Isaac Asimov’s Robots and Aliens Book 6: Humanity by Jerry Oltion

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.

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The Stars, Like Dust by Isaac AsimovThe Stars, Like Dust by Isaac Asimov

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Timeline discussion:
Here are a couple quotes — “Atomic warfare had done its worst to Earth. Most of it was hopelessly radioactive and useless.” and “The radioactivity of the soil was a vast sea of iridescent blue, sparkling in strange festoons that spelled out the manner in which the nuclear bombs had once landed, a full generation before the force-field defense against nuclear explosions had been developed, so that no other world could commit suicide in just that fashion again.” — The Stars, Like Dust (more…)

So I have been a bit behind with my reviewsSo I have been a bit behind with my reviews

I’ve been a bad reviewer lately. I usually try to write my reviews right after viewing or reading but I haven’t had as much time to write them lately. I’ve been playing World in Conflict quite a bit lately, which competes with my reviews here. I should actually do a review for that sometime, since I spend so much time playing it. It takes place in an alternate reality where the Soviets invade the US in 1990. For more information in the meantime just click the link above.

So, here are the things I have watched so far, but have yet to review:

  1. Blade Runner – The Final Cut: (I’ve watched the movie, which was awesome, but I still have to work through the rest of the special features on the last disc)
  2. I am Legend (2007) – I’ve actually watched this twice, once with my Father while on vacation, and again with my wife
  3. Battlestar Galactica: Razor – Unrated Extended Edition

I’m also in the process of reading two books: Children of Dune by Frank Herbert, and The Age of Spiritual machines by Ray Kurzweil. The latter is not really science fiction, but I’m about half way through it and many of the ideas probably seemed like fiction back when it was published in 1999. Many of the predictions Kurzweil makes in the first half are fairly accurate, so I’m interested to see what he will say in the second half.

My next major milestone will be to read Chaos Theory, Asimov’s Foundations and Robots, and Herbert’s Dune: The Fractal Aesthetic of Epic Science Fiction.

That should keep me busy for a little while.

Isaac Asimov’s Robots and Aliens Book 1: Changeling by Stephen LeighIsaac Asimov’s Robots and Aliens Book 1: Changeling by Stephen Leigh

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.