Reviews of Robots of Dawn, the (1983)
Review by kadambi (2007-06-18)
The best yet, of the robotic novels.
A treat because of the fantastic ending (I expected no less). You will have to read it to know it!
Robots of dawn is set in Aurora, which is not quite Solaria (in terms of human-robot ratio) and not earth. It is an attempt at another study of the decay of a culture which has "enslaved" itself to Robots. The obvious conclusion is that, Earth is the only planet positioned to form the Galactic Empire.
This book makes several obvious references to the foundation series universe and hints at why there won't be any more Robots into the far future.
A great read, especially for a Asimov fan!
Robots of Dawn was a somewhat frustrating experience for me to read. In some ways it is the best of the robot novels, in others it is the worst of the first three. I'll start with the worst.
Elijah Baley is again called on to solve the "murder" of a robot on a spacer world. What is bothersome is that it is the second time that his actions are considered so important that they will affect the entire population of Earth. While Asimov manages to support that idea throughout the book, it is still a tough sell. Fortunately, it is not too central to the story. What is quite central, and the most disappointing part for me, is the idea of human/robot sex. It seems to me that inclusion of the idea was an attempt by Asimov to be like so many other SF writers. It cheapened the story and truly wasn't needed. It also seems out of character for Asimov to give in to the mainstream. The theme sadly dominates Baley's investigation in the first half of the book.
On the positive side, Asimov uses Robots of Dawn to tie his "universe" together. He makes a number of references to characters in shorts stories as well as linking characters and events tightly to the final few books of the Foundation series. The surprise at the end was a real treat. In some ways the references are a bit gratuitous, but they are fun, especially if the reader is already a well read Asimov fan. Where the novel really shines is with the web of political intrigue that Asimov weaves. The strained relations between Earth and Spacers, between the "perfect" Spacer worlds themselves, and between powers on Aurora, the largest, most influential Spacer world. Not understanding the finer points of being an Auroran, Baley struggles to make sense of the clues.