Read The Caves of Steel by Isaac Asimov Online


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 YoA 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!...

Title : The Caves of Steel
Author :
Rating :
ISBN : 9780586008355
Format Type : Mass Market Paperback
Number of Pages : 206 Pages
Status : Available For Download
Last checked : 21 Minutes ago!

The Caves of Steel Reviews

  • mark monday
    2019-01-31 13:22

    Robot 1:>Speculation On Future Of Human Life >Human Life In Mega-Cities >Ants In Anthill >Living In Caves Of Steel >Reduction Of Space Means Reduction Of Individual Liberties, Reduction Of Privacy, Reduction Of Ability To Do Typical Human Things Like Go Outside Or Eat Alone >Reduction Of Human Mind To Primitive Traits Including Xenophobia And Group-Think >Humans Devolve While Robots Evolve > Predictable Trajectory For Humans And Robots Alike >Stupid Humans >LMAORobot 2:Author. is. careful. and. thoughtful. in. what. he. is. trying. to. accomplish. [] Prose. is. not. dry. [] Story. and. themes. are. easy. for. humans. to. understand. [] Author. uses. classic. detective. and. murder mystery. genre. conventions. as. vehicles. for. science. fiction. concepts. [] Author. is. somewhat. unsuccessful. in. use. of. these. genre. conventions. because. identity. of. killer. is. predictable. and. detective. protagonist. is. flat. straw man. and. also. very. tiring. for. this. Robot. to. read. about. [] Author. uses. science fiction. genre. to. explore. ideas. of. what. it. is. to. be. a. person. [] Ideas. are. very. interesting. [] Unlike. the. very. uninteresting. human. protagonist.Robot 3:no no no my robot brothers you are very judgmental! this this this ASIMOV is only human after all! book book book is fun and amusing! enjoy enjoy enjoy the dichotomy that ASIMOV presents between brutish, short-sighted Earth humans and aristocratic, insular Spacer humans! both both both so fallible ha ha ha! enjoy enjoy enjoy the opposite reactions displayed in all situations by the emotional, speciesist human protagonist and the logical, decent robot protagonist! this this this ASIMOV is a strong supporter of robotkind and is simply speaking in a way that narrow-minded humans can understand! all all all humans think in binary terms like those presented in Caves of Steel! you you you should appreciate this novel if only as a nostalgic relic of our own simplistic binary pasts! i i i recommend this book because you will be able to read it in .010101 seconds!

  • Manny
    2019-01-20 15:29

    Isaac Asimov had opinions on everything, and he'd often find ways to insert them into his books. I was reminded of Caves a couple of months ago when I read Margaret Atwood's The Robber Bride, which is in many ways an updated version of the Jezebel story from I Kings. Atwood gives Jezebel a rough ride. Here's what Asimov has to say:The Jezebel of the Bible was a faithful wife and a good one according to her lights. She had no lovers that we know of. After Jezebel's husband, King Ahab, died, her son, Jehoram, became king. One of the captains of his army, Jehu, rebelled against him and assassinated him. Jehu then rode to Jezreel where the old queen-mother, Jezebel, was residing. Jezebel heard of his coming and knew that he could only mean to kill him. In her pride and courage, she painted her face and dressed herself in her best clothes so that she could meet him as a haughty and defiant queen. He had her thrown from the window of her palace and killed, but she made a good end, according to my lights.I'd forgotten how passionate he was about defending her. One of the many unexpected things about Asimov was that he was quite a feminist, but somehow without ever acquiring that label. The Susan Calvin stories are an even clearer example.

  • Ahmad Sharabiani
    2019-01-29 12:15

    The Caves of Steel (Robot #1), Isaac AsimovThe Caves of Steel is a novel by American writer Isaac Asimov. It is essentially a detective story, and illustrates an idea Asimov advocated, that science fiction can be applied to any literary genre, rather than just a limited genre. In this novel, Isaac Asimov introduces Elijah Baley and R. Daneel Olivaw, later his favorite protagonists. They live roughly three millennia in Earth's future, a time when hyperspace travel has been discovered, and a few worlds relatively close to Earth have been colonized—fifty planets known as the "Spacer worlds". The Spacer worlds are rich, have low population density (average population of one hundred million each), and use robot labor heavily. Meanwhile, Earth is overpopulated (with a total population of eight billion, and strict rules against robots have been passed. The "caves of steel" are vast city complexes covered by huge metal domes, capable of supporting tens of millions. In The Caves of Steel and its sequels (the first of which is The Naked Sun), Asimov paints a grim situation of an Earth dealing with an extremely large population, and of luxury-seeking Spacers who limit birth to permit great wealth and privacy. Asimov, who described himself as a claustrophile, mentioned that a reader asked him how he could have imagined such an existence with no sunlight, and related that it had not struck him until then that living perpetually indoors might be construed as unpleasant. ...تاریخ نخستین خوانش: ماه سپتامبر سال 1991 میلادیعنوان: غارهای پولادی؛ آیزاک آسیموف؛ مترجم: شهریار بهترین؛ تهران، آواره، 1363، در 398 ص؛ داستانهای علمی تخیلی؛ قرن 20 مماجراهای داستان در آینده‌ ای بسیار دور رخ می‌دهد. در آینده‌ ای خیالی، ساختار جامعه‌ ی زمین، فرهنگ و شرایط زندگی مردم بسیار متفاوت از زندگی امروزین است. در دنیای آینده‌ ی غارهای پولادی، مردمان زمین در شهرهای سرپوشیده‌ ای زندگی می‌کنند، که آن را غارهای پولادی می‌نامند. مدت‌ها پیش از زمان داستان، عده‌ ای از مردمان زمین به فضا مهاجرت کرده، و پنجاه کره را در فضا مسکونی کرده‌ اند. مهاجران با دستکاری ژنتیکی خود، و دستکاری محیط زیستشان، طول عمر خود را نیز افزایش داده و در واقع تبدیل به ابر انسان‌هایی شده‌ اند، که نیاکان خود در زمین را تحقیر می‌کنند. شخصیتهای محوری داستان، کاراگاهی به نام الیاس بیلی و روباتی به نام آر-دنیل الیواو هستند. زمین در سالی نامعلوم، حول و حوش 2600 میلادی تا 3000 میلادی است که از سوی نویسنده به درستی مشخص نمیشود. تعداد انسانهای زمینی به مرز هشت میلیارد نفر رسیده و به همین دلیل با کمبود شدید منابع مواجه است. پس کشاورزی جدیدی که حاصل شیمی آلی پیشرفته آن روزگاران است ابداع شده، و غذای همه ی آدمیان را از مخمرها درست میکنند. کشوری با مرزبندی کنونی، ظاهرا وجود ندارد، و تنها شهرهای خودمختار وجود دارند، که همه جای زمین یکسان اداره میشوند. انسانها داخل ابرشهرهای سرپوشیده و با مقررات خاصی زندگی میکنند. خانه های آنها، آشپزخانه و حمام و دستشویی ندارد، و همه در غذاخوریهای عمومی غذا میخورند و در پرسونالهای عمومی حمام میکنند و به دستشوییهای عمومی میروند. پول جایگاهی ندارد، و هر کس بنا به کاری که انجام میدهد، دارای جایگاهی است. پس اگر بهتر کار کنند و در کارشان پیشرفت کنند، میتوانند امتیازهایی بدست آورند، تا بدانجا که برخی در خانه، اجازه ی تناول وعده هایی از غذای خویش را دارند و اجازه ی داشتن آشپزخانه کوچکی و در موارد دیگر، حتی دستشویی دارند. بالاتریها و سرشناسترها، میتوانند همسران و دخترانشان را به مکانهایی که در طبقات بالا قرار دارد، بفرستند تا حمام آفتاب بگیرند، و البته این مکانها هم با شیشه های ضخیم از محیط خارج جدا شده است. انسان با زمین بیگانه شده، و هوای آزاد را مسموم میداند. طلوع و غروب آفتاب را نمیشناسد و باران را ندیده است. در غارهای خودساخته و بسته زندگی میکند و ارتباطی با محیط بیرون ندارد. انسان زمینی در گذشته های دور، پنجاه مستعمره ی دیگر در فضا ایجاد کرده، که اکنون مستعمره نشینان از لحاظ فناوری مانند اروپای امروز در مقابل آسیا هستند. آنها کم جمعیت و ثروتمند هستند، و عمر طولانی دارند. چند سالی هست که (بنا به دلایلی که با خواندن داستان مشخص میشود) به زمین آمده اند، اما از زمینیان دوری میکنند و در کنار شهر آنها، شهرکی برپا کرده اند که روباز است و آفتاب به آن میتابد و باران میبارد. در داستان، روباتها کم کم به زندگی زمینیان وارد میشوند و به جای انسان قرار میگیرند. اهالی زمین این را کار فضاییها میدانند و شورشهایی را علیه آنها برپا کرده اند. داستان از جایی آغاز میشود که در شهرک فضاییها قتلی رخ داده، و کاراگاه الیاس بیلی مامور بررسی پرونده میشود. از سوی فضاییها هم روباتی کاملا شبیه انسان به نام آر-دنیل الیواو به عنوان همکار کاراگاه گسیل میشود. ... ا. شربیانی

