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.

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.

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.

Apr 212006
 

Robots and Aliens Volume 1 book cover

One thing I like about this book is there is a nice eight page synopsis of the whole Robot City series. Even after just reading the series, it was a nice refresher for the events leading up to Robots and Aliens. This new series involves Asimov’s challenge to the authors to describe what might happen if robots encountered an alien species. How would they treat them? How would the Three Laws apply?

I particularly enjoyed this first book because it addresses one of the main questions I had regarding the Three Laws of Robotics. What does the key phrase “human being” actually mean? Throughout Asimov’s books and it is explained that the laws aren’t as simple as the English translation. They are complicated sets of positronic potentials that govern every action of a robot.

In Changeling, Stephen Leigh describes a robot model that is given a very simple definition of “intelligent life form” as an equivalent. This idea seems to work very well in this book and after several chapters we see how this experiment intersects with the Robot City plotlines. Also, we get to see Derec use the powers he was given to control Robot City. One thing that did bug me a little bit was how little of the main plotlines was advanced.

Apr 302006
 

Robots and Aliens Volume 1 book cover

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

In Renegade, Cordell Scotten describes an alien species far different than that of the wolf-like pack in Book1. I found it a bit hard to relate to this new species as well as I could with the wolf creatures. I think that Scotten might have been trying a bit too hard to come up with complex aliens. Most of the unique mannerisms that were described seemed like they came out of nowhere. One thing that I did like from this book was that the relationship between Derec and Ariel is developed a bit more. Also, we start to understand a bit more about the Key of Perihelion.

May 152006
 

Robots and Aliens Volume 2 book cover

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

Sometime after the end of Renegade, Derec has developed some problems using his chemfets to control Robot City. Derec, Ariel, Mandelbrot, Wolruf are on their way back to Robot City along with Adam & Eve (the changelings now referred to as Silversides). This book reminds me most of “Prodigy” from the Robot City series where we saw creative drives evolve in the robots. This volume is definitely more interesting than Renegade in my opinion. Amazingly, quite a bit of the main story plot is developed and we see some more information as to the purpose of the Silversides and their quest to define what is truly “human”.

May 302006
 

Robots and Aliens Volume 2 book cover

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

Fairly early in Intruder we saw that there was a third Silverside that had taken over Robot City. After an intense search Derec finally reclaimed control with the help of his friends. Now, Derec is faced with three robots without solid definitions of “human”. I think that this novel is quite a bit more philosophical in the search for what makes someone human. Not too much happens plot-wise, most of the bulk is focused on defining what is human. We do get a slightly better glimpse at the origins of the Silversides and a hint at where the series might end up toward the end.

Jul 102006
 

Robots and Aliens Volume 3 book cover

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

Toward the end of Alliance, Derek agrees to transport the three shape changing robots to the cannoid inhabited planet that Adam originally emerged from. The title of the book refers to a subplot about a loner named Maverick, which was expelled from a main pack some time ago. His goal is to join PackHome. I really didn’t identify with this character at all. In the meantime the Robots on the planet agree to treat the cannoid inhabitants as humans in order to give themselves a purpose.

Overall this book has a little bit of action, but seems to me to be nothing more than a stepping stone before the final book. I didn’t really enjoy it that much because nothing seemed to really happen. I’m looking forward to the final book to see how all of this will finally be tied together.

Aug 102006
 

Robots and Aliens Volume 3 book cover

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

Humanity starts out with a very brief, and rather insufficient, summary of the events of the series. Derec, Ariel, Mandelbrot, Wolruf, Dr. Avery, and the three learning robots are on their way back to the original robot city. They are in for a big surprise when they enter orbit. As with previous books in this series we get to see a good portion of action, as well as discussion about what is meant to be human.

We do get to see how the whole series is tied together. For my taste, it seems that everything fits together a bit too nicely. Also, I was expecting a bit more closure toward the end. I was left with the feeling that yet another series or at least novel should fill in the gap between this series and the Tiedemann Trilogy (Mirage, Chimera, Aurora) which involves both Derec and Ariel. I’ll discuss this in more detail in my general Robots and Aliens review which will follow as I can’t do this without major spoilers for this last novel.

Aug 152006
 

I prefer the Robot City series to Robots and Aliens. At the end of Robot City I felt like everything was building up to a new series, which it was. I don’t think that Robots and Aliens did a good enough job to tie everything together. It seemed like just the last few chapters of Book 6 were used to close any loose ends in the plot lines. Continue reading »