I read Asimov’s Foundation series quite some time ago. Last year, I thought I should read the Robot series as well. So I read the following books:
- The Complete Robot is a collection of most of Asimov’s short stories about robots. Some of the stories are pretty good while others are just mediocre. I was, however, surprised at how flat Asimov’s portrayal of Susan Calvin is. Considering that there are not too many women in Asimov’s books, Calvin is a major character and Asimov characterizes her in extremely one-dimensional fashion.
- Caves of Steel is probably the best of the novels starring Elijah Bailey and R. Daneel Olivaw. I liked the portrayal of the cities though it is funny how outdated that is.
- The Naked Sun is also about a murder mystery solved by Elijah Bailey which takes place in Solaria, the planet which is shown as completely opposite Earth’s culture. This is a good book as well but the ending was a little weak. Again, it was funny that Solarians hadn’t heard of IVF.
- The Robots of Dawn is a story about roboticide on Aurora. Obviously, Elijah Bailey is called on to solve the mystery. This book wasn’t as good as the other Bailey stories. While the murder mystery itself was ok, the overall plot and Bailey’s being called was a bit of a stretch.
- Robots and Empire tries to reconcile the Robot series with Empire and Foundation series. It also tries to explain Earth’s fate. Like most of Asimov’s later Foundation books, this one isn’t great either.
- One last book I had not read from the Foundation series was Foundation and Earth which is one of those Asimov wrote long after the original Foundation. It is most definitely the most boring Foundation book. Plus it really does not belong with Foundation. Rather it tries to piece together the fate of robots and the spacer worlds. That, for me, was reason enough to read it. But the whole Gaia part of the plot was quite useless. This novel could have been shorter by a third and would have been much better.
For some detailed reviews of Asimov’s books, you can visit Jenkins’ Spoiler-Laden Guide to Isaac Asimov.
Overall, I thought that Asimov appealed a lot more to me as a teenager than it does at 34 years of age which wasn’t unexpected. Also, I believe Asimov’s characterization of robots is much better than his characterization of humans.