  • Sr3yas
    2019-02-01 12:11

    ❝ People sometimes mistake their own shortcomings for those of society and want to fix the Cities because they don’t know how to fix themselves.❞ Issac Asimov's expansion of Robot short stories gave birth to this unique novel which balances itself between hard science fiction, philosophy, religious undertones and a classic murder mystery. In this novel, we are introduced to a highly advanced and a very dystopian New York city which has enwombed the ever growing population of humanity with a disturbing efficiency. The story revolves around officer Elijah Baley and his unorthodox partner, R. Daneel Olivaw's investigation into the murder of a spacer. Unorthodox? Well, the R doesn't stand for Roy or Rambo.... It stands for Robot!This, my dear friends, is a unique achievement in the history of science fiction. The city of future described in this tale excruciatingly reminded me of an over-sized factory with innumerable mechanical moving parts run by precise algorithms. *shudders* But unlike other science fictions of the same sub-genre, humans haven't yet reduced into an emotionless species here. They are still flawed, emotive and some are even aghast and distasteful with all the advancements.The characters introduced are well written and developed, especially Baley, Daneel and Commissioner Julius Enderby. The atypical partnership between Baley & Daneel and their interactions with each other are undoubtedly one of the high points of the story.As a science fiction, the story is spectacular. But.....yes, there is a but. As a detective story, Caves of steel stumbles a bit. The whole investigative procedure of Baley can be summed up with one of the character's quote: ❝ I can’t stop you from thinking, Officer, but thinking isn’t evidence. Maybe you know that.❞To elaborate, I present to you an abridged version of first 50% of the investigation.(view spoiler)[Commissioner: Alright, Elijah. It is important that you handle this case very diplomatically because of our relationship with spacers.Elijah Baley: Sure, Commissioner. I am your man.[Later in front of spacers]Elijah Baley: THE GUY ISN'T DEAD. SPACERS ARE DECEIVING US TO CONQUER EARTH. THIS ROBOT ISN'T A ROBOT. HE IS A HUMAN. [Confused Spacers scratching head]Commissioner: umm... Do you have any proof?Elijah Baley: Well, not really. The robot looks very human, doesn't he?Daneel: Well, I can quite assure you that I am a robot [peels his skin]Elijah Baley: oh, crap.(hide spoiler)]Nevertheless, I loved this book's ideas, its characters, and the classy climax.

  • Stephen
    2019-02-13 07:28

    4.5 to 5.0 stars. Just re-read this after having first read it many years ago. Asimov was a superb story-teller and his books are almost always fun, easy to read and full of big ideas. This one is no exception. Set on Earth many millennia before the time when the The Foundation Trilogy takes place, it is a time when humans have been divided into two main groups, the Earthmen and the Spacers. The first are those 8 Billion souls on Earth living in massively croweded "mega cities" (the Caves of Steel) where food and other goods are rationed due to limited supply. In order to allow necessary production efficiencies, Robots are used but are alomost universally hated by Earthmen as they are seen as taking away jobs from real people. The second group, the Spacers, are the decendants of "Earth" first colonists who years before left the Earth to colonize the 50 "Outerworlds." In contrast to the Earth, the Outerworlds have very low populations and live a life of luxury, in part do their embrace of Robots as useful tools to help make life easier. They are also incredibly long-lived due to their scientific advancements. There is a lot of animosity and hate between the two groups which is pivotal part of the story. The story itself is a murder mystery involving a murdered Spacer. An Earth cop, Elijah Bailey, is partnered with a Spacer Robot (the soon to be famous R. Daneel Olivaw) to solve the crime. The real charm of the story is the description of life on Earth, the contrast between that life and that of the Spacers and the Earthmen and the explorations of the various prejudices among the groups. An excellent read and a great introduction to the Robot novels of Asimov. Nominee: Hugo (Retro) Award for Best Science Fiction Novel (1953)

  • Lyn
    2019-01-23 14:06

    Donald, Hillary, Gary and Jill are drinking wine, playing Twister, listening to Coltrane and discussing Isaac Asimov’s 1954 novel Caves of Steel.Hillary: One of my favorite Asimov stories is the eulogy Vonnegut said for him, as the mourners are gathered he said, “Well, he’s in heaven now.”Donald: Hilarious Hillary, I rolled a blue left foot, so let me just slide this way. Funny that you mention Heaven as Asimov used much of this futuristic story as a way to discuss some Biblical issues.Jill: Yellow right hand! Uggh! ‘Scuse me Gary, also this could be seen as a repudiation of the Bible and of organized religion as a whole as Asimov has the Spacers clearly a better option than the backwards earthlings and he even more backwards Medeivalists. He also describes over population and stringent measures to survive, rater than more obvious and successful methods utilized by the Spacers.Gary: Asimov had clearly read the Bible, he had several informed sections about the Jezebel story. Really I thought that the best part of this book was Asimov’s excellent world building, where people lived in huge mega cities and there is a whole separate space colony culture and then OF COURSE the robots; the laws of robots was wildly influential on later writers and even other media.Jill: Absolutely! The murder mystery is kind of secondary to Asimov path finding for later writers like Philip K. Dick and Robert Silverberg and really a host of other writersDonald: Not much action, this is a lot of Asimov describing his futuristic world. Green left hand, there’s no way I can reach that.[Coltrane’s Afro Blue serenades Donald as he stretches for green and falls, crushing Hillary and Jill]Gary: Hey! I win! And Asimov was a winner with this archetypal sci-fi gem.

