I thought it would be appropriate to write a little mini review of the entire Robot City series before starting on the individual books since I have read this series once before. I won’t go into any spoilers, just give a general feel for the series. Each novel begins with an introduction by Isaac Asimov which is a nice addition to each of the novels. As stated in the introduction for the first book, this series is the first time Asimov has allowed any other authors to write in the world he created. Essentially he had final say on anything that went into the books and was consulted to make sure the authors didn’t overstep their authority. The introductions themselves sometimes reveal minor plotline spoilers for the current book, but nothing major except for book six. I recommend reading the book six intro after you finish, but that’s up to you.
This series is really meant to be read as whole. It takes place approximately 20 years before Robots and Empire by Isaac Asimov. I chose to read Robots and Empire before this series. The first book really gives you a glimpse at what might happen in the following books. Book one is full of questions, very few answers, and can be best described as an “introduction” like the first 20 minutes of a movie. I was hooked on the series after the first book. Each book is only about 200 pages with short chapters so it is easy to just pick it up and read a little bit without having to stop in the middle of a chapter. There is a general consistency in the writing of the various authors in all 6 of the novels comprising series. It really doesn’t feel like you are adjusting to a new author for each book. Overall, the series is a worthwhile addition to the universe that Asimov created.
A man wakes up in an escape pod with no memory, and only his space suit with Derec written on it to tell him what his name is. He has no memory whatsoever of anything before he woke up. The main plot of the series revolves around Derec’s search for his identity and a way to recover his memory. We are introduced to robots that don’t necessarily behave how we would have thought. They do obey the Three Laws but there are new twists involved. We also get to see aliens, something that Asimov had not really explored in his own writing. Overall, there is quite a bit of action in this first book and it should keep you interested enough to finish the rest of the series.
This review will most likely contain spoilers for any previous books in the series, read at your own risk.
After escaping from the alien Aranimas, and subsequently the space station that rescued them, Derec and Katherine find themselves miraculously transported to Robot City. They used the Key to Perihelion, a device that somehow allowed them to travel instantly across the galaxy. I like this idea because it is twist on space travel that allows the authors to work out unique plot elements throughout the rest of the series. Derec and Katherine arrive to find themselves the only 2 suspects in the murder of a human in a city full of robots.
It seems they’ve just traded one prison for another. Since they are the only humans on the planet, according to logic the robots think that one of them must have commited the murder, because no robot could have. This book revolves around Derec and Katherine’s investigation into the murder they are accused of at the end of Odyssey. Suspicion reminds me a bit of Elijah Baley’s murder investigations in Asimov’s original Robot Novels. The style is notably different, but the murder-mystery element kept me thinking back to the originals.