Dawn
Author: Isaac Asimov
This book, as well as many of the sequels that I don’t plan on reading, was at my library, so I snagged a copy. I’ve genuinely enjoyed, at least to some extent, all of the series’ previous installations.
Just so you have a short version of the review, I’ll tell you now that this 4th book in the series was a massive disappointment, but still far from the worst thing I’ve ever read.
I was only disappointed in this book because the previous two installations were quite enjoyable. I would say this one wasn’t awful, but some of the parts fell pretty flat for me.
First, let me admit that I don’t like romance or even romantic subplots. This is probably one of the reasons I like Asimov’s earlier work – he knew he sucked at romance and avoided it. Well, when he got older, he also got bolder, and I get the distinct feeling he still sucked at writing romance anyway. Associated with the romance, as well, were clear and open references to what may be my least favorite book of all time, Stranger in a Strange Land. Complete with sexual awakening and a hint at ‘teach them real sex and make a sex cult.’
Beyond that, Asimov still does a marvelous job with consistency in his worldbuilding. The world in which Caves of Steel and The Naked Sun took place was still vivid, vibrant, and present in this installation. Baley’s agoraphobia (fear of outside, so you don’t have to look it up) was still ever-present. I relish reading about the Baley character, and I enjoyed learning about the new planet of Aurora.
Still… the final solution to the murder mystery, as well, made me groan. I’ll talk about that more in the spoilers review, but it was bad. It made me groan to the point that I almost put the book down with only 6 pages to go. After I ate supper, however, I was able to come back and gag myself through to the end.
2/5 Discoball Snowcones
The mystery of the book wasn’t done very well, at least in comparison to the earlier works. Thanks to things like the romantic subplot got in the way, and the lengthened status of the book made the singular offending sentence – the one which Baley’s entire theory hinged on – easy to forget after another 100 pages of reading. It wasn’t pointed out at the time of the offending interview, either, which made it feel less impressive a stunt.
Still, the part that got me was the very ending, where Baley actually solved the crime, not the one where he satisfied political needs. In it, he reveals that the murder was committed by a psychic robot. Wat. WAT. This was 7 pages from the end of the 500 page book and you’re going to bring in PSYCHIC ROBOTS now?! Horse hockey.
Yes, he called back to that one episode in i, Robot wherein there was a legendary, psychic robot, and made it happen. Simultaneously, he revealed all sorts of what I found to be BS motives, crossovers with his Foundation series and Empire series, and just altogether destroyed the entire book. I had suspected that particular robot of the crime due to some of the facts, but the way Asimov had Baley solve the problem was so dissatisfying.
I’ll be re-reading one of my favorites, The Remains of the Day. You should stay tuned, and READ THE DAMN BOOK too!