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The Naked Sun

by Isaac Asimov

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6,2151041,543 (3.92)117
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. On the beautiful Outer World planet of Solaria, a handful of human colonists lead a hermitlike existence, their every need attended to by their faithful robot servants. To this strange and provocative planet comes Detective Elijah Baley, sent from the streets of New York with his positronic partner, the robot R. Daneel Olivaw, to solve an incredible murder that has rocked Solaria to its foundations. The victim had been so reclusive that he appeared to his associates only through holographic projection. Yet someone had gotten close enough to bludgeon him to death while robots looked on. Now Baley and Olivaw are faced with two clear impossibilities: Either the Solarian was killed by one of his robots--unthinkable under the laws of Robotics--or he was killed by the woman who loved him so much that she never came into his presence!… (more)
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English (94)  Spanish (3)  Italian (3)  French (2)  Danish (1)  Slovak (1)  All languages (104)
Showing 1-5 of 94 (next | show all)
After murder takes place on remote space colony, on a planet where only handful of people are allowed to live by social standards, Elijah Baley gets again teamed with Daneel Olivaw to solve the mystery.

Again, crime investigation is just a background. Asimov's gives excellent portrait of two polar opposites of human society - crammed cities of Earth populated by people afraid of everything outside the domes, and also afraid of any change and of internal contact they try to handle with weird ignore-it-politely social rules; and space colony again based on fear, fear of intimacy and nature of humanity in general, so much afraid that entire society can be described as engineered to the extreme.

Both societies are based on science and logic and both are so unreasonable and incapable to ensure the future for their respective populations.

Cold logic can provide insights but it is not necessary reasonable - and reason says change is good if requested by proper reasons. If anything is done out of fear then is misdirected from the start.

Excellent story, highly recommended to SF fans. ( )
  Zare | Jan 23, 2024 |
I thought this was really good. I very much enjoyed the combination of world building, a murder mystery, and the sociological development of the human world described in this book. ( )
  zjakkelien | Jan 2, 2024 |
The Naked Sun is the second entry in Isaac Asimov’s Robot mystery series, preceded by The Caves of Steel. It was first published in 1957 after being serialized in Astounding Science Fiction in 1956. Like The Caves of Steel, this story is structured as a whodunit murder mystery though this one is set on the Spacer world of Solaria. Again, Elijah Bailey is reunited with his robot partner Daneel Olivaw to investigate the murder, thus time of a Solarian scientist. And this story is a true detective novel- with the main plot revolving around Bailey attempting to solve the case. But have no fear this is still sci-fi! Asimov includes issues of space exploration, population control, fertility, robots, and artificial intelligence.

As mentioned, Elijah Bailey is called to planet Solaria to investigate a murder. Solaria is incredibly different from earth. Its inhabitants (whose way of life is extremely different from life on Earth: there are about 20.000 humans on the planet) have a very rigid controlled birth rate and their infants are raised to prefer solitude, direct personal contact being their strongest taboo. In contrast with the low numbered human population, there are 200 millions robots, who serve and work for them, all specialized for their type of task.

What makes this novel interesting is the contrast of worlds Asimov has created. Asimov seems to have a ton of fun playing with cultural differences here between Earth (with its overcrowding, its attitudes towards robots, the way humans touch and interact) and Solaria (with its lack of humans who fear touch and abundance of robots) and he spends a significant amount of timing exploring these differences as they relate to the plot and it's murder mystery.

Bailey, when he arrives on Solaria, is confronted with an interesting dilemma: the people of Solaria don’t really even want contact with each other and don't like seeing each other in person. So how does one commit a murder and what would the motive behind such an act?

The answer may revolve around manipulating the Three Laws of Robotics:
First Law
A robot may not injure a human being or, through inaction, allow a human being to come to harm.
Second Law
A robot must obey the orders given it by human beings except where such orders would conflict with the First Law.
Third Law
A robot must protect its own existence as long as such protection does not conflict with the First or Second Laws.