  • Megan Baxter
    2019-01-28 12:10

    I thought I'd read this before. I really thought I had. But maybe I just saw it on my Mom's headboard when I was little, with other Asimovs, and thought I'd read it. Because it rang not a bell at all.Except that I knew within the first 30 pages who the murderer was. So either I had read it and blocked out everything but that, or Asimov didn't construct his mystery particularly well in this case. I think it's the latter. It's a matter of a few extraneous details at a moment that felt far too obviously one chosen to weave in details that would be important later. Note: The rest of this review has been withdrawn due to the recent changes in Goodreads policy and enforcement. You can read why I came to this decision here.In the meantime, you can read the entire review at Smorgasbook

  • Christy
    2019-01-23 14:29

    I enjoyed Isaac Asimov's The Caves of Steel so much more than I did his Foundation. This is essentially a detective story set in a future world of megacities, space exploration, and human/robot interaction. The chief tension in this future society is that of overpopulation. There are too many people and their numbers are constantly growing; soon they will pass the point of sustainability on Earth. The book explores a couple of possible solutions to this problem. One is a return to the soil, a simplification of society and return to "medieval" ways of life. The other is further space colonization, sending humans out with robots to live together on new worlds. Asimov's attention to the tensions between humans and robots is interesting because it raises questions about what makes us truly human and separates us from machines. It also mirrors broader concerns about Otherness in the form of minorities, immigrants, and divisions of social class. Humans are suspicious of robots and harbor resentment toward them for putting them out of jobs and this resentment is treated fairly sympathetically throughout the novel, even as one of the central characters, R. Daneel Olivaw, a robot, is also treated sympathetically. Asimov presents a solution that is remarkably progressive, arguing for a future in which humans and robots can live and work together. He calls it C/Fe: "Carbon is the basis of human life and iron of robot life. It becomes easy to speak of C/Fe when you wish express a culture that combines the best of the two on an equal but parallel basis" (48). "Equal but parallel" sounds almost like the "separate but equal" racial policy of the early and mid-20th century, but Daneel's further explanation distinguishes between the two. He says, "[C/Fe] symbolizes neither one nor the other, but a mixture of the two, without priority" (48). Whether read in terms of a human/machine future or in terms of contemporary politics and Otherness, this is a promising and hopeful vision of future cooperation.In general, this is an interesting and entertaining novel, which, although it does fall prey to some stereotypical devices of detective fiction (e.g., explaining everything away in the last few pages in long speeches), its only real weakness to my mind is Asimov's overreliance on one particular exclamation. I swear, Lije Bailey, the protagonist, says "Jehoshaphat!" a hundred times throughout the book if he says it once. In real life, people may have habitual exclamations, things they say a lot, and this might pass without too much notice, but in writing, even a few repetitions of a particular phrase starts to feel like overuse, which means that many usages begins to feel like the offending character has some sort of disorder.

  • Penny
    2019-01-16 13:21

    Attempt #2. I wrote a very eloquent long review and then lost it :P It's happened to all of us!Lots of food for thought in this relatively short story.I tried to read Foundation a while ago and couldn't get into it. I found it dense and difficult to read and put it down after the first chapter, so I was a bit nervous that I'd encounter the same style in The Caves of Steel. I was very pleasantly surprised to find this very easy reading and full of insightful deep ideas to boot! Needless to say I highly recommend this one.The world building was great. The setting is a future version of Earth in which there are too many people and not enough resources. The society that results is rather an interesting mix of ideas, being socialist in the sense of group housing and food, but capitalist in the sense of extra perks for those with better ranking jobs if you've worked hard and done well. I'm not sure what to call the resulting society but it makes for an interesting model.(view spoiler)[ For me one of the most interesting questions in the book was whether or not it was necessary for Dr. Fastolfe and Daneel to drug Baley before convincing him that colonisation was the best course for humanity. Would the logic of their argument not have sufficed? Baley got through to Clousarr (though not to the same degree) without the aid of drugs. It's not a question that can be answered, but it's one I can't help but wonder about.(hide spoiler)](view spoiler)[ I also thought that Jezebel's reaction to her husbands interpretation of the story of Jezebel in the Bible was very strong. She put so much of the definition of herself into her name and an association of that name with a story that when confronted with a different version she reacted drastically. It's amazing how strongly an idea of something can influence our lives.(hide spoiler)]The questions of A.I. and creating "life" is always fascinating. What makes us human? What about empathy, our "soul", our ability to feel? Can't these emotions be programmed? I'm not convinced either way but it's something I do enjoy thinking about.

  • Simona Bartolotta
    2019-01-23 08:11

    I read and reread this book whenever I can, and each time, it tells me a different story. If something like infinity is within our grasp, well, as far as I'm concerned, then it's to be found in The Caves of Steel.

  • Sesana
    2019-01-19 12:29

    Caves of Steel is a detective story, set around the murder of a Spacer (a visiting colonist from another world). But I think it's fair to say that Asimov is at least as much interested in building his world as he is in the mystery itself. It's a good thing, because the mystery isn't entirely satisfactory.The world he builds, on the other hand... Now that's interesting. Earth's population has been sequestered in cities and subjected to strict rationing. Intelligent and vaguely human-like robots are everywhere, and despised by most Earthmen. It's a pretty solidly built world, and I was far more interested in reading more about the civism system that Earth's cities use. Aside from overuse of "Jehoshaphat" by Bailey (which did get grating by the end, especially in an audiobook), the narration here was great. Bailey was a nearly perfect viewpoint character to use in this story. I'm excited to keep reading the Robots series, and onwards. This vision of the future has become a bit dated, of course, but it must have been cutting edge when it was originally written.

  • Nathan Boole
    2019-02-03 07:04

    So, initially I was going to give this book one star. It is my opinion that Asimov is frightfully overrated, even compared with other authors who were his contemporaries, and therefore lived in, and wrote from, the same social climate.Nearly all of the human characters were frustratingly stupid throughout most of the book. The one woman in the book was basically just in the story to be hysterical, gullible, and even nonsensical.The protagonist, though he is allegedly a competent professional detective, acts like he's never dealt with actual people before, and the entire police department is startled into overly emotional reactions when they discover there has been a murder. In a world with 8 billion people, the police department in a city populated by 20 million people is startled by a murder? I think not.Asimov, while he makes decent and interesting predictions about how things like robots will affect society, does not seem to understand people at all. This is not the first book of his I have read where all the characters seem like hollow plot shells, whose only purpose is to be a face in front of sci-fi ideas, some of which are just plain goofy.I realize that this book was written in 1954, and that things were different back then. I tried to give this book a chance because of that fact, and I think that keeping that in mind is the only reason I made it to the end. I think if I had read Asimov as a kid, I would have loved it, but I just can't get into his writing now, because I cannot deal with his idiotic characters. The only character who is intelligent throughout the book is the robot, which would be interesting if the robot was the protagonist, but since we are instead treated to chapters full of inane dialogue between a dumb "detective" and his even more idiotic wife, it's very hard to deal with.I gave this book two stars instead of one, because the denouement was actually good enough to make up for some of the headache of the earlier chapters. The detective finally wises up in the end, and the plot comes together fairly well.I think the appeal of Asimov has been his invention and ideas, specifically things like Artificial Intelligence, which there really wasn't a precedent for, or certainly not much of one, in the 1950s. He was a very clever person, but at least from what I have read of his books so far, Foundation and The Caves of Steel (I started I, Robot, and just couldn't keep going with it), he was not a very good storyteller.This book had a couple of moments that were enjoyable and well-written, primarily the two or three action scenes, and the denouement. They are not enough, in my opinion, to carry the book through the obnoxious character interactions and the pages of time where a trained detective is basically clutching his head and passing out because he can't handle a small challenge to his beliefs or worldview.

