Asimov Robot Stories

Since I had read the Foundation series a long time ago, I had been thinking of reading Asimov’s robot books. I found most of them interesting, but there were a number of weak spots as well. Robots fare a lot better in Asimov’s characterizations than humans and Susan Calvin fares quite badly.

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:

  1. 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.
  2. 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 I liked the portrayal of the cities though it is funny how outdated that is.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.

Author: Zack

Dad, gadget guy, bookworm, political animal, global nomad, cyclist, hiker, tennis player, photographer

4 thoughts on “Asimov Robot Stories”

  1. Zack and I have a long standing disagreement on “Foundation and Earth.” Anyone familiar with the robot books easily followed the story. It connected Asimov’s various series. I rather enjoyed the book, and it brought closure to the saga of the robots and Spacers.

  2. Captain: I guess we won’t convince each other. My point is that Foundation and Earth has very little connection to the Foundation series and whatever connection there is is extremely boring.

  3. Personally, I think the real Foundation novels ended with Second Foundation. Both Gaia and the robots — though fun distractions — really had little do to with the original plot (as Zack said).

    Did you read Prelude and Forward? Then there was the “second” Foundation trilogy (I stopped after the first book). Oh and did you read that short Bailey/Daneel short story? I think it was called “mirror image.”

  4. raven:

    Did you read Prelude and Forward?

    Yes. I liked them ok. They fit reasonably well with the original three.

    Then there was the “second” Foundation trilogy

    The one by Greg Bear? I didn’t read any of those.

    did you read that short Bailey/Daneel short story? I think it was called “mirror image.”

    I think it was included in The Complete Robot. It was a reasonably good story.

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