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Chimera (Isaac Asimov's Robot Mystery) [Paperback]

Mark W. Tiedemann


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Book Description

17 April 2001 Isaac Asimov's Robot Mystery
Coren Lanra is the head of security for Dynan Manuel Industries. A former Special Service sgent he's never cared for bureaucracy, piracy or deception. And he hates mysteries. Lanra's troubles begin with the death of Nyron Looms, daughter of Dynan president Rega Looms, during an ill-fated mission to smuggle illegal immigrants from Earth to the colony Nova Levis- all were apparently murdered, but why? The only clue might be contained within the positronic brain of a robot that had accompanied the victims, but it has been deactivated and Lanra is denied access to its memories. To make matters even worse, he is soon confronted with a puzzling complication: a possible connection between the murders and twenty babies who were snatched from an orphanage over two decades ago. With the help of roboticist Derec Avery and Auroran ambassador Ariel Burgess- whom the security chief had aided in exposing an anti-robot conspiracy on Earth a year before- Lanra searches for an answers to a twenty-five year-old mystery...and for the identity of a killer, before more lives are lost.


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"The sequel to the bestseller, Asimov's Mirage."

About the Author

Mark W. Tiedemann is the bestselling author of the Isaac Asimov Robot Mystery Mirage, also published by ibooks.

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Coren Lanra watched from behind a grime-encrusted refuse bin in the recess of an old, unused loading dock. Read the first page
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Amazon.com: 3.1 out of 5 stars  7 reviews
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Almost As Good As The Originals 1 May 2001
By Chris MB - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
Tiedemann recently resurfaced with this, his second attempt at new robot mysteries. And again, he's done an impressive job.
Asimov's original robot novels were generally straightforward. While not predictable by any stretch of the imagination, the mysteries themselves were fairly simple. Tiedemann has taken Asimov's "universe" but made the mysteries more complex and expanded the scope of the setting to fully explain political situations, alliances, development of society in settler and spacer worlds...many of the things Asimov himself never fully developed. This all amounts to a fairly complex mystery novel set in Asimov's vision of the future.
The novel is not without problems. One criticism I had of Tiedemann's first novel still holds true - two of the main characters have an extensive past together yet Tiedemann makes no mention of this fact. Some of the ideas in Chimera also come across as a bit far-fetched in the context of the setting that Asimov established.
All-in-all, Chimera is an entertaining read. If you're a fan of Asimov's original robot novels, its definitely worth picking up. If you've not had exposure to the originals, however, start with them.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Updated Robots, Realistic Characters 31 Jan 2003
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
Sometimes sticking too close to the way something was originally done is a good way to damage a new piece of work. Tiedemann doesn't seem to make that mistake in Chimera. Instead, as in Mirage, he updates the basic material, bringing it more in line with contemporary information about nanotech and AI. He takes what Asimov did and makes it his own.
More than that, though, he's done a thoroughly excellent job of creating fully-fleshed, believable characters, real people with real problems. He places them in a fast-paced thriller plot that flows logically and answers questions both about the action of the story and the larger issues nesting within the Robot universe Asimov created. Rather than do a straight imitation of Asimov's style, he has written his own kind of narrative, matched to the content of his storyline.
The creation of Bogard in Mirage was a masterful twist on the 3-Law scenario. Tiedemann continues to play with the limitations and implicit possibilities in Asimov's original structure in this book.
The Caves of Steel in Chimera are both creepier and more plausible, the psychologies of the various habitues matched against each other in elegant dialogues and plot twists (as in one character's surprise visit to a Spacer party in the open air!). Tiedemann displays a deft hand at depicting the inner realm of the human condition, a trait he displays much more fully in his own original novels.
More! More!
4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars No resemblance to Asimov 8 Oct 2009
By Amazon Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
I wasn't sure whether I was going to give this book 2 stars or 3. It is really somewhere in between. I thought I'd give it a 3 because it held my interest, enough so I finished it in a few days. Missing orphans, murdered stowaways, creepy cyborgs, greedy corpocrats.... it's pretty suspenseful.

On the other hand, this book has a LOT of problems. Let's start with the fact that the only resemblance to Asimov in these books is the existence of Earth, Spacers, Settlers and positronic robots. However, Tiedemann's Spacers have absolutely NO resemblance to Asimov's. Put a Solarian in a room full of Earthers and he's not a real Solarian. Asimov's universe has no room for a man born on Earth to Solarian parents. If you have read Asimov, you'll see what I mean. Oh, and as for the time line... this novel takes place sometime in the future after Elijah Baley. Um, sorry about the spoiler, for those who haven't read Asimov's Robots and Empire...but didn't Earth start to have a serious "radioactivity" problem at this time? This fact isn't mentioned at all in Tiedemann's novels.