  • Stephen
    2019-02-01 15:25

    4.5 to 5.0 stars. Just re-read this after having first read it many years ago. Asimov was a superb story-teller and his books are almost always fun, easy to read and full of big ideas. This one is no exception. Set on Earth many millennia before the time when the The Foundation Trilogy takes place, it is a time when humans have been divided into two main groups, the Earthmen and the Spacers. The first are those 8 Billion souls on Earth living in massively croweded "mega cities" (the Caves of Steel) where food and other goods are rationed due to limited supply. In order to allow necessary production efficiencies, Robots are used but are alomost universally hated by Earthmen as they are seen as taking away jobs from real people. The second group, the Spacers, are the decendants of "Earth" first colonists who years before left the Earth to colonize the 50 "Outerworlds." In contrast to the Earth, the Outerworlds have very low populations and live a life of luxury, in part do their embrace of Robots as useful tools to help make life easier. They are also incredibly long-lived due to their scientific advancements. There is a lot of animosity and hate between the two groups which is pivotal part of the story. The story itself is a murder mystery involving a murdered Spacer. An Earth cop, Elijah Bailey, is partnered with a Spacer Robot (the soon to be famous R. Daneel Olivaw) to solve the crime. The real charm of the story is the description of life on Earth, the contrast between that life and that of the Spacers and the Earthmen and the explorations of the various prejudices among the groups. An excellent read and a great introduction to the Robot novels of Asimov. One final note: I listened to the audio version of this read by William Dufris and he does a superb job with this book (and the other robot books as well). Nominee: Hugo (Retro) Award for Best Science Fiction Novel (1953)

  • Sarah Anne
    2019-01-27 13:17

    I really enjoyed this but Jehoshaphat it was dated!

  • Jim
    2019-01-16 09:31

    This was fun. I haven't read it in decades & never listened to it before. It was well suited to an audio book & the reader was good.It was a good murder mystery, although the guilty party was telegraphed early. Just the details were missing. Still, the book wasn't primarily about that, but a look at the human condition in a crowded future. That was interesting, although harmed by out dated technology & I wish he'd steered clear of numbers. The world retreated to urban 'caves of steel' in the face of the overwhelming population of 8 billion several thousand years in the future which just doesn't seem likely today.Anyway, it was a fun revisiting of Asimov's robot world in which I spent many a pleasant hour as child.

  • Anastasia
    2019-01-31 14:11

    È fantastico come tante qualità provenienti da generi diversi siano qua mescolate in modo così fluido, compatto, scorrevole. Per quanto sia banale da dire, mi piace quando un romanzo di genere fantascientifico abbraccia talmente tante sfaccettature della società o dell'uomo in generale da far sembrare riduttivo definirlo un "libro di genere". Qui si aggiunge poi lo squisito piacere della storia condito da così tante varianti pertinenti già solo alla trama, prima che ai vari significati che emergono dalla storia. Da una parte c'è la costruzione di un mondo futuro articolata e nient'affatto banale, dove il genio, l'inventiva di Asimov realizzano delle soluzioni che solleticano l'immaginazione. È stuzzicante vagare per la Città figurandosela in un'immagine complessiva, ma è piacevole anche la cura del dettaglio nella vita quotidiana dei personaggi, simile e allo stesso tempo diversa dalla nostra. Mi è stato impossibile non provare costantemente ammirazione per le varie soluzioni inventive adottate. L'elemento fantascientifico, poi, si unisce al genere della detective story, causando una curiosità famelica di sapere come si sviluppa l'indagine, sapientemente pungolata dai plot twists (che riescono ad essere realmente tali). Il protagonista poliziotto, Bailey, mi ha ricordato per certi versi altri commissari o detective, pur restando un personaggio unico. Ha un modo di collegare gli elementi sempre attivo, ma inconscio e introverso, e in questo mi ha ricordato Adamsberg di Fred Vargas, difatti le teorie del suo personaggio sono dei veri e propri fulmini, come degli eureka che poi dipana ad alta voce in modo inesorabilmente logico. C'è un insieme di intuito e audacia, visto che ha il talento di cavare le proprie teorie nei momenti più tesi, rischiando sempre anche per se stesso, c'è di conseguenza anche dell'improvvisazione e ansie derivate, che lo rendono decisamente umano, in grado di suscitare empatia di più rispetto a un detective flemmatico come Poirot o Sherlock Holmes - e poi c'è comunque una logica sorprendente. Molto affascinante, in più ogni personaggio presentava un carattere distinto, curato, e la coppia Bailey-Daleen è effettivamente indimenticabile. A tal proposito mi ha colpito il rigore dei loro confronti lavorativi, e le conclusioni tratte da ogni confronto non erano affatto banali, ma raffinate, mostrando un lato della grande intelligenza del romanzo. Parlando proprio dell'intelligenza del libro, il complesso sociale qua creato è anche stimolante per come riesca ad ancorarsi ad una realtà sociale, politica reale, e per certi versi anticipatrice, volontariamente o meno, di tendenze sociali future. Ad esempio il conflitto tra gli abitanti della Città e i robot è assolutamente credibile nel suo contesto particolare e di finzione, ma allo stesso tempo rimanda molto acutamente ad un generale rapporto che una certa fetta di umanità perlopiù reazionaria ha con il nuovo e il diverso. Non mi arrischio in una dettagliata comparazione politica, in quanto non avrei neanche delle conoscenze adeguate per farlo, però ho in mente un momento iniziale decisamente esemplare. Si tratta dell'interazione tra una donna umana e un robot in un negozio di scarpe, dove lei si mette in bocca parole che ha sentito dai medievalisti, cioè che tanto per cominciare lei non voleva essere servita da un commesso robot, perché pensava di meritare un trattamento migliore, e in più, poi, nell'agitazione, afferma che i robot rubano il lavoro ai "terrestri", e che si pensa tanto a loro, e poco invece alla Terra. Con i leitmotiv martellanti del "[inserire qui gruppo di immigrati] rubano il lavoro agli italiani" e "prima gli italiani" e "mandiamoli a casa" etc è impossibile non pensare a certi politici poco stimabili e i loro adepti..e non c'è neanche bisogno di fare nomi. Per quanto non sia una situazione tanto simile da combaciare perfettamente, la rigidità, lo sprezzo psicologico e sociale ha molti punti in comune e mi è sembrato notevole che a così tanti decenni di distanza Asimov potesse risultare, anche per una situazione politica internazionale propria del nostro presente, così attuale, così fresco ancora negli spunti di riflessione che può dare. In questo senso sarebbe interessante approfondire i punti di contatto, specialmente nel momento in cui il romanzo e il nostro presente presentano in modo molto accentuato, dettato da paure, odio irrazionale, l'innalzamento di barriere su barriere non solo politiche, ma più generalmente sociali, umane (barriere mentali), di reclusione in un proprio territorio o in un proprio sistema, estromettendo o allontanandosi da alcuni legami internazionali percepiti come "dannosi" o "pericolosi". Inoltre nei medievalisti qui ritratti con scorrevolezza e allo stesso tempo ricchezza, tanto da poter essere letti e riletti su più livelli, c'è il ritorno a una situazione originaria ideale, un culto del passato di tipo rurale e un atteggiamento aggressivo, di soppressione di un elemento che rappresenta la contemporaneità tanto odiata, il marcio di un sistema economico in cui non si ritrovano. E c'è la degenerazione pericolosa di questo atteggiamento, come la resistenza ottusa (ma non troppo) rispetto ad altre alternative di evoluzione, cambiamento rispetto alla società attuale, oltre al fatto che cui l'elemento su cui si ostinano diventa un puro capro espiatorio (poveri robot), su cui vengono canalizzati rancori, emozioni più che argomentazioni logiche condivisibili, ricordando comunque alcune tendenze politiche di gruppi estremi che Asimov conosceva di certo, e da cui il mondo si stava staccando traumaticamente nel momento della pubblicazione del romanzo, cioè il 1954. C'è poi un'ulteriore linea altrettanto stimolante, inventiva e ricca in merito ad una società di tipo cooperativo e non individualista, con i suoi vantaggi, ma anche i suoi eccessi, con le sue contraddizioni, specialmente nel momento in cui Asimov volutamente pone il conflitto tra un desiderio istintivo, insopprimibile della conquista di un proprio spazio (esempio: la questione del bagno privato e altri lussi, in generale la questione, dei privilegi conquistati con l'avanzamento della carriera) e poi la tendenza di un sistema sociale che impone invece la dissimulazione continua di uno status elevato, di una comodità particolare, tanto da spingere i "privilegiati" a non usufruire nemmeno dei propri privilegi, rendendo la loro presenza problematica, con varie controversie psicologiche. Ma ad un livello più intimo, è sottile il rapporto costruito pian piano tra Bailey e Daneel, dove Bailey lascia risuonare una generale diffidenza, una gamma di sentimenti sfumata, complessa, tra sé e la macchina, sviluppando poi un'evoluzione del rapporto e chiarendo cosa rimane unicamente umano e cosa c'è in comune, quali sono le familiarità su cui si può costruire un rapporto positivo, di aiuto reciproco e ovviamente di efficienza produttiva con i robot. Nello stesso protagonista risuona un discorso molto intelligente, saggio e profondo sull'interazione con il diverso, sul compromesso necessario per poter andare avanti,su uno sfruttamento di una situazione del presente per un futuro che si concili con la volontà di poter vedere un mondo diverso in modo pratico, moderno; sull'interazione tra il rigore legale, logico e la compassione, e sull'equilibrio necessario tra di essi.Una cosa che mi piace tantissimo, direi, è che si possono dire, ampliare tante cose rispetto ai temi del libro, e questo è sempre un evidente segno del fatto che ci si trova a contatto con una base fertile, con un romanzo molto stratificato, coinvolgente e bellissimo rispetto a tanti aspetti.

