Top critical review
Not bad idea, too many tricks
on 19 March 2017
Isaac Asimov made a great job with his "first period books" (the Foundation Triolgy, the Gods Themselves, Lucky Starr...) then he went on devising his Robots series that deepened the concepts developed in I Robot. In my opinion this proved to be a dead end. It seems that Asimov failed to grasp what informatics or artificial intelligence were about. Instead, he stayed anchored in what by 60's standards was an outdated mentality. Even when this novel ackonwledges the possibility of Artificial Intelligence, his robots are not that: they are clumsy machines that, driven by the Three Laws are somewhat better than computers on legs, but not alternate humans. That is what this novel is about.
Elijah Baley, an Earth policeman, is called to Dawn (the capital planet of Spatian federation, that hates and despises Earth) to solve the supposed killing of a humanoid robot.
There he will work with his old colleage robot Daneel Olivaw, some other robots and Gladia, the female main character in "The naked sun". The novel serves the author to explore the interaction between men and humanoid robots, of different sexual cultures and roles, the possiblities for space exploration... And also to make a prequel bridge to join his Foundation Trilogy and his Robotics series.
However, the experiment fails and he writes a dense novel, where lots of unfair tricks are used to make the plot. Robots are superior and then not, supositions, inferences, etc. are made to help the plot develop, but without further proof in the narrative. Asimov critiziced this in his police novels. Yet he betrayes the reader in the same way.
It is surprising that Asimov elaborates about sexual mores and the possibilities opened by humanoid robots, of societies where sex is no more than a coreograpy or where human contact is so scarce that even sex is better avoided...
All this could make a great novel, but too much writing comes in between, too many assumptions, and in the end I was bored with so much talk than in the end was not useful for the tale. 5000 words less would have been better.
This is a must for you if you are an Asimov fan, or if you want some harmless amusement near the swimming pool durign the summer, but else Asimov has much better books.