Feb 012006

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.

Posted by Stettin
Feb 152006

Robot City 1: Odyssey book cover

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.

Posted by Stettin
Feb 282006

Robot City 2: Suspicion book cover

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.

Posted by Stettin
Mar 152006

Robot City 3: Cyborg book cover

This review will most likely contain spoilers for any previous books in the series, read at your own risk.

This book has a nice intro from Asimov talking about cyborgs that is quite interesting. I always like reading these. Derec and Katherine have proven they didn’t commit murder, and stopped the rapid expansion of the city. They still stuck in Robot City though and are still searching for a way out. They are sidetracked by a rogue cyborg that escaped from a medical facility. I like the repercussions that are explored by transplanting a human brain into a robot body. The book goes by really quickly with lots of action and a few tidbits of information to keep the main plotlines going also.

Posted by Stettin
Mar 252006

Robot City 4: Prodigy book cover

This review will most likely contain spoilers for any previous books in the series, read at your own risk.

Derec and Ariel (previously known as Katherine) finally were able to track down the cyborg known as Jeff Leong. The Human Medical Team of robots was able to repair Jeff’s body and place his brain back inside. They let Jeff use the escape pod Mandlebrot and Wolruf landed with to fly home and send for help if possible. Until then, they are all still stuck in Robot City.

This book revolves around a robotic renaissance that has emerged in Robot City. Derec and Ariel spot a huge new building that looks more like artwork than anything else. During their investigation they find robots that wonder what it is like to be human, comedians, artists, etc. In the midst of all this a robot is murdered and Derec must find the killer and figure out why these robots acting so differently. I’d say out of the series this is one of my favorite books because it reminds me a bit of the Bicentennial Man short story by Asimov.

Posted by Stettin
Apr 032006

Robot City 5: Refuge book cover

This review will most likely contain spoilers for any previous books in the series, read at your own risk.

After a close call with Dr. Avery, the crazed mastermind of Robot City, finally returned to check on its progress. He captured Derec and Ariel, but eventually they escaped with the help of Mandelbrot and Wolruf. Derec, Ariel, Mandelbrot, and Wolruf escape by stealing Dr. Avery’s ship. Unfortunately the ship had no star charts in the computer, so they were unable to jump to safety. Ariel’s health had been deteriorating considerably, and eventually Mandelbrot demanded that something must be done. Derec and Ariel use a Key to Perihelion that was found in the ship in hopes it takes them to a place that might have a cure for her disease and possibly Derec’s amnesia.

This book mainly covers Derec and Ariel’s adventures on Earth, the destination the Key takes them to. They search out for a cure for Ariel and what possible interest Dr. Avery might have in Earth. We see here the claustrophobia Derec and Arial experience. This is a fitting contrast to Lije Baley’s agoraphobia which Asimov described in The Naked Sun and The Robots of Dawn.

Posted by Stettin
Apr 132006

Robot City 6: Perhelion book cover

As I stated in the general Robot City review, Isaac Asimov’s introduction to this book contains some major spoilers for the novel. Especially if you are reading the entire robot series in chronological order, I suggest not reading Asimov’s introduction unless you have finished both this novel and Robots and Empire. There are many spoilers for the rest of the Robot Novel series by Asimov also. This review will most likely contain spoilers for any previous books in the Robot City series, read at your own risk.

Doctors on Earth were able to cure Ariel of her sickness, but her memory was lost. Derec has shown signs of a sickness also, but doctors have assured him it is not what Ariel had. They finally escape and eventually Derec, Ariel, Mandelbrot, and Wolruf decide to return to Robot City to attempt to find a cure for Derec.

This book concentrates mainly on answering most of the questions that were developed in the rest of the series. Robot City appears to have covered the entire surface of the planet at this point. Derec must find out what Dr. Avery has done to him with the help of his friends. Some things are left unanswered, which frustrated me a bit. This seems a bit fitting because the climax opens the door for the next series, Robots and Aliens.

Posted by Stettin

All original content © 2006-2017 The Science Fiction Review