  • Pablo
    2019-02-02 08:29

    Primera novela de la saga de los robots. Antes de esta saga había leído solo El Sol Desnudo, pero hace muchos años atrás, cuando no sabía nada del universo de Asimov. Leerlo ahora fue distinto, después de los 7 libros de la Fundación, cuentos, El Fin de la Eternidad y Los Propios Dioses. El primer estilo de Asimov está reflejado en todo su esplendor en este libro. Con mucha información sobre temas que no van mucho al caso, en los cuales el autor era especialista. Como también una trama con giros y vuelcos que, después de haber leído varios libros y cuentos del mismo, no son muy sorprendentes. Es una novela muy entretenida, imaginativa, con una construcción y planteo de un mundo futuro bastante fundamentado. En fin, todo lo que caracterizaría a este autor años posteriores, está ya aquí, a medio camino.

  • Denisse
    2019-02-06 09:30

    A book itself as much as it is part of a series. A science fiction thriller will always be weird, and impressive if it is done well, like The Caves of Steel. A jewel anywhere you look. Great characters, great start for a new social-robotic dilemma, perfect ending and enjoyable for both detective and hard sci-fi readers.Siempre me ha gustado la pluma de Asimov. Ninguno de sus libros tiene una trama fácil o ligera y comoquiera es así como se lee cualquiera de sus novelas. Creo que he leído las suficientes, del genero ficción, como para decir eso. Dos partes que piensan y actúan conforme su sociedad. Dos sociedades en pique y un misterio por resolver bien desarrollado. Todo esto metido en la trama entre dos grupos: Los humanos y los robots. Cualquier a que haya leído Los límites de la Fundación muere por leer la serie de los Robots de Asimov y lo mejor de todo es que no decepciona. Lo que más emociona en sus novelas es saber que cada gran trama forma parte de todo un universo de ficción y que todo se relaciona. El día que termine de leer todas sus novelas, y las terminare de leer estoy segura, no sé qué voy a hacer con mi vida lectora.

  • Pinkerton
    2019-02-14 13:12

    Non sono un grande amante dei libri di fantascienza, però certo avevo già sentito il nome di Asimov, non avevo mai letto niente di suo perché vedere tanti titoli con ordini di lettura da rispettare per un argomento da cui non sono particolarmente attratto mi aveva sempre fatto desistere. Durante la mia ultima capatina in libreria però la curiosità ha avuto il sopravvento, anzitutto grazie a ciò che ho trovato scritto nella quarta di copertina che sa molto di poliziesco/mystery, facendo poi scorrere la prefazione ho visto: “Ciò che ha fatto Asimov - in una lunga serie di racconti e in alcuni romanzi, di cui questo è il primo…”, beh a quel punto l’acquisto è diventato obbligato. Ieri, complice il viaggetto in treno che mi aspettava, ho avuto l’occasione di poterlo leggere in un sol giorno e devo dire che si è rivelato per me una sorpresa, ma di quelle veramente belle.Più che semplice interesse, sono stato letteralmente catturato dal racconto proprio per il magnifico lavoro fatto riguardo all’umanità dei personaggi. La loro natura fallace, gli sbagli clamorosi, il morboso attaccamento al passato, il continuo agire per tornaconto personale… l’interazione con le macchine, o meglio i robot, che per vecchi o nuovi modelli che siano si avvertono sempre come una sorta di ‘elemento esterno’, un po’ come gli Spaziali - forse non esattamente acqua e olio con i terrestri ma quasi. E tutto questo ben di Dio (d’altronde Elijah conosce bene la bibbia, anche se questo l’ha messo in grossi guai con la moglie), e anche di più, non rappresenta che gli ingredienti facenti parte dell’intrigante caso affidato al nostro protagonista, e il suo collega R., per l’omicidio avvenuto a Spacetown. Un vero capolavoro di cultura C/Fe ad opera di quello che molti (a ragion veduta direi) ritengono il padre del genere. Inutile dirvi che in futuro leggerò altri suoi libri, magari proseguendo proprio il Ciclo dei Robot (ora mi sono documentato un po’ di più).Chiudo dicendo che ho sempre adorato nelle storie la parte in cui citano il titolo del libro:“Ma ora i terrestri si sono rintanati e imbozzolati nei loro abissi d’acciaio, e ne dipendono a tal punto che è come se si fossero messi volontariamente in prigione”.

