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The Caves of Steel by Isaac Asimov
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5,60292766 (3.95)2 / 191
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"What I hold is not a neuronic whip, nor is it a tickler. It is a blaster and very deadly. I will use it and I will not aim over your heads. I will kill many of you before you seize me, perhaps most of you. I am serious. I look serious, do I not?"

The wonderful thing about Isaac Asimov is that he's just so readable. A person can pick up one of his books and just dive in with little or no preparation, and yet Asimov is still able to open up different worlds and distant futures. Asimov also has a way of making one think about the issues that society will face in the future. These are just a few reasons why Asimov is rightly regarded as one of the real giants of science fiction.

The Caves of Steel is a mystery story. It is also a science fiction story. The title refers to how populated Earth has become in the distant future. There are so many people that our planet has become one gigantic city. Every piece of ground is covered with buildings that not only rise high into the air but also descend deep under the surface--like caves of steel. In this future, a murder has been committed, and police detective Elijah Bailey has been given the task of finding the killer. He is also forced to take on a new partner: Robot Daneel Olivaw.

For me, the pleasure of reading The Caves of Steel comes more from watching Bailey and Olivaw interact than from trying to solve the mystery. The mystery story is fairly interesting, but what I enjoyed more was trying to imagine what it would be like to live in a world populated by robots. Asimov does a very good job of showing the kinds of issues humanity would have to deal with if we ever got to the point of making intelligent, humanoid robots.

The Caves of Steel is an easy-to-read, entertaining book that asks important questions about the future. It's a great introduction to science fiction, especially for those who don't think that they like science fiction, and it's also great for mystery fans looking for something different. ( )
2 vote nsenger | Nov 12, 2017 |
This combination of science fiction and mystery has long been a favorite of mine. I love Elijah stumbling his way to the truth -- when I read it, I imagined Columbo (and it remains my image of Elijah to this day). I liked Daneel, his robotic partner, who is so patient and understanding. Through the partnership's interactions, I learned more about both cultures. It didn't hurt that the mystery was a good one, too.

If you like science fiction and mysteries and haven't read this, then what are you waiting for? Get this now! If it has been a while since you read it, it holds up fairly well. And I'm off to read The Naked Sun. ( )
  Jean_Sexton | Nov 9, 2017 |
A murder has happened in Spacetown and Earther Policeman Elijah ("Lije") Baley is given a robot for a partner when he begins his investigation. The Spacers want Earthers to be more like them, accepting robots into society, but Earthers want to protect their jobs from automation (sound familiar?) and keep from being "declassified" (basically put on welfare, but probably worse). Lije is rather suspicious of robots at the beginning of the book, but his partnership with R. Daneel changes his mind. The murder investigation is almost secondary to this character study. This is a very interesting world Asimov has built and I am glad to know there is much more to read about it. ( )
  EmScape | Oct 11, 2017 |
“The Caves of Steel” is a 1954 novel by Isaac Asimov, the first of his three robot/detective novels. In it, he pairs an Earthman with a robot as fellow investigators in a murder investigation. But what I found fascinating about this book (after re-reading it some 40 years after first reading it as a kid) is that Asimov touches on a host of other social and political issues of the day- the early 1950’s. You don’t have to look to hard to find that the book, like Orwell’s 1984 and Huxley’s Brave New World, shows us a bit what a socialist Earth would have looked like. Here, everyone is crowded together in cities under giant domes. There is very little privacy and even private bathrooms are often unknown. Most people eat in large communal dining halls and rarely have permission to eat in their own homes. Many things are not available for purchase and must be obtained with permission and with special permits. Everyone seems to be assigned housing and jobs according to some central plan and bureaucracy. Another thing that stood out in re-reading this work is that the attitude of Earthlings to robots and spacers seems rooted in prejudices and there are some parallels with civil rights which was a heated issue in the 1950’s.

Interestingly, Asimov’s social commentary is not a major plotline and is almost missed with a focus on the murder mystery and the strange world of the future that he has created. Above all, this science fiction-robotic-murder-mystery is eminently readable and a quite an enjoyable read. Eljiah Bailey and R Daneel Olivaw have a captivating relationship. In all, Asimov continued this pair in The Naked Sun (1955) and then many years later in the Robots of Dawn (1983) and Robots and Empire, which featured Olivaw, not Bailey. ( )
  DaveWilde | Sep 22, 2017 |
This is my second Asimov read (I, Robot was the first) and it again surprises me how accessible his stories actually are. My initial impression was that he was hard sci-fi that would involve A LOT of science, given his background as a professor of Biochemistry, that would be difficult to understand, or boring. Far from it! What I have read so far is full of personality and addresses questions that we would have about the interaction between humans and robots.

Caves of Steel is a murder mystery, where Elijah Baley, policeman, must work with a robotic partner in order to solve it. He has serious misgivings about working with a robot, like many people in this future time were privacy is at a premium and robots are viewed with skepticism, fear and dislike. Lije must confront his own feelings to work with R. Daneel Olivaw, and soon finds himself reassuring others that Daneel is okay, he's safe, don't be afraid.

During discussion with a robotics expert that Lije is trying to gain info from for the investigation, he asks one of the questions I've had before, why make robots in human form? Why not make them more functional to their purpose, surely it doesn't require them to look like humans, this being one of the features that causes us to feel uncomfortable around them. I won't answer that question here, but let you find it by reading the book, which I recommend!

Asimov is good at presenting these questions of ideology regarding robots and artificial intelligence succinctly, cutting to the heart of the issue presented. His robot characters are full of personality, within their laws, and there is plenty of action and food for thought. There is no doubt in my mind why he is considered to have been one of the giants in Sci-Fi, a pioneer and pillar of robot fiction. ( )
  shaunesay | Jun 21, 2017 |
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Isaac Asimovprimary authorall editionscalculated
Dufris, WilliamNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Foss, ChrisCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Youll, SteveCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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To my wife GERTRUDE and My Son DAVID
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Lije Baley had just reached his desk when he became aware of R. Sammy watching him expectantly.
Lije Baley acababa de sentarse a su mesa cuando se dio cuenta de que R. Sammy lo estaba mirando con expectación.
But now, Earthmen are all so coddled, so enwombed in their imprisoning caves of steel, that they are caught forever. (p. 97)
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0553293400, Mass Market Paperback)

A millennium into the future two advancements have altered the course of human history:  the colonization of the galaxy and the creation of the positronic brain.  Isaac Asimov's Robot novels chronicle the unlikely partnership between a New York City detective and a humanoid robot who must learn to work together.  Like most people left behind on an over-populated Earth, New York City police detective Elijah Baley had little love for either the arrogant Spacers or their robotic companions.  But when a prominent Spacer is murdered under mysterious circumstances, Baley is ordered to the Outer Worlds to help track down the killer.  The relationship between Life and his Spacer superiors, who distrusted all Earthmen, was strained from the start.  Then he learned that they had assigned him a partner:  R. Daneel Olivaw.  Worst of all was that the "R" stood for robot--and his positronic partner was made in the image and likeness of the murder victim!

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:02:24 -0400)

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Fearing a violent confrontation between Earthmen and Spacers, Detective Baley and his new partner, a robot made in the image of the victim, investigate the murder of a Spacetown scientist.

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