Humanity, Robots, Empire and Asimov

Robots and Empire (Robot #4)Robots and Empire by Isaac Asimov

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This was a hard book to find here in Madrid. Neither of my two (American) library systems had it as an eBook or mp3 audio book. That was odd when the Elijah Bailey (Robot) series and Foundation series are easy to find.

This is an enormously ambitious book. It is much more than meets the eye. In this book the author is trying to marry two distinct and quite different universes into one. For people who know the universe of Caves of Steel and Foundation this is the uniter, this is the book that explains how R. Daneel Olivaw can appear in certain of the Foundation books and the pre-history of psychohistory.

But Asimov’s other concerns are quite interesting and relevant and even prescient, one might say. What happens with the Spacers who are all very comfortable and really have no need for self-betterment at this point? Nor do they have any need for fanciful things like procreation. The robot economy will do everything they need for them. Well, it’s not quite Brave New World, but it’s getting there. (The big difference is that Spacers are somehow immune to vices like drugs and alcohol. How can they resist these temptations? Asimov has no answer because his philosophical anthropology is in the end deficient.)

And the Settlers who all hail from earth: they remain stuck in a sort of nativism in relation to earth. Ergo, earth must be depopulated, but not too fast. (Again, this explains why no one knew were earth was in a much later book.) Is this Asimov’s humanistic effort of people to get past nationalism? If it is it doesn’t sound preachy or condescending as do so many authors when they try to address contemporary political issues. (Yes, Hunger Games and Divergent, I’m grocking you. Oh, and of course the infamous book The Martian by Heinlein.)

As to characters, D.G. and Gladia are amusing, but Daneel and Giskard are by far the most interesting characters.

If you really want to appreciate this book read the Elijah Bailey (Robot) books, then all the Foundation books, and then, finally, this one.

View all my reviews

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Author: duanemiller

I was born in Montana and grew up in Colorado and Puebla (in Mexico). I completed a BA in philosophy at the University of Texas at San Antonio (UTSA) and then an MA in theology at St Mary's University (also in San Antonio). Later life took me to Jordan where my wife and I studied Arabic, to Israel where I helped found a seminary, and to Scotland for doctoral work, among other places. I live in Madrid now where I teach and minister. I'm highly interested in the interactions of Islam, Christianity and secularism in modern contexts. My main areas of research for my PhD in divinity were religious conversion from Islam to Christianity, contextual theology, and the shari'a's treatment of apostates. I've also published research on global Anglicanism and the history of Anglican mission in the Ottoman Empire. I've had the pleasure of teaching in many places over the years: from Costa Rica to Turkey, and Kenya to Tunisia. I am associate professor at the Protestant Faculty of Theology at Madrid (UEBE) and priest at the Anglican Cathedral of the Redeemer in Madrid, Spain. Visit my blog (duanemiller.wordpress.com) or academia.edu page for more information.

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