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ROBOTS & EMPIRE PB Paperback
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- ASIN : 0008277796
- Language : English
- ISBN-10 : 9780008277796
- ISBN-13 : 978-0008277796
- Item Weight : 10.9 ounces
- Dimensions : 5.08 x 1.1 x 7.8 inches
- Best Sellers Rank: #44,411 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- Customer Reviews:
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It takes a leap forward in the Robot series and fills in many gaps in the backstory to the Foundation series and in particular to Foundation and Earth. It felt very satisfying to have it all pulled together. I highly recommend it.
As many reviewers have previously pointed out, Robot's and Empire was Asimov's attempt to fuse his three main Sci-Fi "worlds" (Robots, Empire, Foundation) into one universe. I won't get into the debate about whether this book was necessary, although it was, for the most part, successful in it's attempt. The biggest negative to Robots and Empire might be that it is somewhat contrived...that is to say bridging the Robots story arcs and the Empire story arcs requires a certain level of Dues Ex Machina in that the end result has to be one that connects the two story arcs with a minimum of inconsistencies. Anyone who has read the Empire or Foundation series of books - which were all written long before Robots and Empire - knows how Robots and Empire has to end, so that while the conclusion is good (and somewhat emotional), it's also a known ending.
Beyond that, I found Robots and Empire to be a great story overall. Taking place over four worlds (Aurora, Solaria, Baleyworld and Earth), Robots and Empire is a race from the beginning, although the reader doesn't necessarily know that until the chapters dealing with Amadiro. It also leaves open a few threads for other writers to potentially follow later (as have been done by Mark Tiedemann and Roger Allen), like why the Solarians have vanished. We also get a touching recount of Elijah Baley's last moment with Daneel and reflections from both Robots and Gladia on their lives after Robots of Dawn. Recommended for any fan of Asimov, but probably important to have read previous Asimov Robots novels first.
I was also fascinated with Asimov's nuanced portrayal of Gladia, the Solarian woman who first appeared in The Naked Sun. In that novel she started off as a self-absorbed aristocrat, like all Solarians. By the time she appears in this novel, (several hundred years later) she has evolved beyond the Spacers' prejudices and found the strength to become a public spokeswoman for peace between Spacers and Settlers.
As another reviewer said, I was not happy with the idea that Earth had to be destroyed in the interests of creating a galactic Empire. I definitely don't believe that Earth is unique as an abode of intelligent life, and that the universe is full of empty planets just waiting for humans to move in. As we are finding new planets around other suns, it is quite improbable that humans are alone in the universe. However, I will ignore these reservations and accept Asimov's writing on his own terms.
At the end of this book I was really wishing for another novel, which would show what finally happened between the Spacers and Settlers.
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(The first book being Caves of Steel , the second, The Naked Sun and I would also recommend reading Robot Visions before the third novel The Robots of Dawn as though not necessary some of the short robot stories are referenced in The Robots of Dawn and I found the background knowledge of those made certain story aspects clearer)
Robots and Empire is rather different from the previous three books in the series, I am to understand that it leads onto the Empire series which leads onto Asimov's Foundation series (though I haven't read them yet) and was written after them which could be the reason why. That's not to say it's a bad book, it isn't, it's great in fact, but I did find it to be the weaker of the Robot series.
This is probably because of the change of protagonist and it jumps around a lot more. The book is set many decades after The Robots of Dawn and Elijah Baley is long dead. His brief love and long living Spacer friend Gladia is still alive and has inherited the universes two most advanced robots, Daneel (Baley's former partner) and Giskard his inferior looking, though more powerful friend.
The earthlings have spread out across the galaxy in this time starting an empire much to the fear and ire of the Spacers who seem locked in a state of stagnation. A small group of Spacers have devised a way to stop earth secretly and it's up to the robot duo to stop them in the confines of Asimov's legendary three laws.
What I liked about this book was that it took a slight change in focus over his previous books which had always had robots in them, but been about hummanity and their use of robots and their effect on differentiating cultures. Although that is still present, a lot of this book is around Daneel and Giskard questioning the three laws and doing their best to protect hummanity as a whole within their confines as well as Giskard's quest to create the laws of humanics to understand how humans work. It's an interesting sub plot based around the edges of Gladia's new found freedom in traveling and realising though her life is long she has never actually lived, just existed.
My final thoughts are like the rest of the series this is a fascinating book that's clever in all the right ways. If you haven't read any Asimov before, this is a great series to start (I have every intention of moving onto the Empire series in the future though I may try Roger MacBride Allen's Caliban set in the Asimov universe after his Robot series first.)
+ Change of protagonist gives a fresh perspective.
+ Viewpoint on technology and it's effect on hummanity is facsinating.
An interesting and exciting novel, this was Asimov's last and it ties together two of his earlier series, the Robot series and the Galactic Empire/Foundation series.
I enjoy the manner in which he folds in ideas from Foundation series.
If you like Caves of Steel then I recommend you give these a look.