Isaac Asimov’s Utopia by Roger MacBride Allen

Utopia book cover

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.

The argument for this drastic measure is that the existing terraforming effort will fail much sooner than expected. In just a few years the surface of the planet might not be habitable. That probably wouldn’t be a problem for Settlers since they prefer their underground buildings, but for Spacers it would pose a serious problem. The comet plan might sound plausible given the combined efforts of the Spacers and Settlers, but there are many that don’t want this to happen. Many fear that something will go wrong and the planet will be destroyed. Also, how will robots allow such a task to take place given the nature of the Three Laws? Will robots allow a comet to hit the planet? Allen answers this in unexpected, yet plausible ways which I’ll leave you to uncover.

One thing that I didn’t notice until this book in the series was that Allen had not really addressed the fundamental differences between Spacers and Settlers. In chapter 4 he explains that Spacers age much more slowly than Settlers. There were no precautions such as nose plugs or aversions to touching for fear of infection that you’d normally expect a Spacer to exhibit toward others. Possibly by this point they treat Settlers differently than Earthmen or have better less obvious protections which Allen doesn’t explain.

I think the reason I liked this book much better than the last was that there were many small mysteries. There was the main question of whether or not the comet plan would work, but the ancillary plots which came along were intertwined rather nicely. The pieces start to fall together bit by bit rather than the abrupt fashion from the last book. There was a definite “ending” to the series, although a bit cheesy, which tied everything back together.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Please prove you are a human * Time limit is exhausted. Please reload the CAPTCHA.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Related Post

Extraterrestrial Civilizations by Isaac AsimovExtraterrestrial Civilizations by Isaac Asimov

Published 39 years ago in 1979, Isaac Asimov discussed the possibilities of finding intelligent life in his book Extraterrestrial Civilizations. This has been on my reading list for quite a long time, but I just now got the notion to mark it off. Having read literally all of Asimov’s fiction, I thought it was time to read more of his non-fiction. Unwittingly, I finished this just a week or two before his birthday, which by the way was 99 years ago today!

I was thinking Extraterrestrial Civilizations would be a discussion on what civilizations might be like when if/when we discover them, or they discover us. It turned out to be more of a thought experiment, methodically laying out probabilities based on list of assumptions. Most of these assumptions were made with what scientific knowledge there was available at the time. Asimov was very careful to speckle the book with asterisks noting that if certain assumptions would change in the future, the predictions would be changed or invalidated. (more…)

I, Robot – BBC Radio 4 dramatization (2017)I, Robot – BBC Radio 4 dramatization (2017)

There is a 5 episode series based on Isaac Asimov’s I, Robot available to stream for free via BBC Radio’s iPlayer. I’ve only listened to the first episode “Robbie” and enjoyed it. The overall story is the same, but delivered in a slightly different way. I think it’s worth it to check out at least the first episode to see if you like it. I figured I’d post here right away when I saw it as the availability is time limited. The Omnibus has a bit longer shelf life than the oldest episode. I may go back and compare this version to the Audible version to see which I like better. If you’re into special effects, be sure to check out this one before it is too late.

Omnibus link: Expires March 14th – 1hr 10 min

Individual Episodes 1-5 link: ~15 minute episodes, begin to expire on March 8th.

 

via The Guardian

Humans to become immortal cyborgs within 20 years?Humans to become immortal cyborgs within 20 years?

About a year an a half ago, I reviewed The Age of Spiritual Machines by Ray Kurzweil. I never did get around to reading his slightly newer book, The Singularity is Near. I just ran across an article that quotes him as saying

I and many other scientists now believe that in around 20 years we will have the means to reprogram our bodies’ stone-age software so we can halt, then reverse, aging. Then nanotechnology will let us live for ever.

He goes on to describe a number of medical advancements that seem unbelievable.  He doesn’t really expand on how many people, or rather WHO will have access to this technology.  We can’t very well have billions of immortal cyborgs running around for eternity, now can we? I think that those denied immortality, or at least extended life-spans, would wage war against those that would keep the technology for themselves.

Credit: Telegraph via Geekologie

Note: For those of you not familiar with Geekolgie, be sure to check that blog out.  I added it to my newsreader about 2 months ago and it keeps me entertained every day!