  • Michael
    2019-01-24 13:08

    While "I, Robot" may be more recognized as the source for Asimov's famous three laws of robotics, it's his series of books about the partnership between a human detective, Lije Bailey and his android partner, R. Danell Olivaw, that are the more compelling and fascinating. "The Caves of Steel" is the first (and best of the four) entry in the series, introducing us to Bailey, Daneel and a future world in which humanity lives inside massive, interconnected steel domes. Humans rarely venture outside and Earth is slowly dying due to overpopulation. A group of aliens called Spacers are colonizing other worlds, using robotic help but have limited how and where humanity can colonize. When a Spacer is killed, Bailey is called upon to solve the case. Bailey must overcome his prejudice toward Spacers and robots to work on the case and with the robotic partner. It's the conflict between Bailey's dislike and distrust of robots and Spacers that drives a lot of the novel and makes it an utterly compelling, character-driven, world-building effort by Issac Asimov. If you've only read his "Foundation" novels, you've missed out on one of the biggest pleasures in all of science-fiction by overlooking the Robot stories. Yes, later in life Asimov did work to tie these books into the Foundation series, but the first three in the series can be enjoyed purely on their own merits.Add to all that world-building, a fairly well done murder mystery and you may have one of the most perfect gems in not only science-fiction but also all of literature. Asimov said that he could create a mystery within a sci-fi story without having to resort to a deus ex machine type of resolution and he does here. He establishes the rules for the universe early in the novel and doesn't change them to fit the ending or solution he wants or needs. A fascinating book and one of my favorites. Definitely worth reading or reading again.

  • notgettingenough
    2019-01-28 07:03

    You can see why Asimov thinks he's great shakes. This is written early 1950s and he talks of a future world where humans live in huge cities with the utmost efficiency, protected from the environment, entirely dependent upon nuclear power, eating food created by science. Thus earth is still able to support a massive population and rising. Let's just say, we are getting there. The age of the car is well gone -in this world people walk on transport belts that go up to 60 miles/hour. The vehicles are only community ones, for the police and emergency services.He describes a world in which the advanced, rich, long-living Spacers are trying to impose robots upon the inhabitants of the City states. He describes the hostility as people find themselves displaced by these machines. He could be describing the world of right now, Rest here: https://alittleteaalittlechat.wordpre...

  • Nandakishore Varma
    2019-02-06 11:20

    I somehow prefer the short stories better. From an SF point of view, the novels are good - but not very good whodunits, IMO.For some weird reason, I used to picture William Shatner as Elijah Bailey and Leonard Nimoy as R. Daneel Olivaw.

  • Ce
    2019-01-22 12:15

    For a long time I postponed this reading because I thought it would be sooo outdated. Ok, it was, but only just a bit, now I need to continue reading the Robot Series.

  • Randy
    2019-02-10 07:29

    Brief synopsis of story: (1-2 paragraphs). Earth civilization labors under the pressures of overpopulation and all citizens live under vast domes of metal and concrete—the titular caves of steel. Further, robots are making inroads on the human labor market, causing even more distress. On the flipside is Spacetown where ‘Spacers’ live. Spacers are offworld colonists used to low population, relative wealth, and long life spans. They maintain an outpost just outside of the New York City dome, but there is tension between Spacers and their earth brethren kept from boiling over by the narrowest of margins. The book opens just after the Spacetown murder of Spacer ambassador Roj Nemmenuh Sarton. Detective Elijah Bailey is called upon to investigate with the condition that he be given a Spacer partner. That partner, R. Daneel Olivaw, turns out to be a robot. Bailey is initially taken aback and harbors his own anti-robot prejudices, which he must overcome as the case progresses. To further complicate matters, they only have a limited amount of time to figure out what happens before the case turns into a diplomatic disaster.Kind of work defined by basic elements (character, plot, setting, language, theme)—what elements are foregrounded? How do they fit together?: (2-4 paragraphs) From the opening paragraphs, we understand the world is distressed. Elijah examines his tobacco pouch and ponders how far he can stretch it until the ‘next quota day.’ From there, Asimov pulls no punches in illustrating how an over-stretched and under-resourced population might exist. They eat vat grown yeasts and live in vast enclosed infrastructures, travel by stepping onto extensive networks of pedestrian conveyors. The plot itself is fairly basic—the odd couple formula in sci fi. Two disparate investigators are paired together and must overcome their differences in order to solve the mystery at hand. What is unique is that it is a sci fi mystery. These are not genres typically combined.Asimov uses this format and the strictures of his Rules of Robotics to explore the nature of man and the perceived limitations of machines and does so with direct, uncluttered language.Kind of work defined by structure—how is it constructed? (1-2 paragraphs).Asimov smartly grounds the narrative in a 3rd person limited POV—namely Elijah Bailey’s. We see what he sees, understand his prejudices, and see how they work themselves out in his thought process. It also keeps from being too startled at the bleak world Asimov portrays. A life without sun enclosed in domes. To Elijah this is normal, and within this environment he has the same hopes for betterment we all do. It’s just that his version of better is likely much more modest than our own.Beyond that, the book is divided into eighteen episodic chapters, each a centering on small dramatic moments or turns of events. This is in line with other detective fiction I’ve read and the piecemeal revelations maintain tension throughout the novel. Kind of work defined by theme, interests--(1-2 paragraphs). The overt detective story contains within it some interesting premises. The first posits that the most humane solution to an overpopulated earth is colonization. Further, we must perpetually endeavor to overcome our fears as a society (here symbolized by the perpetual agoraphobia the residents of the caves of steel suffer from) in order to advance and better ourselves.The second is our response to the ‘other’—here, robots. The earth population’s reactions to robots are easily recognizable. Job displacement and irrational fear create resentment that can erupt into violence. The possibility of world where the robots and their creators co-exist is explored and mirrors earth’s own struggles with racial and ethnic tensions and our own distress at seeing ourselves replaced by automation.Overall effectiveness of piece—its strengths (1-2 paragraphs).This was a fast read. Asimov explains a great deal without over-lingering on detail. The mystery itself is well-constructed and doesn’t cheat—all of the elements are presented within the plot and we learn how they fit together as we go. Further, the character of Daneel Olivaw is fascinating. He is so close to human, yet Asimov manages to convey that he isn’t quite and is yet in some ways better and more moral.Where would you alter the text, why, how?—its potential weaknesses (1-2 paragraphs). While the story is solid, Asimov’s prose is at times clunky and awkward. And the ending wraps up with too many speeches explaining all of the reasoning behind the deductions that solved the case. While I grant that this sort of thing is necessary at times, in this instance it came across as rushed and unnatural.Finally, your overall analysis of this piece holistically (1 page maximum) This was an effective pulp detective mystery with a sci fi setting. Asimov effectively uses a single point of view to both humanize the story and limit our knowledge of the mystery, thus creating a natural tension. He maintains a brisk narrative pace by keeping summary exposition to a minimum.From this platform, he explores potential problems for humanity (overpopulation, job displacement due to mechanization) and posits potential solutions (colonization, socially integrated robots). Further, within the framework of his Laws of Robotics, he examines human nature and the questions the true substance of morality. Is morality defined by being able to do something but not acting on the impulse? Or being simply incapable of the action to begin with?