Another problem is pacing. This author just doesn't write the scenes I want to see. I want to know what is happening in the minds of Settlers, baleys (illegal settlers) and Earthers. If Aurorans are suddenly friendly with Earth, I want to know how that happened. I want a sense of history, psychology, evolving culture and humanity... all the things Asimov dealt with. I definitely don't want to read pages of rundowns about which corporate head invested in which companies and who bought out whom. This isn't a science fiction novel, it's a script for a banal police procedural on Fox TV!

Then there is the problem of characterization. As in "None". Coren Lanra is the main character and he is little more than a name on which to hang the word "undercover cop". Derec and Ariel also appear in this novel, and they too are as characterless as the robots they love. After reading all the Robot City novels, I've had about enough of Derec and Ariel. What's with endlessly recycling characters? Can't anyone create new ones?

Finally, I suspected that this book would not have a satisfying ending, and indeed it did not. Loose ends were left untied, and I still don't really know why those baleys were murdered. A bad ending is a pretty serious sin. OK I just bumped it back to a "2 stars". (If you want to read a series that is worthy of the name "Asimov" on the cover...try Roger McBride Allen's 'Caliban' series.)
3.0 out of 5 stars A Good Plot, but Overly Complex 30 July 2012
By Steve King - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Coren Landra is a private security boss investigating baley-running (Earth citizens illegally attempting to emigrate to Spacer worlds). When he discovers that a group of baleys he's been tracking has wound up dead in transit from Earth to Kopurnik space station, things become personal, as one of the victims, Nyom Looms, is his ex-girlfriend, and the daughter of his boss, an anti-spacer industry leader running for political office. The only evidence Coren initially has to work with is a robot in positronic lock with blood on it's hands. His investigations will take him on a twisting path as he discovers politicians maneuvering behind the scenes, greed and depravity withing the leadership of massive corporations and even a hint that a spacer world may be trying to start a war. Chimera also introduces us to cyborgs - not wholly human or robot.

Let me say for the record that Chimera has an interesting plot and fits relatively well into the universe created by Isaac Asimov. It introduces new concepts (Cyborgs) and continues to give us a look at the relationship between Earth and the Spacer worlds, especially the links between Earth, Aurora and Solaria. Sometimes relationships and characters from the Spacer worlds strain the boundaries created by Asimov, but otherwise Tiedemann keeps things relatively close to what Asimov created, while adding some freshness and depth to the universe. Several of the point-of-view characters return in Chimera, including Auroran ambassador Arile Burgess and Derec, the positronics specialist, and I found them, along with Coren Landra, to be interesting, compelling protagonists.

Where Chimera fails is, in part, what made Asimov so successful. While Asimov needed only a handful of characters and organizations to write a deep, complex mystery, Tiedmann goes the opposite route, giving us dozens of persons, organizations (both political and industrial) and links between them. I don't read a lot of mystery books in general, but I don't know how anyone who's not writing down all these links and characters in a notebook possibly keeps track! There are literally points in the novel where we're given page long lists of characters and their stock and investment dealings linking them to other individuals and companies, when they divested of those stocks, who bought them afterwards and on and on to the point where I had no hope of following the twists and turns and just found myself waiting for the end and for someone to - please - give me a wrap up. Which sort of happens, kinda.

In comparing Asimov to Tiedemann, I find myself thinking that when I read an Asimov book, I don't want it to end...I want more! When I'm reading a Tiedemann novel set in Asimov's world, I can't wait for the end, just to have someone summarize what the heck I just read.
1.0 out of 5 stars Not Asimov- Still Looking for an Heir 24 Dec 2009
By medi - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
I am a life-long fan of Asimov's work, especially his "Robot Series". So how could someone like myself resist a title promising "The New Isaac Asimov's Robot Mystery?" Unfortunately I will still be looking for the "heir to Asimov" because Tiedemann does not fit the role. I know that it is unrealistic to expect any author to write in same story book style as Asimov. What characterized Asimov was his stories written with such absolute clarity, logic, wit and always ending with unanticipated twist in the plot.

Unfortunately with "Chimera" there is none of this. Perhaps because this story is based on previous works Tiedemann feels that character development is not a priority but what the reader is left with is a multitude of one dimensional figures. Furthermore, the storyline is difficult to follow because of the "hap-hazard" style of writing where often the reader is suddenly transported into a different vignette where the characters are already in mid- conversation (somewhat of an exaggeration).

In the end I suppose there can only be one "Grandmaster of SF" but it would be nice to have an heir that comes close... still looking.
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