I was glad to break into a new series after reading sixteen books with Derec and Ariel as main characters. Roger MacBride Allen brings the robot Caliban to life from “infancy” from when he is first powered up. Caliban awakens with his arm half raised to see the body of a woman laying on the floor, which later turns out to be his creator Fredda Leving. If Caliban was a normal robot he would have sent for help immediately, but unfortunately he was created lacking the infamous Three Laws of Robotics. Instead, Caliban investigates the scene briefly and then ventures out to explore this new unfamiliar world.
- A robot may not injure a human being.
- A robot must cooperate with human beings except where such cooperation would conflict with the First Law.
- A robot must protect its own existence, as long as such protection does not conflict with the First Law.
- A robot may do as it likes, except where such action would violate the First, Second, or Third Laws.
About a year has passed since Caliban was exonerated. The Limbo project is currently using the New Law robots developed by Freda Leving in the hopes of fixing the terraforming problem. Although these robots are equipped with range restrictors to limit them to the island, an illicit smuggling trade has developed which smuggles robots out of Purgatory and helps remove the supposedly infallible restrictors. This criminal enterprise has caused much strain between Spacers and Settlers.
About five years has passed since the New Law robots were put to work at Purgatory to assist with the terraforming effort for Inferno. Alvar Kresh won the election for governor and ended up choosing a dual terraforming system combining a positronics with a super computer. In an unexpected turn, Kresh ended up marrying Fredda Leving. Initially I thought that they made a rather odd couple, but I think Allen did a good job of handling their relationship throughout this book. The main plot Utopia revolves around a plan by a scientist to harness a comet and blow it apart to dig a huge channel from the southern ocean to the frozen northern ice cap which would otherwise be impossible by conventional means.