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!
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Sci-Fi Mystery at its Best!
Listening to The Caves of Steel was a delightful experience. The story takes place in a future New York City, after Man has colonized other worlds. The problems on earth include overpopulation, food shortages, and vast unemployment due to technology. The story was not too science-y and the police procedural aspects were interesting. I think the Fox t.v. show "Almost Human" takes many of the themes from this book regarding robot police officers.
The protagonist, Elijah, was my favorite. He was obviously torn between idolizing earth's simpler past and embracing a technological future. Having read other Asimov works...I would say that character development is not something seen in many of Asimov's other books. Here, though, we have a well-rounded character who struggles and grows as the story unfolds.
I thought Mr. Dufris did a good job of narration. His R. Daneel Olivaw was robotic, but not stereotypical. His other voices were just different enough to recognize characters without being too "out there".
Overall, I was very happy with this audiobook purchase.
- Elsie MacGregor
It is difficult to catch the wonder of a classic.
The audio version is almost as good as I remember from my first reading the original when a teenager.
The best of the story is the extrapolation from 1953 to what might be. Mostly with success, but some of the failures are even more interesting. Asimov has the trend but some details seem strange to us now, and lest we become complacent we should reflect that the future technology of a single decade will very likely make our own "newest thing" seem dated. Asimov did not get bogged down in the small details but focused on some big questions.
Too many to name, but all feature the uncertain boundary between biological and electronic ("positronic") intelligence (AI). If a machine can appear human, what is a human other than a biological machine? This is close to Alan Turing's problem. How do we humans put the spirit into the machine? Is it possible? Does R. Daneel have a spirit? What do we mean by "spirit"? These are hard and interesting questions.
No, it is an old favorite of mine, and I like to savor it bit by bit. I think there is much content here.
The performance of Jessie was unexpectedly good for a male narrator. Asimov's notion of artificial intelligence was brilliant for the time in which The Caves of Steel was written. We are still working on that hard problem, and may need many more creative ideas before we solve it! The (undeserved) hatred of the Spacers may be seen to have an unfortunately large variety of present day implications.
- David Arnett