The caves of steel – Isaac Asimov –

IMAG4216
Original title: The caves of steel.

Title of this edition: Bovedas de acero.

Author: Isaac Asimov.

Gender: Science Ficction.

Saga:

Editorial: Ediciones Martínez Roca S.A.

Edition year: 1, 1981.

Prizes: …

Synopsis [Warning: Spoiler]: The earth and the space colonies. Earth is against robots, colonies use and embrace robots. There is a murder of a citizen from the colonies in the space port at earth. Detective Elija is assigned to solve the case with the help of robot Daneel Olivaw. Through a series of incidents that manifest the aversion of earth people against robots… Elija discovers that the killer is his own superior. The murder was a mistake, his superior pretended to murder a robot to stop the trading with colonies and the implantation of robots in earth’s economy. In the end, colonies decide to leave trading with earth because they saw that earth people need time to accept the idea of colonize new worlds.

Personal Review: For those who don’t know them, I’m going to put here the 3 laws of the robotics as written by Asimov.

1 A robot may not injure a human being or, through inaction, allow a human being to come to harm.

2 A robot must obey the orders given to it by human beings, except where such orders would conflict with the First Law.

3 A robot must protect its own existence as long as such protection does not conflict with the First or Second Law.

It is mandatory to know them, because all Asimov’s tales about robots obey them, and because of that, they are extremely fun. It is not necessary for this book, but I need to mention that after many years, and when the bigger part of his work was done, Asimov decided to explore another extra law, the zero law.

0 A robot may not harm humanity, or, by inaction, allow humanity to come to harm.

After this… I must admit it, the story is not strong… I mean, only a few characters, one of them has to be the killer, and the introduction of the robot is accessory, not necessary. It is a mix between robots, detective stories and social problems, but it fails in all sides.

In terms of robots, it doesn’t use any of the robot abilities, it just takes advantage of the fact that robots can be commanded by humans. The killer uses this to smuggle a weapon into space port, but without a robot the weapon can be carried in a different way and the story still stands.

In terms of detectives, Elija prepares an accusation at the middle of the story that fails to discover the true killer. This takes most of the narrative, and instead of creating a story that unveils step by step the plot, it is randomly discovered at the end.

Finally, some reviewers say that this is a great essay into sociology, but for me it fails because it creates an “average” human and assumes everybody is like it. Humanity is variety, it is characterise by individuals able to climb mountains and jump from planes and at the same time, people afraid of getting out of home. Creating and average human and making a problem out of it is creating a problem by oversimplification. It would be better to say that in a overpopulated world different urban tribes appear, and some of them represent fanatics. It would be easy to create a plot where this fanatics have a big role, and you don’t need to oversimplify.

In conclusion, the story is bad, but Asimov is good, and the way he writes makes you enjoy the story. I definitely enjoy it, but I also must admit that in terms of plot it is bad.

One last thing. Despite this book is not part of any saga, it fits into the robot stories and into the Foundation cycle, which is something that must be recognized as a great achievement.

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