  • Leah
    2019-01-28 13:15

    Jehoshaphat! It's tremendous...!In the far distant future, Earth has become vastly overcrowded and the strain on resources has forced humanity into living cheek by jowl in massive closed in cities – the caves of steel of the title. They no longer ever venture into the outside world, having basic robots to do any outside work that's needed. Living accommodation is small – meals are taken in huge communal kitchens and bathing and toileting facilities are all contained in the Personals, again communal and with strict social rules to preserve some semblance of privacy. The Outer Worlds are inhabited by Spacers, the descendants of people from Earth who colonised some of the planets thousands of years earlier. Spacer worlds are the opposite of Earth – underpopulated and disease free. Spacers no longer allow immigration from Earth, guarding the comparative luxury of their lives, along with their health. Naturally, they are resented by the people of Earth.Spacers have developed much more advanced robots and, with the agreement of the government of Earth, are introducing them into Earth society. The robots are hated since people see them as a threat to their jobs, and loss of a job can mean loss of the few privileges that people can still have – their own washbasin, the right to an occasional meal in their own home. So when a Spacer robotocist is murdered, it seems obvious the culprit will be an Earth person. Elijah Bailey, C-Class Detective is called in to investigate and, to his horror, is partnered with a Spacer robot, R. Daneel Olivaw, so advanced that he can easily pass as human.This is sci-fi... but it's also a great murder mystery. Proper crime with all different kinds of motivations at work, clues, detection, departmental politics, the works! Asimov wrote it after someone challenged him by saying sci-fi and mystery were incompatible genres. Asimov's own view was that sci-fi can incorporate any literary genre, and this is his proof. Along with the mystery Asimov creates a fairly chilling view of a possible future if Earth's population continues to increase. It's fairly easy 60 years on to pick holes in some of the things he foresaw, and didn't, and personally, doing that is one of the great pleasures for me. I love that he could create something as sophisticated as the positronic brain – still being used by sci-fi writers as the basis for robots and androids today – but didn't think of the mobile phone, so that poor Lije has to go out to phone boxes in the middle of the night. I love that he claimed that women still stuck to traditional clasps on their purses rather than adopting new-style magnetic catches. (We finally made it, Mr Asimov! We advanced that far!) I love that he came up with a kind of method for information retrieval that sounds not unlike the old punch-card system, but couldn't take the extra leap that would have led him to computers. I love that people happily use all kinds of nuclear devices, cheerfully spraying radiation around as they go. He almost comes up with an e-reader... but not quite...But the basic idea of an over-populated world where every human activity is carefully regimented and controlled to make best use of dwindling resources is very well done, and the resentment of humans over machines taking over their jobs has proved to be pretty prophetic. The Medievalists who look nostalgically back to a time not unlike the 1950s have more than a little in common with our more fundamentalist back-to-the-earth green groups of today. One of the other things I love about the Elijah Bailey books is that, although the world is thousands of years older, all the people are stuck in a '50s time-warp. Gee, gosh, the language is simply tremendous! Lije's favourite exclamation is “Jehoshaphat!” - I always find myself using it for weeks after I've read one of the books. The women stay at home, try to look pretty for their husbands and bring up the children, which is all their limited brains and talents are really fit for, while the men go off and do manly things, like science and running about the streets with blasters and such like. So you not only get a look at how Asimov saw the possible future, but you get a real picture of '50s American life thrown in for free.The plot is great and totally fair-play. Lije's detection methods are a bit on the slapdash side, I admit – basically, he decides whodunit, accuses them, is proved wrong, and then decides it was actually someone else... and so on. But each accusation adds something, both to his future guesswork, and to the reader's understanding of the society he's operating in. And Jehoshaphat! When the solution finally comes, it's a good one!Golly gee, I hope you read this book. It may be a bit dated, but it's still loads of fun and with plenty of interest to either sci-fi or mystery fans. Jeepers, you'll be sorry if you don'

  • Jerry Jose
    2019-01-28 10:20

    I always pictured Asimov’s Robot series with C-3PO droids and confronting humans from future.Jumping Jehoshaphat!! How colossally wrong was I?The Caves of Steel, in first look, even with all its futuristic contrivances, could be tagged as the grandfather of all those buddy detective action movies from Lethal Weapon to 21 Jump Street. In second look, it felt more like Dick’s muse for Blade Runner, expect, here the detective was paired with a humanoid-android capable of dreaming about all kinds of sheep. But with a third and more civilized look, it becomes an unintentionally metaphysical work dealing with xenophobia, refugee crisis and neo-imperialism, while being a suspenseful detective mystery at the same time.I couldn’t help but compare the less understood universe of this novel with the one in PKD's ‘Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep’. A depressed yet brilliant(confused yet brilliant) police officer Deckard(Elijah) with a further depressed(confused and complex) wife, living in a future post-apocalyptic(agoraphobic) earth, getting mixed up deep in an investigation involving Androids(Robots). They both live in Earth by choice as I remember and The Caves of Steel even suggests a ‘Voight-Kampff’ questionnaire of its own by the end.Anti Robot sentiment, resentment and the growing sense of human superiority could be better understood If one attempt to read it along with neo-fascism and recent refugee crisis. The ‘medievalist’ conservatism under the allegory of Spacers and Earthmen, was Asimov's way of predicting the rise demagogues and nationalists in his near future, not withstanding the strange premise and anachronism of prophecy. The dream for coexistence in C/Fe culture, the witty chemistry between Baley and R.Daneel, Biblical backstory of Elijah and Jezebel (quite complementing to the story if you ask me), solid investigation filled with red herrings entwined in classic sci fi, made my stealth library read worthwhile. I am even inclined to accuse Mission Impossible on stealing from this.And climbing further up the weird ladder, ‘Jehoshaphat’ is my new favourite daily life expletive from now on.

  • Eamon Eriksen
    2019-01-28 14:07

    Asimov wrote this book as a bet (as with many of his books) that sci-fi and mystery should be separate genres. The result is an engrossing sci-fi classic. Definitely worth picking up.