Reread August 2020. ( )
  ryantlaferney87 | Dec 8, 2023 |
This is all stuff about the central mystery of the book: It recycles a trick from the Caves of Steel, in that it emphasises only one character could have done it, claims it's impossible for them to have done it, then at the end it's like oh actually they did it. It's kind of funny because I was basically expecting something like that to happen and the ending does mix it up a little but it's still a key part of it. ( )
  tombomp | Oct 31, 2023 |
2020 reread via audiobook narrated by William Dufris:
Good mystery but I am again of the opinion that the first book was better.
-------
2014 review:
I didn't think that this second book in the Robot series was quite as good as the first one ([b:The Caves of Steel|41811|The Caves of Steel (Robot #1)|Isaac Asimov|https://i.gr-assets.com/images/S/compressed.photo.goodreads.com/books/1335782224l/41811._SY75_.jpg|140376]) but it was an excellent contrast. In the first book, Elijiah Baley investigates the murder of a "Spacer" (someone who comes from another world that Earth colonized in the past) on Earth, where there are lots of people and only a few robots. In this book, Baley has been requested to go to Solaria (one of the Spacer planets) where there are few people and lots of robots.

Having experienced Solaria in the Foundation series, it was interesting to contrast it here. The Foundation series is set millenia in the future compared to this story so some aspects of the society shown in this were clear signposts to what would evolve. However, knowing the society did lessen some of the dramatic tension of the book. Perhaps that is one reason I thoought this was not quite as good as the previous one!

Asimov writes a good story, engrossing and fun, yet with social commentary to mull over once you finish. In this one, the adaptation of humans to differing social mores (in this case, specifically to be solitary vs. to be in a crowd) is explored and the ultimate consequences of these adaptations is hinted at. I found it fascinating that even the "normal" Earth attitude
is strange to us (although crowding is a not uncommon theme is futuristic sci fi). ( )
  leslie.98 | Jun 27, 2023 |
Showing 1-5 of 94 (next | show all)
Elijah must face is extreme agoraphobia, and Gladia must confront the Solarian fear of interpersonal contact. These Solarians represent what can possibly happen when dependence on robots is taken to extremes. Also, we get to see the developing relationship between Elijah and Daneel.
added by circeus | editThe Science Fiction Review (Nov 5, 2005)
 

» Add other authors (33 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Isaac Asimovprimary authorall editionscalculated
Beem, A.Translatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Bing, JonAfterwordsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Bringsværd, Tor ÅgeAfterwordsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Dufris, WilliamNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Emshiller, EdCover Artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Foss, ChrisCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Freas, KellyCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Groot, RuurdCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Haars, PeterCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Kezmarsky, PaulCover designersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Powers, RichardCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Puttkamer, Jesco vonTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Ray, RuthCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Richard, André-YvesTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Siudmak, WojtekCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Stoovelaar, FrankCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Whelan, MichaelCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Youll, StephenCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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To Noreen,
To Tony, and
to One Hundred Unusual Hours
To Noreen and Nick Falasca
for inviting me,
To Tony Boucher
for introducing me,
and to One Hundred Unusual Hours
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Stubbornly Elijah Baley fought panic.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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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. On the beautiful Outer World planet of Solaria, a handful of human colonists lead a hermitlike existence, their every need attended to by their faithful robot servants. To this strange and provocative planet comes Detective Elijah Baley, sent from the streets of New York with his positronic partner, the robot R. Daneel Olivaw, to solve an incredible murder that has rocked Solaria to its foundations. The victim had been so reclusive that he appeared to his associates only through holographic projection. Yet someone had gotten close enough to bludgeon him to death while robots looked on. Now Baley and Olivaw are faced with two clear impossibilities: Either the Solarian was killed by one of his robots--unthinkable under the laws of Robotics--or he was killed by the woman who loved him so much that she never came into his presence!

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