The Caves of Steel by Isaac Asimov
I've a bit of a different book for you today from a genre I don't normally read. Our family book group is still going strong and we are now venturing into sci-fi. Having enjoyed being challenged by different types of read such as American Dirt, we decided to branch out to title spoken about by my husband and eventually chosen by my well-read father-in-law.
It's not my top choice for a read, but was certainly interesting.
Plot (from the Back of the Book)
Detective Elijah Bailey investigates the murder of an offworlder in Spacetown. In the opinion of the Spacers, the murder is tied up with recent attempts to sabotage the Spacer-sponsored project of converting Earth to an integrated human/robot society on the model of the Outer Worlds.
To search for a killer in the city's vast caves of steel, Elijah is assigned a Spacer partner named R.Daneel. That's Robot Daneel. And not withstanding the celebrated Three Laws of Robotics which should make such a murder impossible, R.Daneel is soon Elijah's prime suspect.
As I said in my preamble, this is not normally a book I would ever have chosen to read. My husband has the whole collection which sits proudly on our 'To Keep' bookshelves. Has the book changed my mind about the genre? No. I'm not leaping to pick up the next book in the series. But I can appreciate the writing and also the message behind it. And I am astonished that it was written in 1954.
Reading this novel was like listening to a friend's dream. When they have had such a vivid dream and want to tell you ALL about it, every last detail. And so at times I felt like the kitchen sink was being thrown at me, with concept after concept being added. At times this moved my focus from the story to Asimov's world and I found it a little distracting. I am sure though that if you were immersed in Asimov's world, this would prove to be endlessly fascinating, but as a newbie I did struggle.
The story is slightly predictable, I worked out quickly who the murderer was and as I say found it jarring against the feel of the novel.
There were positives and I'm going to appear to contradict myself here, but the world is SO immersive. Asimov has a crisp vision of a future. It is extremely relevant today; Environmental concerns, over-population and the decimation of the natural world echoes the problems that we are currently facing and which are being debated at the COP 26 summit. .
There is also hostility towards a particular group. I found it interesting that I found R. Daneel the most human character. He was gentle and curious. It became hard to read and feel the hostility in action. Sadly, as humans, we never seem to learn. Cries of 'jobs being stolen' have echoes throughout history. It is chilling, bleak and immensely prophetic.
My brother-in-law has a tradition. He detests Brussel sprouts, but every year will eat one just to see if he still dislikes them. (He does - we could all tell hime that!). But he perseveres and appreciates that other people (like me!) love Brussel sprouts. In conclusion, this is exactly how I feel about this novel. They are not for me, but I appreciate that people love them. Maybe once a year, I need to check and read a sci-fi novel just to see if this is still the case.