  • Michael
    2019-01-21 11:15

    This "science fiction detective story" by the versatile writer Isaac Asimov is a stimulating cerebral romp through a future, city-oriented Earth society. The mystery itself is competently executed, but it really plays second fiddle to the main thread, which explores the internal and interstellar politics of a future society, the ramifications of a universe with robots, and the prejudices and emotions that are expressed by the humans in such a society.The book's strength lies in its exploration of diverse themes, and I see how it could appeal to people of a variety of intrests. Topics include mathematics, physics, sociology, psychology, ethics, humanity, individualism, community, nostalgia, colonization, interstellar politics, workforce obsolence, and more. Some of the book's ideas are put forth in a straightforward manner, but many more are allowed to develop through discussions and conflicts between characters in the story. The world unfolds in a relaxed and conversational way, so it is enjoyable while also instructive, and the unfolding allows you to feel like you are considering all of the ideas yourself as they are presented.Although still effective as a science fiction novel in today's world, the story was published in 1954 and occasionally dates itself, especially in two areas: male/female relations, and world population statistics. I seem to be returning to this theme again and again in these older books, especially those written by men, but it does not cease to astound me that authors can imagine spaceflight, and life on new planets, and robots that look like humans, but can't begin to imagine a world without gossiping, adoring, homebound women who are forever cheerleading their brilliant, domineering, pedantic husbands. Having recently read works by John Wyndham and Anne McCaffrey, I realize this is not true of all the classic sci-fi writers, but Isaac Asimov and Philip K Dick seem to be major offenders. The relationship between the main human character and his wife in The Caves of Steel sometimes distracted from the main storyline, although Asimov did a fairly good job of using the interactions to flesh out his characters.As to the parts of the book involving world population, it was amusing to me to see that Asimov considered 8 billion people to be such a strain on the world's resources when in fact the current population of the world is about 7 billion and none of these steps have yet been initiated. However, a tipping point must exist in Earth's future, so the fact that it has not arrived yet does not mean his overpopulation theme is not relevant, and it is certainly worth exploring the possibility that we will eventually be forced to wall off the cities, perform life's essential functions in common living areas, and eat yeast-based turkey in order to survive. The point was occasionally diluted, however, by the knowledge that some of the problems he is talking about have been diverted in our timeline.Although I have said that the mystery is secondary to the story, the book is definitely in the mystery genre, it is not just a sci-fi book with a mystery duct-taped onto it. Because of this, the tone of the book is set by the detective in charge, the human Elijah Bailey, and in this case the tone is a bit blustery and erratic, as he is a very emotional fellow who likes to take risky gambits and suffers from a few character flaws, most notably a stubborn single-mindedness, a resistance to alliances, and a strong prejudice against robots. At times, this can make him seem a bit obtuse, but I think Asimov may be sacrificing some investigatory efficiency in the story in order that we might relate to him as a fellow human, and in order to highlight the point that our prejudices and fears can cloud our better judgment.It is to the benefit of Asimov's novel that we Earthlings have still not managed to replicate humans in robot form. As a result, the topic is still fascinating to us, especially as more and more of our lives become surrounded by machines that mimic and often surpass some of our abilities. I recall how popular the humanoid robot Data was on Star Trek: The Next Generation in the 1990's, and I could not help but think of him and the questions he raised about what it means to be human while reading this book. If you are interested in these ideas I would also recommend Asimov's short story collection, I, Robot, (nothing like the movie of the same name) as it explores these ideas more sharply by focusing on specific vignettes within his fictional universe.I would say the novel does have its limitations. Although the book has a lot of emotional content, I could not always connect to it, and there were none of the heartbreaking, or soul-shattering moments that I love in my favorite books. I thought there were a few inconsistencies, most notably in parts of the ending which seemed a bit glib to me after all the build-up. And of course the male-centric world, with the stereotyped women was a bit disappointing. In the end, however, the novel is fun and engaging, mainly because it is so chock full of ideas and expresses a robust enthusiasm in how it presents them. There is something about this world that draws me to it, despite its flaws, and although I have read the novel three times in the last 20 years, I imagine I will read it again in the future just to explore these topics, and to relive one of the first books that really got me thinking about the big picture.

  • Mir
    2019-01-27 09:03


  • Simona Bartolotta
    2019-02-10 10:25

    "E il robot disse: «Sto cercando di assimilare, amico Julius, alcune idee che Elijah mi ha trasmesso in questi giorni. E forse ci riuscirò, perché all'improvviso mi pare di capire che l'estirpazione di ciò che non deve essere, ossia ciò che voi uomini chiamate il male, è meno giusta e desiderabile della sua trasformazione in ciò che voi chiamate il bene.»Esitò, poi, come sorpreso dalle sue stesse parole, disse: «Vai e non peccare più».Baley sorrise, prese R. Daneel per il gomito e uscirono insieme, braccio sotto braccio.Per me è semplicemente un capolavoro. Come ho già scritto altrove, sono del parere che la vera fantascienza non sia mai pura e semplice fantascienza: c'è sempre qualcosa di più, una scintilla particolare che guizza via dalla piccola fiamma per attecchire altrove, fino a che, dalla piccola scintilla, un incendio divampa; ci sono sempre trame intricate e realtà insospettabili che si nascondo sotto il mero susseguirsi di eventi e che sempre, inequivocabilmente lo superano in spettacolarità, una volta colte, per quanto studiato e intelligente possa essere quest'ultimo. Si tratta di concetti, o meglio, di idee. Esse permeano tutta la storia, sono le componenti basilari dell'ossatura che la sorregge interamente, eppure vengono esplicitamente espresse solo nelle battute finali. E' una tecnica che, almeno su di me, ha molto effetto. Visto che, nella fattispecie, oltre che di fantascienza stiamo parlando di quella che è anche una detective story, si potrebbe pensare che mi stia riferendo semplicemente allo svelamento del colpevole, ma in realtà sto parlando di qualcosa di più profondo. La forza di Abissi d'acciaio è una trama che, pur partendo da un livello già di per sé abbastanza complesso, non fa altro che puntare sempre più in alto, abbracciando orizzonti sempre più ampi, andando a indagare in maniera sempre più approfondita la psicologia e degli Spaziali e dei Terrestri. Qual è l'idea sulla quale Asimov costruisce questo romanzo? Non sono capace di comprimerla in una parola. Ho paura di ciò che ne verrebbe fuori se mi cimentassi nell'impresa di riassumerla in una frase. Ma posso dirvi cosa essa riguarda: al centro di tutto, vi è il futuro. Il futuro dell'umanità che, in un lontano domani non meglio precisato, vive stipata nelle enormi Città, metropoli al chiuso, mai a contatto con l'aria, né con la terra. Che futuro può avere un pianeta dalle risorse limitate, con una popolazione che supera gli otto miliardi di individui, addirittura retrogrado rispetto agli altri cinquanta mondi colonizzati ormai indipendenti, del tutto chiuso all'innovazione? La risposta è difficile da accettare, ma è l'unica via di salvezza possibile: lasciare la Terra. Colonizzare altri pianeti. La lotta che Asimov rappresenta in questo romanzo non si limita allo scontro tra robot e uomo, intelligenza artificiale e intelligenza umana. C'è anche lo scontro tra i conservatori (qui chiamati medievalisti) e quella che in definitiva è la scelta giusta da fare per garantire la prosperità della specie, ossia lasciarsi alle spalle il passato e abbracciare l'idea del progresso, con tutto ciò che ne consegue, in questo caso una nuova esplorazione dello spazio e l'accettazione dei robot come componenti fisse delle società umane.Non ho intenzione di dire altro. Ho cercato di fare ciò che ho potuto, ma (chiamatela pure incapacità d'espressione) mi sento letteralmente cascare le parole di bocca di fronte alla potenza di Abissi d'acciaio.